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Ayinla Omowura was the child of Wuramotu Morenike and the blacksmith, Yusuff Gbogbolowo. Without any formal education, he began working at his father’s forge before leaving to take on a number of occupations as a driver, butcher, carpenter, and bus park kid. Adewole Alao Oniluola, an Apala variation, who eventually became his lead drummer and began an apprenticeship, however, was the one who first came across him.
Omowura had a reputation for getting into arguments with other musicians, even some who were better than him, such as Haruna Ishola, whom he subsequently admitted to being his boss. He also had disagreements with Dauda Epo Akara, Fatai Olowonyo, Yesufu Olatunji, and Ayinde Barrister. These disputes left their mark on his discography. He had a reputation for having a short fuse, using marijuana, and getting into fights.
Ayinla wasn’t educated, yet despite this, he was knowledgeable about current affairs and he was a master of puns, proverbs, innuendos, and metaphors. He was a social critic, commentator, and moral guide. He frequently acted as both the government’s representative to the people and the people’s voice to the government. Most of his moral ethics and social critics are reflected in his music and this is why to date, people love his songs.
Ayinla was well known for a number of things, including his distinctively ornate agbada, his gold jewelry, his affection for ladies who ran beer bars, and his spirituality. He openly spoke of his “adversaries’” unwillingness to see him fail in his songs, expressing his confidence and self-assurance.
Omowura was raised a Muslim, and he participated in religious activities and made the Hajj in 1975. But he also followed conventional religious customs. He was married to Tawakalitu Owonikoko and Afusatu of the Ile Eleni clan.
He was one of his generation’s most influential social commentators during his short but significant musical career. He is also remembered in Nigerian music history as the creator of the Apala style, which Ishola popularized.
If you were born in the early ’40s or ’50s, you probably do not have to sweat to know Ayinla Omowura, unless you are not a fan of Apala music. To some who were born in the ‘90s, including the one privileged to write this story, we only get to watch the “Ayinla” film, directed by Tunde Kelani and written by Ade Derek Adeniji.
Apala music is a style of traditional Yoruba music that gained popularity during the colonial era and immediately afterwards. Although its precise origins are still unknown, there is general agreement that it emerged as “a musical response” to awakened believers during the holy month of Ramadan, along with were, Sakara, and fuji.
In the late 1930s, Waheed Ayinla Gbogbolowo was in Abeokuta, Ogun State, to a blacksmith father and a trader mother. It is said that he worked alongside his father during his formative years. According to some sources, he had previously worked as a commercial bus driver, as the majority of people his age at the time.
Ayinla’s music career was the first thing that made his life significant enough to be documented. The name of Ayinla’s mother inspired the appellation “Ayinla Omowura,” which translates to “Ayinla Son of Wura.” Alujannu Elere, Eegun Mogaji, Hadji Costly, and Agbejapa Oba were some of his other aliases.