Monday, 7 November 2011

The night of Victors

Victor Olaiya


 AS part of activities marking this year’s Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Festival, the best of highlife music was on show last Saturday.
 Tagged Hi-Life Nite, it featured two of Africa’s highlife maestros, Prof. Victor Uwaifo, former Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism and the legendry ‘evil genius’ of highlife, Dr. Victor Abimbola Olaiya.
  With their electrifying performances, the two Victors recreated the golden era of highlife in West Africa (1950s to1970s), when the genre dominated the scene; they brought nostalgia to the house; especially among those who were part of that era.
  Preparing the stage for the maestros to come on board was the Girl Rule Band led by the saxophonist Perpetual Atife. Marion Akpata initiated the

Pro. Victor Uwaifo
all-girl band.
   The group recreated old highlife tunes other than that of the two maestros on parade. They gave a good opening glee.
TAKING the lead was Victor Olaiya, who performed during the visit of the Queen Elizabeth 11 to the country in 1956. Aside from his band being the official musical group for Nigeria’s Independence Day celebrations in 1960 and in 1963 when it became a Republic, Olaiya has been ever present on the scene. In his 80s, the man still does regular gig at Stadium Hotel, Surulere. He dished out some of his sizzling evergreens such as Omo pupa, Sisi jowo and many others.
  Immediately after him, the Guitar Boy, Victor Uwaifo, a multi-talented artist, who outside music has held three visual art shows, took the stage.
   Electrifying the hall with his call and response technique, the University of Benin Fine Art teacher and his dancers wowed the audience with their enchanting performance.
  Olaiya said, “highlife is the lingua franca of all genres of music. It is the music itself, as all forms of music jazz, R’n’B, the contemporary hip hop and others, borrowed from it.”
 While disclosing how he got the sobriquet, ‘evil

Uwaifo's sidemen and dancers
genius’, the octogenarian said, “highlife music is 10 per cent inspiration and 90 per cent perspiration. I am called evil genius because I make my fans sweat through dancing while enjoying my music. To make a difference in the music, you need to sweat.”

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