Though death has stopped the beat of highlife singer, Fatai Olagunju, popularly known as Rolling Dollar, his family wants his fans to keep the tempo going, writes GBENGA ADENIJI
The location was the Millennium Estate, Oko-Oba, Agege, Lagos residence of deceased highlife singer, Fatai Olagunju, otherwise called Rolling Dollar. His two wives, Zainab and Serifat, some of his children including Sikiru-who is the singer’s 50-year-old first son, wore a pensive mood as our correspondent walked into their home.
It was evident from their faces that they were yet to come to terms with the reality of the death of the 86-year-old songbird, Rolling Dollar, who breathed his last on June 12, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the acclaimed “fairest and freest” election in Nigeria. The musician shot to stardom a few years back via a successful album, Won Kere si Number Wa. But despite his fame, the family is worried about the education of his younger children.
One of the children, Jamiu, told our correspondent that he was still saddened by the death of his father, expressing uncertainty over his future. He explained that he and his other siblings would miss their father’s pieces of advice.
The young Olagunju regretted that his late father was unable to fulfil the promise he made to him concerning his education.
Jamiu stated, “Anytime he was around, he used to advise us on things we should do and the ones we should avoid. He promised me that he would make sure I studied up to university level. It is unfortunate that when my father was making the promise, he did not know that he would die this year.”
He added that when the news of his father’s death was broken to him, the first thing he remembered was the promise he made to him, regarding his university education.
“When I was told about his death, I remembered what he promised me. I also thought about my education. It is my desire to be a singer like my father but I want to go to school first. To honour my father, I will take to music someday. He became popular as a highlife singer but I want to be a hip-hop artiste,” he added.
Rolling Dollar might have arrived on the big stage late in life but his works were recognised by highlife lovers, music buffs and fellow musicians. After his death, President Goodluck Jonathan was one of many notable individuals who praised the good work of the late singer. Zainab, who had just finished saying her prayers, told SUNDAY PUNCH that she was yet to believe that her husband had left her forever. She recalled that she married the musician after her first marriage failed, adding that Rolling Dollar was yet to hit the stardom when he married her.
She said, “I was staying with an aunt at Olorunsogo, Mushin area of Lagos about 13 years ago when I met him. I used to see him pass by but I did not know that he had interest in me. I was a bit sick when he called me on a Sunday. He jokingly asked me if I would not mind preparing Ramadan food for him because it was the fasting period. He later noticed some patches at both corners of my mouth, indicating that I had been sick. I told him I had used some drugs but he insisted on buying some more for me.”
Zainab said the musician did not even stop at that. According to her, he also prepared rice and asked one of his children to take some to her house.
She added, “I later learnt that the year he met me was exactly three years after the death of his wife, who left three children behind. We got married in 2001 and I promised to take care of the children for him. His caring and honest nature drew me to him.”
She further stated that the family was apprehensive of how to cater for the children of the late artiste, who she said, did not leave anything behind. Zainab appealed to his fans to stand by them at their moment of grief.
Rolling Dollar’s younger wife, Serifat, who said she bore a boy and a girl for the deceased singer, also reiterated that their husband did not leave any money to train their children.
When the highlife maestro was alive, Serifat said he cared so much for the children and would do anything to make them happy. But his death seemed to have caught her and the rest of the family unawares.
“Our husband did not leave any money. We hope his fans and government will stand by us. The major challenge we are facing right now is how to ensure that our children continue their education. I am a businesswoman and I only survive on the little profit I make,” she stated.