The great pianist and composer, late Dayo Dedeke, has been described as a musicologist whose songs have remained popular and evergreen for decades.
The Abeokuta-born music teacher composed the popular song which promoted agriculture, ‘Ise Agbe, ni ise ile wa’ (Farming is our culture) in 1953 to commemorate the inauguration of the Farmers’ Cooperative Society in the defunct Western Region.
Many of Pa Dedeke’s choral works were published in a volume titled ‘Ma Gbagbe Ile,’ by the Oxford University Press in London in 1963.
In 1976, he composed the Ogun State Anthem, ‘Ise Ya’, which has become the celebrated wake-up call to all indigenes of Ogun State.
Dedeke also composed the first indigenous Christmas Carol, Keresimesi, Odun De (Christmas is here), popular Yoruba church hymns as well as numerous popular Yoruba folk songs.
The composer who died in 1994 was recently honoured with a posthumous concert at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry headquarters in Yaba, Lagos State.
Present at the event themed ‘Ma Gbagbe Ile,’ where Dedeke’s choral works, music and arts were showcased was the General Overseer of MFM, Dr Daniel Olukoya, and his wife, Shade.
Speaking on behalf of the family, the deceased’s daughter, Mrs Yemi Dedeke-Olanrewaju, described her late father as a music icon who inculcated good norms into children.
She said, “I want to appreciate our General Overseer, Dr Olukoya, and his amiable wife. I have always admired them from afar. I had to travel in for this programme because my siblings were not around. I know wherever my father is in the heavenly choir, he would be smiling down at us.
“I don’t know how to thank you. I appreciate you for remembering my father. He was a selfless person, who went around the whole of Nigeria to teach music, trying to inculcate good norms into our children, unlike the music we have these days where even people singing spiritual songs sing party music and they say they are evangelising. But I heard good music today.
“Music is an opium whether we want to want to accept this or not and it is a good way of reaching our youths. A lot of people had forgotten about Pa Adedayo Dedeke but I know he is happy where he is.”
Describing his last moments, Dedeke-Olanrewaju said the late musicologist had foretold his demise months before it happened.
She added, “It would be 30 years next year when he left us. Before Pentecostal singing became popular, about six months before his death, he introduced choral music in Government Houses and he was the first person to conduct 300 choirs in Obisesan Hall.
“He called my siblings together just before Christmas. I wasn’t there because I had married by then. He told them ‘God told me I should tidy my books.’ Everybody was crying and my brother said, ‘You are always hearing from God, you are going to spoil Christmas for everybody.’
“Nobody knew he was passing the message. Five months later, he was gone. That time, if you came to see him and you were going he would just say ‘bye bye’ and that was the way he left. Something tells me that he is with God.”
In his speech, Olukoya said the concert was part of the effort of the Mountain Top Conservatory in music to showcase and appreciate the works of music luminaries who have contributed immensely to nation-building.
He said, “To the members of the Dedeke family, we are happy to associate with you on this matter and give your father an honour. When I approached them and told them we needed to honour somebody, most of them didn’t know who I was talking about. It was when I sang the first and second songs. They knew the songs but they didn’t know the composer. This was why we held this concert.
“I am particularly a fan of Pa Dedeke simply because of the simplicity of his compositions; they were without complexities, straightforward and delightful tones both in the sacred and the secular idiom. My wife and I are astute lovers of music who have been patrons to many budding and excellent musicians in this country.
“We have a vibrant music programme at the Mountain Top Conservatory in music and we have a strong Department of Music in the Mountain Top University. These are the channels we use in promoting the works of these masters in Nigerian music. This particular concert is part of our efforts to appreciate and showcase the works of those musicians who have paid their dues in the music industry and nation-building.”
In 2019, the Ogun State House of Assembly passed a resolution to ask Governor Dapo Abiodun to name the Ogun State Museum after Dedeke.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, said one of the cultural monuments in the state should be renamed after the late artiste as a way of appreciating his laudable contributions to the state.
Oluomo had stated that the gesture would further encourage and promote patriotism and dignity in labour among the people of the state.