Yusuf Olatunji: The Legendary Sakara Drum Player Who Popularized Yoruba Music


Yusuf Olatunji, fondly known as Baba Legba or Baba L’Egba, was a Nigerian Sakara drum player who revolutionized the sakara music style. Born in 1908 in the village of Begbinlawo Gbagura, Abeokuta, Ogun State, southwestern Nigeria, Olatunji began his music career at the tender age of 8 as a drummer in his village.


Olatunji’s passion for music led him to join a sakara music group led by Shaki without his parents’ consent. He drew inspiration from his role models, including his cousin Aminu Yusuf, Shaki, Suura Dan Busari, and Habib Ayinde Oluwa. His talent as a lyricist and composer earned him recognition, and he formed a team of music composers led by Lagos prince Taslim Ayinde Sonibare and Salawa Abeni.


Olatunji’s band members were considered the best in sakara music, including lead drummer Pa Kasumu Isola Sanni, Olomele Shitta Bankole, Rahman Akanbi, and Onigba Sanusi Popoola Olosunde. His mid-life conversion to Islam significantly boosted his career in Yoruba music. He started his recording career in 1937 and joined Abibu Oluwa’s band in 1927.


Throughout his career, Olatunji sang praise songs for many prominent social clubs in southwestern Nigeria and befriended notable figures like Lamidi Durowoju, Jimoh Ishola, Raji Orire, and Badejo Okunsanya. His music legacy continues to inspire generations of musicians and music enthusiasts.


Olatunji passed away on December 15, 1978, at the age of 74, leaving behind four children and three wives: Mama Sabitiu Abake, Alhaja Fatima Yusuf, and Alhaja Kuburatu Abike Adebisi, also known as Cash Madam in Abeokuta, who sponsored his trip abroad. Although he died seven years later, his impact on Yoruba music remains indelible.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:




More like this

Dangote Refinery to set up terminal in the Caribbean for export of petroleum products 

Dangote Refinery is planning to set up a terminal...

Why African startups need to launch in multiple countries – Tizeti CEO

The Chief Executive Officer of Tizeti, Kendall Ananyi has...

Canal+ intends to maintain MultiChoice’s brands after the takeover.

According to a report, Maxime Saada, Chair and CEO...