prince bamidele bajowa and ODUA DE
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prince bamidele bajowa and ODUA DE

Band World Folk


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"Artists for Development Was His Destiny"

Dave Bowden
Published on Aug 15, 2008

According to the ancient traditions of the Yoruba people of Western Africa, when a child is born its family consults an oracle to find out what its future holds.

Such was the case in Nigeria when Prince Bamidele Bajowa was born into the royal house of the Rebuja dynasty of Osooro. However, Bajowa's family did not tell him of his fate. He grew up in Okitipupa, Nigeria, never knowing that he was destined to be a person who passes goodness on to other people.

"They never told me," Bajowa said of his family. "I grew up, went to school, came to Canada and went to university here . . . But I was never satisfied."

Bajowa had no idea he was fulfilling his destiny when he founded Artists for Development in 2005. The Guelph-based organization uses the arts to raise awareness and money for development projects Bajowa has established in Osooro, his native region of Nigeria. Many of the initiatives focus on educating and engaging youths, which Bajowa sees as the most effective way to make a lasting impact on the area.

"That's the way we can really help the youths," he said. "Give them skills that will make them independent in the future."

Bajowa's own independence came when he chanced to discover a community college in Lethbridge, Alberta. Two friends of his from Nigeria went to school in Alberta and told Bajowa of the college. He applied, was accepted and moved to Lethbridge in the mid-1980s, a leap he now calls "a blessing."

After graduating from college, he completed a degree in business administration at the University of Lethbridge in 1987. Despite gaining Canadian citizenship that same year, he returned to Nigeria upon graduation to take a job in a bank.

He recalls feeling bored and unfulfilled with his new career. It was during this period that Bajowa's grandfather, a village chief who knew of his grandson's destiny to spread goodness, encouraged him to return to Canada to take up his true calling.

"That's where your life is, that's where your work is and that's where you'll be more useful to humanity," his grandfather told him.

Inspired, Bajowa returned to Vancouver in 1993 and founded the Odua Drummers and Cultural Society, a precursor to Artists for Development. He taught and performed ancient forms of Yoruba music such as drumming and dancing, skills he first learned as a child of 10. He kept only enough money to get by and pay taxes while saving the rest for his planned development projects. He said that as soon as he moved back to Canada he knew how to raise awareness for his cause.

"The arts allow us freedom," he said. "Through drumming, painting, all these things, one is inspired to say: Okay, how can I benefit (other) people?"

After moving to Guelph in 2005, he established connections with like-minded artists in the area who wanted to assist his efforts. They founded Artists for Development that same year and have been working to raise awareness for Bajowa's work in Nigeria ever since. Bajowa said he knew immediately upon arriving in Guelph that the diverse and socially aware population would make the Royal City a perfect place for his work.

"I believe Guelph is a sacred city," he said. "Here, we greet each other, we always stop to talk to people. It's a global village."

He's organizing an exchange in October that will bring professionals from Guelph-Wellington to the Osooro region to see how they can apply their trade to help create sustainable projects in Nigeria. When he returns to Guelph, he wants to establish a Spiritual Music Festival that will highlight the rich cultural heritage of his people.

With a government that is at best inefficient and at worst corrupt, Bajowa said making people aware that Nigeria can thrive despite the government is a key component of his work.

"They say in my language, 'Out of a black pot comes the whitest porridge,'" he said. "There are lots of good things happening (in Nigeria). It needs to be shared."

This year Osooro has much to celebrate. The Zebulon International school which Bajowa co-founded celebrates its 10th anniversary, while multiple new projects, including the UN-sponsored schools and a new sports complex, are in the works.

After all his success, Bajowa's mother finally revealed to her son that he's living the life that the oracle predicted for him many years ago.

Now that he knows he has a destiny to fulfill, Bajowa said his resolve has never been stronger.
- Guelph Tribune


CD releases
Inspiration - Ishipaya - 2007
So ‘ro mi da’yo – 2008



Born into the Royal House of Rebuja Ruling Dynasty in Igbotako, Osooro, Ondo State, Nigeria, I started drumming and dancing at an early age. My music embraces traditional African folk and contemporary music of the Yoruba people of western Nigeria.

I am a solo performer, workshop facilitator and I also perform with ODUA DE – Ensemble, playing African Highlife, Juju and Afro Beat music set to melodic songs about life. The group also performs contemporary gospel music in English and Yoruba.”

My efforts in preserving Yoruba heritage both in Africa and in the New World, have been blessed with many opportunities of travels amongst the Yoruba people in Nigeria.

As a traditionalist, and Ifa (Orunmila) initiate, I divine with sixteen cowries and palm nuts. I am also the custodian of my family’s ancestral masker Egungun Ayeloja Igbotako, Osooro, Ondo State, Nigeria. I use music and storytelling to bring awareness to my effort in preserving Yoruba heritage and culture. I am now sharing these experiences in Canada through music and dance.”

Coordinator - Odua Drummers, Vancouver B.C
Artists for Development, Guelph Ontario
ODUA DE ensemble ( African High Life, Afrobeat music)

Yoruba Drum Rhythms: I teach the techniques involved in creating Yoruba drum rhythms. This Workshop is designed as a drum circle. Different Yoruba rhythms and their use is explored including drum communication such as call and response and drum language using Sakara, Gangan, Bata, Djembe, and Kpalongo drums.

Drumming With Children: Interactive storytelling and drum circle/workshop for children age 5 and up. Using Sakara, Gangan talking drums and Djembe, basic drumming techniques are taught. along with song and chants of the Yoruba people.

Talking Drums: Learn to play Yoruba talking drum from a master. Hear and feel the sound of Gangan and Sakara, learn the intricate techniques involved in creating sounds and rhythm from these ancient drums.

Exploring the ways of the Orishas: This is a spiritually filled workshop. Patterned as a circle, drums and prayers are used to invoke individual spirit. Involve chants, prayers, incantations, sacred songs and stories of Yoruba deities and their nature.

Egungun Dance: ancestral mask dancer is ushered in with drums. In Yoruba Land, this sacred dance is used to bless gatherings of people and community. Involve incantations, prayers, songs, chants and sacred dances and drumming.

IFA Oracle: Experience Sixteen cowries and Palm Nuts Ifa Divination. Share in the blessings of this ancient Yoruba knowledge from Africa.

IFA Reading and Prayer: Receive your own IFA reading directly from the oracle, and learn prayers to ORI your head; the most powerful of all deities.