Posted by News Express | 2 September 2021 | 510 times
Prof Victor Efosa Uwaifo, aka Guitar Boy, who passed on last Saturday at 80, lived a fulfilled life. He was until his death, a legendary fine artist and musician who also made remarkable impact as a scholar. The former Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism was an embodiment of culture with a strong passion for the preservation of Edo heritage. However, his 17-year-old Revelation Palazzo Museum, in Benin City has been a source of concern to him. The facility, which has gone dilapidated, is one of such prayers that were unanswered before he died.
Some minutes after the introductory part of the event, the stage was set for the big one. Musicians took turn to thrill the audience at the Sport Complex, University of Benin, Benin City, the Edo state capital. There were young and old Benin based musicians and others who had good outings. But when Sir Victor Efosa Uwaifo mounted the stage after performances by Innocent Idibia (2baba), he was greeted by thunderous applauses from the crowd.
Decked in an all-white outfit, Uwaifo, who rendered some classic songs from his famous Joromi series, literarily stole the show. In fact, he remains a spectacle to watch at any given performance. Event was the opening of National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) 2019.
The late Uwaifo was until his death among Nigeria’s oldest active musicians and visual artists. His imprints are in almost every genre of the art: visual, performance, literary and music.
In 2017, in recognition of his contributions to the arts and culture sector in Africa and Diaspora, UNESCO honoured him as the Living Human Treasure in Paris France. The event, featured exhibition tour, symposium and musical performance among others. The event was coordinated by Paris-based Nigerian curator Bose Fagbemi, Founder Conseiller Artistique.
Apart from his remarkable exploits in music, art and academics, the late Uwaifo had a strong passion for the promotion and preservation of Edo heritage. However, he may have died unhappy with the condition of his museum project.
Seventeen years ago, he founded a pet project dear to his heart-the Revelation Palazzo Museum, Benin City that houses his music studio and collection of rare artefacts and cultural objects on Benin history. The facility, which is close to his residence in Benin City, is described as ‘gate way to Edo State’ where the good, the bad and the ugly sides of Edo history are showcased. The artworks explain the history of the Edo people and are all done by Uwaifo.
Unfortunately, till date the state of the museum he invested fortune on is not palatable to the eyes. Two years ago, worried by this development, Uwaifo literarily begged government and other organisations to come to his aid in revamping the facility. He had called on government and corporate bodies to take over the private museum to save it from total rot. He lamented that he invested hugely in preserving the culture and history of the Edo people and Nigerians at large by establishing the museum.
He said the museum, which houses all his intellectual property, ancestral shrines, slave market peculiar to Edo State, firing squad of notorious armed robber Aninih, portrait paintings of famous Nigerians, among other cultural objects, was his contribution to humanity.
According to him, government or private investors can take up the management of the museum to ensure proper preservation and conservation of the content.
“I am bothered by the poor state of the museum because I am funding it alone. That is why I am calling on the government and private organisations for support. I am okay with any arrangements, be it partnership or collaborations, because I spent so much of my flesh and blood since inception. In fact, I maintain the entire street leading to the museum.
“I invested so much money into the museum, which I could have put in fixed deposit. I am a fulfilled musician and artist. For me, there is nothing better than music and art because it gives me satisfaction. It makes me look forward to the future with pride. Patronage of the museum has been on the high side. But, we have not been able to break even because visitors pay token,” he said then. .
Now that he is no more, what becomes of the Revelation Palazzo Museum in Benin City? Who will make the late Uwaifo to smile in heaven by restoring the legacy he cherished much?
The museum if renovated and maintained can also contribute to the economy of the state same way the much expected Benin bronzes from Germany and other parts of the globe will do.
Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, and two Nigerian Musicians, Adewale Ayuba, Omatshola Iseli popularly known as “Tee Mac on Sunday paid tributes to late veteran musician, Sir Victor Uwaifo who died on Saturday.
Runsewe described the late Uwaifo as a musician of a lifetime considering his huge contributions to the growth of the Nigerian entertainment industry.
“Being a unique fellow, loaded with lots of talents, the late Uwaifo had contributed to the development of the entertainment industry and NCAC would immortalise him and his works,” he said. He stated that institutions and students needed to study Uwaifo and his works, to spur their creativity in and inspire even unborn Nigerians.
“I had an encounter with him in 2019 during the commemoration of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) which was hosted in Benin.
“Until I met him, I never understood the philosophy behind his music. He took me down memory lane to how he came about his music “Joromi” and Mammi Water.”
“He showed me the car he made. Honestly Nigeria has lost an icon to be remembered for a long time, we will miss him. I condole with the family to take solace in God and pray that God forgives his shortcomings and make him rest with Him.Truly, he has paid his dues and to this, the NCAC will be immortalising him so that unborn Nigerians will know who Victor Uwaifo was,” he said.
Tee Mac said that the nation had lost a special musician who was always available to help young artistes and uplift the entertainment industry. According to him, the late Uwaifo was a very active member of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) and that as the Chairman of the Entertainment Foundation, he will ensure that Uwaifo’s legacies were sustained. “Victor Uwaifo’s death is a sad development, as an artist, he was constant with his art works, he represents to me a true artist, from making his sculptures, to music to painting and writing.
“I met him in November 1970 and since then we have attended many shows together, I go to his house and even slept in his house countless times. He was a great friend. I will speak with his family to ensure his museum is maintained because it is a tourist attraction,” he said.
Legendary Fuji Musician, Adewale Ayuba described the late Uwaifo as a responsible artist who had recorded zero controversies over the years, adding that he had left an indelible mark on his chosen career, as a calm and consistent artist. He called on up and coming artistes to critically study the late musician’s works, life and times, as his life was a good example of how an artiste’s life should be. “I condole with the family of Uwaifo, he was a responsible artiste, no controversies and has been consistent in his works, May his soul rest in peace.
The late Prof. Victor Uwaifo was born March 1, 1941, and was best known for being a musician, writer, sculptor, musical instrument inventor, university lecturer, music legend and the first honourable Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism in Nigeria. He was the winner of the first gold disc in Africa and was recognised as the most educated performing music legend and artist worldwide with a PhD in architectural sculpture.
Seasoned broadcaster and former Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation Mr. Soni Irabor in a tribute to the late Guitar Boy, Prof (Sir) Victor EfosaUwaifo described the veteran musician as his backbone while he was in Edo State government as commissioner.
“I am heartbroken!! Prof (Sir) Victor Uwaifo was my backbone when we both served in Chief Lucky Igbinedion’s Cabinet.
He was Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism while I was in charge of Information and Orientation. He was as lively and jovial as he was serious about issues. No holds barred. He applied the same level of seriousness to his work as Commissioner as he did his music!
“He didn’t allow anything to come between his work as a musician, a Sculptor or as a public servant (Commissioner).
It is that restless vigour that pushed Victor Uwaifo to go back to school at an adult age, got more degrees and became a Professor in the prestigious University of Benin.
“When he turned 80 on March 1 this year, we were all so excited in the Studios of Inspiration 92.3fm when he granted me a phone interview on Soni Irabor Live. Uwaifo was still performing his music until some weeks ago! Nobody saw this sudden exit coming,” he said.
Art lecturer at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Mr. Ufuoma Onobrakpeya recalled that the late was his classmate at the University of Benin between 1990 and 1995. “He decided to return to school after performing as a professional musician for a long time. He had a daughter who was also in our class with him, but majored in Theater Arts at that time. I remember during our Art History and Art Education lectures with the great Prof Solomon Wangboje, he would contribute intelligently during the lectures because he was quite a scholar and this passion earned him a first class grade at graduation. He was also a great Art historian who added spice to the lectures. During our drawing classes when we had an interval recess, he would bring his guitar from his car and begin to entertain his classmates and we would dance to his rhythmic music.
“I remember when he had a performance at our Assembly Hall in Ekenwan Campus of the University of Benin, he performed with his guitar and danced with a lot of energy and vigour, which kept our lecturers spell bound and danced to his music especially Joromi. There was an occasion when he personally invited me to his home not too far from the University. When I got there all my lecturers sat there and he entertained them. He took me to an airplane designed as sitting room in his house, which doubled as his hall of fame and had all his awards and plaques and a grand piano at the corner.
“I also recall he was very hardworking and would use bronze material for his assignments and work with very sophisticated machines and tools while his classmates in the sculpture section would carve wood with their bare hands.
He was a great admirer and respected my father Bruce Onobrakpeya who he shared with the distinction of being a UNESCO designated Human Living Treasure.
He was also a trendy and fashionable man, who would bring to school different classical convertible cars. He became the first Commissioner for Arts and Culture in Edo State during Lucky Igbinedion’s tenure as Governor. May he Rest in Peace in the bosom of the Lord.”
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