Mount Fuji and African Music

A slightly peculiar discovery I recently made was that Mount Fuji was apparently the inspiration behind the naming of a kind of music born in Africa. Fuji music developed from African were music, a type of music used by Muslim people in the Nigerian region of Yorubaland. Were is traditionally a percussive form of music used to wake the faithful and call them to prayer during Ramadan, but a fellow with the splendid name of Alhaji Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister decided to experiment a bit. He and others began adding external influences, particularly from other forms of Yoruban music, such as sakara and apala. The big, percussive sounds that were generated caught on and soon Fuji music was king of the music-derived-from-calls-to-prayer-during-Ramadan genres. But that still doesn’t explain why it is called Fuji music, does it? What’s the connection? Well, there is none. It would seem that Barrister, seen as the music’s true founding pioneer, chose the name after happening upon a picture of Mount Fuji in an airport. He liked it and used the name for his new music. Barrister died in 2010 at the age of 62, but his legacy lives on. Now, in certain African circles, you can bop away to songs with titles like Fuji Shuffle, Fuji Music Any Time, and Fuji Garbage and all because a musician was quite taken by a picture of Japan’s most splendid icon. And who can blame him? Who doesn’t love a picture of Mount Fuji?

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