GOODBYE SASAKOSA!

By Tony Okoroji

In a few days, we will be committing to mother earth the remains of the great composer and lyricist, melody maker, multi-instrumentalist, sculptor, designer, performer per excellence and intellectual giant, Prof. (Sir) Victor Uwaifo, a legend of the Benin Kingdom, an icon of the Nigerian nation and an unforgettable African superstar.

As the great ‘Guitar Boy’ goes home, a Super Red Carpet Tribute Night & Street Concert in honour of the music maestro, will be held in and around the magnificent COSON House in Ikeja this coming Tuesday, October 12, 2021. I am calling on the true musicians of Nigeria and all those who loved the great Victor Uwaifo to come out in numbers, storm Oluwaleimu Street, Ikeja, lets dance to “Joromi” and celebrate the life of one of the greatest ever ambassadors of creativity in Nigeria.

It was the immutable Prof (Sir) Victor Uwaifo who raised the flag of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the commissioning of COSON House in May 2017. In coming from Benin City to raise the flag in Ikeja, Prof Uwaifo, the deep thinker that he was, fully understood the object and purpose. He shared the understanding that the Nigerian music industry has come of age and that we ought to have our own structures to protect and project our art while we are alive and to celebrate our heroes when they pass away.

On Tuesday, COSON House will be hosting the third tribute night of a fallen hero of the music industry in a few weeks. Just three days ago, we hosted a grand service of songs and a night of great tributes in honor of another outstanding musician, the incredibly talented, Felix Odey, known to many as Feladay. Before that, COSON House hosted a special red carpet tribute night to celebrate the life of another guitarist and most loved frontline COSON believer, John Ewelukwa Udegbunam, known in the industry as “Honourable” or “Eweson”. It was at COSON House, that the great tribute night and lying-in-state of the late Rub-A-Dub Master, Ras Kimono, took place.

In doing these events, we have never asked for nor taken one naira from any Nigerian government or institution. We have squeezed water out of stone to do the events that have made the families of our departed heroes proud and inspired our younger folks.  At a time in Nigeria, when the penchant is to take and there appears to be very little appetite to give, we have spared ourselves no inconvenience or discomfort to celebrate our own the ways stars are celebrated around the world. It is exactly the same way that we never asked for nor took one naira from any Nigerian government or institution to build COSON House.

It is one of the many contradictions and senselessness in the present-day Nigeria hat since we commissioned COSON House, we have known no peace. Every imaginable action has been taken by government agencies and their cronies to crush and destroy us, agencies set up with public funds to support us. The no nonsense Prof Victor Uwaifo was one of those who with vigour fought this madness till his dying days.

Just last night, I had a telephone discussion with my colleague, Emma Ogosi. Emma who just celebrated his 79th birthday told me tales about the support that Victor Uwaifo readily gave to him when he needed help. I had a similar discussion with the great Ebenezer Obey a few weeks back. Obey also told me about how ready Victor Uwaifo was to help him while his career developed. Victor Uwaifo was a giver, always prepared to use his incredible gifts to lift other people. He gave his all to many people. He gave his all to me.

Despite our difference in age, Prof Uwaifo was my brother, my friend, my confidant, my professional colleague, my staunch supporter and an unapologetic partner in the work to promote the unity and progress of Nigerian artistes and to protect their legacy. I could not drive past Benin City without stopping to spend some time with the gentleman I called “Sasakosa”. I cannot count how many times, Prof Uwaifo drove the about 300 kilometers from Benin City to Lagos at my request to solve one problem or another for me. Victor Uwaifo understood what I stand for and backed me 100%.

The last time I spoke with Prof. Uwaifo, I was in the United States and he had called to enquire about my health and the success of the recent wedding of my son. He said that he loved the series of articles I have been doing lately on the “Saturday Breakfast” column on the growth of the Nigerian recording industry. Prof described the series as historic and asked me to send the entire series to him by e-mail which I did. Prof Uwaifo who was in good cheer, spoke with my son, TJ, for a long period and they shared jokes and laughed and we promised to visit him in Benin City. I had no idea it was a “bye-bye” call. Prof (Sir) Victor Efosa Uwaifo…  simply irreplaceable!

At any other time, when things made sense in Nigeria, I would have called on the Federal Government to bestow an appropriate posthumous national honour on this prodigious Nigerian. The MON is clearly inadequate. But… I understand that this is the season when the falcon cannot hear the falconer.

As the great ‘Guitar Boy’ goes home, on behalf of COSON, I once again invite the true musicians of Nigeria and those who love Victor Uwaifo to the Super Red Carpet Tribute Night & Street Concert in honour of the music maestro, which holds in and around the magnificent COSON House in Ikeja this coming Tuesday, October 12, 2021. We sure will dance to “Joromi”!

While we mourn the passing of our great heroes, we pray to the Almighty to repose their souls and comfort the families they left behind and heal our nation which is presently in appalling distress.

Goodbye Sasakosa!

See you next week.

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