One person that puts smiles on everyone’s face at Erin Jesa Waterfalls is Baba Sunday Jegede. I personally call him “the rainbow of Erin Jesa waterfalls “. I named him so because he adds color to events as they unravel at the waterfall location. This beloved man is an open air entertainer who has been in the drumming business for over sixty years. As soon as he sights you from afar off, he begins to beat his drum welcoming you to the land of the waterfalls except for those occasions when he is not around.
To see the video of Baba Sunny’s drumming, follow this link https://youtu.be/alD5e3LrGHo
Actually the first beats you will hear before being wrapped up in the rhythm of the sound of the waterfalls is Baba’s voice/drumming. That is outside all human induced sounds and entertainment you will encounter at the waterfalls location.
He is a man loaded with various local songs/folklores. He is an expert in Praise singing and once he sights you he has a song ready for you. He is so adept at what he does such that when he starts singing the praise songs you may end up giving him all your money, shoes and anything else you have on you to joyfully appreciate his expertise. Like a spider weaving his webs round a prey, he weaves his songs of praise around your name, personality, appearance etc (using deep Ijesa dialect as a pattern of expression) till you are held spellbound. He is deeply rooted in Yoruba Proverbs, riddles and the magic of his tonality and rendition leaves you thinking of the “son of whom you are” or “where you are from” . He calls his musical style “ilu abalaye aladamo ijesa” which literally means his music is an enjoyable musical mishmash of some sort rendered in Ijesa language.
Once he starts singing, you are caterpulted to another realm of delight. Young ladies immediately start twisting their torsos at Baba’s magic with the young men joining too. Even those who don’t speak Yoruba get caught up in the rhythm and the singing. At times, though people came from different places it appears as if everyone forgets about his or her problems or whom they came with and just start dancing with each other. Of course those who have anything on them (money) shower Baba with it.
This mini-carnival atmosphere is more pronounced when people are returning from climbing the waterfall. Though feeling tired after the energy sapping climb, the sense of accomplishment/triumph of having conquered the waterfalls now mixed with Baba Sunny’s singing and drumming wizardry, suddenly reenergises everyone and dancing commences. At the end of it all, you get to leave Erin Ijesa with your face lit-up with joy.
Just like the last time when I came to the waterfalls, immediately I saw Baba Jegede, I knew what was coming. So I appealed to him to wait as I needed to reserve my energy for climbing the 7 layers of the waterfalls. Till date, I haven’t gone beyond the fourth layer. Well, that’s a story another time.
As I returned from the climb, Baba started serious drumming and singing as he sighted me and I obliged him. After all, said and done, I gave him a big hug, spent some time talking to him, gave him what I had kept for him (wish I could have done more).
He represents a generation of drummers that are gradually reducing in number. Modernity does not mean people should throw away any good thing about their culture.
I remember asking Baba concerning his drumming partner and he told me he was dead. I felt sad. We both shared a solemn moment when I pulled out of my phone the pictures of the last time I was around and showed him the picture of his late partner. I encouraged him and we parted, he and I feeling fulfiied and happy.
So anytime you go to Erin Ijesa, please be generous to Baba Sunday Jegede, the man I call the ”Rainbow of Erin Ijesa Waterfalls”.
To read more travel stories, click on this link My trip to Kajuru Castle, Kaduna.
If you have encountered this wonderful man, please comment below and let me know what your experience was like. If you enjoyed reading this blog post also leave your comments too.
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