Yussuf Grillo, Victor Uwaifo and King Pago of Africa –How to celebrate these African legacies

By Njoku SaintJerry A.

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“The younger generation of artists and musicians has only one thing to show for their respect and homage to the works of these great icons by keeping to the discipline and creativity these great Nigerians had maintained throughout their career in promoting the originality of the African culture

Listening to a traditional song rendered in the Bini Language of the Edo people by the late Sir Victor Uwaifo (Guitar Boy) this Sunday afternoon got me trapped in a nostalgic voyage of history, culture and entertainment.
Good people, great entertainers and cultural icons all going, leaving many of us lost in yesterdays wrapped only in memories, Irreplaceable memories and legacies only worth mentioning as the younger generation completely deviate from a path of history we had all so revered in pride of something that is uniquely our own inventions, our language, our art, our music.

Just last week, we received the sad news of the departure of Art icon Prof. Yussuf Grillo. These are men who have molded much of our growing up with pride in our identity as Africans. They are all going leaving us confused and struggling for a replacement all in vain.
Although I do not understand a word of Ishan, Urhobo, Bini or any language originating from the Edo people – the art in the music is all that is required as the sound of the clarinet, one of Victor Uwaifo’s insignia takes you through a journey of everything culture, music and entertainment all fused up in one skilled performer.
Classic in his dressing and refined in the art of culture, Sir Uwaifo brought the culture of Nigeria’s Midwest State of Bendel to the fore with hit tracks like “Guitar Boy and his mami water singles, Joromi, Ekassa, Kirikisi etc. In those days, all you need to do to learn a part of the Bini folklore and people was to listen to the legend also addressed as “the Ekassa King.” Today he is gone from this troubled world!

Art icon Prof. Yussuf Grillo died at 86 years

The late maestro was sick and tired, although at the ripe age of 80, his departure reminds me for the umpteenth time about the greatest fulfilment of all time – Whatever you have to do, do it with all your best, for this day will come when you will sleep to wake no more.

In the middle 80’s, Uwaifo the entertainer added a TV series named the “The Victor Uwaifo Show” with a member of the band and one of his favourite, the diminutive ‘marakas shaker’ King Pago of Africa.’ A comical figure we as kids had all looked forward to watch at every live band on TV, the show consists of 2 – 3 minutes skits of funny escapades of the King and Victor himself in his signature red blazer shirt and trousers and two heavy women acting as King Pago’s wives.

The passage of Sir Victor Uwaifo takes us further down the lane to nirvana, away from the pains and frustrations of life and its vicissitudes. The late maestro was sick and tired, although at the ripe age of 80, his departure reminds me for the umpteenth time about the greatest fulfillment of all time – Whatever you have to do, do it with all your best, as an artist, a tailor, musician, drummer, politician, teacher, army, police, mechanic or even a healthcare worker – do it with all your best, for this day will come when you will sleep to wake no more. The great artist Prof. Yusus Grillo slept at the ripe age of 86, and here is Dr. Victor Uwaifo at 80, gone forever with great memories that will certainly live after them!

Sir Victor Uwaifo on his favorite music instrument, the clarinet

Sir Victor Uwaifo, born in Benin City in old Bendel State, reigned in his days as one of the foremost highlife musicians in Nigeria. Trained as a visual artist majoring in sculptor, Uwaifo distinguished himself in music, picking up and mastering an instrument in music that require discipline to learn and master. Until recently, many of his admirers and followers knows very little of his academic achievement, a first-class graduate of fine arts with a Master degree (MFA) earned in 1997 and a Ph.D (Visual Arts), of the University of Benin.
Uwaifo did not only achieved fulfillment in the entertainment industry but was disciplined in academic and the society. He was appointed as the first Honourable Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism in Nigeria (Edo State) and a one-time lecturer in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin. The man Sir, Victor Uwaifo stands out, intellectually sound both in mind and body till death as the most educated and disciplined performing music icon in the world and the most read contemporary artist s with over 600 songs and 100 records to his credit with 8 gold and 2 silver awards in his over 50 years on stage. In 1983 Uwaifo became the first Benin man to receive the Nigerian National Honours as Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) for his contributions to creativity and industry and in 2016, Sir Victor Uwaifo was inducted into the Grammy Award Museum in Los Angeles, USA.
As families and friends mourn these great icons – the younger generation of artists and musicians has only one thing to show for their respect and homage to the works of these great icons by keeping to the discipline and creativity these great Nigerians had maintained throughout their career in promoting the originality of the African culture to the global community.


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