…..Oshiomhole Steals Show At Funeral Service Attracting Deafening Ovation from Excited Crowd
The body of late music icon and Joromi exponent, Victor Uwaifo, was on Friday committed to mother earth at his sprawling private residence at Victor Uwaifo Avenue, off College Road in the Ekenwan Road axis of Benin-City, Edo State, after a well-attended funeral mass at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
Former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC and immediate past Edo State governor, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, however caused a stir at the funeral service as ecstatic crowd went into frenzy, hailing him, as soon as his presence was announced by the master of ceremonies, MC. Whereas all was quiet when the governor, his wife, Betsy, and the deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, were recognized, a thunderous ovation heralded Oshiomhole’s introduction around 2.35 pm, to the apparent discomfiture of his successor with whom there had been no love lost. The governor and his erstwhile godfather, who was accompanied by some of his political associates, did not exchange pleasantries though they were seated three chairs apart. The standing ovation and thunderous applause for Oshiomhole continued for several minutes before calm returned.
On ground to pay their last respect to the “Guitar Boy” were the Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Tony Okoroji, who was President of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN); legendary flutist, Dr. Tee Mac Omatshola Iseli, who briefly performed; widow of the deceased, Princess Osaretin, children, grandchildren and in-laws, among others.
In his speech at the funeral mass, Governor Obaseki announced the naming of the newly-constructed Edo State Creative Hub after the accomplished musician, and professor in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Benin, Benin City. Uwaifo died August 28, 2021 at the age of 80 at the Edo government-owned Stella Obasanjo Specialist Hospital, Sapele Road, Benin.
A lying-in-state had preceded the funeral mass between 11 am and 1 pm at the same venue where the remains of the deceased were showcased in a gold-plated white casket.
Obaseki said: “As a mark of honour to this legend (Uwaifo), the government of Edo State has decided that our newly-constructed Edo State Creative Hub will be named after him. The Creative Hub, which is going to be inaugurated during the second week of November this year, has a multi-million Dollar sound stage for production for artistes. It will promote creative arts in Edo State. It has an editing suite to filter contents, including animation. It will incubate state-based groups and artistes. It will be used for live shows and stage plays. It has studio spaces for artistes from Nollywood to come and rent spaces for their productions; and there will be space for developing skills in the creative arts”.
According to the governor, “That is the least we can do for a man who changed the face of music in Nigeria; for a man who composed the song, Joromi that was the first song from Nigeria and Africa to win a golden label at the time it did. We will always remember Sir Uwaifo for what he meant to us and what he represented.
“He represented the finest of Edo values, which include hard work, creativity, innovation; and it is going to be very difficult for us to imagine our entertainment space, to imagine our music space in Edo State, without Sir Uwaifo. May his soul rest in peace.”
Speaking further, Governor Obaseki said he would like members of the family to know that the government of Edo State commiserated and mourned with them on his passing, stressing that “For us, the passing of Sir Uwaifo marks the end of an era that produced some of the most prolific artistes from Edo State, who made their marks, beginning from Edo State, and their works litter the entire world today.
“Prof Uwaifo clearly marks the end of that era; but the era has produced a new generation of very creative young Edo people, who continue to make their marks in the areas of culture and entertainment, just like the generation before them did.”
In his homily, the Catholic Archbishop of Benin Metropolitan See, Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akubeze, urged Nigerians to love their country and its progress. Akubeze opined that “If we do the right things, Nigeria will survive. As individuals, we can change the image of Nigeria. Let us do good always, and steer clear of sin for Nigeria to witness the change we desire. Let us dream of Nigeria, where the green passport is not discriminated against.
“Let us work for Nigeria, where strike is not the only way to get attention of the government in power. Let us dream of Nigeria where the children of the rich and the poor can happily live together. Let us work for Nigeria where potentialities are converted to actualities. Every day of our lives is an opportunity to return to God with members of our families.”
Okoroji, in his tribute, said the late music maestro, would never be forgotten, in view of his contributions to music, entertainment, academics and the arts. According to the COSON chairman, some persons are mourning the passing of the legendary musician, “but many of us are celebrating Prof. Uwaifo, who came, saw, conquered and achieved practically everything he would want to achieve.
“We shut down Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday to honour Sir. Uwaifo, the world superstar, with the elaborate event attended by renowned musician, Chief Ebenezer Obey, and other musicians across Nigeria, and beyond. Sir Uwaifo was a legend; and in death, he remained a legend.”
A First-Class graduate of Visual Arts at UNIBEN, Uwaifo, also bagged both Masters Degree, and PhD in Architectural Sculpture from the same university. His thesis was titled “A reinvention of Benin Royal Ancestral Pieces”, while his undergraduate project of a king on a horse was a signature arts poster at the Ekenwan campus of the university.
The famous musician was the first Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism in Nigeria, serving in the administration of Lucky Igbinedion between 2001 and 2003. He was the winner of the first gold disc in Africa (Joromi) released in 1965, and seven other gold discs in Guitar boy, Arabade, Ekassa series, and Akwete music. He recorded under the name “Victor Uwaifo and His Titibitis”.
The multi-talented music artiste left his imprints in the sands of time as a composer, writer, entertainer, guitarist, sculptor, musical instrument inventor, and university teacher. He occupied the pride of place as the first professional musician to be decorated with a National Honors Merit Award of Member of the Order of the Niger, (MON) in 1983 by the Federal Government, in appreciation of his talents and contributions to Nigeria’s creative industry.
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