Bolaji Rosiji: The Musical Monk


Mar 26, NIGERIA (VANGUARD) Bolaji Rosiji, the newly elected President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria(PMAN)is committed to transforming the music industry. As a monk of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, he has vowed to bring into the musicians fold, a moral revolution capable of awakening the potentialities of the sector.

It is no accident that the newly elected president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, (PMAN), Bolaji Rosiji, is where he is today saddled with the responsibility of not only re-writing the history of music as a cultural art but also, to restore and reposition the industry as a sector capable of harnessing its huge potentials in making strategic economic returns and contributions to national wealth.

Sitting confidently in his office tucked away in the congenial ocean front located at Badagary Road, Apapa, the vibrant musicians' leader brimming with hope, thumped his chest saying: "I am not feeling any thing new from the way I have felt before. Here in this modest edifice, we quarter an NGO by the name Gauranga Foundation, which, one of its mission commitments is to promote and empower musicians. We also have two recording studios and musical equipment as well as music shops.

"Again, it was not too long time now that we were sending free food to PMAN office so that workers could eat. So, I am not feeling anything new other than that I now do these things or should I say, that I will now be doing these things in a more official capacity. No wonder then, that prior to the election, people had already started calling me PMAN president.”

Ironically as it were, Bolaji is a monk /priest and he is damn serious about it. "I am a priest of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, the Hare Krishna,” he tells you. "But as a priest," he continues, "it is my duty to encourage members of my constituency to harness their creative potentials towards a more positive development ends of the country. It is also important," he continues, “to understand that in all religious traditions, music plays a central role either in its traditional or modern sense. In Christianity, it is doing this in both traditional and modern sense, while in Islam, it is tending towards modern as the group continues to see the need to be more relevant in modern times.”

However, he summed up his commitment to the music industry as a monk in the following terms: “By playing my role as a socially responsible person, and also realizing that music is an important sector capable of making positive changes in society. And by also understanding that music is like a knife, which can be used like a surgical tool to effect healing or be turned as an armed robber’s tool to cause harm or death to individuals.”

And based on these commitments, Bolaji told Sunday Arts that "I have resolved to work with musicians in my constituency despite whatever religious convictions one upholds, rather than allow it to cause division in society. We should fight hard to bring it to cement us together in our greater commitment to the exploring and exploitation of our cultural and spiritual entities for the good of all.

It is rather disheartening that our languages are dying, and our cultures are eroded by the passing day. We as musicians and I, representing PMAN, should be working alongside the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to see how we can reclaim our glorious cultural past.”

He, however, decried the violence and wave of crime that music as an art form of verbal expression, has wrought in the Western world and advised that musicians, no matter from which creed, should represent the prophets sincerely and faithfully.”

Considering the level of confidence that Bolaji exudes as he reclines in his seat this evening, one begins to wonder where he is coming from. But he is quick to tell you that “Mind you that I am the secretary-general of Nigerian Network of NGOs, which places me in a unique position to know how many NGOs there are and to interact with them. As PMAN president also, I can now bring the organization into a strategic partnership with any of the NGOs for a positive enhancement. We are also aware of the resolve of the G-8 countries to make available $50billion aids grant to Africa and it is these NGOs that will monitor the disbursement of the grant and now, PMAN can benefit from it by working in partnership.”

Beyond all these, Bolaji explains that PMAN under his tenure, will work on a three-vision routes: the vision of PMAN as culture, music and development.” I must add that it is the intention of PMAN under my tenure to make music as not only being relevant to your entertainment pages or arts pages but also relevant as well to lifestyle, politics and in the cover pages of newspapers.”

Come to think of it, one may begin to think that Bolaji is eminently qualified and capable of doing all these lot to change the face of the music industry. As a young boy, he had had his early education in both the UK and France, where elitist traditions and high culture is well respected. Again, as a young boy, he was exposed early to the beauties of musical performances and music as his father, the late Chief Ayo Rosiji was a renowned patron of the arts and virtually founded what is today known as the MUSON Centre in his sitting room.

Reminiscing, Bolaji tells you: "I started playing violin at the age of 10. As a young boy, I schooled in the UK and there was no way one could study in the UK without studying music because it was compulsory. And at the school, I was secretary of the School Choir for four years.”

Even as he walks his august visitors round his enchanting edifice that houses two performance studios, a temple for Krishna devotees, a vegetarian restaurant, a gift shop that showcases some of the finest fabrics of Indian and other Asian countries, and jewelleries as well as a bookshop housing some of the oldest books in the world written in their original languages of the Sanskrit, he gets back to his dream of transforming the musicians' body.

“My concern for PMAN is not about changes. It is more about changes that are going to be very shocking. Shortly after our elections in Kaduna, we went about scouting for a piece of property for Kaduna PMAN. Today, I can tell you that we have got a property in Kaduna. We have also got offices in Ogun State and in Oyo State. We are also hoping to open up about 12 new offices.”

And to cap all his achievements within this short period, he has promised to lead the performance of his first single solo on the day of his inauguration. The performance, he disclosed, parades about thirty-six musical instruments to realize what he describes as his “Afro jazz.” Indeed, Bolaji’s emergence as the new president of the musicians' body can be described as that of a monk that promises to cleanse the musicians’ debris.


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