I will reform traditional drumming in Ikorodu -Kazim Ganiu-Sanni

Hadji Kazim Ganiu-Sanni is one man who represents two essential careers in the society. He is a learned and career journalist who rose to the highest echelon of the profession as a Deputy Editor In Chief of the doyen community newspaper in Nigeria, Oriwu Sun; yet, he is a traditionalist who performs cultural percussion like the traditional drum.

He has balanced both careers for decades and rose to the peaks either way. Recently, on August 17, 2021, Hadji Kazim was installed and capped the ‘Olori Onilu’ (King of Drummers) of Ikorodu Division. The event attracted leading drummers of Ijebu descents from Lagos, Iperu, Sagamu, Ilishan and Ikenne land to Ikorodu as they rejoiced with him. Kazim Ganiu-Sanni, who is a trained journalist from professional journalism institution, is a passionate supporter of tradition and a skilled drummer who is set to reform the drumming profession in Ikorodu Division.

In this interview with RAMSON ACHEME, Hadji Kazim unveils his plans for drummers across Yoruba land.

Q: What is the significance of the office of Olori Onilu of Ikorodu Division?

A: Drummers play significant role in our tradition and they are well recognized all over the Yoruba land. The traditional system has a place for drumming and it adds to the beauty of our tradition. For example, the “Gudugudu” is a special drum. Ifa oracle sometimes directs the Oba or important people to appease it through some rites. We play traditional drums not western fanciful drums. Cultural drums are required in traditional functions. The traditional institutions often consult with head of drummers before public community events. They could also consult with the ‘Olori Onilu’ whenever a drummer is found wanting in the community. My office plays significant roles in the society.

Q: Did you expect to become the ‘Olori Onilu’ of Ikorodu before you were elected and capped?

A: Actually, before my predecessor, late Chief Raimi Aro who was also my uncle was appointed six years ago, I was billed to become the ‘Olori Onilu’ of Ikorodu Division, but he was my uncle and senior in the profession. He started performing before I was born so I believed the honour should be given to him, hence, I recommended him and pleaded with the council to crown him. So, when he passed on last year, the group did not hesitate to install me as the ‘Olori Onilu’ of Ikorodu Division.

Q: Now that you have been capped, what are your plans for the group?

A:  I have many plans for the group and some of them will be unfolding very soon. Firstly, I plan to organise seminars for drummers in the division. The crux of the seminar will be on sensitizing them and rebranding our personality as noble artistes in the society. I want our members to take their physical appearance seriously. The way you dress will determine how you will be treated. When drummers dress decently and nobly to perform, they command respect and will be treated with dignity. I cannot perform in a public function as a drummer and not be fully dressed in my traditional attire with cap.

Our fathers who drummed before us, dressed in decent attires and they were accorded the deserved respect in the society. 

There were occasions people called me while performing and spray me lots of cash because I’m always fully and decently dressed. My father raised graduates from drumming and built a house out of it. He sent my siblings and I to higher institutions from the proceeds of drumming. Only when people are respected they can make decent living from the trade. Secondly, I will like to review some of our fading traditions regarding to drumming profession. So, I will lead a delegate of drummers to the Kabiesi, His Royal Majesty, Oba Kabiru Shotobi, the Ayangbure of Ikorodu, to discuss fading cultures like the “Aporan” drum. The drum plays key role in our tradition but people rarely play it today. Though, in places like Iperu, Ijebu and Remo land, the “Aporan” drum is still being played, but in Ikorodu, it is losing its significance.

 For instance, tradition demands that first and last children of newly installed traditional chiefs go on compulsory exile during the rites of their fathers. The “Aporan” drum will then be played for the children whenever they are making entry into the community, after their fathers have completed the rites.

Thirdly, I will institute an annual Ayan festival in the division and invite drummers from across Yoruba land to participate. During which, there will be display of culture, competition among drummers and review of our functions in the society. The Ayan festival will serve as forum to enlighten and educate drummers on relevant issues. There is this perception of poverty among people that drummers are always poor, I want to do something about that. I will be organizing a cooperative society among members  of drummer group where financial resources will be pooled together sothat members can get support.

The fund will be made available to members who plan on becoming fulltime musicians and needs to acquire other musical equipment. Also, members who intend to diversify by engaging in side business will have access to start up capital.  And I will register the group with government to have a proper structure and legal rights in the society. Also, I would like to bring non-registered drummers into the group so that we will have a strong system in the kingdom and save them from exploitations.

Q: During your installation/capping as the ‘Olori Onilu’ of Ikorodu division, daughter of your predecessor said you performed at her father’s funeral till you broke drums, what is the significance of that?

A:  For those familiar with our traditional system, they will understand that it has to be done during the funeral of any renowned drummer. It is a rite of passage for famous drummers that living drummers perform till drum is broken. I actually broke three sets of drums during my predecessor’s funeral. One drum was broken each day of the three days rite.  My father also received such honour during his funeral.

Q: It is said that drumming runs in the family line, however, your children are studying professional courses in the university. Will they maintain the family tradition in your lineage?

A: I am encouraging my children to pick interest in the trade, but there is limit to what I can do. I do take some of my children to perform at functions and show them how it is done. But, it’s up to them to continue with the trade. I can only encourage them; I can’t force it on them. Somehow, I deeply believe that it will continue in my lineage, even if not with my children, my grandchildren might show interest. My grandfather was a famous carpenter, not a drummer; yet, my father, Pa Ganiu Sanni Ayegbajeje (a.k.a Ganiu Onilu) took interest in drumming and developed himself into a famous drummer in the division. I really wish my children would continue from wherever I stop. When my father was aging, he started making me lead drummers of his band at public functions. I was only 12 years old when he started grooming me for the art and I would play the talking drum to the awe of many elders. I once overheard my father telling someone that: “I trust Kazim, he will continue drumming after me.” That encouraged me to devote myself to the art.

Q: Now that you are crowned king of drummers in Ikorodu Division, will you still perform in public events?

A: O yes, I will continue performing. It is my calling and trade.

Q: You are a career journalist and a drummer at the same time, how do you balance the two because they are both demanding?

A: I plan my itinerary for the day. For example, whenever I have functions where I am invited to perform, I would take permission from my publisher to attend the event, after which, I will go to the office to complete my official tasks at night. These happen once in a while. That’s how I’ve been balancing the two for over two decades now.

Q: During Your installation, you received massive support from fellow drummers from Sagamu, Iperu, Ilishan, Ikenne and Sagamu, how did you make that happen?

A: That was because we have maintained good relationship with our counterparts in Remo land and Ijebu land for years. However, the reason many of them turned out en masse was due to the respect they have for my late father, Pa Ganiu Sanni Ayegbajeje. During his time, he traversed Ikorodu, Remo land and Ijebu land with his performance. When they heard I was been capped, they came to honour my father. You could see how they performed, stayed till late night and showed me love. We will continue to maintain the good relationship established over the years.

Q: What is your favourite food?

A: I love eating Eba, but my diabetic condition forced me to stop eating eba. Now, I eat more of Amala with Ewedu soup and fish.

Q: What can people do to get on your nerve?

A: Normally, I am a calm person. I get edgy when people disturb and interrupt my performance. I could react negatively when people get in my way during performance.

Q: How do you unwind?

A: Being a Muslim faithful, I don’t drink alcohol. I do socialize with people, mostly I like being around elderly people.

Q: Can you give us a brief insight into your drumming career? A: I have a band of fourteen-man group and we are all drummers who play different types of drums. I enjoy the tune of traditional drums and the message we send through the talking drum. When we perform, I could praise people with the tune of the drum, and recite their ‘oriki’. I can also embarrass a bad fellow with the tune of my drum. The Yoruba talking drum is an essential element of our tradition. During events, I charge reasonable fees. For those I know personally, I charge less. And when invited to perform outside Lagos, the charges are usually higher due to cost of logistics and other expenses involved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: