Legendary Nigerian musician, ace guitarist, and song writer, Sir Victor Efosa Uwaifo, recently passed on at the age of 80. The iconic musician, multi-instrumentalist and consummate entertainer died in Benin City, Edo State, after a brief illness. Known so much for his evergreen songs, ‘Guitar Boy’ and ‘Joromi,’ Uwaifo, one of the greatest guitarists in the country, was eclectic in his timeless musical compositions laced with indigenous themes, idioms and danceable rhythms.
His mythic meeting with the mermaid or ‘mami water’ was said to have inspired his evergreen song, ‘Guitar Boy.’ No doubt, his death has further depleted the vanishing tribe of Nigeria’s talented, focused and visionary musicians such as Stephen Osita Osadebe, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Victor Olaiya, E.C Arinze, Oliver de Coque, Sonny Okosun, Fatai Rolling Dollar, Majek Fashek and others.
Although Uwaifo was earlier influenced by Spanish and Latin American music, he played with some notable Nigerian highlife musicians, including Victor Olaiya, E.C. Arinze, Stephen Osita Osadebe and Fred Coker before forming his Melody Maestros in 1965. The band’s debut, ‘Joromi’ became an instant hit upon release in 1965, in both Nigeria and other West African countries. Little wonder Uwaifo made history by winning the first Golden record in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa for his song ‘Joromi’ in 1996.
Apart from being a great musician, Uwaifo was also a writer, sculptor, inventor of musical instrument and a university teacher. He belonged to the generation of talented musicians who played music with great passion and dedication. Their songs portray philosophical ideals and moral essence. He elevated and redefined the highlife music in Nigeria. As a master guitarist, Uwaifo displayed great dexterity in the use of the instrument. His stagecraft was always electrifying and fully animated.
Born in Benin City on March 1, 1941, the music maestro attended the Western Boys’ High School, Benin City and St. Gregory’s College, Lagos from 1957 to 1961. Later, he studied Graphics at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. He got a Bachelor’s degree with First Class in Fine and Applied Arts from the University of Benin. Uwaifo also got his Master’s degree in Sculpting and a PhD in Architectural Sculptor from the University of Benin, Nigeria.
He was appointed Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism in Edo State between 2002 and 2003. He taught and was later appointed a professor at the University of Benin. Despite these commendable achievements in other spheres, the late musician was more known through his numerous musical accomplishments. It will not be an overstatement to say that music was his life. Through his numerous songs, Uwaifo left an indelible mark and will forever live in the hearts of his fans and music lovers the world over.
From the luminous Guitar Boy and Joromi, “Victor Uwaifo and His Titibits” gave the world and music community other scintillating beats incorporated in the quick tempo but soulful Arabade, Ekassa series and Akwete music. These danceable and serenading musical compositions will remain evergreen among his numerous fans and music lovers.
Although the legend had already immortalised his name through his arts and music, the Federal and Edo State governments are urged to still immortalise him on account of his invaluable contributions to the development of music, arts and tourism in the country. There is no doubt that the late musician will be missed by his numerous fans, friends and admirers. In spite of his popularity and achievements, Uwaifo was without scandals usually associated with musicians.
His life and music inspired so many other musicians. He lived a disciplined life and lived a life dedicated to the creative muse in both music and arts. We urge other musicians, especially the young ones, to emulate his shining examples in the industry. They should learn so much from his style of music and stage performance. We commiserate with his family, his fans, the music community, the Federal and Edo State governments on the irreparable loss. Adieu, the great musician.