life of Idowu Animasawun

Unveiling Animasawun, the Ex-Apola King in “Preserved for a purpose”

by Church Times

Idowu Animasawun, one of the leading musicians in Nigeria who reigned from the 60s to the 80s; would have gone with the winds.

He was as popular as Ebenezer Obey and Sunny Ade. Known as Apola king, Animasawun bestrode the music world like a colossus; wined and dined with the who is who.

But when the appointed time came, he submitted all his prowess and talent at the feet of Jesus. He abandoned music and went straight into rural missions.

His name is now more synonymous with Badeku; a village in Oyo State where he has his mission’s headquarters and where he holds regular seminars and training programmes for missionaries.

The book

His autobiography, titled, Preserved for a Purpose, which is being presented to the public on February 15, 2024, captures the story of his life from the cradle to when the book was put to bed in 2023.

Through the book’s lens, one can see the sociocultural evolution of Nigeria. One is also able to see the emancipation of Animasawun and the courageous steps of faith he had to take at the peak of his music career.

An overview

Divided into 16 chapters, the reader begins to have a feel of the collection right from the preface where the author confesses that writing his autobiography is a “tedious task” as he had to fulfill episcopal engagements.

An introductory note by Ambassador Yemi Farounbi gives an overview of the book. But the reader still has to read through the 222-page collection to savour its essence.

The incredible sense of history and penchant for precision displayed in the book by the author puts the book in a class of its own.

The Cradle

Chapter one is titled Cradle. Here the author gives a graphic account of how his mother, while carrying his pregnancy suddenly went into labour; and how a man who had no medical knowledge saw her through delivery using a broken bottle to cut the umbilical cord.

The author revealed he wore a pair of shoes once from 1938 when he was born to 1956. The author lets the reader know that primary school pupils in his days were taught in the Yoruba language in their first three years in school.

He shared some of his childhood pranks. He recalled one night when his brother saw him in the dead of the night about to go outside of the house to urinate. His brother thought he was seeing a ghost. He ran back to sleep.

Animasawun who noticed how shocked he was when his brother saw him quickly went back to sleep too. His brother later woke everybody including Animasawun that night to narrate how he saw a man walking in the house. They all agreed it was the ghost of their late uncle who had come to visit the house.

Rather than debunk the insinuation, Animasawun did not say a word. The revelation was just coming to the open for the first time in the book.

It is instructive to also note that Pastor Animasawun was named Idowu Adisa Seidu Sunmonu at birth. The first time he saw electricity was in 1957 when he moved to Mushin, Lagos. He also recalled how he was part of school children who went to welcome the late Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Philip at the Ijoko Railway Station in 1956 when they came to Nigeria.

Read also: Idowu Animasawun, ex-apola king still breathing missions @ 83

Other chapters

The subsequent chapters of the book titled Ajegunle, Commotion in the Family, Secondary School Days, and Houseboy in Lagos give a chronological account of Animasawun’s life in his growing-up days.

He recalled the intrigues that played out in his family, the mysterious passage of some close friends and family members, his love for football, and how he suddenly wanted to change from Islam to Christianity in 1957 because of the lifestyle of a schoolmate called Cornelious Okoduwa. But he did not follow up on the decision.

Animasawun tells how he absconded from Lagos to Ibadan in a chapter titled, Absconded from Lagos. The emotional part of the story is how his mother had to start looking for him and was asking people from door to door. She eventually stumbled on him in Ilesha present day Osun State.

The book goes on to give an account of the author’s return back to Lagos and how he fell in love with Music. He was first exposed to the music of the late Adeolu Akinsanya and then to several other genres of music during his stay in Lagos.

Rev Animasawun

Music career

The chapter; Music Career talks of all the popular musicians in his early days. He was taught how to play the guitar by Abbey Beckley and from there met with some other mentors who exposed him to the rudiments of music.

As far back as the early 60s Animasawun had been exposed to the international stage. He performed at the inauguration of the Organisation of Africa Unity in 1963. He freelanced with several other artists. His decision to fully take to music in 1963 was met with resistance by his father and his siblings.

But that would not stop him as he finally formed his band in July 1966. That was when he changed his name to Idowu Animasawun, because according to him, “Animasawun is a better stage name than Sunmonu”

From that humble beginning, his band became so famous and known among important people in Nigeria. He had the opportunity of being a music instructor in the Nigerian Army Band.

The author was however quick to mention that one John Ndisika, a radio presenter was responsible for his fame after God. Ndisika was the one who featured his music and that of Victor Nwaifo another music legend on every programme presented on Radio Nigeria.

Dining with the devil

Animasawun music career was not only eventful, it was a theatre of many vices. The author chronicled the lascivious lifestyle of musicians and how they frolicked with the world.

He recounted his several close shaves with death and some of his involvement with charm and juju to fortify his life.

A chapter titled, Reformed Ogboni Fraternity tells the story of how he joined the indigenous cult group. He also gave an account of how he used to visit witches.

He wrote, “I used to visit witches at Oja-Oba in Ibadan, and Ota, Ogun State at different times between 1977 and 1980. A friend who took me to the witch coven in Oja Oba, Ibadan was a member of the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity and had a Christian name but never attended church”

Jesus beckons

But all that stopped after he came to know Jesus. A chapter, My Conversion tells the story of the author’s conversion.

From the author’s account, it was the sister who she wanted to marry that brought him to the knowledge of Christ.

Chapter 10 tilted, Converted but not yielded is an account of the author’s struggle with God. At a point after his conversion, he went back to the world. But the Lord was merciful.

He narrated how God brought him back and how he finally yielded to the call to mission.

Ironically, God did not allow him to do music again even when it was going to be gospel music. All efforts in that direction met with failure. It was in the midst of the confusion of what to do that God impressed in his heart the need for missions.

Chapter 11 tells the story of the conception and development of Worldhope Ministries which God used him to start

Chapter 12 is titled Submission and Trials. Here, the author tells the story of the pain and the penury he was exposed to after abandoning all for Jesus.


He also narrated how he got a leading to go to Badeku in Oyo State from where he has become known by many. But he and his family had a wild wilderness experience in those early years.

He wrote, “it is not easy to move from visible to invisible, from darkness to light and from Satan to God. The devil will put up a fight and I did have my challenges from Satan. The most amazing thing is that God never takes anybody he wants to use through the easy path.”

Animasawun sold some of his musical instruments to burn the bridge so he could concentrate on missions. He recalled how friends and family members deserted him for embracing the gospel. He faced several temptations to go back to his Apola Music brand. But the grace of God saw him through.

Chapter 13 of the book is on the pioneering days in Badeku. He writes, “For the first six months on the field, life was very difficult. There were nights I just stayed by myself and prayed and wept. But God remained faithful. He stood by me.”

But its not only stories of woes. There are testimonies of how God used him to bring light to Badeku. Chapter 14 gives an account of the first Badeku crusade where he talks of the incredible conversion of the head of herbalists in 140 villages.

The beauty of the man’s story is that he passed on 18 days after his conversion. Chapter 15 is about the Village Church This is the story of how the church in Badeku evolved and how God used him mightily in the village to break the yoke of ignorance among the people.

The last chapter titled Priceless Companion is devoted to Animasawun’s late wife, Deborah Animasawun. Ironically a blind herbalist had predicted he would marry a woman from Edo, which turned out to be the case.

Animasawun however explains that “when some predictions come true and the herbalist may appear to be right one should not forget their shameless living and rituals.”

Another prophetess according to the account in the chapter had also given a vision of how she saw his wife pound yam in a mortar for many to eat but ended up not eating from it. And that is what happened as his wife breathed her last on October 3, 2018 after 36 years of marriage.

There is an epilogue, pages for pictures a note of appreciation, and a section devoted to testimonies and tributes in the book.

Without doubt, preserved for a purpose is an unpretentious account of the life of Pastor Animasawun. It is one book every mission lover and indeed every believer should read.

By Gbenga Osinaike

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1 comment

Olutayọ Osibanjo February 15, 2024 - 7:54 pm

I am greatly challenged by the story of this great Legend and Soldier of Christ.


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