Lagbaja; The Untold Story: The Truth Behind the Mask. 

Hi y’all. So let me give you a heads up. The amazing piece you’re going to read now was written by Lord Frank, a super talented writer interested in unearthing and breathing life to the origins and the mysteries behind the fame of Real life MVPs in a creative manner. But don’t take my word for it, take his as wonderfully crafted below. Ciao👌


​I watched intently with fear and trepidation in my eyes as our lead singer, my role model; was being flogged by the merciless soldiers from headquarters. With his every cry, i flinched and shivered as the unholy strokes from the bamboo-shaped cane landed on his exposed buttocks accompanied by rhythmic “gim gim” of their iron clad boots hitting flesh and bone. After dishing out a trouncing for the ages, the commanding officer barked out in a voice that sounded like two stones grinding against each at the lead singer ‘if you sing that nonsense wey you dey sing again walahi, na kill we go kill you’. Turning to us – the backup singers and dancers, who had earlier been ordered by the soldiers to go on our knees – he smiled and said ‘una lucky sey we no beat una join today. If una like make una no leave am o, next time wey we go come hia ehn, na destroy we go destroy all of una yansh before we break all these pangolo wey una dey take make noise upandan’. They then stormed out feeling satisfied and fulfilled.

Upon their exit, the lead singer still smiling, broke into song ‘e dey pain dem o, true talk dey pain dem o, e dey pain dem o…. Eyin boys, oya make we enter studio, inspiration don dey show. Ade, go bring the joints come’. 

I looked at him in awe not knowing how to respond because I had wet myself just by watching the soldiers play kick about with him while he, the sufferee; acted like he had just been presented with an award for excellence.

It was at this point I started contemplating if I hadn’t chosen the wrong role model for my career. I imagined taking just 5 of the 50 strokes he had just received -i kid you not, I would have gone mad- or a kick from one of those giant boots- that one would equate to 2 months on a hospital bed for me. i mean, I was effing sure that if I had been the one to have received half of those beatings he took, I would never sing a song again in my life, I wouldn’t even listen to music not to talk of going near a studio.

Truth be told though, i admired the lead singer’s guts. But me, me i couldn’t take the kind of suffering he just did, constantly being on the receiving end of such a massacre would only lead him to an untimely death and God knows that after this, i will not be there to witness it.

Later that evening when we finished up in the studio at around 9p.m after recording even more provocative songs, I couldn’t help but imagine how the men in power would react when they heard these new songs; so I said to Ade while packing my saxophone into its bag ‘na kill dem go kill all of us o, how we go dey talk sey dem don kolomental or sey dem be zombie? I doubt sey I fit continue for here o. Na only me my mama born. Abeg i dey reason say make we go start our own band o’. Ade passed me the blunt we were smoking, smiled, puffed out smoke, coughed a little and said ‘you no even get mind. The people need to hear the truth, I am staying here, this is my purpose.’ I shrugged my shoulders and left him thinking ‘I no go join una die’.

That night I couldn’t sleep, my mind was in a fix. I enjoyed the music, i enjoyed the way we taunted the useless government. I enjoyed the way the people loved and respected us but I knew i could not survive the beating. Right from when I was young, I was terrible at ‘dusting’. In fact, I dropped out of school to fully face music after failing my mathematics test and the Maths teacher promised me an ass whooping the next day.

I laid on my bed with my saxophone on my chest knowing I wouldn’t really be missed afterall. Yes I was a good saxophonist but there were better saxophonists in the band. It was already 4a.m. and still i couldn’t sleep, i wanted to continue making that kind of music but without the beatings. Then inspiration struck – I literally felt the light bulb appear at the top of my head – ‘why don’t I cover my face? Dem no fit beat who dem no sabi now?’. I stood up, danced around and screamed ‘THUUUUNDEER’.

I woke up a little past 10a.m. that morning having slept like a baby. Realizing that i had missed the early morning rehearsals, I shrugged my shoulders. I’d already made up my mind to leave the band afterall.

so engrossed was I in my decision, that I did not even realise that I did not take my bath as i headed towards my mother’s shop, smiling sheepishly at no one, ruminating about the design of the mask I wanted for myself. The perks of having a tailor for a mother I thought to myself.

Hmm… “I go follow mama word sey make she no tell anybody about the mask and sey make she no allow any pesin see am’. If this mask do well I told myself, I go gather body do more. Make i go follow Aremu talk sef, hin sabi play talking drum wella. Dem go hear am, my voice dey ok and I sabi dance sef’. All these i wondered as i pondered on what to call myself. I wanted a name would would make people be like “Tani Lagbaja, Tani Tamedo?’


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