FORGOTTEN, VETERAN JUJU ACT , AHUJA BELLO.

Ismaila Dele Bello was born on the 24th of August in the year 1942 at Ilado Iseyin. He went to Baptist primary school Iseyin in 1951 and graduated in the year 1959. He enrolled at Baptist Secondary Modern School Koso Iseyin in the year 1961 and graduated in the year 1963.

He came to Lagos in the year 1963 where he learnt the job of a radio/television engineering at 23, Ofin Road, Lagos Island. The first band he did engineering job for was I.A Elegbede, then he later joined Expensive Olubi Taiwo’s band which he later left and joined King Sunny Ade’s band. The day he joined King Sunny Ade’s band was the day he helped the band set up a brand new big vocal engine named “Ahuja”, he moment he he finished the setup and tested the engine and it sounded perfectly, King Sunny Ade hailed him and called him “Ahuja!”. That was how he got the name “Ahuja”.

After that he left King Sunny Ade’s band and went back to join Expensive Olubi Taiwo again. He later went to London with Expensive Olubi’s band in 1973 and again in 1975, he was working as an engineer and a vocalist for the band then. He later left the band in 1975 after they came back from London and formed his own band in 1976 which he named ” Ahuja Bello and His Golden Eagles Band”. The first album he released was “Awa ti Danfo” in 1976, followed by the second album “Ariya ti de” in 1977. He went to London with his band boys in 1979 and did a record titled “Ahuja in London”. He and Bob Marley became friends when they met in London.

Like soaring eagle, Ahuja Bello fame hit the airwaves of the Nigerian Juju Music like a wild bush in the harmattan. He was certainly not a flash in the pan, as he subsequently turned out hit upon hit. He soared high, even to the envy of some, on the wings of such as ever-green albums like Ijo olomo, Fellow Nigerians and Victory. He was loved by his fans, he globetrotted. He had cars, he even built a modest house in his hometown, Iseyin, Oyo State.

For the next six years after he launched his career, he hugged fame so warmly and he cherished it with every ounce of his blood. But life dealt him a heavy blow on July 24th, 1982, a month to his 40th birthday! He recalled ” I had a ghastly motor accident about 3:00 am around Alaka in Lagos. I was returning from a show tagged Itunu Awe Day in Martins Street, Lagos island when it happened. It was a yearly event where several musicians used to perform, I was driving my Toyota car and there were three other people in the car with me. Somehow, I rammed into a stationary Army Truck, a situation that resulted in a multiple accident involving two other cars coming behind me. As a result of the collision, the head of my right femur got broken. Strangely the other three people also suffered fractures in their right legs. It was Y.K Ajao (a fellow juju artiste) who recognized my car when he got to the accident spot, he also performed at the show after me”.

If he, however thought that his tribulations were over, he was gravely mistaken. Five years later, he found himself fighting the battle of his life when he fell from an okada ( a commercial motorcycle) somewhere around his home, part of his left ear was chopped off in the crash. It was so heart ending that it temporarily removed the luster from his blossoming career. Sadly, all that seemed to be like a mere tribulation isn’t , as he also revealed another disquieting period in his career. About ten years after his tragic fall from the okada, he had gone to a fan’s house to collect his engagement fee for a show when tragedy struck again, he was infuriated that the fan wasn’t available. As he was descending the stairs, he tripped and fell! In the process, he suffered a serious fracture in his left leg and developed Hernia. ” I couldn’t go for treatment of the hernia because I had a terrible cough for three months. But after I was treated at IDH, Yaba Lagos. I was then operated upon for the hernia” he further explained.

The bitter experience, no doubt thought Ahuja Bello a hard lesson about life. Most of his friends and family members deserted him, he was left to nurse his wounds and fight the battle of his life alone. “In the thinking of some people, Ahuja Bello is dead, I remember during one my shows three years ago, a man came to the stage to touch me, he said: ‘Are you truly Ahuja Bello? Or are you his younger brother? It was rumored that you passed away some time ago’. But I thank God I am still alive today. God is still taking me to higher places, age is not a barrier. I just released a single song which you can listen to here to know I am back for good

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AADMINOJUTOLE

www.ojutole.com is a complete entertainment blog owned by Taofik Afolabi, Lagos based journalist and a publict