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How I met Christ where I went to buy Indian hemp – Gospel singer, Joseph Adelaun aka Ayewa

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Joseph Adelakun fondly called Ayewa is a gospel singer, songwriter and televangelist. He shares his life experience with Ademola Olonilua.

You have been a musician for over forty years. When you started out, did you ever imagine your brand would be this big?
I thank God for everything but if I say
that I ever envisaged that I would be this great in life, I would be
telling a lie. I was just like the biblical Joseph who did not know how
great he would be in life even though he had visions and dreams. I was
from a Muslim background. My father was an Alhaji and he built a mosque
for the community. I had in a staunch Islamic background where we never
drank alcohol not to talk of smoking.
In our house, once we woke up, the next
point of call was the mosque and I loved God. I had dreams that I would
be great like Joseph in the bible. Like they say, no pain, no gain; no
cross, no crown. There is no one that has attained success in life that
does not have a story. There are some dignitaries in our society that
hawked several food items as kids just to survive but when it was the
appointed time of God, their star came out. One has to go through some
suffering in life before attaining success. I hawked food stuff as a
child. After school, I would take the foodstuff and hawk; in fact I did
this with my school uniform. My father was not a poor man but our
mothers made us do it as a form of training. I was raised in a highly
disciplined family, the kind of family where you dare not eat your meat
till you had finished your meal. I am saying all this because if there
is no glory, there would be no story until your life changes before you
can tell your story.
How did someone with such a strong Islamic background become a pastor?
It happened miraculously through the
will of God. Many people do not know that I did not go to secondary
school and the reason is that the year I proposed to go to Olivet High
School was the same year my father died. That was in August 1964. My
father had five wives and 16 children and after his death, we were like a
herd of sheep without a shepherd. The first son who had just left a
school of agriculture could not fend for us because his salary was just a
stipend. We all had to find our way. I did an exam to go to Olivet High
School and I was accepted but I had no money. I passed exams to study
at trade centres in Oyo and Osogbo but lack of funds hampered my
admission. So when one of my elder brothers approached me asking what I
wanted to do with my life, I told him I wanted to become an electrical
engineer. My mother was devastated. She said it was the same job one of
her friend’s children did before he was electrocuted, she began to cry
but I maintained my stand. Luckily, someone came along and told her to
let me do what I wanted so as not to regret it later in life. Then I was
taken to Kareem Electrical Engineering Service in Ogunpa, Oyo State to
become an apprentice.
Back then, Ogunpa could be likened to
the rough parts of Ajegunle and Mushin in Lagos. There were a lot of
urchins there. It was a very rough area. The gutter where we urinated
was the same place we ate and our constant food was gari and groundnut.
Most times, we had to help people sweep or do other menial jobs before
we could get some food to eat.
My elder brother paid for my
apprenticeship and I spent about two years there from 1966 till 1968 and
when I left Kareem Electrical Engineering Service, I immediately joined
the Nigerian army through one of my friends. He first enlisted into the
army and when he came home to visit, he was spending money and we
believed he was a rich man. We began to follow him everywhere but as of
the time, I was only smoking cigarette till I went to visit him and I
met him with some soldier friends of his smoking Indian hemp.
They offered me Indian hemp, initially I
declined but shortly after, I joined them and that was the first time I
took the substance. Till date, I do not know how I left that place. The
next day I woke up with gari and milk all over my body. I was scared
because my boss must not know what I was up to the previous day but I
really thank God for the life of one of my boss’s wives who covered up
for me on that fateful day.
Normally, whenever I woke up, I was
charged with boiling water for my boss to have his bath but on that day
because I was so messed up, I could not perform my normal duty. When my
boss asked after me, his wife told him that I had fever and I was
sleeping, so my boss permitted me to take the day off. I vowed never to
smoke Indian hemp but shortly after, I broke the promise. Few days
later, I accompanied my soldier friend to the cinema and when we were
returning home, we stopped to buy Indian hemp again. That was how I
started smoking marijuana in 1968. After moving around with my soldier
friends, they advised me to join the army because they were recruiting
in Agodi Ibadan. Even though I did not meet the required age
qualification, my friend urged me to enlist with the promise that he
would ask someone to influence it. That is how I joined the army without
the knowledge or permission of any of my family members even though I
am the only son of my mother. I was about 20 years at the time I joined
the Nigerian army in 1969.
I went to Abeokuta depot and after I
completed my training, I was posted to Nigerian Army Engineers due to my
skills as an electrical engineer. In 1972, I met Christ when I was
posted to the Nigerian army engineering regiment in Ede, Osun State.
That year, we went to a compound in Ede to buy Indian hemp and as I was
going back to the base, they were having a revival, so my friends and I
decided to attend and look at what they were doing. We heard that a
blind man was leading the ministration but he was very powerful. When I
got home that night, I went to pray as a Muslim and in the middle of the
night when I was sleeping, I heard someone speak to me in a loud voice
saying, ‘I am the person you came to meet and if you allow me I would
make you great. I am taking you to great places. I am Jesus whom you
know as the Prophet Isah.’ Immediately I woke up, I rebuked the dream.
Later that day, while I was sitting among my friends, I heard someone
say, ‘I want to use you for my glory.’ I told my friends what I was
hearing and I began to make jokes out of the message but they asked me
to stop. I did not know that God had chosen and prepared me since I was
in my mother’s womb. When I started going to church, my friends said it
was because I was trying to get women. They believed I would get fed up
but I went because of my conviction as a Christian. Gradually I began to
attend church programmes and the Lord began to show me some
revelations.
If your father did not die, do you think you would have become the man you are today?
What has been written has been written.
Anything that pertains to covenant must come to pass. Even if my father
were to be alive, I don’t think anybody could disturb the work of God. I
don’t think my father would have disturbed me because he was not an
irrational person. He was a staunch Muslim though. When I became a
Christian, some of my uncles were unhappy. There was a particular one,
although he is dead now, who said that if they had known I would convert
to Christianity, they would have given out the ram for my naming
ceremony to beggars and God would have been happy. They overreacted but
the Lord told me to keep quiet.
What was your mother’s reaction?
Mothers would always be mothers. She was
quite happy but she did not let the family members notice her
excitement. The main reason she was happy was because I quit smoking
Indian hemp after my conversion. She was very bothered about my smoking
habit. She felt that as a soldier, no one could talk to me but after
accepting Christ and I quit smoking Indian hemp, she was elated. I am
glad that my mother later became a Christian before she died. She lived
as a Christian for about 29 years before she died.
Before you ventured into music, was there any singer in your family?
There was no single singer.
How did you discover your talent?
I would say it was God. The spirit of
music had been impacted in me right from my mother’s womb. The Yoruba
have an adage, ‘it is from a black pot that a white pap is produced.’ We
did not have any singer in my family but God had impacted that spirit
in me because He knew He wanted to use me. Even before I became a
Christian, I had always dreamt and anything I saw in my dreams always
came to pass.
As a child, I could be going to the
market with my mother and I would see some people walking with their
head. Out of fear, I would hold my mother and yell that a certain person
was walking with his head but my mother would shut me up because she
knew the meaning. I saw a lot of strange things as a child, so my mother
decided to take me to an Islamic cleric who did some things to me so
that I would stop seeing those strange things. Despite that, could not
hinder God’s plans in my life. In retrospect, I could have been a very
powerful prophet if I was not taken to the Islamic cleric.
As someone without any musical background, how have you been able to produce some evergreen hits?
Sometimes when I listen to my music, I
am always surprised. Someone asked me one day about the secret of my
success and I told the person that if I knew the answer, it meant that
God is no more God. You cannot know the secret of your success because
the foundation of any success is God. I am a good composer but it is a
God-given talent. I was never a composer till I met God.  One of my hit
songs, ‘Amona,’ I was just sitting down one day when I began to scribble
down the chorus for my other band mate and the other lyrics of the song
came to me effortlessly as we were recording the song. That is why I
tell people that I was not the one that made the album, it was an angel.
It was a covenant album. All my albums have solid messages but they
cannot be compared to the album, Amona, because it was a covenant album
after I accepted God’s call. God had been  calling me since 1978 but I
did not want to listen to his call because I was enjoying being a
soldier.
It means that initially you were reluctant to heed to God’s call?
I did not want to listen to God’s call
because I was doing well in the army. I was the orderly to a senior army
officer, Gen. D.O Ajayi. I was in charge of everything; be it money,
food, drinks, etc. but I never took what was not mine. I was comfortable
in the army but when God’s call came, I was at the Command Staff
College at Jaji with my boss. A prophet came to meet me and told me that
I should either work in the military and wait for my pension after
service or quit the military and receive what God had in store for me.
Do you regret or feel bad about the fact that you did not complete your education?
At times I feel bad but the main reason I
don’t blame God is because he knows better than any man. Who knows, if I
completed my education I could have been a ‘Mr. Know it all’ or I would
not humble myself. There was a day I was thinking about it and God told
me that he is the one that created man and he knows our capabilities.
Since I heard that voice, I have stopped thinking about that.
Also, I would never forget Pastor
Ashimolowo.  I still have the letter of the first appointment he gave me
in London. When I got to his office, he told me that he realised that I
had potential but I should not be shy about speaking because I did not
complete my education. He said that I should call some of my members and
speak with them even if my English was not correct. Ashimolowo further
told me that I should speak bravely and with time, I would improve. He
advised that I invest in buying books. I went to a bookshop and spent
over £200, that was in 1996. When I got back to Nigeria, I bought an
English bible and also a Yoruba Bible. I would study the English Bible
and if I came across a word I did not understand, I would check the
Yoruba Bible for its meaning. That was how I trained myself gradually. I
tried to employ a teacher at a time.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you founded your Ayewa group?
I faced a lot of challenges but our
forefathers had witnessed worse. I was just able to overcome due to the
discipline I learnt in the military. If it is possible for me to enlist
in the military again, I would because I still like that job. I love the
job so much because of its discipline. I don’t like lies, so I do not
indulge in such. I faced a lot of challenges but I don’t dwell on them
because I know that God is in control. I know that if I put those
challenges at heart, that would be a burden to me and I would not be
able to face what God wants me to do. I am just glad that there has been
no history of conflict in the group and if any member wants to leave, I
pray for them and we depart amicably. I am also thankful to God that I
have never buried any of my band members. This time last year, we had an
accident and even though some of my band members were hurt, I thank God
that none of them lost their lives. Two of my sons were in the vehicle
with my band members but I thank God there was no casuality.
How many albums have you released in your career and which would you say is your favourite?
I don’t normally pick a favourite album
out of all my works. The Bible says all what God created are beautiful
and fine. All the messages God gave to me are beautiful and fine. The
grace in each record may differ from each other but they are all
impactful. I don’t think I have any favourite album and I love them all.
At 67, do you have any plans of retiring from music?
Do people retire salt from soup? Until I
die and God says it is time for me to come home, I would continue to
sing. I love music a lot. Although I am a minister in CAC, the
retirement age in the church is 75, I am praying to clock 75 years on
time so that I can face my music squarely.  I don’t think I can retire
from music.
Why did you choose the name Joseph after you converted to Christianity?
When about nine of us from the military
converted to Christianity, they asked us to line up and choose Christian
names, I picked Joseph. Later, Pastor Akande told me that I would face
what Joseph in the Bible faced. He said that it was an angel of God that
opened my mouth and gave me that name. He said that I would face envy
and jealousy but I would also emerge victorious in life. I thought it
was a joke because I did not have anything worth being envious or
jealous about. I did not know he was talking about the future. Till
date, if I know that you don’t like my ministry, it does not move me.
Everybody is my friend but I know where I am heading.
I don’t talk anyhow and my family
members know that about me. That is why I said that being a military man
has helped me a lot. Even when someone comes to backbite with me, all I
do is watch and when it becomes too frequent, I tell the person that I
do not like such an attitude. At first, people began to avoid me
especially my family members but I pleaded with them not to do so
because I need information but the correct one. Not information that
would pollute my mind.
Does it mean that if you come back to this world, you would still want to be a military man?
Yes, I would want to be a military man
because of the discipline in the army. If I had an opportunity to join
the army again, I would do so.
How did you meet your wife?
I met her in a miraculous way and I know
that God chose her for me. I went to Ile Ife to visit a pastor who is
now late, Pastor Josiah. My wife also went there to see one of her
students who was a prophet and her mother’s pastor. She was teaching in
Gbogan, Osun State, at the time. When we met, another pastor was around
and he said aloud that she was my wife. On the spot, I told him not to
say such because we were about to embark on a spiritual journey to the
mountain. Ironically, we left that location to another place and we met
my wife there again to our surprise. Then another prophet saw us and
called me aside to tell me that she was my wife. I went to pray about it
because I am a very prayerful person and God told me she was my wife.
He further told me the kind of woman she was and my visions about her
turned out to be true.

Tireni Adebayo

Tireni Adebayo is the Editor of Kemi Filani News.She has BSC in Mass Communication from the Redeemer's University and M.A in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos (2014 - 2015) where she majored in Public Relations and Advertising and Digital Media.  When she is not writing, she is either listening to music or reading her favorite books.Tel: +2348000000901 Address: Herbert Macaulay, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria Email: [email protected]

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