For Tungba singer, Yinka Ayefele, the memories of the accident that confided him to the wheelchair cannot be forgotten so soon; celebrating 20 years of that life defining transition, Ayefele has continue to wax stronger musically and in all life endeavors. With his establishment of the current biggest radio station in Ibadan, Fresh FM, Ayefele has already created a path to success for his brand. Cornered in his Ibadan station office, Yinka takes spoke with MUTIAT ALLI on his 20 year ago accident, the pain of been on the wheelchair, how he lost five ribs to the deadly accident, success story and his love for the establishment of a radio station.
20 years, a life defining transition from that point when the accident happened; what is your reflection these passing years?
First and foremost, I give God the glory for sparing my life; reflection is when the spinal cord means a lot to every human life that is what I usually recall whenever I remember that accident that almost took my life.
Also the accident has further helped me know how important our spinal cord is; each time I remember the pains I am going through, I reflect on the importance of spinal cord at all time.
For the first two weeks of the incident when you lay on the hospital bed, what was going on in your mind about your future?
I thought it was the end of the whole thing but when I got to know that it was spinal cord injury; I was a bit confused because I did not really know much about Spinal Cord and its value in human lives ; it was then I realized the importance of Spinal Cord.
So when I was told that I might be confided on a wheel chair for life, I thought I was going to die but eventually I made up my mind and told God that I want to live and I will still work again;
it’s a proclamation ( saying it and believing in it ); I said I did not want to die and at the end of the day I am still living because we were about over 40 that were brought to Neurological Department of the University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan (UCH) at that same time, virtually all of them died, I was the only survival.
I thought it was going to be the end for me but God is indeed awesome.
How will you describe the experience of when you were on your feet 31years ago and been confided on the wheelchair 20 years now?
I can tell you authoritatively that life on the feet is far better than been on the wheelchair because you are restricted when you are on the wheelchair and lots of things.
The pains and the restriction alone are cumbersome because at the time you want to get something done you cannot do it if there is no assistance.
But if you are on your feet despite not having cash in your pocket, you can still run around to get things done. But in all I give thanks to God who has always been my shield and helper always.
Would you have preferred to be standing and still be the way you were in terms of fortune?
(Hmmm)!! That technical, well if I have been on feet, I know where my mates are and I know how we use to struggle together and how far they have gone; the truth is if I was on feet;
I won’t be where I was, definitely I would have forge ahead and maybe become what I am now but may for a reason or purpose, God has its way of doing things and he just said sit down.
Maybe if I am not sitting down, I will have gone to where I am not supposed to be found.
How will you react to those who feel you prefer to be on the wheelchair?
(Sigh) can one prefer or choose to be in pain, I am in terrible pain 24 hours because I have five ribs broken and I still have that persistent pain.
I learn to live by it every day because if I want to be taken pills, it might cause damage to my kidney, liver or lungs so I decided to live by it everybody. So I cannot say I prefer living in pain; it’s impossible.
Maybe if I have rallied round, I will have worked toward traveling out, maybe doing music or something else that will make me prosperous.
Despite your pain, how then have you been able to create merriment in that pain of yours?
Well, if I did not tell you now, nobody would know am still passing through some pains, I just left downstairs playing children because I love been around the people that loves me,
so whenever I am in such a gathering, I forget every pain and play along with them because if eventually I walk, they won’t have the past 20 years that have lost so I need to enjoy the one I have presently.
Whenever I am on stage trying to make people happy, I am always ready to give them what they want.
What are you most grateful for in the last 20 years?
Life!!!! If I am not alive, I won’t be able to achieve what I have today and in achieving that, it’s not my doing but that of God.
I have a lot of friends doing what I am also doing but cannot be put side by side today; it’s not by my doing but the power of God almighty.
The gift of life has been the spirit that made want to forge ahead because if I was dead; you all will be gathered here for my remembrance but God is awesome.
As much as you have lots of others in your profession, will you say your been favored is as a result of the compassionate people have for you been on the wheelchair?
I don’t think so, when I first released Bitter Experience, a lot of people said it was patronized because of my condition, then I came out the second one and if it is still with sympathy, they bought it and it was accepted.
I came out with the third album and over 5 others; are those records bought based on sympathy; No it only takes the favor of God. There is nothing special about me; I only see the favor of God.
Yes there are lots of musicians that cuts across all genre and they are making it yet they are not on wheelchair; you can see that they are also favored.
The irony of life is that fact that there are some people who don’t like the Ayefele brand and when you ask them why ‘They be like, Yinka did not offend but I just don’t like him’.
In those early days while you are pain; are there moments you forget about the pain and feels like standing up?
Several times, I will want to jump out of the wheel especially whenever I am on stage, every minute I wish I could stand up because most time I make moves of willing to stand up and move my legs.
Most times I want to show a lot of people that I am still very fit and whenever I see people dancing to my music, I feel like joining them to dance.
A lot of people do not know where to classify your kind of music and some equally owe to the fact that maybe that’s the more reason you have not performed on platforms like the Redemption camp; while does thinks you don’t belong to the gospel artiste sector?
First of all Tungba is my own kind of music and the Tungba is the sound of my talking drum mix, it is my own way of preaching the gospel and if you like believe it or not .
I am the only Nigerian gospel artiste with lots of Muslim fans in Nigeria. Performing at the redemption camp is not ticket to God and if they want to me to come perform, I will be invited.
I have met with both Pastor Adeboye and his wife several times in revival; if am not invited, it might not be Pastor Adeboye’s fault as it could sentiment amongst the pastors. I have performed in virtually all other churches.
Do you believe in miracles?
Of course I do believe in miracles, I have been waiting for it and I know surely it will come unexpectedly.
What are some of those awkward things you did in the cause of finding and waiting for miracles?
That will be going to Synagogue Church, in those of moments I was looking for miracle, a lot of people advised to go to the church and I took the pain to go then not now and unfortunately he could not see me on the first, second and third day ;
I think on the third day he sent someone to give me Five Thousand Naira for transport back; that was about 17years ago and so I decided not go there again.
Because I would not know why he did not want to see me and I don’t know maybe it was joined with the Late Kola Olawuyi’s issue.
Kola had issue with him and he knew I was working with him before the accident.
Even if I believe in miracle, the only regret I have of it was looking around for it forgetting that miracle can happen anywhere, and then God has said he won’t share his miracle and glory with anybody.
Few years back, I was playing with Baba Obadare, and he said the my faith has been tied to the abroad am going to and then again a lot of men of God has given me message that God said he would do it at his own time and no man will take the glory.
For instance if I had stood up any of the churches, a lot of people would have trooped down to such church.
A lot of people know you as a voiceover artiste then than a music act and there are instances that you played with Orlando Owoh?
I didn’t, Baba Orlando happens to be one of my mentors, I was a guitarist and played with the like of Toye Ajagun, we started Wale Thompson band together where I was a tenor-guitarist.
Those are the things I do before joining FRCN; then when joined FRCN was when I had the opportunity to produce musical jingles;
I changed the face of Nigerian jingles, initially when we wanted to produce jingle, we use any artiste song in the beginning, then you read your script and then at the tail end, you use the same music to bridge your jingle.
As times went on, I started producing songs for jingles.
In essence creative jobs are in me already with music. The first two music I produced was in the cassette with me before I had the accident and some of my mentors then advised that I add up to the song and release it so as to be launched as fund raising for my treatment abroad.
My first album turned me into a musician because I still wanted to remain in the broadcasting world but when I saw the acceptance with my Bitter Experience and Sweet Experience album, it encourages me more to do music
Fresh FM is one of the biggest radio stations currently in Ibadan; at what point did you conceive the idea of wanting to own a radio station?
I think it was when I was shooting the video of first album ‘Bitter Experience’, I just flashed back and saw the assistance I received from the electronic media during does trying moment, it was then I thought about owning a radio station and started the process about 19 years ago.
I once thought it can never manifest until about 9years ago when I met one of my friends in London that introduced me to internet radio where I kicked off from with the use of my Facebook page and my fans on the page started encouraging me because I was the presenter and I started uploading music.
Officially, it was 9years ago I obtained a form from NBC and started the process immediately; after several investigations by the SSS and DSS but 2 years old we kicked-off.
So why the name Fresh FM?
After lots of consultation with the name, we finally settled for ‘Fresh’ because of the quality of services we give out to our audience. Our programmes are usually served on hand as it is happening. We bring out something new every day.
As an indigene of Ekiti, a lot of people will wonder why you finally settled to have your radio station in Ibadan……
That’s brilliant, as much as I am Ekiti state does not mean I don’t have my state in mind; the truth is once the Ibadan station stabilizes well, we already have it in the works to create a radio station in Ekiti too.
So what is your current staff strength?
Currently at Fresh FM, we have about 100 staffs alone while at Downtown hotel, I have about 40 staffs
With all this you have achieved; was the accident a good thing?
I can’t say but like said earlier, God has a purpose for everyone; it will be funny to hear that some of my friends will be like if they can achieve what I have; they don’t mind having an accident too.
It’s only me that knows what I am passing through; all they see is Yinka Ayefele on wheelchair making it. I can’t pray to have accident before I make it; it is never possible.
What is your relationship like with other upcoming gospel singer?
I encourage them because it will always be my pride that you are doing something and I am there to give you the support that you so need.
I want to be a part of a lot of people success story so that when they are writing, they can say at the point they met me; things changed for them. If you are a musician and you want to get closer to me, you are welcome.
We have seen you performed in several top politicians event; so will you pitching your tent soon to any of the political parties?
Well, just the way every artistes is been contacted for show, so was I too and that does not make me a politician in any form. All politicians are my friends, we both support each other be it APC, PDP or APGA.
Just for clarification, I don’t belong to any party and then Mrs. Titi Atiku has done a lot for me, I have performed at virtually all the Atiku’s events.
So when you got the MON, how did you feel?
First I did not expect it and was too excited because that is the biggest award I have every received because seeing myself in the midst of Nigerians in quote as one of the awardees, I felt so honored because it is not a thing that you lobby for.
I never did because it was based on merit; the Federal government felt I was worthy of it.
My joy was that I did not lobby for it, a letter was written and sent to me just like recently, I got a letter that they want to give me a street in Abuja. It’s an achievement for me and I don’t take them for granted.
Looking at what have achieved; what is your dream of what you should have attained?
Only God knows what tomorrow holds for me; the only thing left for me at the moment is for Yinka to get up and walk.
While growing up, what were the earliest things you dreamt of becoming?
When I was young, I love music but I never knew it was going to become my profession , my Dad wanted to be a banker, I worked towards it but did not work, my brothers helped me work at the cooperative banks, it did not work out.
I think there was an event we for, it was the father Christmas that brought me to FRCN where they discover that I have studio voice and right there they gave me some couples of programme to handle.