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

Do The Urhobo People Need Saviours or Leaders?

At the moment the Urhobo nation is both essentially saviourless and leaderless, forget the ethnic bosses. Chiefs Mukoro Mowoe, Michael Ibru, David EjoorGreat Ogboru, and James Ibori have all been arguably seen as saviours of the Urhobo nation. However, only the legacies of Mowoe and Ibru remain as genuine saviours unperturbed and Mowoe the singular unobstructed unifying leader of Western, Central and Eastern [Isoko] Urhobo. This is shocking considering that Mowoe, the foremost Urhobo nationalist and first president-general of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), died 70 years ago. This no disrespect to (Urhobo Progress Union) UPU and its host of influential leaders. The Urhobo people have produced many illustrious sons and daughters in many endeavours of life, some even rivalling in achievement the five named saviours. One may wonder what it is that distinguishes these five men as saviours to Urhobos but not necessarily leaders? Continue reading

The Urhobos Do Come Last – Mostly in Politics

 

As ridiculous as it may sound, if Anioma were to be granted a State today, the new capital of Delta State would be either Koko (Itsekiriland) or Bomadi (Ijawland) or even Oleh (Isokoland). However, some Urhobos are crying for a [reinstated] “voice” in federal politics at the 90-day suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agage (Delta: APC) from the upper house of the National Assembly but they cannot even handle themselves well politically within Delta State. Is this not the time for the Urhobo nation to look inwards and sort its cohesion challenges out?

Fejiro Oliver of Secret Reporters recently wrote about his utter disillusionment with the Urhobos (his full heritage) and his embrace of the Anioma people. He cited his betrayal by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the reason for his chosen ethnic preference. He was poached by Omo-Agage from NTA to be a staff writer with Urhobo Vanguard newspaper set up to assist Omo-Agege in his gubernatorial ambitions. When Fejiro was kidnapped in Niger State for investigative journalism in 2014, Omo-Agege and the entire Urhobo nation turned their backs on him giving mostly unbecoming excuses. Continue reading

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