Musical Changes

by Ayobami Ayanyinka

Sometime about a decade ago, a Nigerian famous Gospel Artist, Lady Evangelist Tope Alabi, released an album titled “Baba Mimo, Mimo, Mimo.” This song was attracted by the youth, teenagers, and children, and the music crept into the Church. Meanwhile, the song’s tune’s origin was from a Cameroonian musician called Emmanuel Nelle Eyoum. Emmanuel Nelle was a saxophonist and he released the music in 1972. The music style is known as “Makossa,” which means “dance” in the Douala language. The meaning of “Makossa” is “Kossa.” So, it was this “Makosa” tune that Tope Alabi used as parodied music and set the following texts into it, 

Baba Mimo, Mimo, Mimo mo wa sope o,
Holy, Holy, Holy Father, I came with thanks

Mo dupe
I am grateful

Oore to se laye mi opo,
Your goodness in my life is innumerous

Mo dupe
I am grateful

Mo dupe ore igba tati bimi
I am grateful for all the benefit 

Latomo owo titi dakoko yi
I have enjoyed  since I was born

Egberun ahon koto yin O o
Ten thousand tongues is not enough to Praise You

Opelope Jesu laye mi,
If not for Jesus in my life

Nibo ni nbawa bi o si t’Oluwa
Where would I have been?

I am grateful

Mo wa yin O o,
I come to praise you

I am grateful 

Mo wa gbe O ga,
I come to lift you high

Mo dupe
I am grateful

When the music finally gained its entrance into the Church, the aged kicked against it and called it an “abomination.” However, the song was accepted by the youth, and it became an issue in the Church. The beat is a fast tempo and sweet. At the same time, people know that Tope Alabi is a Christian and she is a lover of many, but they were worried and concerned about the “Makossa beat/style.” The bone of contention was that the Church did not know the meaning of “Makosa” since it was not a Nigerian language. Perhaps, it was a tune dedicated to a god or goddess in Cameroon that was imbibed and imported to Nigeria. The Church believed that gospel artists should be creative and respect originality in their music composition to God’s glory. But later, as time went on, scholars in Christian academia started enlightening the Church about the matter. One of the classic examples that they used to convince the Church was Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (The Battle Hymn of the Reformation). They told the Church in Nigeria that the hymn tune was an adapted preexisting melody to EIN FESTE BURG that we love to sing a lot.

However, because of people’s respect for Luther, A Mighty Fortress is still being sung today in our churches. This was what cooled down the Church over the matter. They came to a consensus and accepted the song, “Baba Mimo, Mimo, Mimo. Both the youth and the adult are now singing it joyfully and enthusiastically. It has gained acceptance. Nothing was changed from the music, but it is being sung to the glory of God.