In the early 80s, Juju music legend, but now a minister of the gospel, Evang. Prof. Ebenezer Obey was rumoured to have swallowed Lukudi; a kind of wealth-making charm, as the source of his wealth. And in a swift reaction to the rumour that spread across the nation, the Chief Commander, as Obey was fondly called then in his hey days as a leading Juju musician waxed a song, ‘Babu Lukudi’ to dispel the rumour. But some over 30 years later, one of the longest serving members of his now defunct Juju music group, Inter Reformer Band, Evang. David Olaleye; now based in the United States of America (USA), in this interview with Christian Benefits opens the lid on Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi’s Lukudi rumour. Below are the excerpts.
Sir, you used to be a famous backup singer with Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey’s Inter Reformer Juju Band. Were you attracted to singing gospel music now because your former boss, Chief Ebenezer Obey quit singing Juju music to embrace the gospel as a minster of God?
God is the architect of our lives. Nobody can stop whatever He decides to do with our lives. I give God all the glory and also appreciate His goodness in my life for His gift of the Holy Spirit in my life, and for the extra-ordinary gift He endowed me to remind people of God’s kingdom in order to populate His kingdom. Before I heard the call of God, I was the choirmaster of Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C Lawanson) in the 1969/70. While I was working for the Lord as a choirmaster, God began to reveal certain visions to me about my future. But I was ignorant of those visions that I could not decipher their meaning with my future. Then we were working selflessly for God without expecting any financial reward or salary from the church. We believe that when you work for God at the appropriate time He would reward you. At that period I had no helper. To even eat was a problem. To have decent clothes to wear was also a serious problem. Yet, we were committed to praying and fasting for the church of God to move forward But at some point I was worried and prayed to God that is this how my life will continue, how will people know that you called me? All that God was revealing to me about my future were not things I was praying for. I was praying for food, decent clothes and other means of livelihood. Instead, God was revealing to me how I was traveling abroad, seeing myself in the midst of white people singing the gospel, preaching the gospel and praying. All these meant nothing to me. I never knew that God was revealing my future events to me until when all these began to manifest in physical in later years.
When and how did your path cross with Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey?
My joining Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi was predestined. One would wonder how can a choirmaster of a church join a secular band and be singing Juju music. God has His own way of doing things. Part of what God revealed to me in those days in my dreams was that I would join a certain man that travels across the world. And God brought this to fulfillment when I joined Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey’s juju band in 1975 after the death of his prized singer, Oke Aminu. Out of the 105 people that applied for audition to replace the late Oke Aminu I was one of the four people that were shortlisted. Two of us were eventually selected to join the band while the other two persons were seconded to the second band headed by Yemi Kuti. The other man that was selected with me left the band barely three months after we were recruited while I stayed with the band for many years. Barely two years after I joined the band all that the Lord had revealed to me started manifesting as I began traveling with the band across the globe as the Lord had previously revealed to me in my dreams.
How will you describe your lifestyle as a juju musician under the legendary Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi’s Inter Reformer Juju band?
A typical lifestyle of a secular musician is all about alcoholism, smoking and womanizing, even when some of them proclaim they are Christians. We believe that God cannot bless you with riches and fame and then forbids you from enjoying your life with such blessing. When I joined Ebenezer Obey God told me that He had sent me into the midst of this people but warned me that I should not indulge in their bad characters like alcoholism, smoking and womanizing. Unfortunately, as time went on the people influenced me to be taking alcohol. At a point I merely took a cup of a bottle of small stout when the Lord descended on me and I nearly saw heaven that day. I vomited so seriously that I felt I was going to die. Instantly, I remembered God’s warning to me that I should not join the people in their bad characters. And I began to pray to God, please forgive and deliver me, I won’t repeat it again. There and then I made a u-turn and began to receive God’s healing, and that was the last time I drank alcohol. But all of the years I played Juju music I had only one wife. I never had any girlfriend.
Couldn’t your pious back ground have positively influenced the band, particularly your boss, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi?
Actually when I began moving closer to my boss, God specifically told me what I should do to influence and transform his life. And when God Himself wanted to deliver him from alcoholism he (Obey) developed a health issue. He visited hospital and the doctor strictly warned him to stop alcohol if he wants to live long. And he changed to drinking only Soda water.
There was a popular record Ebenezer Obey waxed in those days, “Ilu Oyinbo ti mo lo, won loye lati lo sinmi, ni mose lo fun ara ni sinmi. Lawon kan ba dori e kodo, won ni moseso, awon kan ni mo gbe Lukudi mi. Awon kan sope moti ku.” Did chief commander actually swallow Lukudi as was being rumoured then?
Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey on stage in his hey days as Juju music maestro
What actually happened was that the repercussion of his alcohol consumption dawned on him and he visited abroad for treatment. And while he was briefly absent from the public scene some people concluded and started spreading the rumour that he had swallowed Lukudi; a kind of charm for wealth-making. But that wasn’t true at all! And that was why when he returned from abroad he waxed the song Babu Lukudi. Gradually he stopped alcoholism but the issue of womanizing remained unresolved until the Lord instructed me to begin to take him along to church programmes; sometimes to perform at church revival programmes. I first invited him to my church, C.A.C Lawanson though he was then an irregular ECWA member, challenge, Mushin. He preached at my church anniversary. Apart from my church, I invited him to minister in several other churches so that when people begin to see him involved in church activities he would become discouraged from womanizing. He was not aware of all these moves I made towards his salvation as God directed me.
“And while he was briefly absent from the public scene some people concluded and started spreading the rumour that he had swallowed Lukudi; a kind of charm for wealth-making. But that wasn’t true at all! And that was why when he returned from abroad he waxed the song Babu Lukudi.”
Apart from your church, can you recall some other churches that you invited him to attend or perform?
One of the other churches I took him to was Love of Jesus Apostolic Church of Apostle Olabode at Obanikoro. He preached in the church and I interpreted for him in Yoruba. I also took him to the church of now late Bishop EWA Kukoyi where he also ministered and I interpreted for him. I also took him to the church of Bro. Akinlade, a gospel musician in Ibadan. Not many people know that it was Ebenezer Obey that composed this popular song, “Who is like unto thee Oh Lord, who is like unto thee Oh! Lord! Among the gods who is like thee. Glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders halleluiah.” He composed the song on our journey from Ile Ife to Bro. Akinlade’s church in Ibadan where he was to minister. When we got to Ibadan, we first went to the house of Alhaji Azeez Alao Arisekola, and it was right inside Arisekola’s house that he taught me the song, that it was what the Lord gave him to minister the next day at Bro. Akinlade’s church.
What are some of the things you learned from Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi as one of his backup singers in his Inter Reformer Juju band?
I learned so many things from the life of my Oga, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi, both physically and spiritually. Spiritually, I leaned that those things you are doing and you think you are doing for the Lord but you are not. There are some things that you do and you think God is in them whereas God is not in them at all! There were many things he was doing that he felt God was involved until when the spirit of God came upon him and he realized that those things were not of the Lord. Apart from that my Oga is sincerely a man of God, gifted by God as an excellent composer, singer and arranger of songs.
“Not many people know that it was Ebenezer Obey that composed this popular song, “Who is like unto thee Oh Lord, who is like unto thee Oh! Lord! Among the gods who is like thee. Glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders halleluiah.”
Chief commander (now Evang. Prof) Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi on his recent 80th birthday celebration