Kokoro (musician)

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Benjamin ‘Kokoro’ Aderounmu (25 February 1925 – 25 January 2009) was a widely known blind minstrel from Lagos, Nigeria. He was born into a royal family in Owo, Ondo State, and became blind when he was aged ten. He developed a unique style of singing accompanied first by a drum, later by a tambourine. He moved to Lagos in 1947, where he became exposed to major local musicians such as Ayinde Bakare, Bobby Benson and Victor Olaiya. In the 1960s and 1970s he featured regularly on Federal and local radio stations, and was widely respected for the depth and wisdom of his lyrics.[1]

An early pioneer of Jùjú music, he sang in Yoruba about love, money, conflicts and urban decadence.[2] He had wide influence on other musicians.[3] The author Cyprian Ekwensi wrote a fictionalized version of his life in his novel for adolescents, The Drummer Boy.[4]

He performed in many cities in Nigeria and overseas, but was exploited by people who took advantage of his blindness. Often he was homeless, playing on the streets to make ends meet.[5] However, in 2007 the governor of Lagos State Babatunde Raji Fashola donated him a two-bedroom apartment after meeting him at a performance by King Sunny Adé. Kokoro died of a diarrhea-related ailment shortly before the planned release of his album titled Igi Araba He was survived by his wife of 32 years, Abike Beatrice Adewunmi.[6]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Benjamin 'Kokoro' Aderounmu (1925–2009)". Nigerian Guardian. 8 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  2. ^ Toyin Falola (2001). Culture and customs of Nigeria. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 173. ISBN 0-313-31338-5. 
  3. ^ Jeremy Marre, Hannah Charlton (1986). Beats of the heart: popular music of the world. Pantheon Books. p. 84. ISBN 0-394-74258-3. 
  4. ^ CHUKA NNABUIFE (29 October 2009). "Authors convention begins in Minna". Nigerian Compass. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  5. ^ "Nigeria: The Legendary Blind Minstrel "Kokoro" Dies At 84". African Loft. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  6. ^ "Kokoro: How He Died, His Unfulfilled Dream". Nigerian Films. 30 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-09.