Sunny Ade

Juju Music; The Endangered Music of Nigeria

Juju music should not be mistaken with the yoruba term for “juju” as magic. Although the name Juju is of a Yoruba traditional origin, it actually means “throwing” or  the process of throwing something away.

The actual originator of Juju music is still a subject of debate but the official and widely accepted creator of Juju music was believed to be AbduRafiu Babatunde King more known by the name Tunde King.

Juju music is better enjoyed live. Its is the music of the African man making music with purely  African instrumentals. When you listen to the sound of Juju music, you are totally at a point of reflection and in sync with the musicians message.

You reflect about alot of things especially life, humanity and why life must totally be enjoyed while it lasts. Very rich music indeed.

The first ever Juju music recording was done by Tunde King and Ojoge Daniel in the 1920’s. When you hear the sound of the Traditional talking drum, you know a Juju artist is nearby because that is the predominant and official musical instrument of the Juju musician which is called, “iya llu” in yoruba language.

Over the years, Juju music evolved into various adaptations. We have a mixture of Juju and afro-beat music which gave rise to Afro-juju music, spearheaded by Sir Shina Peters popularly called Shinamania in the early 90’s. Other popular Afro Juju Artists were Emperor Wale Olateju and many more who did a lot to showcase this original African style of music.

Juju music started to take a low pace downwards with the introduction of the rap culture, Hip Hop, and Pop which infiltrated and influenced the Nigerian youths rapidly.

It could be the law of Nature that; anything at all with a beginning definitely has an end. Juju music went behind the scenes on several occasions but came back to life again and again but with a more evolved approach to adapt to modern music.

Still yet modern music  over shadow juju music by every means in Nigeria but many western yoruba states still adopt Juju music as a way of life but this doesn’t change the fact that Juju music is generally neglected.

Juju music is a music of rich lyrics and pure instrumentals and without pure native lyrics, it cannot be termed Juju music. Afro-Juju icons like King Sunny Ade and Dr Ebenezer Obey incorporated many innovations into Juju music so as to make it more acceptable to Nigerians which was made possible through modern technological break through in the music industry.

Both King Sunny Ade and Dr Ebenezer Obey are regarded as the founding fathers of Modern Juju music.

There have been many Juju music associations founded over the years to create a strong hold for Juju musicians in Nigeria, but these associations keep having disharmony among Juju artists on several occasions.

The Latest association is the Association of Juju Musicians (AJUMAN) founded in december 2007. No one knows how long it will last. It should last a long time if they have learned their lesson over the years.

Juju music is still appreciated among traditional folks and in  traditional ceremonies in Yoruba land mostly, and also as the musical heritage of Nigerians.

Despite all this effort to save Juju music, it is fast fading away. High life and, Afro beat seems not to be left out in the race towards extinction as only few musicians still embrace this pure African traditional music.