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I Never Knew I Could Live Up To The Age Of 60 – WAKA Queen, Alhaja SALAWA ABENI

Until Queen Salawa Abeni walked into the Ballroom Hall of Oriental Hotel on Sunday, 24th October, 2021, she never knew she was going in for her 60th birthday. Unknown to her, her kids had planned an elaborate birthday party to celebrate her. They had extracted from her phone, the numbers of all her friends and associates and they told everyone not to let their mum know. Her real birthday was in May, but it fell within the month of Ramadan, so all she did was to invite the Alfas over for prayers.

So about a month ago, when she travelled abroad to see her son, whom she has not seen in 9 years, her children, who live in Nigeria, thought that was a good time to plan a befitting 60th birthday party for her. They knew when she was coming back to Lagos and fixed the birthday a few days after her arrival. They told her not to change her flight plan because she had 2 big shows, one on Saturday 23rd and the 2nd one on 24th October, 2021.

All went as planned as she arrived and went for the Saturday show and they persuaded her to take a well deserved rest by checking into Oriental Hotel, an offer she accepted. It was when the Sunday party started that the organisers called her to come down to the Ballroom to start playing. She wore the White dress they had organsied for her, since the celebrant of the party she was going to play at picked white.

Once she showed up at the door of the venue, Gbenga Adeyinka, the MC, met her and told her to follow him to the back door leading to the stage. And she agreed. That was how QSA was led on stage and a BIG Happy Birthday song rent the air. It was then she saw the over 700 guests, all dressed in White. "I nearly fainted", she told City People. "If not that I had people holding me left and right, I would have fainted. I couldn't believe what I saw. I never believed that my kids could outsmart me. I never believed anyone could plan such an elaborate party and I wouldn't know. It was like a coup plot. Many people knew about it and they did not tell me. I just began to see familiar faces. All my sisters and brothers and friends had conspired behind me to give me a surprise birthday".

A few days after the party, City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE and Head of City People TV, SUNDAY ADIGUN met with Queen Salawa Abeni at her Lagos home to talk about her new life at 60. Below are excerpts of the interview.


You recently had a successful surprise 60th birthday party, how did you feel when you walked into the hall that day and saw that you were being celebrated?

I was overwhelmed with joy, I can’t even describe how I felt. In fact, they really got me in a big way, but, I thank God and I thank everyone, all the coup plotters (laughs). I thank God it was a success. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know that people still love me to that extent. I can’t mention names, many people rallied around my daughter. They contributed money and everything needed for the surprise party. I was amazed after the party when she brought out the list of those that supported her. I was even surprised how she got in touch with all the dignitaries on the list. And she said she stole all the names from my phone.

I am very happy and grateful

You came back from a trip a few days before the event, how come you didn’t know they were planning something like that for you?

I already had the intention to spend 1 month abroad, and come back home because I thought I had a show that I must attend for Saturday & Sunday, not knowing the Sunday show was actually for me.

When you turned 60, how come you didn’t celebrate it?

First of all, it was during Ramadan, my initial plan was to celebrate it in a low key because we were fasting. We organised a prayer session. I got in touch with a few people and they celebrated me, not knowing that my children have another plan.

How did you feel when you turned 60 compared to when you turned 50? Any difference?

That is 10 years difference (laughs), turning 50 then, there were lots of challenges. For Almighty God to spare my life for another 10 years, it’s a big deal for me and I will continue to thank Him for that, I will also continue to pray to God, to live longer, more than this. It’s not easy, it is a long journey most especially for people like me that have health issues, and for God to spare my life to see 50, to see 60, I know by the special grace of Almighty God, I am going to see more years on earth. But to crown it all, it’s not easy but I thank God.

What came to your mind on that day you turned 60?

Like I said, it was during Ramadan. Immediately after 12am I was rolling on the floor till 4am, thanking God. That, I still clocked 60 on earth, upon all I have been through. Believe you and me, I never thought I will clock 60. I was rolling on the floor with the white garment I wore, it was even that same cloth I wore to sing on that day. I really thank God for my life.

At 60, you still take shows, you still sing at parties, how have you been doing it?

Since I am still waxing strong. It’s even because I am a woman, that is why people are saying I am still singing at 60. Baba Obey Commander is close to 80, he is still singing. My dear daddy too, King Sunny Ade, he is still singing, Alhaji Kollinton Ayinla is still singing. Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde is still singing it’s just that I am a woman. Although, before now, I can stand for like 8,9 hours, but now I can’t stand for more than 4,5 hours, after that I will sit because of my health. Look at my sister, Queen Ayo Balogun, she is over 60 and the strength is still there, so, there is nothing wrong with being a woman at 60 and still singing. The most important is the voice God gave to me, and it’s still there.

Till date, many women don’t joke with your songs, how did you develop that bond?

I  give glory to God Almighty. One thing I know is my crowd is my inspiration. I have waxed so many albums, but I don’t know where “Congratulation And Gentle Lady” songs came from, so much so that it superseded all the albums that I have done.

“Gentle Lady” album is still trending till date. Seriously, I don’t even know how to describe that aspect. Maybe because I am a woman like them or I can’t even explain. I just thank God, and I promise to do what I know how to do best and I will never disappoint all my fans all over the world. For example, when I got to Canada to see my son, one of my cousins insisted that I must come to his place, his place is 3 hours drive from my son’s place. On getting there, he took me out and there I saw a lot of people who were so happy to see me, they said I can’t go until I sing for them, and I did, before I know it lots of people gathered and we started singing, without instrument (laughs) it was all the men there that became my back up singers. It’s the grace of God, it is not by my power. Without them, there is no Salawa.

I know where I am going, I know where I am supposed to go and I know what remains for me to get what I want and I know by God’s grace, I will get there. Nobody can stand up today and say he or she tutored me on how to sing. In this life, if you are going to make it, you will rise and fall and rise again. That is my opinion and that is what I know. I rise, I fall, now I am rising back again and I am going to get there by God’s grace.

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