Posted by News Express | 9 June 2013 | 6,958 times
Legendary jurist Chukwudifu Oputa has lashed out at Nigeria’s corrupt government ministers, telling them: “No one will celebrate you when you are dead.”
He delivered the verdict Friday night in the Nigerian capital Abuja while speaking on the lesson to be learnt from the life of late music icon Harcourt Whyte.
“We do not celebrate the ministers who steal our money; we celebrate those who at their death leave something good for us to copy,” Justice Oputa, who is nicknamed Socrates on account of his wise judgements, said while speaking as Special Guest at an event organised at Sheraton Hotel & Towers by the Harcourt Whyte Foundation in honour of the late Ikoli Harcourt Whyte.
The renowned jurist did not, however, name any particular ministers. The Nigerian cabinet is widely believed to harbor several corrupt ministers though some members of the cabinet are also known to be upright.
Justice Oputa, 92, showered encomiums on the late Harcourt Whyte, recalling how he overcame enormous challenges as a leprous orphan to become one of the greatest composers Nigeria has ever known.
“I am an admirer of Harcourt Whyte,” the sage announced to the filled hall. “Harcourt Whyte was from a simple, humble background but we are celebrating him and his music. John Milton was blind but we celebrate him because of his great poetry. No matter what your circumstances are, you can make it but you must have a goal. Without a goal, you will walk about aimlessly. Where there is a will, there will always be a way. That is what Harcourt Whyte taught us.”
Other speakers also praised Harcourt Whyte, pointing out that by succeeding despite his harsh circumstances, he proved beyond doubt that anybody can succeed in life.
“He gave us music; he gave us philosophy, and he gave us hope that no matter our circumstances, we can overcome,” said Ugo A. Okoroafor, one of the pillars of the Harcourt Whyte Foundation.
Okoroafor restated the Foundation’s determination “to revive Harcourt Whyte’s music and hand it over to the next generation.”
In his speech, veteran broadcaster Nnamdi Olebara, the man whose soulful voice brought Harcourt Whyte’s compositions to life in his numerous albums, described his late musical partner as the man who “championed the first lepers’ rebellion in the world and proved that lepers also have souls.”
Describing his late principal’s works, Olebara said that “his melancholic lyrics are iodine to our troubled soul.”
Tagged “An Evening with Harcourt Whyte”, the event featured soulful performances by five celebrated Nigerian choirs. They are the Abuja Chorale Ensemble directed and conducted by Barr. Everyman Eleanya; J. Clef Chorale of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) directed and conducted by Jude Nwankwo; Achinivu-Harcourt Whyte Choral Association, Arochukwu, Abia State (directed and conducted by Prof. A. Kanu Achinivu, PhD); University of Port-Harcourt (UNIPORT) Concert Chorus directed and conducted by Prof. Onyee Nwankpa; and Ikoli Harcourt White Choir, Lagos, led and directed by Elder Ogbonnaya Nnabugwu.
The event climaxed with a joint performance by the five choirs under the direction of Prof. Achinivu that featured a surprise appearance by weird entertainer Charles Oputa a.k.a Charly Boy, who attended the event in the company of his father (Justice Oputa), his mother Margaret, his wife Lady Diane and one of his daughters.
Other important personalities that turned up for the show included financial whizkid Albert Okumagba, senior management staff of Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as Mrs. Ezinwa N. Okoroafor, Co-ordinator of the Harcourt Whyte Foundation, and some other members of the Board, among them Harcourt Whyte’s son, Sir Godwin Harcourt-Whyte , Dr. Lucky Somiari Whyte, Mr. Kevin Ejiofor and Chukwunyere Nwaononiwu.
Born in Abonnema in Rivers State in 1905, Ikoli Harcourt Whyte was orphaned at the age of 13, when he was already down with leprosy. His rise to fame began when he moved to the famous Uzuakoli Leprosy Colony in the present Abia State, where he became healed but chose to remain at the place. He did not only become a successful family man and song writer but also raised a choir that regularly performed his compositions at the Methodist Church Lohum, Uzuakoli.
Before his death in 1977, Harcourt Whyte composed over 300 sacred hymns used in Methodist Church of Nigeria in the then Eastern Nigeria and beyond. Over time, these sacred songs spread and became very popular that it could no longer be compartmentalised or classified as Methodist Church songs as they were widely used in Christian worships across different Christian denominations.
•Photo shows Justice Oputa.
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