When a huge tree falls in the forest, the loud thud is heard over miles. Nigeria, nay the world, mourns the passage of a huge music maestro.
I vividly recall our days on Lagos Street where you lived a short distance away from us on Iwehen Street. You often came to visit my senior brother, Osaheni Uzamere your childhood friend and contemporary. As I was much younger than you both, I admired your personality and strong character with awe.
From humble beginnings, you grew yourself up to national and international fame. You extolled the highlife music genre and no party ended without the stroming guitar of Joromi, Guitar Boy, Ekassa 28, and your many other evergreens. You not only played, you danced and your dance moves were emulated on many dance floors. You invented a double guitar to the amazement of the entire world. You were adept with the flute, electric guitar, saxophone, piano and percussion. Your voice, was sweeter than the nightingale’s.
You won for Nigeria, her first Gold Disc Record, with your release of Joromi in 1965, among many other firsts you scored. You not only excelled in music, you veered into academics in your adult age, bagging a 1st Class degree in your course of study. You grew to become a Professor. You were an icon. You effortlessly changed many mindsets that ignorantly saw musicians in a negative light, those early days.
You were a great lover of our rich Benin culture. You promoted our rich heritage in your music. You served our ancient Benin Kingdom and our Edo State, with pride and commitment.
You bowed in a blaze of glory. I pray that God gives your soul, a restful repose. May God give your immediate family and Benin kingdom, the fortitude to bear your saddening loss.
Contemporary Benin history reserves space for you, as you live in our hearts and in your works – your everlasting music.
Senator Ehigie Uzamere, ksc.