Here’s what you need to know about Victor Uwaifo

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Victor Uwaifo passed away over the weekend on Saturday, August 28, 2021 at the age of 80 years. According to his son, Goodman Osaretin, the music icon died from pneumonia. He said: “He died of pneumonia and not COVID-19. He was rushed to the hospital on Friday and passed on the following day on Saturday, August 28.  We did the necessary tests. He was treated for pneumonia.”

Uwaifo was one of the pioneers of highlife music in Nigeria. He was a living inspiration and an enigma of many sorts. His artistry transcended from music to applied arts, education, and politics. Here’s what you need to know about him:

His early life and education

Victor Efosa Uwaifo was born in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, and obtained his secondary school education from the Western Boys’ High School Benin and St. Gregory’s college Lagos from 1957 to 1961 after which he proceeded to study Graphics at the Yaba college of technology, Lagos. He received a bachelor’s degree with first-class honours at 54 years old and a master’s degree from the University of Benin in 1997 at the age of 56 where he studied Fine and Applied Arts.

His music career

Victor Uwaifo started playing the guitar as early as 12 years old and became the leader of his school band. During school holidays he would jam to Olaiya’s all-star band and listen to Spanish and American music. He started working with Stephen Osadebe and Fred Coker on the completion of his secondary school before he formed Melody maestros in 1965.

In 1996, Uwaifo produced a hit song called Guitar boy which circulated all around Africa. The song went thus, “If you see Mami water ooh ooh, never ever, ever run away.” When asked what inspired the song, he explained that while lounging on the beach, he had an encounter with the West African water goddess “Mami water” who gave him a guitar and asked him to make good music. He quickly became known as the Guitar boy. He proceeded to release Joromi, which was another great hit and laid the foundation for high-life music in Nigeria. He described the song as his best performing song.

Achievements in the music industry

Uwaifo developed a lot of sounds that have now transcended into different traditional sounds. In 1965 and 1968, he developed the Akwete rhythm sound and launched a beat called shadow accompanied with the shadow dance which was performed at various events thereby leaving a significant mark in the entertainment industry.

He was also the first Nigerian to be presented a golden record in 1996, for his hit song Joromi and was awarded the National Honors Merit Award in 1983 for his contributions to the music industry.

His contributions to Art and Education

Apart from being a great music legend, Uwaifo was a grand sculptor having studied fine and applied arts at the University of Benin. He once served as the Honorable Commissioner for Arts, Culture, and Tourism and a Member of the State Executive Council in Edo State. His sculpture depicted the unique culture of the history of the great Benin Kingdom and Nigeria’s shaping politics. He was also a lecturer in the Department of fine and applied arts at the University of Benin where he taught numerous students the art of sculpting.

From his achievements in the music, art, and educational sector, Victor Uwaifo was truly a legend and a gift to our society. To this effect, some notable persons have expressed their condolences to the passing of the musical icon. Reacting to Uwaifo’s death, President Muhammadu Buhari said the renowned musician lived for many firsts in the entertainment and education industry. He went on to pray for the soul of the departed and comfort for his family. Other political leaders like Governor Godwin Obaseki and Ifeanyi Okowa have also expressed their profound condolences.

May his soul rest in perfect peace.

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