Feyikemi is the daughter of the late highlife maestro, Oladipupo Owomoyela, popularly called Orlando Owoh. She talks about her fatherâ€™s music career with GBENGA ADENIJI
What can you recall about your growing up with your father?
There were many fond memories of growing up with my father. But one thing I treasure most was the way he used to call me. My name is Feyikemi but he loved to call me Oluwafieleyikemimi (My own that God has given me to pamper me). He was a very wonderful father. Though he was a musician, he nevertheless created time for his wives and children. People often say musicians are very busy. Yes, my father was a very busy man but he spent time with us whenever he was not on a musical tour. He used to buy us things and we would watch the television together. He loved Yoruba movies and football matches. We would mill around him as we watched movies and football. My father hardly left the house if he had no musical engagements. His fans and friends always visited him whenever he was at home too.
Did you ever watch him perform?
Yes, my father invited me to his performances. There was a time he had a show in Ibadan, Oyo State, and asked me to come and meet him at the venue. I was studying for a Higher National Diploma in Banking and Finance at The Polytechnic, Ibadan then. I had earlier told him I would be in Lagos to get some money before he promised to see me in Ibadan during the weekend. The party was slated for afternoon and as usual, he played very well. The host and his guests were extremely happy with his performance. When he finished, I went to meet him. Since it was late, I couldnâ€™t return to the hostel. There was something he did that day which surprised me. My father came with a female friend who I earlier saw with him before the show. But he allowed me to sleep on the same bed alone with him that night. I felt so honoured that day.
Which of your fatherâ€™s songs do you like most and why?
My father was a very talented musician. I listen to his songs in the house and in my car always. I enjoy all his songs because they are deep and well composed. I like Ganja System. I like all the songs in it. I also like Eku Iroju. To be honest with you, I like all my fatherâ€™s songs because he was a very talented artiste and a good father.
Did he not encourage you to be a singer or study courses related to music?
My father didnâ€™t encourage any of his children to study any particular course or take to music. He left us to do what we desired. I love music really and I was once a chorister and that was how far I went as far as music is concerned. Three of my elder brothers are singers; Kunle, Daisi and Tunbosun. The three of them sing well but my father never influenced anyone of us into music.
How many wives and children did he have?
My mother is the sixth of my fatherâ€™s seven wives. There are also children from other wives apart from my motherâ€™s children. We all love one another. I think that answers your question.
Did he have any favourite meal?
He didnâ€™t have any favourite food. He ate very little and it was his wives who used to force him to eat. But he liked pounded yam.
Did he have any special drink?
He drank any type of drink he wanted.
What is your view on the belief that he was addicted to hemp?
There are many people that take hemp. Some abuse it while others do not. I am not saying hemp-smoking is good. In fact, none of my fatherâ€™s children smokes. He once sang that some people take hemp too. I think attention was on him because he was a musician. Some even think it was hemp that made his voice so distinct. No, my fatherâ€™s voice was like that and not because he was a smoker.
Was he communicating with you when he was imprisoned?
His wives managed the situation while he was away for a year and half. We were very young and never knew what happened. Since he used to go on musical tours, we thought he was on one of such tours. It was when he returned that we got to know what happened, especially when he released albums about his experience in prison. Some people even congratulated us when he returned home and that was when we got a clearer picture of his travail.
Did you enjoy any special treatment in school as Orlandoâ€™s daughter?
There was no special treatment I enjoyed because of who my father was. My lecturers and fellow students love and respect him. It is that respect and love which they have for him that they transferred to me while I was in school. It is the same thing now. People I meet often treat me well because of the love they have for my father.
Is that to say your fatherâ€™s name attracts opportunities to you?
Yes, his name has helped me a lot. Many told me stories of how he played at their ceremonies, after knowing I am his daughter. There was a time a man came to my fashion store to buy some things. I was playing one of my fatherâ€™s songs and he said he was surprised that a young lady like me was listening to Orlando. He described himself as a great fan of my father. He told me how he came to perform in the US sometimes ago. I later thanked him for liking Orlando when he was leaving. That was when he asked me why I thanked him. It was then I told him that Orlando was my father. He exclaimed â€˜You donâ€™t mean it.â€™ I have received many favours on account of being Orlandoâ€™s daughter.
How did he punish any of his children who misbehaved?
My father was a no-nonsense man. He beat any child that did anything wrong after warning him or her. There was a time one of my friends in school gave me N20, 000 to keep for her. It was a contribution some of them made. She wanted to show the contributors the money the next day and trusted me to keep it for her. I kept the money in my bag and went home. When I got home, my father ordered me to bring my bag. He had never requested such from me before and I was surprised. While checking my bag, he saw the money. When he asked me where I got the money, I had to lie that it belonged to a friend in our neighbourhood. At that point, some visitors came in and his attention shifted away from me. While he was busy discussing with them, I left the room and told one of my siblings to go and meet my friend that she should say she was the owner of the money if my father should ask her. After he finished with the visitors, he sent for the friend I named as the owner of the money.
When she arrived, she said the same thing and I couldnâ€™t remember what she said when my father asked her where she got the money from. My father was convinced and asked her to go. Few minutes after, my sibling, who I sent to meet my friend, confessed to my father that I actually sent her to go and tell my friend to tell a lie that she owned the money. My father was very angry and he took a horse whip and beat me silly. That was the first and the last time he beat me. He never tolerated nonsense.
How did he settle misunderstanding among his wives?
We were unaware of any disagreement either between him and his wives or among his wives. He was a man who knew how to ensure peace in his polygamous home.
How close were you to him?
We were very close. I could tell him anything and he loved me so much. It is sad though that he couldnâ€™t live forever. Death is inevitable.
What values have you learnt from him?
My father was a very generous man. He could do anything for anybody in need. He was a very nice man. I am not saying this because he was my father. He loved to see people happy. My father chose his friends carefully. He detested liars and cheats. I have imbibed these values and they reflect in my dealing with people.
What was his schedule like?
He worked hard to make his family comfortable. But despite his busy nature, he tried to relax whenever he had the opportunity.
Where were you when he died?
I was with him in the hospital.
Did he have any discussion with you before his death?
He was unable to talk. I called him Daddy Mi (My Father) and couldnâ€™t cry at first when he died. I just looked up and said â€˜Orin Ti loâ€™ (Music is gone). I said so because nobody can be like my father. No one can copy him. His music style is unique.
How has his family been coping without him?
It has not been easy but God has been assisting us. His wives miss him in many ways too. The family remembers him every November 4. You know he died November 4, 2008. We donâ€™t even have to tell his fans, they troop to his house every year to celebrate him. We wanted to hold a five-year remembrance for him last year but we cancelled it because of the death of one of his children.
Was he sociable?
Yes, he was very sociable. He had no choice not to be sociable as a popular musician that he was. He however selected the events he attended, not that he honoured all invitations.
Who were his friends?
My fatherâ€™s friends were the masses. He hardly sang the praise of rich individuals as such. If any person did anything for him, regardless of the personâ€™s status, he would not hesitate to praise-sing him or her in his albums. A lot of people had expressed surprise to hear him praise them in his albums because of some favours they did for him. He never told them he was going to appreciate them that way.
How did he like to dress?
He liked to dress neatly. He also loved trendy clothes and never wore an underwear twice.