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

Africa’s Leader-Manias and the Take-Over by the Chinese

What has happened, Africa? This is the question a bright youth leader on a private forum asked when he learnt the Chinese have set up the 13th Chinese Police Station in South Africa. The answer is Nothing. Whether the question is based on fact, fiction or exaggeration is immaterial. The Chinese are coming and coming big to Africa. The tragedy is that the African people who should have known better in advance especially the intellectual / educated class enthusiastically and unashamedly supported the decadent rubbish many post-colonial leaders foisted upon their citizens on the continent up to this day. Africans are now living with the harsher realities of such thoughtlessness and misfortune and the Chinese like the are taking full advantage of it.

Were the African elite asleep as China started taking over the continent or were they too drunk on money, rent-seeking, privilege and power ? Or were they seized by leader mania? Continue reading

How to Measure the Performance of a Nigerian President

There are many able Nigerian analysts, commentators, pundits, academics and journalists who have earned a say in the Nigerian political arena; most are insincere, some swing and a few are truthful i.e. in their evaluations of state of political realities and performances of governments and their principals. All performances do have a benchmark for its measurement to be valid. It is then amazing to many how a president could score 50% on education or 60% on health or 50% on the economy without a consistent robust and accessible benchmark or any sensible work done. Spontaneously made up or believed in performance ratings are delusional but facts and figures are hard to find, by routine governance choice. A rule of thumb benchmark that accurately determines the ethos, vision and energy expended by a African government or leader on domestic governance is  sufficiently expressed not by a great book, great paper or great teaching but by a terse insightful unequivocal musing of George Ayittey in The Strange Case of Xenophilia that is very easily supported by metrics. Continue reading

“Coconut Head” Corruption

“There is no good name for a terrible disease” – Urhobo proverb

The solution to Africa’s problems lie solely in Africa” – George Ayittey

Coconut Head Corruption (CHC) is a term derived from the vocabulary of George Ayittey, a distinguished U.S. based Ghanaian economist, and is used to describe the observed hollow-headedness and thoughtlessness exhibited by corrupt African leaders and their clients who have engaged in corruption since the beginning of the post-colonial era. Ayittey consistently and emphatically in his works and on social media uses words like “Coconut Leader”, “Coconut combat” or “Coconut solutions” to address misgovernance and bad leadership in African. Coconut-prefixed words as Ayittey uses them is just one aspect of the sincere, blunt and uncompromising vehemence with which he is opposed to corruption and deliberate under-development in Africa. Solving Africa’s problems is not a ‘popularity contest’, it is about consistent successful approaches and outcomes; political correctness has not done anything for Africa (Ayittey 1992). Continue reading

Fraternities are Viruses in Nigeria: Part 10

Whether university campus grown fraternities (UCGF) have done either good or evil to societies in their countries of origin (e.g. the USA) is debatable. American-style, without idealisation, their “honour codes” are both formidable and strictly adhered; “honour” among brothers matter inestimably. Interestingly, their Nigerian imitators as ‘free-for-all fraternities’ are observably oblivious to very meaning of honour and devoid of working honour codes. This may be the reason UCGFs in Nigeria are more like “street gangs” than collectives of educated men. Continue reading

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