Edo State Born Music Legend Sir Victor Uwaifo Is Dead

Information reaching our newsroom has it that Popular Benin musician and guitarist, Sir Victor Uwaifo passed on early Saturday 28 August 2021. He was 80 years old.

Uwaifo, who released hits after hits in fast tempo highlife music is the first professional musician to be awarded with the National Merit Honours of Member of the Order of the Niger. He was also the first Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism in Nigeria in the Edo State Government, during the administration of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole.

The late musician and lecturer was also a professor of Visual Arts, University of Benin (UNIBEN). ‘Guitar Boy’, as he was popularly   called, died six months after celebrating   his 80th birthday in March.

His son, Uwaifo Peter de Rock, broke the news of his death on his Facebook page. He wrote: “Daddy whyyyyyyyyyy? Why did you leave us? “Prof Sir Victor Uwaifo has gone to rest. Black Saturday for me nooow. “One week now after collaborating with me.”

Chief Tony Okoroji, the Chairman of Copyrights Society of Nigeria (COSON), said he was dumbfounded as he needed to get a clearer picture of what happened to the legendary singer. “Victor Uwaifo is not just a friend to me; he was a man I respected so much. I cannot say much now because I need to know what happened to him,“ Okoroji said.

Born   in Benin on   March 1, 1941, Uwaifo was one of the foremost highlife   musicians in Nigeria. He was   trained sculptor, philosopher, poet and musical instrument inventor. His ‘Joromi’, hit song released in 1965, won for Nigeria the first Gold Disc Record ever to come out of the continent of Africa in a competitive world. Uwaifo is the first Benin man to receive the Nigerian National Honours; Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) in 1983, for his contributions to creativity and industry.

He was appointed and sworn-in as Justice of the Peace (JP) 1990. He is also the first and foremost Honourable Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism in Nigeria (Edo State), former lecturer in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin. He was honoured with an award in 2018 by the Association of Nigerian Musicologists for his outstanding music performance and leadership.

He was the Silverbird Man of the Year 2015 and honourary Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, the highest literary academic body in Nigeria. Education: National Diploma (Graphics},Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, 1963, BA Hon (First Class), 1995, Masters degree (MFA) sculpture, 1997, Ph.D (Visual Arts), University of Benin, Nigeria. Project Title: Production of Architectural Sculpture in Nigeria: A Re-Invention of Ancient Benin Royal Altar Pieces into Contemporary Art Using Synthetic Polymer Materials

Uwaifo stands out today, intellectually sound both in mind and body as the most educated performing music icon in the world and the most read contemporary superstar still relevant over 50 years on stage till date. He has over 600 songs and 100 records to his credit with 8 gold and 2 silver awards. Each record is music of serious research and philosophical work equivalent to academic journal. He’s a member of the Performing Rights Society of London (PRS), a trustee of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) and Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON). In 2016, Victor Uwaifo was inducted into the Grammy Award Museum in Los Angelis, USA. He has inspired generations of musicians in Nigeria and beyond and still counting.

Uwaifo also made use of vocals in making beats, which added more flavour to the song. The song, based on a folktale of the ancient Bini people tells the story of an undefeated warrior, named Joromi who had wrestled and defeated rivals until he was the ultimate warrior on earth. Without any more rivals, he decided to take the battle to the afterlife. Against the counsel of the elders, the fearsome Joromi engaged in battle with a warrior from the afterlife. This personal quest led to his end as he neither returned nor did the people of Bini till this day hear any news about him.

However, 52 years after ‘Joromi’ ruled the airwaves, Uwaifo still regards the song as his greatest hit till date. Little wonder, the living legend once sued singer Simi for N50 million for using the word ‘Joromi’ in her song and as the title of one of her tracks.

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