Excerpt from Road One
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With the university’s one-year ban on concerts and variety shows now lifted, following the Skalamity tragic events and devasting deaths of the previous year, a handful of organisers decided to host shows. With full compliance with the university’s increased safety measures, and with the memory of the departed students front of mind, the organisers of Tudmont swung into action. As Nigeria’s foremost inter-university competition between music bands, Tudmont was the main contest every campus band wanted to win. The event was exclusively hosted at Ife University’s Oduduwa Hall.
On Tudmont eve, a Friday night, Turbo, Mayowa, Banji and a new friend to the group gathered to psych themselves up in the lead-up to the show. The new member of this group of friends was Dapo Olaiya, a third-year Building Technology student. Turbo and Dapo had been friends for a year. Given Dapo’s love of music, Turbo was eager to introduce him to the group. Dapo resided in Quarters. Turbo thought that the eve of the musical extravaganza would be the ideal moment to bring Dapo along to meet the group. If we all met beforehand and reminisced about our favourite songs, we could all go together and enjoy the show, Turbo reasoned.
It was a given that all four boys would attend the Tudmont show, even though it meant each boy skipped two or three meals that week to rustle up money for tickets. All four boys were sat on the bonnet of a lime-green Volkswagen Beetle parked outside the Health Centre. They did not know whose car it was. Each boy called out the title of a favourite song, and the group followed by jointly singing through. As they fondly recalled their favourite songs, an excited member of the group would leap off the Beetle’s bonnet, unable to contain his excitement. Now standing, unrestrained by sitting on the car’s bonnet, he was free to gyrate, twirl and dance. They alternated this sequence. Occasionally, all four simultaneously leapt off the bonnet as if choreographed. Turbo played air bass guitar – more emphatically when warranted by a song’s infectious bassline. Dapo mimicked drumbeats using his vocal cords.
One of the songs that drew simultaneous leaping off the car was the 1981 hit “Your Wish Is My Command” by Lakeside. Mayowa and Turbo began playing air bass guitar. After the friends’ rendition of the song, Mayowa remarked how in the song’s music video, two members of the band each played a double-necked electric rhythm guitar. Lakeside was well-known for using these guitars.
“Was it a gimmick?” Mayowa playfully asked.
Dapo pondered the same question. “Did the band really need double-necked guitars or was it partly for visual effects and to promote an air of superior guitar-playing prowess?” The boys spent the next ten minutes discussing the topic, sometimes vehemently disagreeing, before reverting to enjoying the moment.
The Whispers’ song “And The Beat Goes On” generated a similar response. With this 1979 hit song, Mayowa and Banji chimed out the title in unison, as if pre-arranged. All four boys agreed on the song’s greatness, earning it instant classic status. Turbo teased the younger Mayowa and Banji, noting the pair would have been no more than nine years old when the song was released. The friends remarked on the striking and signature rhythm guitar sequence that kicked in a few seconds into the song. Before long, Turbo called out some words from a favourite song. Without requiring prompting, Dapo responded by vocalising the song’s rhythmic, pulsating opening drumbeat. The group joined in, each friend chirping in with whatever instrumentation he was most comfortable singing or humming. “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense”, released four years earlier in 1984, was Turbo’s favourite by Fela. Turbo was in his element, playing air bass guitar to the song as he did when Banji and Kelechi first met him in Mayowa’s room.
The friends started their music rendezvous at 9 pm on Friday. At 6.30 am the next day, as the sun was rising from behind Awo Hall Block 4, Mayowa remarked, “We should go to sleep soon o.” With a big smile on his face, it was obvious he only half-meant his comment. The others laughed, and Banji called out another song. They continued recalling their favourite songs. They carried on with their spirited entertainment for another hour and a half till 8 am on Saturday, Tudmont day. Finally, after spending eleven hours there, the four friends parted ways, to meet later that evening ahead of the much-anticipated show.