As you read this, Alhaji Wasiu Alabi Pasuma, the Oganla of Fuji who is also known as Ijoba Fuji is in a celebratory mood. Today, Monday 27th November is his 50th birthday and he’s celebrating it big. He will be declaring open his brand new house at Omole estate with prayers, after which he will have an open house party. Some friends have planned a surprise party for him, scheduled for later in the day. On Sunday, 3rd December, 2017 he will be hosting a big party at 10 Degrees Event Centre where two legends: King Sunny Ade & K1 will thrill guests and on Sunday 10th of December, he will yet again host a big party for all his friends and fans at the Blue Roof of LTV 8. There are other parties being planned for him by his friends.
At 50, a lot has changed about this handsome guy some call Sheu Fuji. He has become a lot calmer. He has slowed down a bit and is now paying more attention to his children, many of who live abroad. Musically too, he has evolved over the years since the days of his famous Orobokibo album which shot him to limelight.
He has also come into his own. He has transformed from the Wasiu Alabi Ajibola Odetola who was born to the Odetolas in Mushin in those good old days in 1967, to the successful Big Boy everyone now calls Paso. When he was young, he challenged himself to be successful at his chosen career and he fulfilled that dream.
Pasuma attended Muslim Mission Primary School from 1973 to 1979 after which he moved to Nigerian Model High School, from 1979 to 1984 for his secondary school education. He started his musical career in 1984, but only had the opportunity to record his first album in 1993 which was titled, RECOGNITION. His second album, CHOICES followed there after in 1994. A subsequent album came in 1995 titled, OROBOKIBO which earned him an award as The Best Fuji Artiste at the FMA awards. Pasuma played in several Benson and Hedges concerts from 1996 to 1998 and continues to perform in several other concerts, both in Nigeria and abroad.
How did he get the name Pasuma since Pasuma wasn’t his real name. It was in the year 1997. He had a musical mentor named Prime Temitayo Adeolokun, the CEO of House of Heavy Sounds. He was the one who gave him the name.
“After watching me on stage on several occasions, he called me aside and asked, “Jibola do you know that the way you bounce and jump about on stage, reminds one of a guy I know who uses a brand of energiser called Pasuma strong?” Since I have never heard of the name Pasuma and how the drug worked I became curious. After that encounter, I spent several nights thinking about the name Pasuma and eventually decided to adopt it and adding Wonder instead of Strong. My feeling then was, if the drug is that good, maybe, it could bring me luck”.
Before the release of the chartbuster Orobokibo, he was like any other Fuji artiste on the streets of Mushin. “As at that time, we were just playing music, not knowing what the future held for us”.
“After the release of Orobokibo, my whole life changed, though it did not come to me as a surprise. I knew from the beginning that God’s plan for me had been finalised and l was destined to become big, but when? I did not know. In my early days, there were pointers to what God had in store for me, as I was loved everywhere I performed. But it will be most unfair if I should take credit for the slang Orobokibo, because that word was created by one of my back-up vocalists.When he first used the word during rehearsal session, I asked him the meaning, he simply told me it was a slang he picked up somewhere. Somehow that slang caught on and went on to make a star out of me, and I became a house hold name. That, also explained the genesis of the slang Orobo for the 50cl Fanta and Orobo for fat women”. Read on.
You just turned 50, how does it make you feel?
Right now, I feel so happy. I am so, so, happy, and I am excited clocking 50. It’s some thing I have been looking forward to and how the whole world will take it. Right now I can see it everywhere, on social media, everybody is celebrating, with PASUMA @ 50. I am so, so, happy. I am great. I feel great. I have to give great appreciation to Almighty Allah.
If you look back at the last 50 years, how has it been?
Really. I have to thank God for where we are today. In those days when I started as a musician then, they used to call us street musicians. I started my music career in 1984. They used to call us back street artistes, back street musicians who play for miscreants, hoodlums, like Area Boys. Today, here I am. I give thanks to God and the fans who stood by me all these while.
They said to themselves, ‘hey this guy, we would take him to the right place and push him up. I am happy. It is not an easy thing to become a star or to get to the top. The thing to do is to give thanks to God. ‘Oluwa lo ni glory’.
Any regrets at 50 or is there anything you would have done differently?
I could have been a footballer, a professional footballer. I was part and parcel of Kodak 1985 Under 17. I couldn’t travel with the team, they dropped me. Only God knows why that happened. Maybe if I had gone I would not have been the successful musician I am today. They had to go to World Cup then. They dropped me. So, I was part of the Kodak Under 17 World Cup team made up of Fatai Atere. Thank God they dropped me. If not that they dropped me, I wouldn’t be a musician today. No regrets. I don’t regret becoming a musician. Its been a blessing.
Take us into your world back then. Where was Pasuma born? Where did you grow up?
I was born to the family of Odetolas on 27th November, 1967. I started my Primary School at age 6 at the Muslim Mission Primary School in Sokunbi Street, Mushin. I went to my Primary School in 1973, I proceeded to my Secondary School called Nigerian Model High School, Idi-Oro. I finished in 1984. So I spent 1973-1979 for primary school, 1979-1984 for secondary school. Immediately I finished Secondary School, that very year, I started playing music.
K1 inspired me then. I finished in 1984 and K1 released an album that was a big hit. It was called Talazo 84 and the album was everywhere. And I decided in my mind that if someone can do something like this and it became a big hit, I can do it too or I can even do it better.
So, K1 influenced you in a way?
In a big way. Yes, he did. K1 is my mentor, I used to say it everywhere. I love him so much. Its because of him that I started playing music. He influenced me.
Can you recollect exactly when you first began to sing?
That was in Secondary School. I used to go for intersport with some guys who were my friends. Whilst some guys were doing Jumping and doing 100 meters race and so on, me and some of my guys will pull ourselves aside and be singing. That was how I started. I did the singing. They backed me up. We all started together there was no Master or Servant. No. We started together and they put me infront to do the singing. Later on in 1985/1986 some of them started dropping, some travelled to America, some stopped playing music and after some time, I took full charge of it as my band. That was in 1986.
How did you coin your stage name, PASUMA?
The name was given to me by my blood brother, one of my greatest brothers, my fan, Tayo Adeolokun. He was Chief Executive of House of Heavy Sound (HHS) that was at Alafia in Mushin. He said he saw me on stage performing. He saw me as energetic, bouncing here and there on stage. He now remarked that you this boy, you dey use Pasuma Strong? I said what is Pasuma Strong? He said Pasuma strong was a tablet you use when you are weak. When you use it everything will be ok again. I said really? Me and my manager now discussed that this name that this brother just gave us now,and we said can’t we use it for our music? Can’t we say anybody that is sick, weak or down or you are not ok, by the time you listen to our music you will be ok? Can’t we use the name. He now said yes. Let us remove the Strong in Pasuma Strong and put Wonder. So it will be called Pasuma Wonder. That was in 1986.
Tell us about how your music has evolved over time?
Yes, my movie has evolved over time. There was a time in the early 1990s I used to play keyboard alone at Temi Ogbe Hotel in Olorunsogo, where I grew up. In 1990 to 1991, I used to play jump, every Sunday, every week at that Temiogbe Hotel at Olorunsogo. In 1993, Eru Owa Records called me and said I want you to go to the studio. You have been gathering some of your fans for a while.
Now that you have been gathering some fans, if you do a record you will gather more. For some people who don’t know you, they will know you more. He took me to the studio and we did my first album called Recognition in 1993. We called it Recognition because we wanted people to recognise me as the new fuji artiste in the industry. After that, we did the follow up album called Choices, this was because I recognised that there were a lot of fuji musicians on the street, all over Nigeria, but you’ve got to take me as your choice. This is the new musician in town now.
So, take me as your choice. After that, I went into studio again. That is after I came back from Saudi Arabia in 1995. I went into the studios again and I did an album called OROBOKIBO, that was the album that gave me the fame. Orobokibo album brought me to limelight. That was the album that gave me the 1st ever show, concert, at Benson and Hedges Golden Tones in 1996, another one in 1997 and another one in 1998. Me and Adewale Ayuba performed in Lagos.
That was how I started my journey. Looking back now everything has turned out to be a beautiful story. The story now is to give thanks to God for what he has been doing wonderfully in my life.
How many albums have you done now?
Haaa! A lot ooo. With the one that is coming out this December it should be like 54. Sometimes, I do 2 albums in a year, atimes 3 albums in a year. Since 1993, putting everything together it should be like 53 to 54 albums.
How did you feel the year you did your Orobokibo album and it became a big hit.
I felt happy. I felt good. The album Orobokibo in 1995 gave me my 1st FMA awards (Fame Music Awards) which they used to do then and AMEN Awards. I got Best Fuji Musician Award in 1996, I got Best Fuji Artiste at Amen Awards for 1996. That was how my career started. I was very very happy at the event when they called my name alongside that of industry giants like K1 De Ultimate, Adewale Ayuba, Pasuma Wonder and they said and the winner is…I nearly passed out.
How can I think I will beat such men. Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde was reigning. He just released his Yuppy song then. Alhaji was really hot on the music scene then. He was still young and hot. When they nominate you with him and they announce you as the winner you won’t imagine that you can win in that category. I couldn’t even stand up. His the guy who was sitted beside me that picked me, they’ve called your name go and pick the award. I felt very very happy.
After I took that, the same year in 1998 I took AMEN and FMA award again. Then Benson and Hedges people called me to be part of their show in Lagos, Kano and other part of their show in Lagos, Kano and other part of the country. Its a journey that when you remember you will give thanks to God. It is not an easy thing.
We used to play at Lekki Sunplash then in 1997. Then, you will be the 1st artiste to play before the big stars will perform. They will say Orits Williki, Femi Kuti, Raskimono and all these big artistes will perform, but before they begin to perform, you will quickly do your things and run away. They will just give you a few minutes to perform. They were the ones reigning during that period 1996/97. People don’t really have time for you. They are waiting for the big artistes. Later on things changed by 1998/99 when Pasuma had become big and I had become a recognised brand in the industry, the same promoter now told me that I will have to perform last, that I can’t start the show like before, that if I perform early everybody will start to leave. So you have to wait we are going to use you to keep this crowd here. So, its a journey of praising God. The rest is history.
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