Back To Roots: Fuji Music In Nigeria

Having its origin at about 1960s, the popular Fuji music which was improvised from Ajisariwere music tradition, was founded and made popular by Alhaji Siriku Ayinde Barister. 

Ajisariwere is a kind of music performed before dawn (precisely at about 2:30am) during the Ramadan fasting season. An “Ajisari” is one who forsakes his sleep voluntarily and goes about before dawn with his kettle drum singing and screaming with the aim of waking other Muslims for prayers. 

This musical genre was named after the Japanese Mount Fuji in Honshu by its founder. It is a combination of Apala, Juju, Aro, Afro, Gudugudu, Sakara and highlife. Instruments used include drums, harmonica (mouth organ) and vocals. Popular Fuji musicians include the likes of King Sunny Ade, Sir Shina Akanni, Adekunle Malaika, Segun Michael, Bola Abimbola and a host of others. 

Unfortunately, with the wide acceptance and popularity of other musical genres like Hip-hop and RnB, Fuji is barely known and accepted by the youths. 

Personally, I barely know much about Fuji. As a matter of fact I’ve always thought Fuji was basically highlife, until my research. In other to clear my 

doubts, broaden my knowledge and get to know more about the opinions of people, I took a survey and interviewed a few friends. 

My first respondent said “I don’t know shit about Fuji music. I can’t even tell the difference between Fuji music and Afro pop”. Another said “I’m not sure I know Fuji music. Only heard one and it was mad”. 

“Which one?” I asked, “it was mad lit, that’s all I remember”. The third friend I interviewed, had absolutely nothing to say about Fuji “I know nothing about Fuji,” she laughed. I needed to take a step out of my age grade. Apparently, teenagers and young adults barely knew or enjoyed Fuji. I contacted an older cousin “I no dey listen abeg but Sunny Ade is my choice”, he said “and I like Labodan by Osupa.” “But na person play am I hear o”, he quickly added. 

My fifth respondent said “I rarely listen to Fuji music but I know for the ones that I have ever heard they are mostly cultural and sound nice but because I cannot understand what they sing, it is difficult to enjoy it to the fullest”. Deciding that I needed to meet older persons, I spoke with another respondent in her thirties. “Oh I love and enjoy it especially highlife like the kinds of Osita Osadebe. I love it cause unlike music of nowadays, it speaks a lot about experience and history”. “Most Musicians of nowadays barely have a message in their songs”, she continued. 

“I‘m not saying that hip hop is bad but I think hip hop of way back Musicians like Aaliyah, Idris and the rest are way better. Now I only enjoy the beats of these recent songs but they barely have a good message in their lyrics to give to us”. 

Fears confirmed, the present generation have barely explored the Nigerian roots and have become ignorant of the cultural magic in Fuji due to urban life and the undying love for Hip-hop and other genre mostly enjoyed by these youths. This leaves a big hole and a huge question; what is the fate of Fuji music in our present generation and what is it going to be in the future?


This article was written by Comfort Egbanabo; connect with her on IG here   

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