• Tells City People
Most people including Fuji music buffs never knew that the twosome pioneers of their prime music stars, the late Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and Kollington Ayinla were once soldiers before they rode the wave of Fuji to stardom. Yes, they were. They joined the Nigerian Army during the Nigerian Civil War, which started in 1967 and ended in 1970. Barrister could blow the trumpet, while Kollington could blow the flute. Barrister tasted fire in the war front, but Kollington was lucky to stay in Lagos and blow flute to thrill mates on the parade ground. Read how each of them joined the Army.
What were your thoughts and plans for life when you are growing up?
Nobody knows. It’s only God that directs one in life. I never plan to be a musician. Whatever you want to become in life depends on God.
How did you now become a soldier?
In 1967, after they ban early morning wake up call, that was when the Nigeria Civil War started with Gowon & Ojukwu.
All my mates, even those that are older than me in my neighbourhood at Apapa Road, Ebute Metta have joined the Army. I was the only one left behind and it was so boring for me. Then, one day I decided to go and greet them, not intended to join the Army. But on getting there and I saw them putting on a white T-shirt on Blue short marching-on to their parade ground. Then I fell in love with their composure and uniformity, not knowing that it is a very difficult career. So I told my friends my interest in joining. They said I was very young, they won’t take me.
Meanwhile, I knew I was very young too with small stature.
But, I would say it has been destined. I joined their parade one day when it was my turn, the Recruiting Officer, late RSM Rasheed just asked of my name and asked me to move to one side, under a tree; where they usually barb their hair. On getting there, they barb my hair too, that was when it was down on me and I had to surrender totally. After barbing, they moved us to Quarter Master (QM), where they gave us cloth, shoes etc and we were asked to be taken to the dormitory. I thank God for my life because I thought that was the end of my life, it was so tough. You needed to see our dormitory. So spacious with beds. When you sleep, it must not deep because they can blow a whistle at the middle of the night for another round of training.
To become a soldier is not an easy task. Two weeks to complete the training a Sergeant Major came to my B. Company to look for me. They have already told him that there is a young boy from Ebute-Metta that knows how to blow a trumpet; (the trumpet I used to blow during the early morning call). So, they summoned 8 of us lined us up and asked us to march to drum office. Inside the place is full of musical instruments and we were asked to pick anyone we can play very well. I was so amazed to see some trumpets/sax there, even the flute that I know how to blow wasn’t there. Later, I saw something that looks like a flute I know.
An Army Officer came to me when he saw the way I was looking at it then he showed me how to blow it. I took it from him and I was able to blow it. He asked of my number which was 38507, cross-checked and see my name and he wrote it down. They did the same to everybody before they asked us to march back to our company office.
When we finished the training and we were set to go to the war front they called us again, that we are not going to the war front, instead they returned us back to the same place we rehearsed with musical instruments, they gave us exercise book and pen, and we started learning music. Sikiru always comes to me there whenever he is returning from the training ground. He also knows how to blow trumpet but can not play the flute very well. This continues until he was posted to the war front after his training. I felt so sad because I knew I was going to miss his company.
But one day, he came back. He said, “Kola I am not doing again”. He started narrating all his experience at the war front to me. He removed all his uniform and gave them to me and headed to Lagos. On getting to Lagos since he doesn’t have anything to do, he met with the man that was managing me when we are doing our early morning call, he took him to Signal Barrack. They gave him another uniform and he started in Lagos again.
Later Nigeria Army Depot in Abeokuta was dissolved and I was posted to Lagos. Sikiru enjoyed it so well, we both enjoyed life. Let’s leave it there.