Victor Efosa Uwaifo (1941-2021)
Legendary Nigerian musician, guitarist and songwriter Sir Victor Efosa Uwaifo recently passed away at the age of 80. The iconic musician, multi-instrumentalist and accomplished artist has died in Benin City, Edo state, after a brief illness. Known for his evergreen songs, “Guitar Boy” and “Joromi,” Uwaifo, one of the country’s greatest guitarists, was eclectic in his timeless musical compositions interwoven with indigenous themes, idioms and dancing rhythms.
His mythical encounter with the mermaid or “mami water” would have inspired his evergreen song, “Guitar Boy”. Without a doubt, his death further depleted the endangered tribe of talented, focused and visionary Nigerian musicians such as Stephen Osita Osadebe, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Victor Olaiya, EC Arinze, Oliver de Coque, Sonny Okosun, Fatai Rolling Dollar. , Majek Fashek and others.
Although Uwaifo was previously influenced by Spanish and Latin American music, he performed with notable Nigerian highlife musicians including Victor Olaiya, EC Arinze, Stephen Osita Osadebe and Fred Coker before forming his Melody Maestros in 1965. instant success when it was released in 1965 in Nigeria and other West African countries. No wonder Uwaifo made history by winning the first gold record in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa for his song “Joromi” in 1996.
As well as being a great musician, Uwaifo was also a writer, sculptor, inventor of musical instruments, and university professor. 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 highlife music in Nigeria. As a master guitarist, Uwaifo shows great dexterity in the use of the instrument. Its staging was always electrifying and fully animated.
Born in Benin City on March 1, 1941, the music maestro attended Western Boys’ High School in Benin City and St. Gregory’s College in Lagos from 1957 to 1961. Later he studied graphic design at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. He holds a bachelor’s degree with first class in fine and applied arts from the University of Benin. Uwaifo also obtained his Masters in Sculpture and Doctorate in Architectural Sculptor from the University of Benin, Nigeria.
He was appointed Commissioner of Arts, Culture and Tourism in Edo State between 2002 and 2003. He taught and was later appointed professor at the University of Benin. Despite these commendable achievements in other fields, the late musician was better known for his many musical achievements. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that music was his life. Through his many songs, Uwaifo has left an indelible mark and will forever live on in the hearts of his fans and music lovers around the world.
From the luminous Guitar Boy and Joromi, “Victor Uwaifo and His Titibits” gave the world and the musical community other scintillating rhythms incorporated into the fast but moving tempo of Arabade, the Ekassa series and Akwete music. These dancing and frenzied musical compositions will always remain green among his many fans and music lovers.
Although legend has already immortalized his name through his arts and music, the federal and state governments of Edo are urged to still immortalize him because of his invaluable contributions to the development of music, the arts and tourism in the country. There is no doubt that the late musician will be missed by his many fans, friends and admirers. Despite his popularity and accomplishments, Uwaifo was free from the scandals typically associated with musicians.
His life and his music have inspired so many other musicians. He lived a disciplined life and lived a life dedicated to the creative muse in both music and the arts. We urge other musicians, especially younger ones, to emulate his shining examples in the industry. They should learn so much from his style of music and his stage performances. We sympathize with his family, fans, the music community, the Federal and Edo State governments for this irreparable loss. Farewell, the great musician.