Biography

Bose Ogulu Biography: Early life, languages, true link with Fela revealed

Bose Ogulu Biography: Early life, languages, true link with Fela revealed/Skabash

Google couldn’t come to my aid when I wanted to categorise Bose Ogulu, the mother of music star Burna Boy. The search engine came short when asked, “what do you call parents who became famous because of their children” the search engine came short. Instead, it fed me with:

  • 41 Celebrities With Famous Parents – Cosmopolitan
  • 16 Celebrities Who Are Only Famous Because Of Their Parents
  • 35 Celebrities With Famous Parents You Totally Forgot About

And so on. Maybe a new word, Bose Ogulu, or just Ogulu, would be recommended to compilers of dictionaries to take care of future searches.

Who then is Bose Ogulu? This article will shed more light on the mother of the first Nigerian solo Grammy winner, Burna Boy.

Early life and education

Bose Ogulu (nee Idonije) was born in Lagos on November 19, in an unknown year. There is also no information about her mother, but her father is the legendary Benson Idonije, a well-acclaimed music writer and the first band manager of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. He’s the author of Dis Fela Sef!, the most comprehensive book about the life and times of the music maestro.

Bose Ogulu’s primary and secondary schools are unknown. Still, she attended the University of Port Harcourt, where she got a Bachelor of Arts degree in foreign languages and a Master of Arts in translation.

She’s a hyper-polyglot as she speaks six languages – English, Yoruba, French, Italian, German, and Pidgin English. Between 2008 and 2018, she taught French at the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt, Rivers state.

She also worked as a translator at the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce. Bose Ogulu ran a language and music school, Language Bridges, between 1997 and 2015. She, her teachers, and the students use spoken and written language to engage in learning processes, present academic content, assess learning and display knowledge and skill.

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Bose Ogulu’s Career

Bose Ogulu’s role as her son’s manager, Burna Boy, brought her to the limelight. On different occasions, she was on a podium to represent her son, like in the All-Africa Music Awards, The Headies Award, and the MTV Europe Music Awards, she was always the cynosure. As she’s fondly called, Mama Burna set viewers and the internet agog with one of the best closing remarks of an acceptance speech ever made. “Expect more madness” made her social media’s favourite mama and auntie. She once interrupted her son’s show to inform him he had won the 2019 MTV awards for Best African Act.

At the BET International Awards in California in 2019, Bose Ogulu reminded the audience and viewers of their African roots. “You were Africans before you became anything else”. She got a standing ovation.

Bose Ogulu also manages her daughter, Nissi Ogulu, better known as Nissi Nation, a musician and visual artist based in the UK, and her father and author, Benson Idonije. She managed Burna Boy’s music career until 2014 but staged a comeback in 2017 and still waxing stronger.

She’s head and founder of Spaceship Collective, the holding company of Spaceship Publishing and Spaceship Records, the label Burna Boy is contracted.

Personal life

Bose Ogulu is married to Samuel Ogulu, who hails from Ahoada, Rivers State. They tied the knot in 1991, the same year Damini Ogulu (Burna Boy) arrived in this world. The other children are Ronami Ogulu and Nissi Ogulu.

Her parenting style is as liberal as the one she got from her parents. She has remained an incredible mother and a disciplinarian at the same time.

“I still am friends with my parents,” she said.

“We were friends. So, I learned to be friends with my children. It’s a tough balance. Because you have to whoop their backsides as well. And then, know when to sleep.”

Her love for quality education saw her enrol her children in Corona Secondary School, one of the best in Nigeria.

Social Media

Bose Ogulu uses her Instagram platform, @thenamix, to promote the music of Burna Boy. She has 124k followers. In 2021, she was nominated for the Net Honours Award for Most Searched Person, while Billboard proclaimed her as one of the International Power Players.

Net worth

As a manager and social media influencer, Bose Ogulu has an estimated net worth between $1,000,000 and $3,000,000.

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Bose Ogulu and Fela Anikulapo-Kuti

One of the top viral stories on the internet is the link between Burna Boy’s mother, Bose Ogulu and Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. One version of the story says she was one of his dancers. Another went as far as saying there was a romantic relationship between them. To add credence to this version, a picture of Fela lying on top of one of his dancers, alleged to be Bose Ogulu, during a stage performance went viral.

As an avid fan of the Abami Eda, I searched all the books I have on the creator of Afrobeat music to look for a connection between the duo. My eyes almost fell off their sockets when I stumbled on something in Kalakuta Diaries by Uwa Erhabor. In Chapter 3, about the peoples and personalities in the last empire, the author said this about one Bose:

“Good looking and extremely wayward, Bose combined brain and brawn as she had quarrels with almost everybody, men or women alike. It was as if she was troubled by the fact that she could not dance.”

But then, the statistician in me kicked in.

Fela died on August 2, 1997, at 59. He was at the peak of his musical powers between 1963 and 1995 (give or take). We may not know the year Benson Idonije gave birth to Bose Ogulu, but we can hazard a guess. She got married the same year she gave birth to Burna Boy. The award-winning musician will be 31 in July 2022. Let us assume the mother gave birth to him when she was 23, which means she will mark her 54th birthday on November 19, 2022. So, she was ‘born’ in 1968. Between 1963 and 1995, when she was ‘dancing and dating’ Fela, she was between ages five and 27.

It’s plausible.

Not so, according to Bose Ogulu.

How could I have danced for him? Chronologically, it doesn’t add up. When did I dance for Fela?”

A rhetorical question was begging for an answer!

Conclusion

Bose Ogulu might be everyone’s favourite fabulous mother/auntie, but she is much more than that. She is a wife, mother, teacher, language instructor, talent manager, mentor, and entrepreneur. Her son may have brought her to reckoning, but a word might just be named after her someday.

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