On June 4, 2011
Alhaji (Dr.) Qamarudeen Odunlami Aiyeloyun has been able to carve a niche for himself using his natural talent as a popular musician.
Aiyeloyun, the recipient of many awards in this interview with BASHIR ADEFAKA at his Lagos home, did not only speak on how life has been with him at 38, he also condemned the incidences of violence in parts of the country saying ethnic and religious differences should not be tools for hatred but strength for national unity and growth. Excerpts:
Nigerian youths have been charged with the responsibility for building a better Nigeria. As a concerned youth, what is your dream for the future of the country?
Before the last April general elections, all over the world, people talked ill about us. That seems to be changing now but our leaders must keep on doing those things that will continue to instil the confidence about us in people of those foreign countries so that they can change from their hitherto negative impressions about us as a nation and as a people.
However my dream is that one day, Nigeria’s name will be written in gold and the whole world will want to work and relate with us. I am already part of the dream for taking Nigeria to that height.
The incidences of violence in parts of the North were said to have religious colouration. As a Muslim, what is your take?
It is only unfortunate that at a time you think we should be heaving a sigh of relief on issues of violence, something new will crop up again and here we are. It’s sad!
But again, you apparently know this last incidence has nothing to do with religion. Ignorance, I would say is the root cause of the violence. If people are educated and are enlightened about the teachings of their faith, why should they rise up in arms against other people? Why should I just stand up in arms against others simply because my Imam or leader preaches that I should do so? It doesn’t make any sense!
I think people should do things because they, themselves, know why they should do such things. Obedience to leadership is important but knowledge lets you identify the kind of leaders you should obey. Violence does no good to anybody, not even to the person that orchestrated it. I think ignorance is the parasite at work in those places that violence has continued to thrive. So, government should get down on it and stop it without further delay.
Apart from religion, we are human beings and nobody would want his or her brother to be slaughtered. No. We all want to live peacefully and even when it comes to religion, it helps a lot. We should see religion as a tool for our unity and peaceful co-existence because none of the two major faiths teaches violence.
People from polygamous families have different experiences, what is yours?
Polygamy has both its negative and positive sides. But to me, it has helped me a lot because there is a lot of competition in that family setting. My mother would say, “Qamarudeen, see your brother is doing well in school and so you also have to do well, if not better because there must not be excuse for failure.”
By that, I was always on my toes. My father, as a very religious person and head of the family, was able to unite us, he taught us to appreciate one another. But he sounded it clear to each of us the need to aim high and do better than others. So, if poligamy offers negative experience for others, the positive side is my own experience.
What startling incidence were you ever told about your birth?
My mother told me that I was in her womb for 18 months. One and a half years. So much that some people even said it was fibroid and not pregnancy. I didn’t know why it was like that but I thank God, this is me. I have been severally described as a special child because of that. But God knows best.
Do you believe in all that?
No, I don’t believe in all that. Although I believe in the existence of terrestrial powers but I also believe that one with God is more than the majority of that. God’s power can make you to overcome all that, if you are close to Him.
How would you describe your work?
My music is faith-based although people say my works tend to make me sound more like political and social critic. That you can’t do without in a work that is dedicated to the service of humanity and the nation. And as a Muslim, some of my people in Islam say there is no music in Islam.
That is a big challenge. Because, although generally across the country and in foreign countries like Europe and places like Egypt, a good number of people see what I’m doing in different perspectives: they love me greatly. As for a section of the Muslim group, I have to go extra miles studying hard to prove to them with facts from the traditions and sayings of the prophet and opinions of scholars about music. I thank God that things are getting better by the day.
What are your experiences so far?
I may not be old in age but I have a lot of experiences that make me sound like an older person. I deal with elderly people, I deal with the public and, so, I see a lot of things that are happening to humanity. There is one prophetic saying that describes the world in which we find ourselves presently as “competitive market.” Wherever you are and you are found to be ahead of your peers in performance or achievements, there is bound to be envy.
If you allowed yourself to be pushed to that level against your friend or brother or somebody because he is successful, you have become an instrument with which devil unleashes series of afflictions on humanity. Too bad!
I have encountered a lot of sad developments as a result of that: many things that are capable of breaking me down but the mercy of God keeps me going. I have had not less than two fatal accidents in which I lost my brother-in-law, Adam and one of my workers, Tunji to the first accident on my way to Bida, Niger State.
I have been robbed also many times so much that some of my contemporaries would say things that are unprintable about me regarding those incidences. But I thank God because it is said, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”
What is your account of the last incidence of armed robbery attack on you?
That was in 2008 when I just returned from a tour of Europe: I went to Spain, France and Germany and I just came back and that day I went straight to the office. On my way home later in the evening, I was driving in my Jeep. At a point there was a car in front of me and another Jeep in front of that car. Suddenly some men came down from that Jeep, came straight to me and pointed guns at my chest.
When they saw my face they said, “Oh! (recognising Aiyeloyun being a song star)”, they didn’t shoot but they just said, “Okay, just get down, get down.” They took my Jeep away and I watched it driven off. I had a lot of foreign currencies in the car, which were carted away by the gang but I thank God I survived. I also thank the officers and men of the Nigerian Police for the roles they played.
That, again, I survived it. Now, I can still work. I have my brain, which is my treasure. I have faith in God, except that I lost some vital documents including my international passport, my driver’s license, my laptop, all my phones: one blackberry and others to that incidence.
I did everything needed to neutralise the effect of the robbers in my future use of such documents.
Life goes on. I have since retrieved my Jeep, except that I have been denied British visa twice this year 2011. There is the possibilities of impersonation but this is a country of law and order. Once you abide by the rules, let anybody impersonate you to the best of his ability, failure he will get as an end result.
Name: Alhaji (Dr.) Qamarudeen Yusuf Odunlami.
Date of birth: August 27, 1973.
Place of birth: Lagos State.
Present position: Song Producer.
Strength of character: Godliness and self confidence.