Fuji Music and Everyday Life in the contemporary Yoruba Urban Space


Oladapo Ajayi

Research Area:


The notion Big-man is part of the everyday life in contemporary Nigeria and it connotes multiple meanings – from self-actualization to community experience and a reflection of intersecting class dynamics. This chapter approaches the notion of Big-man as a cultural practice by reflecting on ontological orientation, social experiences and social stratifications expressed and articulated in/through Fuji music and performance. It explores the experience and performance of Big-man that is mediated through Fuji music as a cultural institution, and also articulates experiences of increasing global capitalism. It explores the performance of Big-man in the Yoruba popular music genre and within the Nigerian urban spaces by focusing on strategies of performing cultural continuities and new forms of social stratification dynamics.


I adopt the Yoruba oral poetic form Oriki as a motif to track changes and continuities in the so-called networks of Big-men in today’s South-West Nigeria. Oriki in this sense signifies cultural and intellectual practices of bargaining, enhancement of social status and performance of personhood. I will draw on selected works of Fuji musicians through their transcribed lyrics, interviews of both Fuji musicians and consumers, and reports from six months’ fieldwork in the urban cities of Ibadan, Lagos and Ilorin in Nigeria respectively.