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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
In search of Nigeria’s favourite wedding song
By Segun Fajemisin
Read your comments and suggestions for the best Nigerian wedding songs





Listen  Listen (10'01) to a feature recorded at a Nigerian wedding in Rotherhithe, East London. (Broadcast on World Routes, 5 July 2003. Produced by Maud Hand).

The winner of best Nigerian wedding song is Mo yege, Halleluyah mo yege. Our writer Segun describes this as 'a song with strong religious overtones, especially liked by the ladies.' It uses the metaphor of Jesus taking the woman as his bride. We are currently looking for a recording of this song: if you can help please contact us here

A common streak runs through Nigeria, the most culturally diverse nation of West Africa. Despite its many ethnic divisions and tribal groups, this country of 120-million-plus observes marriage rites with fanfare and much passion.

Apart from exchange of marital vows, one vital aspect of a Nigerian wedding is singing. People sing different songs to denote the mood of the day. Some wedding songs express the joy of married love, and others have religious undertones. These favourite Nigerian wedding songs are generally traditionally composed pieces that have evolved with time and are now being played in 'modern' style by the various emerging genres of Nigerian music. Juju and Fuji, the two most popular music forms in Nigeria, have played a key role in sustaining these wedding songs.

a young 'bride' photo © Maud Hand A wedding budget will normally determine who plays there. Live Juju or Fuji music is the most favoured choice, with the UK-based Nigerian artistes pocketing between £400 and £800 per wedding. The bigger artistes, flown in from Nigeria to play especially for a couple at a wedding, may pick up anything up to about £7,000 per night. But if a couple do not have the requisite resources, they may opt for a DJ. These too are in a class of their own as the more popular Nigerian DJs will not settle for anything less than £300 for a few hours of play. And if a couple are really up to it, they may use both a DJ and a live band as BBC reporter Maud Hand and I witnessed at the Adewale and Olubukunola Taiwo wedding. (Check out our photogallery from this wedding.)

From within the Nigerian community in UK, we've interviewed five married people on their favourite wedding song. Here are their views:

Mrs Kikelomo Oyelana,
restaurateur and married person of the older generation


Listen  Listen (0'14) to Beatrix Omobuwajo and Funke Mosanya sing Irawo (Star)

Beatrix Omobuwajo & Funke Mosanya photo © Maud Hand

A wedding day is the day that any responsible maiden looks forward to. The day is a special one for any bride and her family. It is the day of fulfilment of a lifetime wish. ‘Walking down the aisle’ is the aspect that conjures the happiness that fills the heart of a bride.
My favourite wedding song is called ‘IRAWO’, meaning ‘STAR’, and it goes thus:

Irawo kan o mbe (A star exists)
Temi nikan ma ni (It’s mine only)
Irawo olokiki yen (That famous star)
Temi nikan ma ni (Is mine only)

Bi mba gb’oju mi soke When I lift up my eyes
Lati wo irawo mi To gaze at my star
A so fun mi It tells me
Ki n’fokan bale Be assured
Temi nikan ma ni It’s mine only

Dupe AshamaDupe & Yemisi Ashama
journalist

While the bit I like most is the very night of the wedding day, my favourite wedding song is:

Listen  Listen (0'14) to Diya Ojo sing Ki la n’se ti a fi po ba won yi o (Why are we gathered thus?)

Ki la n’se ti a fi po ba won yi o (Why are we gathered thus?)
Chrs: Iyawo la ngbe o; Ileke so ileke so wo-wo (We are having a wedding)
Iyawo la ngbe o (So let the passion heighten)

Dayo Olomu,
PR/Management Consultant

My favourite song is a rather popular wedding refrain but I love it, especially as sung at my wedding party by ace musician, Diya Ojo:

A dupe ada ojo, ojo pe (Praise God, the appointed day is here)
Eni lojo iyawo, oko ‘yawo maa yo (Now is the wedding, let the groom rejoice)
Iyawo a’ wole (The bride’ll soon stroll in)
Oko iyawo atun tele (With the groom by her side)

Diya Ojo,
Jelenke music exponent and most-sought-after Nigerian musician in London

Diya OjoListen  Listen (0'14) to Diya Ojo sing Ki la n’se ti a fi po ba won yi o (Why are we gathered thus?)

A wedding is rather spectacular in that it represents the climax of a man’s search for a life-long partnership. It is not surprising therefore that the occasion is usually full of singing and dancing. As a professional musician and being a partner to these joyous occasions, I normally play different songs for the celebrants, but my favourite songs are:

Ki la n’se ti a fi po ba won yi o (Why are we gathered thus?)
Chrs: Iyawo la ngbe o; Ileke so ileke so wo-wo (We are having a wedding)
Iyawo la ngbe o (So let the passion heighten)

Awa l’egbe oni’yawo egbe olola (We are the affluent bridal train)
Awa kii s’egbe olosi afi’go loso (We are no paupers, we‘ve got class)
Awa kii se’gbe olosi afi’go loso (We are the prosperous bridal train)

Tu mi gbe, oko mi tu mi gbe (Marry me all over, my husband)
Iyawo dun l’osingin, iyawo dun l’osingin (Wedding experience is sweet)
Iyawo dun l’osingin o, tu mi gbe (Marry me all over again)

Mrs Bimbola Babatope
part-time wedding organiser

Biodun & Bimbola Babatope The wedding day represents one of the most remarkable days any woman can wish for. My most favoured wedding song (the winning song!) seeks to glorify the God Almighty who makes all things possible:

Mo yege, Halleluiah mo yege (I’ve overcome, Halleluiah)
Jesu ri mi l’omoge (Jesus recognises piety in me)
O si gbe mi n’iyawo (And took me on as His own bride)
Halleluiah, mo yege (Halleluiah, I’ve triumphed)


Segun Fajemisin is Editor of Nigeria’s society magazine, Focus, published in London

The winners of our prize draw will be posted soon.



Discover more UK-based Nigerian musicians here on World on your Street:

Oludele Olaseinde and his daughters sing beautiful Yoruba folk songs in Liverpool.
Dele Sosimi plays Afro-beat at Jummy's Hide-Out.
Adesose Wallace brings traditional Nigerian rhythms to London.

For the latest news about Nigerian music and arts visit nigeriaworld.com



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