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Why I relocated to America, converted to Christianity- Adewale Ayuba

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Fuji maestro Adewale Ayuba, also known as Mr Johnson, has shared the reasons behind his move to America and his conversion from Islam to Christianity.

Ayuba, who began his music career as a teenager and released his first album, ‘Ibere (beginning)’ in 1986, is famous for albums like ‘Bubble’, ‘Turn Me On’, ‘’Ijo Fuji’ and ‘Koloba Koloba’.

During an interview on comedian Teju Babyface’s ‘King of Talk’ podcast, which was shared on YouTube Tuesday, Mr Ayuba, who is also a dancer, revealed that he and his band travelled to America for a summer show in 1995.

However, the Ogun-born singer said they were unable to return after their three-month show ended due to threats from the late military head of state, Sani Abacha.

This was in response to an album (title undisclosed) Mr Ayuba dedicated to advocating for the release of political detainees, particularly the late Moshood Abiola, in 1995.

He said: “I left for America with my full band members in 1995 for a summer show and others. We came to America for about three months and then returned to Nigeria. Before we left Nigeria, we recorded an album asking the government to release all the political detainees, particularly the late Moshood Abiola. We had the album ready and released it just after we left Nigeria. So, I received a call from Abuja saying that the late Sani Abacha was looking for me. They asked if I was back and told me they loved me in America and that I should stay put.

“I returned to Nigeria in 1998 when Abacha died. The three years I stayed in America were by the grace of God because He is a good planner. When I was in America, I realised that I could only perform shows on weekends. My Monday to Friday was free. What could I do with it? So, I enrolled in school. That’s where I met my wife. After that, I partook in a lot of activities. Doing so was like I started building another foundation in America. That was not easy. From there, I completed my documentation and became an American citizen. So, I’m already a citizen of this country. It’s part and parcel of me.”

The 59-year-old said there were rumours about him working at a gas station in America, with some even claiming he was arrested.

He also said he couldn’t debunk or confirm the speculations for fear of the Abacha junta finding his location in America.

Post-Abacha’s death

The ‘Ariya’ hitmaker stated that he returned to Nigeria after Abacha’s death to perform at the Benson and Hedges Concert 1998 held in Lagos State.

Mr Ayuba further said while he was in America, he signed deals, managed his band, and performed at various shows.

“I’ve gradually developed a passion for education since day one. I envision myself as a lecturer or teacher whenever asked about my aspirations. Completing my bachelor’s, pursuing a master’s, and eventually obtaining a PhD to achieve this goal. I don’t see myself continuing in Fuji music; I believe I have done well, and this is America; there’s more to explore in life, trusting that God has a plan.

“After winning a lottery, I travelled to Nigeria in 1998 intending to collect the prize and return home (America). I had decided to leave my singing career behind. However, an unexpected opportunity arose when Benson and Hedges approached me at Queensborough Community College in New York. They invited me to participate in a Lagos edition of the concert across Nigeria. They told me how enthusiastic my fans were shouting my name during the 1997 concert; I agreed to attend the following year (1998), possibly unaware of the impending demise of Abacha,” he noted.

He added that while he returned to Nigeria for the concert, his band members, who had left with him, couldn’t return because they were married and working.

“So upon arriving in Nigeria, they arranged my booking and payment. I assembled a new band since I couldn’t expect the members who travelled with me to abandon their businesses and families. However, we still perform together in America; they remain my bandmates. Yet, they couldn’t join me in Nigeria, so I formed another band for the show.

“Then I realised they didn’t allow me to perform until the show’s end; they scheduled me last. They explained that 80 per cent of the audience wanted to see Adewale Ayuba, as they had not seen him for three years. I took the stage around 6:30, returning memories of why I returned to Nigeria.”

Christianity

The singer revealed that he converted from Islam to Christianity because he was inspired by the Bible verses, ‘Seek Him first’ and ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’.

Ayuba noted that religion is a relationship between humans and God, emphasising that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

He added that religion is a personal choice, saying he chose Christianity because he understands it and desires to be closer to God above all else.

“People claim Ayuba is a Muslim. Have they seen me in the mosque? If I were practising Islam, wouldn’t someone have noticed? Why is this an issue? Can they let me be? They say I should pray five times daily, but I’m not; yet, no one has approached me. Perhaps they’re indifferent to my life.

“My mother is an Alhaja, and although my father never went to Mecca, we practice Islam at home. So, my name is Ayub, which is Job in the Bible. When you mention Anabi Isa, you’re referring to Jesus Christ. I need help understanding Arabic. It’s not that being a Muslim is good or bad. When I attempted to practice it, I had to summon some Alphas to help me communicate with God because I didn’t understand Arabic. I questioned whether I should continue despite all that God has done for me, needing others to intercede on my behalf.”

The Fuji star expressed disappointment with how Nigerians practice religion, stating that he was accused of tagging Muslims as killers.

He said: “Would I call my mother a killer? There isn’t an album of mine where I haven’t referenced Muslim words. We worship God. When we look at Indians, can we say God doesn’t bless them? Similarly, are the Chinese not blessed? In Nigeria, Christianity encompasses various denominations like Cherubim and Seraphim. So, there are many facets to God. Nigeria is unique in facing its problems; instead of addressing our national issues, we dwell on trivial matters.

“To me, religion is akin to education. However, I chose Jesus Christ because he proclaimed, ‘I am the truth, the way, and the life.’ This is my personal choice, and it brings me happiness. He invites us to reach out to him exclusively. Many of my band members are Muslims, and we pray together. Would I reject their prayers in Arabic, believing they are cursing me? Consider that Moses is Musa and Ibrahim is Abraham. I was unable to attend Arabic school due to my profession. I prefer to worship where I feel closest to my God.”


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