Okpan Arhibo: A Traditional Kind of Disco Music

When Manu Dibango invented disco music with his phenomenal hit “Soul Makossa”, besides the breakbeats, jazz and soul influences complete with saxophone, trumpet, drum kits, bass and lead guitars, piano/keyboards and other western musical instruments that made it the big success it was within the New York music scene and worldwide, its central sensibility as was developed and perfected, came from somewhere. Africa. Subsequently, Fela, Osibisa, Mariam Makeba, Hugh Masekela also working within the breakbeat, soul, funk, and jazz found instant fame and recognition as innovators in the world music scene and “Afrobeat” credited to Fela soon became an international art form with a strong legitimacy of its own.

Traditional musicians like Okpan Arhibo who remain true to the source Manu Dibango had astutely appropriated to create a new music phenomenon did not achieve either international fame or massive commercial success simply due to their tenacious fidelity to the purity of their art form. Some may classify such fidelity to traditional music as timid, unadventurous, retrogressive or impervious for a creative artist. Such a conclusion is both uninformed and premature. When Okpan Arhibo came out with his seminal hit “Catch Fire Dance” by the turn of the 8th decade of the last century, he had in one go changed the style, approach, spontaneity, and permissiveness within the Urhobo nation and the wider Wafi (Warri, Delta State) arena to music and dance. We must remember till Okpan came along with his hits, Urhobo youths who were desperate to be “civilised” (westernised) had resoundingly rejected the traditional music form. It was Okpan who made Urhobo music totally acceptable to the youths; his music found the restless youth and turned them. Continue reading

Black Spots and Human Rights

No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes. On the contrary, whatever the punishment, once a specific crime has appeared for the first time, its reappearance is more likely than its initial emergence could ever have been – Hannah Arendt

When punishment becomes too common or an overused resort, it indicates a poorly governed organisation or institution that can do no better than wield a stick to cover up the open corruption of its leadership and its day to day affairs. The more the rotten the organisation, the more the punishment meted out to its members. Punishment thus becomes the best way the organisation or institution secures impunity from its very own corruption and decadence. Some organisation uses Black spots as its primary method of discipline and punishment within while simultaneously claiming to be “defenders of human rights” without. Continue reading

A Death In A Dream

I had a dream last night that I had died while dreaming. Then nothingness, Okuku [total blankness]. It was all over, no points of return feasible or imaginable. However, when I woke up this morning, and found that I was still alive, fresh and sexy [Gbogborogbo!], I almost went unconscious with the shock of surprise. The unconsciousness that one recovers from I have tasted endlessly and it can be pleasant but not the one which felt permanent as in my dream; sleep, ethanol induction, general anaesthetic and over-high fevers I have all woken up from but it seemed impossible for me to do in this dream. I have never been knocked out in all my many fights, I am no longer a youth. Continue reading

Sapele’s Female Druggies and their Babies

Imagine a baby just a few days or old. He or she has been crying for food endlessly but nothing is on offer. There is no money for baby food, so the mother has to feed the child with her breast’s milk. How ever, the delay that kept the baby hungry was because she taking time to inject, swallow or smoke drugs. The baby’s nourishment from the mother’s breast may be laced with varying concentrations of drugs. That is the baby’s meal and survival. We are not even talking about how well fed the mother is, the child’s immunity, health and treatment if it falls ill, the environment the mother and child lives, hopes of a better life and so forth. One may further ask if the child is the only one, or the second or third or if another one is on the way? Look at the photo above and you can see a mother simultaneously smoking marijuana and feeding her baby. It is happening in Sapele, Delta State like in many other towns and cities in Nigeria, particularly the slum areas, but the usual denial by many Nigeria is that the photo was taken in South Africa, Gabon or Chad. Drugs are not just destroying a generation of youths, it is already destroying their babies. Continue reading

Where Is Deji Akintilo?

I saw Fabio Romani the other day, not long ago. He was kind enough to enter my submarine on his long journey, unknown to me then, to the Land of the Forgone. He was truly a Jolly Sailor who showed me a thing or two about being at sea at our meeting. However, he had never been in a submarine. He inspected my submarine and was impressed with what he saw. He asked me “is this where you launch your mutinous torpedoes and cruise missiles from?” I was too shy or embarrassed to answer. After giving him the splendid and informed tour of the ocean’s bed I finally took him to the Davy Jones Locker’s rendezvous. When we both entered the rendezvous, he was surprised to see a third fellow there, another outstanding sailor who did not want to be disturbed. They coldly exchange brief greetings. The Locker was too cold for liveliness and people do not elect to reside there; it’s either Adam’s Punishment or Cap’n Blood Punishment; Fabio was there for the former, I was there for the latter. Continue reading

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