How I helped discover Ayinla Omowura, 88-year-old Apala drummer narrates

One of the members of the musical crew of Ayinla Omowura, the late Yoruba musician who sang a genre known as Apala, has narrated how the band was formed.

The 88-year-old Rahmon Adewale spoke to PREMIUM TIMES at a public function in Abeokuta, about 35 years after the death of the popular singer.

Mr. Adewale, a retired drummer, narrated how he invited Omowura to become the lead singer for the group. He said it was while beating drums at public events across Abeokuta that some of his fans suggested to him to look for a musician with good voice to complement his efforts.

“I was an Apala drummer, who entertained residents of Abeokuta and environs,” he said in Yoruba language. “When my fans cherished my performance and talent, they called on me to get a musician with good voice to complement my efforts.”

“This was what led to my search, and I thereafter discovered Ayinla, who was then a trainee with a late Apala musician, known as Osho Oba.”

Mr. Adewale, popularly called ‘Onilu-Ola’, which means ‘successful drummer’ in Yoruba, stated that the first time he approached Omowura to join him for a musical show, the latter expressed fear that his boss would not allow him. He said he persuaded the singer to lie to his boss that he was sick.

The drummer said the first show he attended alongside Omowura was at Igbogila in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State. He said it was after the event that the band was encouraged to start producing albums.

Mr. Adewale also narrated a conflict he had with the late musician.

“I dislike cheating. When money was coming in, he was not showing concern for my welfare,” he said. “After complaining severally and he was not yielding, I decided to pull out from the band; but the quick intervention of some of our notable fans saved the situation and thereafter we resolved our differences.”

The octogenarian also refuted insinuations that Omowura was a drunkard, saying “he was a lazy drinker, who after taking two bottles of beer, would not go beyond that.”

He also narrated how the singer died in 1980.

According to the retired drummer, Omowura was trying to retrieve a motorcycle he bought for one of the band members, called Bayewu, following differences between them. The singer trailed Bayewu to a beer parlour in Ago-Oba area of Abeokuta, to retrieve the motorcycle. A fight ensued between them, and in the process, Baiyewu was alleged to have smashed a thick glass cup on Omowura’s head, who slumped and died thereafter.

The drummer also said he played a role in Omowura’s marriage after the wife’s parents initially rejected the relationship due to what they believed was the musician’s stubbornness. He said his intervention and appeal to the parents made them agree to the wedding.

Mr. Adewale said the crew was disbanded after the death of Omowura.


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  • Olu Balogun

    “Adewale Onilu-Ola” was notably a frequent line in Ayinla Omowura’s lyric. Onilu-Ola’s signature drumming was the key to Omowura’s brand of Apala. Baba thank you for your contribution to this genre of music. Epe l’aiye o. Amin

    • ola

      Thank u Mr Adewale Oniluola for ur contribution to Egun mogaji’s music. I live abroad ayinla’s music is what brings me back up whenever am down. May the Almighty Allah grant Alhaji eternal rest.

  • Akeem Olalekan Somade

    Ayinla Omowura music is ever green till date while Adewale Onilu-Ola type of drum beating is rare. Long Live Adewalwale Onilu-ola

  • Murtala Shittu

    Ayinla Omowura is a great musician and Adewale Onilu-Ola is a good drummer.They both understood themselves perfectly.Their music is meaningful and full of good lyrics.Ayinla Omowura is good & confident of himself,he used to praised himself at interval when he is singing.These method is not common in Nigeria musics,Omowura introduced the system.Long life Adewale and May God grant Omowura aljanna firdausi.Amin.

  • jay

    his real name is ADEWOLE ALAO ” ONILU OLA”