Dan Maraya, the iconic musician, who died last Friday in Jos at the age of 69, will be remembered for carving out a brand of music forwhich he had no competitor.
While his career lasted, the celebrated musician’s voice resonated everywhere and his music thrilled millions of his fans across Northern Nigeria where he plied his trade.
To those who knew him, right from the early days when he played for his late friend and Prime Minister in the First Republic, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Dan Maraya’s music was like balm to many people, just as it provided pure entertainment for others.
The late musician whose real name was Adamu Wayya, was born in 1946 in Bukuru, a town in the present Jos South Local Government Area. For obvious reasons, he adopted the pseudonym, Dan Maraya Jos, which means ‘The Little Orphan of Jos’.
Dan Maraya is best known for evolving a unique music style known as Kontigi. Although he became an orphan quite early in life, he did not allow the painful experience to affect his vision. He showed an early interest in music and eventually took to his father’s trade as a court musician to the then Emir of Bukuru.
Soon he became a household name in the corridors of power, bestriding most of the government houses across the North like a collosus.
Dan Maraya created Kontigi after he returned from a trip to Maiduguri. He was said to have become impressed by the musicians there. Wherever he went, he carried his musical instrument, a small, single-stringed lute along.
Although Dan Maraya, like most of his contemporaries, was basically a bard, he was never known to sing praises of government or its officials. His clients were not the rich and famous, but common folks who toiled to earn a honest living.
One of the musician’s most popular songs is titled, Wak’ar Karen Mota in Hausa (Song of the Driver’s Mate) in praise of bus conductors who shout on top of their voices as they scout for passengers in rickety cars with worn-out tyres. His eruditions on everyday living are captivating and like many of his songs, they incorporate social commentary.
With his passing on, many will remember the man whose music was as soothing as it was entertaining.
Reacting to the musician’s demise, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Jos East/Jos South Federal Constituencies, Mr. Edward Pwajok, described him as a great artist who mixed humour with music and always managed to make even serious-minded persons to laugh. He added that his words were poetic and full of wisdom.
For the Anglican Bishop of Jos, Rev. Benjamin Kwashi, Dan Maraya was one of the best faces on the Plateau and prided himself as such.
Kwashi said, “His music was as entertaining as it was instructive. He sang on different subjects. He made common sense popular, especially with his songs, Karen Mota, Dan Gaye and Zaman Lafiya. He also sang praises of great men and women. He will be remembered for generations to come.”
Also, a member of Ja’amatu Nasril Islam, Alhaji Lawal Ishaq, said that Dan Maraya would be remembered his simplicity and for his easy-going attitude to life.
He said, “Dan Maraya interacted in a friendly manner with all, especially his immediate neighborhood. His music, which focuses on the society, preached love for one another, equality and simplicity.”
He described the late musician as a moralist, who always condemned societal ills and proffered simple solutions to social problems.
“In one of his songs he says: ‘Both the rich and the poor are equal. If the rich owns a N3,000 wristwatch and the poor owns a N300 watch they will both give the same time.’ That was one of his best songs,” he said.
A member of the Ulamma Council of Elders, Alhaji Sani Mu’azu, said Dan Maraya would be remembered for composing hundreds of songs that focused on self reliance, perseverance, trust, neighborliness, unity and bravery.
Prof. John Wade described him Jos as a quintessential, charismatic personality in the music industry, who believed in the classic function of music as a universal language.
Wade, who is the director-general of research and documentation in the office of Plateau State Governor, also noted that the late musician would be remembered for his earthly works. “For me, it was a life well spent. May God grant him eternal rest in his kingdom.”
Former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in Plateau State, Mr. Chris Kwaja, said Dan Maraya would be remembered as a man who lived for peace and unity and died with songs of peace on his lips. “His song emphasised the shared humanity we all have and the imperative of upholding it,” he said.
Source: Punch Newspaper.