Ayefele… Bittersweet Story Of The Tungba Exponent
Ever since construction work began on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, especially at the Kara Bridge section, traveling to Ibadan has become a nightmare.
In fact, earlier this month, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Ogun announced that it had taken safe delivery of a baby girl whose mother was in transit along Lagos corridor.
So, you can imagine the thoughts when singer Yinka Ayefele’s management confirmed a 10.00a.m. interview appointment last Tuesday in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
But surprisingly, the road was free, even as massive construction work continues along that stretch. Thanks to men of the Federal Road safety Commission (FRSC), who ensured there was no obstruction. And with less police checkpoints on this route, the journey lasted for about an hour 30 minutes.
On arrival at the Music House, Ayefele’s Fresh FM office, heaven let loose; rain! Fortunately, the musician’s home is just few building away from the Music House; his arrival was a matter of minutes.
With a dedication party holding tomorrow, the Music House was beehive of activities this morning; excitement filled the air. Ayefele had, in the past, hosted parties for his younger brother’s children, but this time, the buzz is for the dedication of his triplets after 22 years. In fact, mere looking at the customised IV for the groove, you could tell it would be a grand ceremony.
Casually dressed in a smart long sleeve shirt and black trousers, Ayefele was on call when his aide led the way into his office dotted with awards and portraits.
“Please have your seat,” he said, beaming with smiles of fulfillment. Exactly on January 18, 2019, Ayefele and his wife welcomed their triplets at the Holy Cross Hospital in the United States of America.
“We give glory to the Almighty God; it’s a bundle of joy. This is something I’ve been expecting after so many years of not having any child. But I give glory to God that in the end, it’s a great surprise. I was waiting for one, but God surprised me with three. I now have two boys and a girl,” he enthused.
At the time when Ayefele hosted naming ceremonies for his younger brother’s kids, one might actually thought they were his children. However, the singer was only using the celebrations as a point of contact to God to answer his prayers.
“My siblings stay with me and in Yoruba, we say your younger brother’s children are your children. So, I’ve been using them as a point of contact that one day, God will answer my own prayers too. I’ve been their father and I handle everything about them; they are still my children,” he noted.
Now blessed with triplets, Ayefele, like Oliver Twists, is wishing for more.
“Of course, I don’t mind having another triplets; I can go as far as 20 children, this is something I’ve been praying for. You know the pains of going up and down looking for it and at the end of the day winning? Going to mountains for prayers, going to so many hospitals for series of tests?
“Yinka Ayefele is on wheelchair; a lot of people see me and think maybe it cannot happen because of my situation; it’s a spinal chord injury. But after series of tests in Nigeria, UK and U.S., I was told that everything is okay. Eventually, it happened. So, I give glory to God,” he said.
Even with many failures, Ayefele remained steadfast; giving up has never been an option.
“One thing about Yinka Ayefele is that he’s stubborn when it comes to things like this; I never take defeat. I always want to win, that’s why I’m still saying and believing that I will still walk someday. So, I don’t think anything is impossible with God. Just believe in Him; He will do it,” he said.Usually when a woman is unable to conceive after years, there’s always pressure from the man’s family to take a second wife. But, in Ayefele’s case, it was different.
“I was never pressurised; I enjoyed the support of my family members, who encouraged my wife and myself to keep on praying. I was never advised to consider another woman,” he said.
While showering praises on his wife for standing by him all through their tying times, he said, “I call her my mum; she endured a lot. I don’t know how I can describe her, somebody that has been with you for years; tried several options, series of tests, several failures… She’s one in a million. I really thank God for her courage; she really tried.”
Narrating how he met his loving wife, the CEO of Fresh FM said, “I actually met her before I had that accident. I was working with the FRCN Ibadan National Station; I used to produce jingles and most of my colleagues used to bring their jingles for me to produce. I have this friend Laitan Adeniyi; I met with his cousin, who eventually became my wife. Funny enough, few weeks after I met here, I had the accident. But she stood by me all through.”
Meanwhile, when the news of his triplets broke initially, many tagged it rumour. To worsen the situation, even Ayefele denied it.
“I denied it because the babies were very tiny then; they were born premature, so, I was afraid of losing them. You know, Yoruba believe that if you make noise about the children, anything can happen, so, I didn’t want anybody to know abut them until they were fully grown.”
With his popularity, concealing the news of his triplets was a tedious task for the musician, especially in the era of social media.
“My brother, it was hard; a lot of people are very close to me. Once I noticed that you are aware, I will call you and ask you to chill that I will announce it myself. Even their pictures, I ensured I didn’t release any of them until recently. The babies you saw in those online reports were not my babies,” he confirmed.
It took the intervention of Ayefele’s pastor to end what eventually became a sort of hide and seek game.
“He said to me, ‘God did this for you, he will definitely keep them. You don’t need to deny them; don’t hide what God did for you.’ That was when I came out to talk about it publicly. But I was initially afraid of how they look; they were very tiny. But thank God today, they are big,” he enthused.
On his reaction when the good news came, Ayefele quizzed, “Are you asking me when I got the first pregnancy test? Or when the pregnancy was one month, six month or the day she gave birth? Which one do you want me to talk about? I nearly ran mad the day we did the pregnancy test and it was positive; I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know how to explain what happened to me the night she gave birth, but I had been seeing them; I used to follow my wife for scan. It’s unexplainable,” he noted.
Recalling his years of childlessness, Ayefele said, “People talked about it, but I didn’t pay attention; it’s either you believe their own story or you believe mine. A lot of people couldn’t confront me with it, coupled with the fact that I’m on wheelchair. Everybody knows that someone with spinal chord injury might not be able to have erection or to have baby. But a lot of people gave me that respect; they didn’t come to ask me about it,” he said.
To the singer, conducting fertility tests, especially abroad, comes with huge financial implications.
“I will tell you that I spent millions; I have the grace to spend money looking for a child. I spent money in America, Britain and Nigeria. Eventually, God did it for me. Anybody that knows what IVF costs will understand what I’m taking about, especially when you are doing it abroad. The cost is heavy, coupled with the logistics. But eventually, God did it for us here in Nigeria; not UK, not USA,” he revealed.
Ayefele and his wife had tried many fertility homes abroad without success, until they consulted The Light Hospital in Ibadan.
“As a matter of fact, we have a fertility community here; this my case brought about the initiative. We created a group to assist those that need children. Those that need IVF, we support them to do it; we’ve been doing that in the last four years. Even before I had my own triplets, we supported a family and they had quadruplets at The Light Hospital in Ibadan here where I had my own. It’s one of the best hospitals in this country; he was trained in India.”
He continued: “I can tell you that treatment in Nigeria is far better than what you get abroad; I’m sorry to say that. Abroad, they will just collect your money and the moment they noticed the failure, you can’t collect the money back; that’s all. But in Nigeria, they will encourage you. We have some of them that don’t care as well here, but I have about two to three hospitals here that are very much concerned about their success story; they will want to see to the success of that family.”
It would be recalled that two years earlier, Ayefele got a prophesy about his childlessness in London.
“Yes, Prophetess Esther Abimola Ajayi prophesied to me in London. I went to her church to minister and she said, ‘We have 50 years, 60 years old women that still gave birth to children, Yinka Ayefele, God says he’s going to do it for you very soon if you believe.’ I said, ‘Mama, I believe.’ That was about two years ago and it happened.”
Since the arrival of his triplets, Ayefele’s life has not been the same.
“I think people around me can attest to that question; a lot of things have changed positively. I do naming ceremony virtually every week; I’ve been celebrating their birthday every month. Even when they turned nine months, I had a birthday for them. The first one is Richard, then Eniola and Raymond; Eniola is the first lady of the house.”
He continued: “Things have changed positively in my life; I’ve increased in many ways. Immediately these babies were conceived, my station turned to three. The month that my wife got pregnant was when we started test transmission in Abeokuta. The following two months, we got Ado Ekiti. So, Fresh FM is three and I have triplets. I’ve been increasing; blessings keep coming,” he enthused.
On his involvement in taking care of his babies, the singer said, “Of course, I’ve been taught how to change diapers; I’m doing it very well. In fact, I did it this morning before coming to meet you,” he enthused.
Born in Ipoti, Ekiti State, Yinka Ayefele (OON) had his primary education at Our Saviour’s Anglican Primary School, Ipoti-Ekiti, while his secondary education was also in Ekiti State. He later proceeded to Ondo State College of Arts and Science, Ikare Akoko for his tertiary education.
Young Yinka worked briefly as a broadcaster at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Ibadan, where he also produced jingles and musical works on radio. He was later involved in an automobile accident, which damaged his spinal cord and confined him to a wheelchair till date.
“I had been singing before my accident. I used to lead the Message of the Time Band, which was attached to the Assemblies of God Church. In fact, we actually produced a cassette, Nigeria is for Jesus, but it wasn’t as popular as the Ayefele you know today. Even before broadcasting, I’ve been singing,” he informed.
Today, Ayefele remains one of the most popular Yoruba gospel musicians in the country, constantly touring the world. He has produced over 15 albums, with numerous awards to his credit.
“I call my own kind of music Tungba, not juju. My pattern of music is heavily percussive, that’s why I called it Tungba because of the way it sounds. You know, the usual way of playing gospel music in the olden days is different from the way it’s done today. This is my own way of preaching the gospel. There’s no way you won’t be forced to listen to my music; either you want to dance or you want to listen to the lyrics or you want to listen to the sermons. I have Muslim fans, I have Christian fans, I even have pagan fans; it’s my own way of winning souls to the kingdom of God.”
On why he releases just one album per year, the singer explained, “When you are scarce, you remain more relevant and valuable. If I’m releasing two or three albums in a year, it will become monotonous. I need more time to do more research on my kind of music; I don’t want to sound like every other artiste. That’s why I give it time to bring out the best.”
Aside music, Ayefele is in love with broadcasting. It was his passion for the profession that spurred him to establish Fresh FM in Ibadan to give broadcasting an assertive meaning.
“I have been in broadcasting for years and I’ve always been praying that I can add value to the profession. What I used to do then when I was in Radio Nigeria inspired me; I was working with Kola Olawuyi. With what I saw then and the love I have for broadcasting, I wanted to add value to broadcast industry. I first started with Internet radio to test my ability to maintain a terrestrial broadcast; I had the highest listeners outside Nigeria then. Maintaining those listeners gave me the courage that I can actually do it. So, that was why I decided to apply for the licence and eventually got it.”
Though his Abeokuta station covers some parts of Lagos, having a station in the commercial city remains a huge dream for the singer.
“Well, NBC might not give us that chance, that’s why we are in Abeokuta. We were told that Lagos is saturated right now; they don’t want to allocate any frequency to Lagos for now. That’s why I’m in Ogun State, but I really wish to have a station in Lagos,” he noted.
With a thriving radio platform, one would think that setting up a TV station would be next for Ayefele, but the singer has his reservations.
“I’m afraid of going into that now, though, when God says yes, nobody can say no. If God wants me to start a TV station tomorrow, it will definitely take off. But I’m afraid of taking off visuals transmission because of the input; you have to report what you see. For radio, you don’t need to report what you see; you can generate contents and transmit on air. For TV, you must have cameras of different locations; you must report what you see, unless you just want to be showing movies and music. I don’t want to just do it because people are doing it, I want to do it perfectly; I would want to emulate BBC, CNN, Aljazeera,” he noted.
On how he copes with his music career and running three radio stations, he said, “I like being restless; I love it because I’m in 24 hours pain. As I’m talking to you now, I’m in pains; I have five ribs broken. I just make sure I keep my head busy; I go for shows, I present programmes on radio, I direct and I produce. I just want to make sure that I keep myself busy so that I don’t have time to think about anything.”
Last year, the Oyo State Government under Abiola Ajimobi carried out the demolition of section of Ayefele’s Music House, claiming infringement of some building laws. However, the remorseful government made U-turn later and rebuilt the facility following public outcry.
“You see, one thing about Yinka Ayefele is that I believe everything that comes my way, God allows it for a reason. What Oyo State Government did boosted Fresh FM and Yinka Ayefele. If anything happens today, definitely God wants to write another story about me; that’s my belief. So, God allowed it. It’s just like when God hardened the heart of Pharaoh; that’s what I believe,” he said.
On his current relationships with Ajimobi, who eventually took up the responsibility to rebuild the same structure his government’s agents demolished for violating building laws, he said, “I spoke with him three days ago; we are very close. Gov. Ajimobi will be at the dedication of my children on Sunday, he promised to come; we still talk,” he declared.
To those seeking for fruit of the womb, Ayefele said, “you must hold on to your faith, never give up. I had my children on January 18; I knew they were coming, so, I did an album for them last year. I knew my joy was coming,” he said.