Tribute to late Hassan Wayam (1945-2020)


Nura Jibo MRICS


The international Hausa music community would continue to mourn and remember for a very long time the passing of Hassan Wayam Mai Kukuma (extraordinaire fiddle musical icon). Idi Bulama, my cousin called me from the village and asked me whether I have heard or received the news of his passing. Idi said he heard the news from BBC Hausa World Service. I told him to hold on until I confirm from Hassan Wayam’s family. 


As usual, I ringed the deceased’s (Hassan Wayam’s) phone number. His son, Bello Hassan Wayam picked and remorsefully answered me. I condoled and consoled Bello. 


Indeed, an anthology of traditional Hausa Kukuma and world music discography (Kida; Waka; da Rawa) would be incomplete without including the narratives of Hassan Wayam’s long-established music opera.


The emergence of the renowned Hausa music colossus:


So many people globally are asking a pertinent question on the origin of Hassan Wayam and where he got the name “Wayam” as a nomenclature that’s added to his name. 


But “Wayam” was a name that he got from singing unrewarding music. Anytime he sings music that his listeners refused him a Kobo, he used to lyrically describe those kinds of listeners that left him “penniless” as “Wayam”. Meaning: he got nothing from them. 


Prof Abdalla Uba Adamu, the current Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) could not hide his “thirst” to unravel the origin of honourable late Hassan Wayam Mai Waka. He arranged for a comprehensive interview with the late Hassan Wayam under the Visually Ethnographic Networks private effort. Interviewers of the global Hausa music giant, Dr. Nura Ibrahim and Dr. Sani Danja described Hassan Wayam as the last of the Mohicans that used lyrics to pay homage to life lessons. Wayam’s music Mohicanism and extraordinary oratories are deeply embedded in his: “Almajiri Tsuntsu ne; La lala lalalala la lala sai Wayam; Ba ni ne na fada ba; Tana kukan Kurciya tana kukan Zabuwa; Mamuda Bawan Allah; Talala Walkin Maciji; Dan Gora; Wakar Mangwaro etc”. 


Certainly, watching Hassan singing live at public ceremonies was quite pleasing and healing. His genre heals the state-of-the mind through music. 


Prof Abdalla Uba Adamu described Wayam as a beautiful legacy on earth that contributed to the music world Nishadi (improvisation in happiness). 


An in-depth discovery of Hassan’s origin reveals that he was born in a village called Bakin Ruwa in Maradun, Zamfara State, Nigeria. Maradun is therefore a very good town for students of music and African theatre to dig deep and find out the bounties of its music legends. Because it produced two great traditional Hausa musicians such as Dan Kwairo of Maradun and Hassan Dan Tsito popularly known as Hassan Wayam Mai Kukuma. 


The wisdom behind Hassan Wayam’s fiddle (Kukama):


Prof Abdalla et al. were right for describing Hassan Wayam as one of the last Mohicans. Indeed, one remarkable thing about his fiddle (Kukuma) was its global uniqueness! It’s only Hassan Wayam that could construct his Kukuma and nobody else globally! His Kukuma (music instrument) is a combination of amazing natural talent; skills; creativity; and innovation. There is nobody in the world that could produce exactly Hassan’s Kukuma, but himself. His Kukuma construct is akin to the legendary Bakka of the Niger Republic. Prof Jennifer Yanco, my West African Research Centre’s (WARA’s) United States Director and senior research colleague invited me and Prof Abdalla to the Niger Republic to watch and study Bakka’s music opera and the way he produces his music Goge. What blows the minds of the global historians and music theatre art professionals is that nobody could produce Bakka’s musical instrument in the world. He constructs it by himself. That’s why winning international concerts in New York and other places across the globe with his unique Goge is very easy for Bakka. He and Hassan Wayam are two world legends that nobody could exactly mimic their musical strings and sing their songs! The only difference between the duo (Hassan and Bakka) is in their music bands. Bakka is what I may wish to describe as a “solitaire or/and a one-man band” such as the legendary Leo Sayer whereas Hassan is a group band musician!


Therefore, Hassan Wayam got his music inspiration from Mallam Jibo Dan Dandi – a Kukuma musician that Hassan hosted in his room back in 1967-69! 


A farewell to the last bastion of Hausa Kukuma (fiddle):


One unfortunate incident that happened in Nigeria in the year 2015 was the election violence that made Hassan Wayam lost one of his heirs, Aliyu (Danladi) Hassan Wayam. Amidst military curfew and lockdown in Zaria, Hassan out of concern sent Danladi to see if the curfew was loosened so that he could buy them foodstuff and restock. The soldiers spotted Danladi out and shot him in the head. It was this pathetic scenario that made Hassan Wayam highly depressed and unforgiving to Nigeria’s Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s Government. The rest is history!


But what Hassan Wayam preaches through music, especially in one of his songs, “La lala lalalala la lala sai Wayam”, was a message of peace. He was apt in preaching a good lifestyle amongst the citizenry. 


Hear him:


“Mai tattalin ganin Hairan shi ya gano Hairan!! Mai tattalin ganin Sharran shi ya gano Sharran!!” 


When asked of the connection or link between his music’s lyrics and his drum band’s rhythmic  and synchronous drumbeats, he said “the drum beats whenever I gave my drummers direction with my Kukuma string lyrics. And so it’s a natural flow, not a recorded or planned affair”. 


Hence Hassan Wayam’s legendary music opera far surpassed that of our generation of musicians such as Jennifer Lopez; Ja Rule; and Akon. 

As we celebrate this global music colossus remarkable life achievement, please join me in praying for him for Allah’s mercies. May Allah grant him eternal rest. Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiu’n.

May Allah give Hassan Wayam’s mum; wife; children; and all his family the courage to bear his demise. He died on 23 October 2020.  


Nura Jibo MRICS, is Hassan Wayam’s lifelong music listener and very close confidant for well over 30 years now.