Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi’s mother, Abigail had married her first husband for 20 years without any child in Lagos. The parents of the husband separated them after the long-year barreness. “What God hath joined together was put asunder by them”
In order to hide from public shame, Abigail Oyindamola relocated to Idogo now in Yewa South Local government where she met Fabiyi, an Egba man who was a carpenter and cocoa trader.
Their marriage was unexpectedly blessed with a boy and later, a girl. This was the reason the name “Ebenezer” was arrived at in 1942. Meaning: “Niyin ni Oluwa ran mi l’owo de”. Ebenezer Oluwaremilekun Olasupo.
The name ‘Obey’ was merely sobriquet. “OBEY first, and then complain”, Ebenezer used to command his colleagues as the “Baba COMMANDER”.
Ebenezer Obey attended Methodist Primary school in Idogo where he was made as band leader in the school, this honed his music talents. He formed Ifelodun Mambo Orchestra in Idogo.
Struggle in life:
In 1957, Ebenezer Obey renamed his band as Royal Mambo Orchestra. He relocated to Lagos from Idogo with two men, Akinyomi Savage and Bamgbose Jumoda, also known as Abengo Mayana. Late Fatai Olagunju, Fatai Rolling Dollar was the band leader and Obey was with him for 6 years.
6 years later, Obey formed another band called International Brothers. He was stranded with no music promoter. He decided to treck from his base in Mushin to Lagos Island, about 20 kilometres journey, to seek for assistance of a music company, DECCA.
Obey walked from Mushin to Yaba, from Yaba to Oyingbo, to Iddo, Carter Bridge (There was no Eko bridge and third mainland bridge then) and, from there, he reached Idumota and now proceeded to Abibu-Oki Street in Lagos Island where DECCA West Africa Limited was located.
The Igbo gateman who was at the entrance initially disallowed him from entering the company but Obey told him he came to record for the company. He escaped the first hurdle. The confidential Secretary explained to him that artiste manager he would see was on leave.
Obey was confused, he left the place disappointedly.
“Eledumare, lole f’ona han ni, ayafi Oba mimo le lona han wa o”.
Obey prayed for a week and returned to DECCA, he had his way through the gate but the Secretary still blocked him. He told the secretary, “I am a star and I have come to record for your company. And my record will make your company a bigger one.”
The secratary said, “You cannot see him!” but the confident Ebenezer replied “I must see him!”
“A nrin nile, a nrin loke kama ko elesu lona Baba.. ”
Obey who trekked from Mushin to Lagos Island was frustrated and he raised his voice louder as a musician when he noticed the white man, who was the Managing Director, Mr. C. K Cress was around. The noise did the magic, it attracted the attention of the M.D.
“Obey de olohun Orin, Obey de olohun Orin, eiye to ma ba koowe ke koosi nigbo, Obey de olohun Orin.”
The white man phoned the secretary through Intercom and asked “What’s all the noise about?”
“it’s this man who said he is a star and will like to see you and I said he cannot.” the secretary replied. The MD asked, “A star?”
“yes.” the woman affirmed.
Mr. Cress asked Obey to come in.
“Sir, I am a star – a future star. I have come to record for you. Just record me and don’t pay me until when you have recorded me and you see the sales of the released record. My record is going to sell.” – Obey confidently told the white man.
The white man ordered the artiste manager, Mr. Ogunsanya to give Ebenezer Obey a trial. DECCA West Africa Limited recorded the songs of Ebenezer Obey, instead of 8 tracks he prepared for, 5 of the songs were recorded. Despite the fact that Ebenezer Obey moved round to canvass the distributors to buy his record, 500 copies of the Album were not sold for the selector’s mark, the basic requirements for the qualification.
It required just 19 copies to meet up 500 copies.
The future star failed, the staff were making jest of Ebenezer Obey. “Sir, your future star did not make it”, the artist manager told the white man.
The white man had imbued with confidence on Obey’ optimistic style to succeed. He ordered for 25 copies to rescue the future star from disqualification.
Obey’s first Album ” Ewo ohun oju ri” sold 506 copies in 1964.
Ebenezer Obey’ second Album changed his life. “Olomi Gbo Temi (My Dearest Wife Listen to Me)…Baby mi, jọwọ jeka Jo ma gbadun, Aya to mo Yayi lo nsefe Oko re, telegan ba ntan e..
Ebenezer Obey was brought into limelight with his second Album in 1965 but ‘Palongo’ which he released the same year gave him breakthrough.
Since then Ebenezer Obey has never come down in his profession. He had travelled worldwide.
Surprisingly, the Military Decree of 1972 and 1976 (Nigeria indigenization decree) brought in new owners for DECCA West Africa Limited. Both Chief Moshood Olawale Abiola and Chief Ebenezer Obey controlled the 100% ownership of the company which later changed to Afrodisia Limited. Obey became the employer of the white man, his former Managing Director and other staff of the music company. He later established his own music company. Ebenezer Obey band members included, the late Oke Aminu, Samson Ogunlade who was the band captain, Salawu and Ayodele were also among the band members. Gabriel Adedeji played agogo; he later moved to bass guitar after Obey introduced bass guitar into juju music. Mutiu Kekere played the tom tom and talking drum. Monday John joined the band after he had played with late Tunde Nightingale, La ’Olowoyo, Matthew Baba legba and Giwa Ojo were also with the band. It was Monday John who introduced playing of solo song with guitar into Juju music. “Labe igi orombo, Ibe lagbe nsere wa, inu wa dun ….”
Ebenezer Obey is still a great juju musician.
“A i ma siko lo ndaamu, Ẹda o, Ọrọ
mi lọwọ Oluwa lowa. Ire temi ko ma ni kọja