By Tosin Ajirire
Popular Islamic singer, El-hadj Wasiu Sideeq aka Babanwaka, has dropped a new VCD in celebration of Ramadan. Available on all digital platforms, the visual, E’samin (Say Amen), had its audio released in 2018.
In this interview, Sideeq, whose musical trajectory was preset from Mushin, confirmed that there is high demand for the new album.
What motivated you to become an Islamic singer?
My motivation was derived from a talent given to me by the Almighty Allah, and my father is another person that motivated me because he was a ‘were’ musician during his heydays in Asoore village, Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State.
For someone like you born in Mushin where fuji stars like Pasuma and Malaika also came from, why did you choose to sing Islamic gospel rather than fuji music?
I grew up in Mushin but I left Mushin for Agege when I was in form 4. I will say it’s predestined to be so, because if I didn’t move from Mushin the time I moved, maybe I would have been a fuji singer instead. I will sum it up that my being an Islamic musician is predestined by the Almighty Allah. In addition, it all started when I was in secondary school.
How was your growing up? Were you born with a silver spoon?
Hmmmm… I was not born with a silver spoon; I am typical Atapatadide (from humble background). My father started his life as a trailer driver, while my mother of blessed memory was a food hawker before the business later metamorphosed into a restaurant at Oko Oba, Agege. Besides, we’re not rich but we’re not pauper as well. But we were contented with what we had.
Tell us about the new album you’ve just released for Ramadan. What actually inspired it?
I’ve just released a new video flick for Ramadan. The inspiration for the video came from Allah, because if you listen to my albums, you will notice that I do a lot of prayer. So, I sat down one day and decided to do a prayerful album, which was never done before. The title of the new VCD is ‘E’samin’ (Say Amen). The visual is pregnant with prayers that cut across different fields – for mothers, workers, market women and so on. Initially, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the release of the VCD because the audio was released in 2018. I implore all my fans home and abroad to go for the album, while at the same time it will be on all music platforms. The flip side of the album tells us about the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. For example, as a Muslim, Muhammad teaches us what to say before you enter the toilet, what to say when visiting the sick, when you’re about to go out from your home, what you should say or do after you have a dream, what you should say instead of saying ‘bye bye’, and what to say if a fellow Muslim greets you etc. The album is loaded.
Tell us the albums you’ve released till date and your favourite among them?
Alhamdulillaahi Robil Alameen, I have released more than 30 albums till date, and almost all my albums are evergreen. They include Eru Olohun, Iyaale Aljaana, Eni Aye Nye, Tani, Kini, Ifokanbale, Iro Idunu, and Ya’baba to mention a few. Candidly, all my albums are my favourites because each was released for a purpose and with different inspiration.
What has been your greatest moment as an Islamic singer?
My greatest moment was when I took Islamic music to the United States of America, where I played in seven states; and going from America to Canada. While in Canada, I played in Toronto under the auspices of my music promoter, Godat Promotions based in New York.
What challenges do you face being an Islamic musician?
The challenges are many to the extent that they cannot be counted on the fingertips. But glory is to Allah that gave me the wisdom and strength to surmount those challenges.
You once had collaborations with Pasuma and Malaika. Can you also collabo with hip-hop stars like Olamide, Wizkid or Davido?
Yes, I did collaboration with the artistes you mentioned. I’m ready to do collaboration with any hip-hop act. In fact, I contacted 9ice before but he gave an excuse on religious ground. However, I have cordial relationship with Qdot and host of others.
As a former president of Islamic Musicians Association of Nigeria (ISMAN), what is your opinion on the trendy, western mode of dressing and lifestyle of some female Islamic singers?
To me, dressing has nothing to do with us being Islamic musicians, most especially my male counterparts. But the females are the bones of contention. However, the association is on this issue and others, in order to ameliorate it.