As waka singer, Queen Salawa Abeni, plans to release another album, she speaks on the nature of a sickness that has kept her off the musical arena in the past few years.
About four years ago when Waka Queen, Salawa Abeni, was still very sick, fuji creator, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, went to see her in her house. As soon as the woman who was in a deep pain saw him, she struggled to say, “Alhaji, am I going to die now?”
Trust Barrister. In his characteristic life-is-good inspiring candour, he tried to rekindle her hope and assured her that she still had many beautiful years ahead of her.
But just imagine how nature can play a fast game on any mortal. Today, the Barrister that was prophesying longevity into Abeni’s life is no more. The waka singer recalled this encounter in Lagos on Friday when she was narrating the difficult experience she went through in the past five years when she went from one hospital to the other, trying to get healing for a sickness that started as a general weakness of the body.
She says, “Yes, my one and only daddy Barrister! I paid a tribute to him in this album. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace. Dr. Barrister used to call me Omo baba e – daughter of his father. He asked me to send my house address and he came with five members of his band. He talked to me and made a strong statement, saying, Omo to maa sin Alhaji oni ku loju wa. (The child who will bury Alhaji will not die young.) It is unfortunate that he could not witness my recovery,” she says.
Enthusiastically noting that the tough days are over, she is now returning with a new album which, although she declined to give its title, can best be called ‘Testimony’, based on its contents.
She says, “I just finished work on the album. I was out of the scene for some time due to the sickness but I’m telling you that I’m fully back on stage. I just finished work on the album last week Saturday. In the album, I first sang about my sickness. People have said a lot of things like, ‘She has a stroke’, ‘She is now paralysed ‘and all sorts of things. Instead of answering them one after the other, I have decided to put everything in the album to let people know that I am a human being. It is true that I fell sick, but God has taken control. I thank God I have survived.”
But there are indications that she still needs some time to fully recuperate. According to her, during the five days she recorded the songs, she only went to the studio in the morning. The reason, according her, is that once it was afternoon, she got stressed up. She adds that she recorded with all the members of her band.
On how the ordeal started, she explains that in the first week of her sickness, she felt a bit of tiredness and she called her doctor to check her blood pressure.
“The doctor said my BP was up and I needed some rest. After four days, I was discharged from the hospital and, two days after, the headache persisted. After some days, I went for another check-heck up in England. Although the doctors discovered nothing, I was still very weak. I later went to Paris, France and stayed there for two weeks. When they did not discover anything major, other than the fact that I was weak, I returned to Nigeria.”
She adds that the doctors eventually told her that the stress she suffered had developed into hypertension.
Acknowledging that Lagos State Government supported her when the she was sick, she gave kudos to her 96-year-old mum who, she notes, took care of her. She had lost her father in 1990, when she was 23.
Salawa assures her fans that she will not disappoint them now that she is back on her feet.
She notes, “My sickness pushed me a little backward but by the special grace of God, I will re-gain all I have lost. My lovely fans at home and abroad have been calling me and contacting me on Facebook and Twitter asking, ‘Alhaja what happened?’ I am using this opportunity to thank them and urge them to continue to support me.”
Born in 1961, Salawa started singing very early, when she was in the primary school – which she never started until she was 13.
Although the contemporary waka music was created by Batili Alake, it was the exploits of Salawa that popularised it, especially beyond Nigerian shores. While she has had her own share of some of the tell-tales that trail celebrities – including marital ones – she has proved that talent is a big thing when discovered and put to proper use.
Her fans will always remember some of her hits that include Indian Waka and Experience.