Unlike other genres of traditional music which are becoming extinct, Fuji music has continued to remain popular in Nigeria. To those who are indifferent to the fuji, the name Suleiman Alao Malaika may not ring a bell the way Pasuma or Obesere do. But to enthusiasts of the brand, Malaika is well ahead of the duo. He has released hits that sold over half a million copies, and has performed in various countries. He spoke with Sukanmi Ogunade on his metamorphosis and his current moves.

You started with a unique style of music, what is it about?

I started music at a very tender age and because of my passion for music, I did a lot of wonderful things when I was growing up. What I basically started with was a kind of particular music called the ‘Were Ajisari’. It’s a kind of music that you sing to wake people up during Ramadan periods. That was what I started with and during that time, I got a lot of compliments any time I did the Ajisari, a lot of people advised me to continue doing it. It motivated me a lot to do music. I stopped the ‘Were Ajisari’ and delved into fuji music fully in 1985.

Why did you stop the Were Ajisari?

I stopped because I wanted to do full time fuji music. It was not as if I was getting money from were. There was no money attached to it, it was a voluntary thing. It was only when Ramadan was around the corner that I did the ‘were Ajisari’ kind of music. It’s a kind of music that you render early in the morning to wake up people to prayers. I actually did it for two years before diverting to Fuji music.

When you started Fuji music, how did you finance yourself?

Firstly, with the support from my God and my parents, I was able to raise the funds for the execution of the career. My mum had a major problem with Fuji music simply because it did not benefit my dad when he was into it. She also asked me to back out at first simply because she believed there was no financial gain in it. I thank God that I did not stop that time. At the end of the day, she supported me wholeheartedly. I thank God for my life.

Compare Fuji of 1985 and this time

In that world, what was happening during that time has actually changed. Whether positively or negatively, it has changed. During that time, a lot of technological instruments were not available but now, we have all. During that time, Fuji artistes were limited to certain things but nowadays, we see Fuji artistes getting involved in a whole lot of colourful things. It’s just as simple as that. It has changed a lot and another wonderful thing that has happened over time is that foreign individuals have come to identify with Fuji musicians. If you watch well, you will discover that most of the good Fuji musicians in Nigeria travel abroad for quality shows. Nigerians in Diaspora always welcome any fuji artiste with heart blowing reception. All this were not really available back then.

Why are the Fuji musicians always fighting?

It’s very normal to disagree with one another. This same thing happens everywhere in the world and it’s not only Fuji musicians that disagree among themselves. It happens everywhere even in the movie world. Heavy emphasis should not be laid on the Fuji world, the press people always stretch quarrels between Fuji artistes beyond the normal and this always increases the disagreement line. The reason you get to know is when the artistes refuse to settle the quarrel amicably. When you quarrel with someone, you lose your focus. It’s not worth it and basically and if you look at it today, it has been reduced in the Fuji world.

Pasuma and Saheed Osupa had a very terrible fight that shook the Fuji world, what actually happened?

I don’t want us to start raising unnecessary issues again. They had a disagreement and we thank God today that they have settled it amicably. The whole matter has been buried and both are best of friends now.

Is the music business profitable?

Yes, it is profitable. If you are a fuji musician or a hip hop artist, what you have to do is: simply create your own style. If you define your style and you discover that your fans love it, you continue to push it hard, refine it and add flavours. In the fuji world, for example, Wasiu Alabi Pasuma’s style is different from my own, Saheed Osupa’s style is different from Remy Aluko’s style. That is just the way it is. You define your style and make your own money. It is very profitable if you channel yourself towards the right path and sing what your fans would love to hear.

What is your view about politics in Nigeria?

That is one desperate killer. Politics is a very dirty game and I feel it is for the extremists. Nigeria is a blessed country but our leaders would not just allow us move forward. This country is lacking behind and nobody is doing anything about it. all we hear is celebration; the so-called our rulers would celebrate one unnecessary nonsense and spend millions of naira on it. Worthless things carry away our money. We marked 50 years of independence, what were we celebrating? 50 years of backwardness and suffering? There is no constant power supply, no good roads, no education, it is strike today, rally tomorrow, no water, and economically we are down! Why are we happy? I just pray that one day the saviour would send somebody who would take this country to the Promised Land.

Do you know we don’t have natural disasters in this country. That is one thing to be happy for, what do you think?

We are talking about the political situation of the country and you are saying natural disasters; that is a blessing from God. We need somebody who would come and take us to the fulfilment land. We don’t have earthquakes and the rest of them, glory be to God but I am saying this country must move forward.

How do you relax after work?

I relax with my family. They are here in Nigeria and anytime I am free, I spend my time with them professionally. Sometimes, I watch movies or lock up myself to sleep deep.


There are no major challenges but I naturally know that if you want to achieve anything in this world, more challenges will come your way but if you put your trust in God you will overcome. Some people always complain about Fuji artiste having more than one wife, think about it, it does not mean anything. You can get married to as many wives as you want. If you know you can balance all up together, you should continue. The fact they mention Fuji artists is what I don’t understand because, any man who has the strength can get married to any number of wives.

How do you balance up with the number of people you work with?

It’s just God. I try my possible best to be good to my boys. I don’t treat anybody anyhow. The truth is that if I don’t like your person, you would never be allowed to work with me. I treat them like they are my family members. You just have to be open minded and straight forward. it’s as simple as that. I don’t lock up myself; I do what I have to do at the right time. I am a very free person. I work with those’ I like.

Are you planning to further your education?

Yes, I have commenced that already. I am currently running a part time course in Lewisham College England. I don’t spend too much time away again.

You are one of the strongest Fuji artistes in Nigeria, how do you feel about that?

Feel good. I just keep doing what I know how to do best. I am gifted and I have known that so many years ago. I don’t brag or display un necessary traits. I just do my thing in my own way, pay respect to the young and old. Like I said, improve on my style and listen to corrections from people. We are all learners, nobody is an island. Life is simple and should be enjoyed pleasantly.

Advice for the young ones

Be loyal, respectful, have faith, confidence. With all this factors, you would fly.

We hear that Fuji musicians are very fetish, how true is that?

(Laughs) It’s everywhere. Fetish individuals are everywhere. You don’t have to be specific here. We all have different believes and relationship with our creator. It differs. I don’t know if anybody is fetish. I believe in the creator and he has been my refuge all this years.

What is your relationship with Alhaji Agba and Alhaji Kollington Ayinla?

They are my father’s in the industry, we have a very cordial relationship and I respect them a lot. They have been there before us and are still doing it