Today, I have summoned the courage to pay.
Mike agreed to play at my debut concert for 30k on November 28, 2004, but I was only able to pay 24k (which was a sum of loans I took from over 20 people), I promised to balance him the remaining 6k at the concert venue. The concert was supposed to be a fundraising event to raise 4Million Naira for the musical equipment I needed to float a music training project. But during the concert, after the envelopes had gone round, I called one of the ushers and asked “how much came in?” It felt like the cold hand of death hugged me when she said “4000 Naira sir”. My bowels started purging, and I prayed for a moment, “God pls let this be a dream”. But then I knew it was reality as Mike Aremu was already looking in my direction and giving me signals. The concert was only halfway into it’s program, but I knew danger was looming as everybody – from sound engineer to decorator had cash balances to collect. As a smart guy, I took the 4k from the ushers, I looked left and right and sneaked out of the hall; I ran swiftly out of the compound, cross the road to the other side and hopped on a bike. The aboki asked “Oga where”, I said “just dey go front, make we commot for here first”. That was how I escaped home and switched off my phone! My mother and siblings suffered the consequences after the show.
Stop laffing! It’s a serious matter!!
13 years down the line today, thinking back, I realized Mike Aremu gave me my first biggest boost and support in showbiz. I needed to organise my debut concert and at all cost I wanted an A-list artist as the headliner, but I couldn’t afford one. I approached over 10 big artists, non accepted to perform for a low fee. At the verge of giving up, one Sunday after service in House on The Rock (then at the Muson Center) I approached Mike, with doubt knowing he was the hottest solo instrumentalist in the country then (signed to Kennis Music). Mike simply asked me “how much do you have?” I was afraid to make an offer because the least he was booked for then was around 400k, but I summoned courage and said “30 000 Naira”. He smiled and said “ok I’ll do it”. I was embarrassed! That was too huge a favour that I still can’t explain till date, cos we had not met before that day. Mike didn’t only accept that token, he also showed up for every rehearsal and came early to the show, performing for over 45 minutes.
It was through that singular act of favour of 13 years ago that I experienced my first major failure in showbiz and learnt the preliminary principles of success in music business.
Mike Aremu is an amazing guy: he is kind, he is is one of Nigeria’s finest musicians in terms of skills, professionalism and personality. Mike Aremu is an under-celebrated hero: he is a trailblazer – he paved the way for today’s commercial solo instrumentalists in Nigeria, yet unassuming and down to earth.
I celebrate him and appreciate him today for that seed of encouragement he gave me 13 years ago. That event was a big defining moment for my career.
My hope is, after he reads this, he will cancel and forgive my 6k debt: as it is written “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”.