It’s was rumored that the juju maestro Kollington Ayinla was bed ridden and scouting for buyers for his palatial dwelling at Alagbado in Lagos, the widespread rumor had it that he was down with a debilitating illness that requires urgent medical attention, alas, a visit by BABATUNDE SULAIMAN to the Alagbado, Lagos home of Alhaji Abdul-Razaq Kolawole Ilori, a.k.a. Kollington Ayinla, proved that it was just a rumor initiated by some mischievous individuals. On arrival, Babatunde Sulaiman met the fuji maestro in a meeting with two of his relations within his expansive compound.
Here are excerpts from the interview between Sulaiman and Killington.
RECENTLY, it was rumoured that you were hospitalized and that you wanted to put up your house for sale in order to defray the medical bill. Could you give me the true picture of your state of health?
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I am happy you can see me sitting in my compound today. So, what kind of ailment will you say I am suffering from? I have not contracted HIV/ AIDS and I don’t have cancer either, as it is being speculated. So, why will I want to sell my house so as to raise money for whatever treatment? I am hale and hearty. I was admitted to Amcad Hospital over three months ago and the doctors diagnosed little traces of ulcer and typhoid, and I was treated.
So, I was surprised when I read that I wanted to sell my house or that I sold my house because I needed money for my treatment. Oh my God! What kind of profession have I chosen? If one farts, people will say it is blue and if one pees, people will say it is green! But honestly, there is no iota of truth in that report. If I was sick, would I be sitting here? I would like to use this medium to express my gratitude to well-meaning Nigerians who have been calling to ask after my wellbeing.
Did you grant any interview recently, where you mentioned that you were sick?
Yes, I actually granted a reporter an interview, but I am surprised he misrepresented me and injected false information in his report. Please, look at the house in question (pointing to an uncompleted building within the premises). Can I sell this kind of house? Or will I sell this other one that I live in?
Many even think you want to sell the only house you have?
If that is true, will I now be putting up at a motor park or under a bridge? Today, I am most grateful to God for His favour in my life. He has given me fame and I don’t pray for a reversal of fortune. By the special grace of Allah, I have houses and some of my children too have built their own houses. Before now, some people thought I was living in Lekki. Yes, there is a big mansion in Lekki built by one of my daughters, who is a registered nurse in the US. I had a plan for the house from the outset. So, why will I sell my house to raise money in order to treat malaria or ulcer?
What was your plan?
I wanted to use it as a hotel. However, I was advised against such a plan on the grounds that I might not be able to maintain it later on. They also advised me that it might be mismanaged by the workers. So, I was confused and didn’t know what to do with the house any more. Consequently, I stopped work on it for a good reason.
Could you expatiate?
I don’t want anyone to kill me over my property. That is the main reason I said that I could put it up for sale some day, if I so wish. The Yoruba say, Ara ile e ni, ni ota eni (Your family is your enemy). I alone know the spiritual battle I am fighting within my family. You see, the fall of a yellow leaf is a warning to the green one. All my children are faring well in their respective professions. Most of my children are graduates and they live in different parts of the world. They are not the ones after my property.
But the enemies within are those that I had mistakenly got married to in the early stage of my career. These are the people plotting my death, so they can take over my property. But I won’t allow such a thing to happen after my death. As far as I am concerned, those people who made me go through hell in life will not have access to my property. Therefore, rather than allow this property or any other one to be inherited by these people, I will sell it off. So, that was what I told the reporter. I never said I sold my house; yet, he reported that I did because of health condition. I am a not a sickler!
How will you react to the insinuation that you built the house in Lekki, which you claimed is owned by your daughter, after you played Baba Ijebu lotto and won some millions of naira?
I swear with Allah’s name and that of the holy Prophet, I don’t know how the Baba Ijebu lotto paper looks like and I have never met Baba Ijebu either. It is more than five years since I started hearing the rumour that I won Baba Ijebu lotto. They said I won N400million and that I sued Baba Ijebu to court when he defaulted. They also said Baba Ijebu promised to be paying me N1million monthly. I have refuted all these rumours several times, but nobody seems to believe me.
Maybe the people saying this have carried out an evaluation of the house and concluded that you couldn’t have built it, if you didn’t make so much money possibly from playing Baba Ijebu lotto.
Yes, you are right. But you see, as a father, whatever your child owns is indirectly yours. As I said earlier, it is owned by my daughter who lives in the U.S.
You said earlier that you made some mistakes in the past. Could you expatiate?
It is rare to find a musician, especially in this part of the world, who has not fallen into the same pit. In my case, I regret marrying many wives. If I knew things would later turn out like this, I wouldn’t have married so many women. Human beings are unpredictable! Don’t also forget that women are very jealous; they don’t like rivalry in any way. But we were too young and ignorant to know all these at that time.
In our kind of profession, if you don’t invite them (women), they will come running to you. If you have a relationship with five people, you will find someone who will be acting like Judas among them. I am not pointing finger at anyone. So, once you know that some people are after your life, even if it is a rumour, you must be very wary. So, I am trying to be smarter by wanting to sell my house, so that no one will inherit what is not rightfully hers.
If you decide to sell all your property because of the fear of attack by some so-called enemies, don’t you consider what will happen to your children?
Most of my children are graduates, so they can’t be interested in my property. In my case, I am not so educated and I didn’t inherit anything from my parents. It was by God’s grace that I got to this height in life. So, the children too will sort out themselves.
How true is the report that you have 15 wives?
No, I am not married to 15 wives! It is a lie! Yes, I have wives and children. This is one of the problems I have with the Nigerian press. They don’t build, but destroy. Well, I won’t really say that it is destructive; after all, they didn’t report that I stole anything. A white man may choose to have a wife or not and he may choose to have children or not. But nobody will make a fuse about it. Sometime ago, I was discussing with my children, in company with a white guy, at a restaurant in Chicago. When I mentioned that my problem is that none of my wives lives with me, the white guy wondered why that should be a problem for me.
But this is Africa?
Yes, you are right and I told him so. You see, in my heart, I truly wish I have a woman living with me. I want to live a responsible life. But if you are battling with a spiritual problem, it will be hard to live a responsible life. Also, once the foundation of one’s life is shaky, it will be really tough to actualize one’s dream in life. Once you make a mistake in your choice of woman or even in your affairs with women, it will take the grace of God to make any correction. So, I urge the younger artistes to be very wary of women.
So, none of your wives lives with you at the moment?
I won’t lie to you that I have a particular woman living with me at the moment. Well, those of them who have children for me come maybe when their children are getting married and go back afterwards.
Why do celebrities shy away from disclosing the number of their children and wives while they are alive so as to prevent a situation where unsubstantiated reports are peddled about their families when they pass on?
All I will say is that I am married and blessed with children. But the tradition doesn’t permit me to disclose the number of my children.
When specifically were you admitted to the hospital?
It was about two months ago. After I was discharged, I have gone to perform at Osogbo with Musiliu Isola Haruna.
Looking back now, would you say you squandered the first millions you made, as most young and budding artistes are wont to do?
If I did, would I have this kind of house? In 1983, I opened a fish depot at Adua Bus Stop. Unfortunately, I lost it to spiritual attack. At that time, I was sick for 13 years.
Did you say 13 years?
It was a spiritual attack and they couldn’t diagnose anything. At that time, former Nigerian military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, directed that I be taken to the1004 Hospital, Lagos. They ran a series of tests on me, but nothing was found. They flushed out typhoid from my system and I thank God for saving my life at that time. When I travelled to America and was admitted to a hospital, they still couldn’t diagnose anything. But I knew something was wrong with my system.
Later, they suggested that I consult traditional medicine practitioners. We then began to patronise Alfas and traditional medicine practitioners before I got well fully. May Allah grant my friend, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, eternal rest. Whenever he visited me at Crown Hospital, he would massage my legs because I was on drip. In fact, on some occasions, I would leave the hospital to play and return there. I was in and out of different hospitals. But I spent more time at Crown Hospital. The truth, again, is that it was all due to my affairs with women.
Certainly, you must be close to IBB for him to have done that for you.
It was because I was singing mostly about current affairs. I was introduced to the former president by Chief Alex Akinyele, who was then the Minister of Information. Even when my first house was gutted by fire, IBB sent a minister to console me. In his speech, the minister explained why the government’s delegation had visited me. He said it was because I had used my music to promote the government’s policies. He gave me a cheque; the late MKO Abiola, Gen. Sanni Abacha, Col. Raji Rasaki also gave me money. In fact, Col. Raji Rasaki gave me a house in Ogudu. I spent six months at the Gateway Hotel and I didn’t pay a dime. So, I beg these people to allow me enjoy my remaining years on earth. Come to think of it, am I not the owner of the house? Can’t I do what I like with it? Don’t kill me as you killed my friend, Barrister.
Did anyone kill Barrister?
Didn’t they kill him? Are you saying it wasn’t a spiritual attack? Imagine someone who was bedridden for that long. At the outset, they carried all sorts of rumour about him until he eventually died. So, people should allow me enjoy the fruit of my labour. I can do whatever I like with my property.
But people say you and the late Barrister were not the best of friends.
It is all business gimmicks! We were not enemies as such. This is a friendship that developed in 1963 when we didn’t know we would be famous at all.
What do you miss most about him?
Oh! I miss him a lot. Whenever he visited me, we would joke, play and recount old memories. Sometimes, he would just deliberately say, “Let me poke Kola” and I would say, “Go ahead and see the result.” He once came here and while we were eating, he said, “Do you know that as we sit here, some people are out there fighting one another over us?” and I said, “Yes”. One day, he came here with his son, Barry Showkey, who had just produced an album. He told me he had blessed it, but he wanted me, as Barry Showkey’s second father, to do the same. That day, he also said, “Kola, let’s put an end to this rivalry” and I said, “Who is fighting you? Are you not the one who always insults me with proverbs?” And we all laughed over it.
Recently, Queen Salawa Abeni was ill and your name was never mentioned among the people who visited her while she was on sickbed. This, to me, further shows that you have not resolved your issues.
I still spoke with her three days ago, when my daughter came to inform me that she was going to London. I speak regularly with her. I read about her illness in the newspapers and I felt that I should be the first person to know about it. I am her husband in the whole wide world; after all, she can’t be thinking of getting married to any man at her age now. We don’t have any issue. But I later visited her at home..
You claim to be her husband when you are not legally married to each other.
She has three children for me and you are still asking me if we are legally married or not.
Maybe that is why she feels she is not obliged to tell you certain things.
She was just being funny then. Now, she knows I am her husband and I know she is my wife.
Is it not possible for both of you to live as husband and wife, under the same roof since you said there is no woman living with you at the moment?
The reason we can’t live together is that I don’t want to endanger her life. If she moves in with me, don’t you think her seniors will kick against it? I am happy at the way she is. Besides, she takes care of my children. In the same way, I can’t bring in any of the other women. So, I only need to reorganize myself.
Is this the biggest mistake you have made in life?
It is because of it that I have not been more successful than I am. If not for their problem, the fish depot would still have been in existence. I made the mistake of entrusting it under the care of a woman. So, at the height of the spiritual attack, I had to sell it to raise money to treat myself, in addition to all the money I got from the government and individuals.
How many albums have you produced?