Musty, Borno’s dance king, by Andrew Agbese

Andrew Agbese
The dining hall of Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri, Borno State, is used for hosting social events.
It is a large rectangular shaped hall with wide spaces in between an elevated platform which serves as a stage and cubicle from where food is served.
This Saturday, the school was set for a weekend groove and students from all over trooped in to have a feel.
Everything was set; music was blaring from the speakers and the stage was open to all.
Those who considered themselves good dancers mounted the stage and were performing all kinds of shuffles and shakes to win the applause of the audience.
It was the early 80s so Break Dance, Elecric Bugaloo, Spins and Michael Jackson robotics were freely on display.
Soon a young lanky fellow flying a long sleeve shirt climbs the stage and from then the atmosphere at the hall was electrified.
He was doing the Jeffery Daniel pop-up style with ease and locking it with perfection that people could not help noticing him.
He locks his joints simultaneously and pops out like a robot under control.
He became the cynosure of all eyes when he broke into Michael Jackson’s jabs, holding his crotch and kicking in rhythmic frenzy.
Who’s that?
That was the first time I was watching Musty, the indisputable dance champion in the entire Borno State at that time.
Those were the days when pop culture was at its peak, various music genre and musical groups were quite popular in Maiduguri then and the youths try to outdo one another to establish superiority on who can re-enact the mainly American dance steps most.
There were many competitions hosted in that regard due to the entertainment it provided and sheer interest by the youths to determine who was the best among them.
There were the likes of Ba’Karami, who was a regular in most competitions and Lancaster who won the slot to represent Borno State at the John Player sponsored national dance competition in Lagos.
There was Dunoma, the boneless wonder from Government College Maiduguri, who however restrained himself to intraschool gigs and Yakubu Gar who was a force to reckon with.
There were also the likes of Jòe Black who popularised the Scissors dance steps.
There was Mohammed Masaudu who memorized the Electric Bugaloo steps in the then popular TV programme, Soul Train and re-enacted it with precision at every occasion.
Masaudu’s dance was remarkable as he added a shuffle, which he invented, called  the Front Slides. This was another version of the Back Slide made popular by Jeffery Daniels.
While the Back Slide or Moon Walk makes the dancer to glide backwards as if on an invisible wheel, the Front Slide does the opposite, taking the dancer forward in similar wheel simulated movement.
This made Masaud quite popular as he never fails to excite the audience.
But Musty stood out.
Musty was not an occasional dancer. It was as if dance was strewn in his system. He was everywhere where dance is and he never failed to dance where the dance was.
He moved with ease and gets into acts at the slightest attempt.
He was quite popular among children and teenagers and had many female admirers.
The edge he had over other dancers was that while the rest were in secondary school, he was already in a higher institution hence was not restricted in his choice of participation.
He knew he had the skill and never shies to give it an expression, that was what he did at the Ramat Polytechnic hall that day that got the audience into a frenzy.
The opportunity for him to prove he was the undisputed champion of dance came one day at the Open Air Theatre in Maiduguri where a dance competition had been slated.
Top dancers from the length and breadth of Borno State came and registered for the competition.
The lights from the stage announced it was show time as the audience took their seats.
After the preliminary stage where all the dancers were given the floor to warm up, it got to the knock out stages where dancers were invited one after the other to display their skills. Those considered not good enough did not make it to the next round.
Musty came fully prepared. He had his hair woven in braids, this stunned the audience because then it was rare for men to have their hairs plaited.
He wore a brown pair of trousers, a shirt and a wooly slack pullover on it.
He made it through to every stage, displaying skills that were unrivalled.
The final stage came for him when only three remained.
After the two other dancers had performed, it came the turn of Musty and that was when he revealed another aspect of himself that had never been known to his fans.
He moved beyond the surreal in his acts that were breathtaking.
In one instance, he, moving in rhythm with the beat, cut the image of a young chimp climbing a cage and letting himself loose in free fall by what he did.
In another instance, he would curl on the floor like a milipede and as the music was playing would disentangle himself like an unfurled reptile and progresses to chops that looked wrought from the images of one under an epileptic fit.
The acts got the audience begging for more. By the time his time elapsed and when it was time for the judges to declare the winner, it was unanimous that Musty, the undisputed king of dance, has once again taken the crown.
The video of the act remained one of the most requested in the musical request programme, Musical Connection.
Musty has remained Borno State’s undisputed king of dance.


  1. Wow!!! I never knew someone remembered me this well but my close friends. Thank you Dan Agbese. I got this write up through a childhood friend Ibrahim who is a journalist now. I am highly honored Sir. I actually wish Nigeria is the same as it was when we had no differences in faith and had no reason to be afraid to express our talents wherever we are. Thank you once again.


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