Since his death in 1976 via an auto crash, the mystery behind the personality and character of one of Nigeria’s most popular highlife music singers and song writers , Celestine Ukwu, has remained untold.
Fred Iwenjora had an encounter with his guitarist ,Emma Ikediashi, leader of popular Black Tops highlife music band which puts paid to all that.
Ikediashi discloses that Ukwu neither smoked cigarette nor weed nor drank alcohol.
He also spoke on the final days of the extremely talented artiste and more.
How and when did you meet Celestine Ukwu?
I met Celestine Ukwu in Onitsha about 1973 or there about. I had come to join the live music scene in the Niger City straight from my village of Ogwashi Ukwu. I had just dropped out of St Michael’s secondary school after my father’s death. I had started picking up the guitar. I was reading up about bands and their history. When I moved to Onitsha, I was about 23 years and joined Sunny Nwamama and his highlife music group. I started picking up rudiments of highlife guitar, play really fast that in about two months, Celestine Ukwu sent for me. He said he had been hearing about me and later watched me play.
When I joined him, he made me live with him and we would engage in daily private rehearsals in his apartment after breakfast. We lived on one of the flats at the expansive Agbakoba family compound in Onitsha. I was the youngest and smallest member of his band which was made up of many Cameroonians and Congolese. He must have felt that he could make the best out of me by keeping me closer. I also made the most of that period. I was part of his tracks Omeife Jideofo and Imago nke chi ga ekwu etc. We regularly played at Phoenix Hotel, Onitsha.
I can say that playing the guitar and indeed talents for music is hereditary for me. My father had brought home a guitar from his times during World War 11. He said he learnt to play in India during that war. But he warned me never to get close to the guitar not to talk of touching it but I would steal it and play away without his knowledge. That was how I learnt to play the guitar.
Where were you when Celestine died?
Celestine Ukwu had left home in company of a friend of his named Nwobodo who just bought a new car. I suppose it was a social outing. They were hit by a trailer somewhere around Ogidi and they both died on the spot. It was a sad day for all. He had already processed travel papers to travel abroad for a big show. I was already hoping that I would make the trip with him but he died. He must have been aged between 34 and 36 years I guess as he started music early. Again he had done a traditional wedding but never lived fully with his new wife before his death. I am happy to note that his daughter born after his death is now a lawyer.
You also played with Osita Osadebe?
I first spent a year with Celestine and later joined Osadebe who was then playing at Central Hotel Onitsha in 1974. I returned to Celestine Ukwu again sooner than I expected later that same year. I remained with Celestine Ukwu until his death in 1976.
Could you compare the two musicians as their close associate?
They were both in a class of their own. Osadebe was older than Celestine. Leave everything philosophical to Celestine (his band was the Philosophers National) while Osadebe may be melancholic and hedonistic and may sing about anything that came to his mind. Osadebe could easily create a scene anywhere but never Celestine who was a gentleman to the core and avoided anything that could attract attention to himself. Note that he never smoked or drank alcohol. But wome…
[2:43 PM, 8/13/2019] Tunde Abatan: Editorial Policy:Our main thrust is to focus on fair,balanced and incisive news and events that will impact positively on the Polity.
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[2:57 PM, 8/13/2019] Tunde Abatan: Breaking: Joe Igbokwe others make Lagos commissioners list
Lagos State Governor Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday,increase the list of his commissioner and special advisers nominee by 13 more commissioner and special advisers designates.
The new names which included Lagos APC spokesperson,Joe Igbokwe was transmitted to the state lawmakers today.
The new list is coming four weeks after the Governor sent the first batch of the list to the lawmakers for screening.
A statement by the Deputy Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said the second list had names of accomplished politicians and technocrats who “understand the current need of Lagos” and the development agenda of the Governor.
The Governor’s media aide said t…
[3:24 PM, 8/13/2019] Tunde Abatan: Gov Abiodun to launch Ogun Job Portal , Thursday
The job portal promised by the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, will be formally launched on Thursday.
The public presentation will take place at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta at 12 noon prompt.
The portal would register, on a continuous basis, employed and unemployed youths in the State with a view to providing them jobs and training opportunities suitable for their trade and academic qualifications.
The job portal which was under review recorded over 5,000 candidates where a test-run was done last month for only two hours.
According to Kunle Somorin, the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, the response underscored the enthusiasm of Ogun citizens to the State Government job creation initiative
“The Government of Ogun State is partnering with the public-private sector stakeholders to create opportunities, upskill and expand the job space for our teeming young men and women and those who have special talents,” the statement quoted the Governor as saying.
“It is a major pillar of our quality governance model. We are going to have an inclusive government that will utilise valuable potentials that abound in the State and that’s why we are involving the private sector.
“All graduates and those with vocational training across the State will give their information and we will endeavour to match them with potential employers training opportunities, not only within the civil service but also with the private sector, with whom we are partnering”, he stated.
To ensure that the citizens and residents of the states are not short-changed “we will send a Local Content Bill to the Legislature, such that investors will first look inward to availability of workers in Ogun State and make our youths their primary catchment area when they site their companies here”.
Already, the Governor has appointed Mr Lekan Olude, a co-founder of Jobberman, a leading human resources management firms in the continent as his Special Adviser on Job Creation and Youth Empowerment to coordinate activities and policies on Job creation and facilitate linkage with employers and multilateral development agencies.
At the launch of the portal on Thursday, instant jobs would be offered to some lucky applicants.
The Governor said his Government plans certain enablers as corollary to his mission to build our future together through “qualitative governance, education, healthcare, infrastructural development, digitization and agriculture “.
“Besides linking our graduates with industrialists and Government agencies, we plan to create new league of entrepreneurs who will become net employers in the State”, the statement further said.
The Government is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria, a consortium of other commercial banks and the World Bank to support 40,000 farmers on mechanised farming with attendant value chain benefits to make agribusiness bedrock of his administration’s plan to lift people out of poverty.
Already, Governor Abiodun said 10,000 youths will be supported to plant cassava, maize and rice – crops in which the state is a leading producer this planting season.
“Each farmer will get a parcel of land and be supported with clearing, seedlings, extension and off takers services to ensure profitability of their ventures,” the statement concluded.
By Fred Iwenjora