Music legend and first Honorable Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism in Nigeria, Sir Victor Uwaifo, has opened up about some aspects of his life and recounts how he was almost electrocuted to death while performing on stage.
The musician during an exclusive interview with Sunday PUNCH takes Alexander Okere through his childhood adventures and other events.
See some excerpts from the interview below.
Many know you as an energetic musician in your youthful years. Would you say turning 80 has changed that?
Nothing has changed. I am still as fit as a fiddle.
What are the most memorable events of your childhood you can never forget?
I remember flying kites, going to swim at Ikpoba River in Benin City, shooting catapults with precision and bringing down every bird within sight.
I also remember making toys, including aircraft and cars, using foil paper from cigarettes to build the models, covers for tyres and a reward of £1 given to me by a white man who saw my toy aircraft along our street. It looked like it was on a runway and about to take off in a windy storm. I made my first acoustic guitar with plywood, trap wire for the strings, sardine can openers as tuning pegs and bicycle spokes for frets. I also drew on any available papers at my disposal.
Sharing his near-death childhood experience, Uwaifo said, “I was once electrocuted during a show in Warri, Delta State, in 1969, at Lido Nightclub.
Sunny Okosun (God bless his soul) was in my band as my rhythm guitarist. I was trapped on the floor due to an electric short circuit during my acrobat display. But God’s favour was upon me and I survived the accident. God used (the late) Sunny Okosun to raise the alarm and the power was switched off.”
How many musical instruments can you play?
I play several musical instruments like the classical guitar, electric guitar, flute, alto and tenor saxophone, baritone sax, soprano sax, piano and percussions. I write scores on a music manuscript sheet. I sight-read, compose and arrange songs. Music is a serious business.
The fact that you can open your mouth to sing does not make you a musician, the same way playing street football does not make you a footballer and arguing does not make you a lawyer. You can speak English but that does not make you a journalist.
Driving a car does not make you a mechanic or a pilot. You must train to become a professional. The young ones are too much in a hurry. The heights that great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight.