Blind Fuji Singer 13-year-old Basit is using his gift of music to overcome his limitations

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At his home in Ibadan, Basit often breaks into songs of various genres. His range is wide, and while he is most known for his fuji renditions, he sings all types of music.

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Music, the medley of melody and thematic expression in lyrics, is a gift that few people can explain in its entirety. It exceeds the restrictions of physical limitation, and for young Basit, who is blind, it is his interface with the world, the gift that carries him to places where his eyes cannot see.

At his home in Ibadan, Basit often breaks into songs of various genres. His range is wide, and while he is most known for his fuji renditions, he sings all types of music.

He is young and untrained, so for now, at least, his main instruments are two plastic bottles. With these, he has earned a reputation that spreads beyond the home he shares with his parents.

Born to the family of six in the old city of Ibadan, 13-year-old Basit is the second child of his parents. On the seventh month after birth, Basit lost his sight.

"A spiritual challenge"?

His father says, a few months after his birth, Basit was sitting outside with his parents when their landlady noticed he had a swelling on his right arm.

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After making inquiries and seeking help from opticians and traditional healers, the family was referred to a native priest who referred to Basit’s case as spiritual.

For one reason or the other, the man said he was about to lose his power”, Basit’s father recounts, “, because some spiritual powers want to kill him on the boy’s case, so he said we shouldn’t come to his house again”.

While his physical impairment has placed many limitations on him, Basit, either by resilience or the zeal of youth, refuses to be put down. He has taken his affairs into his own hands, by living his life through music.

His chosen medium is the Fuji music genre associated with cities like Ibadan and Nigeria’s South-West.

When he performs, small crowds gather around. Women dance as men who are familiar with the genre gives the retort that has made Fuji music a favourite in these parts.

"A gift from God"

Nobody taught me. It was a gift of God”, Basit tells Pulse, “When God gives you a gift, it’s supernatural

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"I can’t do any other job apart from singing”, he says, “I can’t say I want to be a doctor because I don’t know how to inject a patient

There’s no kind of music I cannot make”, he says, “I sing hip-hop, Fuji and Christian songs

It should come as no surprise that his icon is the one they refer to as the King of contemporary fuji music, Wasiu Alabi Pasuma.

From home, Basit’s gift has earned a reputation beyond the walls of his home, to the street, the market and other agoras where his music entertains large crowds.

For the young Basit, a strong will and belief have elevated his gift to something more.

It has become more than a crutch, or a coping mechanism. For a boy who one may be forgiven for underestimating, it could be his ticket to a life he never thought to dream of.

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