LEGENDARY Musician Sir Victor Uwaifo is 80 today 1 March. For most of our young ones who don’t know Sir Victor Uwaifo, he was Africa’s biggest music export at his time, bringing so much glory to His county as early as the early 60s Ask your parents and they will tell you more. Below is a brief profile I just culled from Wikipedia about him.
Sir Victor Uwaifo is a Nigerian musician, writer, sculptor, and musical instrument inventor, born in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria in 1941. He is famous for his joromi music. He records under the name Sir Victor Uwaifo.
His best-known song, “Guitar Boy and Mamiwater” was a huge hit in 1966. It was inspired by an encounter (which he has long maintained actually occurred) with a mami wata (mermaid) while lounging on Bar Beach in Lagos. He also served as commissioner for arts and culture in Edo State under the government of Lucky Igbinedion.
Uwaifo obtained his secondary school education at the Western Boys’ High School Benin and St Gregory’s College, Lagos, in the years 1957–1961. He studied graphics at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos and graduated with distinction in 1961–1963. He received a bachelor’s degree first class honors and a master’s degree from the University of Benin in 1994, where he studied fine and applied arts and majored in sculpture.
Early in his career, Victor Uwaifo was a member of Bobby Benson’s Highlife band.
Uwaifo made history in Nigeria when he won the first Golden record in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa (presented by Philips, West Africa) for his song “Joromi” in 1966. Victor Uwaifo, who has a total of 12 golden records to date, has traveled to many countries, including the United States, Russia, Japan, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, France, Hungary, Rome, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin Republic and others.
His song Joromi has legendary status among his fans and his performances are characterized by his ability to play the guitar with both his feet and also his tongue. It might also interest you to note that the song was premiered on BBC Radio, the same day it was released and still gets played till today as one of the greatest hits out of Nigeria.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, in appreciation of his talents and contributions to Nigeria honored him with a National Honors Merit in 1983 by then President Shehu Shagari, which reads in part
” … whereas you have been nominated and appointed as Member of the Order of the Niger to have and hold and enjoy the privileges of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of the said Order, MON.”
Uwaifo was the first professional musician in Nigeria to receive such an award. He is a Justice of the Peace and has served in many capacities. Uwaifo was also appointed as the Honorable Commissioner of Arts, Culture and Tourism and Member of the State Executive Council, the highest policy-making decision body in Edo State, 2001–2003.
Appointed as Justice of Peace (JP) Public Notary and Lay Magistrate, Sir Victor Uwaifo was honored by four Nigerian Presidents:
He was awarded the National Honors of Nigeria (MON)
He was invited to the State House by four Presidents and Head of States of Nigeria
In 1995, he was invited by the United Nations Staff Day International Committee to perform during the UN Golden Jubilee celebration. Uwaifo is cited in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1983 edition, documented in the “Who’s Who in Nigeria”, “Who’s Who in Africa”, “Who’s Who in the Commonwealth”, and “Men and Women of Distinction in the Commonwealth” sections. He is an Honorary Member of the Biographical Advisory Council, Cambridge, England, a member of both the Performing Right Society, and of the Advisory Board of American Heritage University, California, U.S.A. Also note that “Sir” attached to his name is not from the catholic Church. He is actually a Queen’s Knight.
Uwaifo is the Chairman of Joromi Organization, a multi-track recording and television studio in Benin-City. He runs and manages an art gallery and the Victor Uwaifo Hall of Fame.
Uwaifo’s hobbies include swimming, bodybuilding, gaming, reading and writing. He is a Christian, and married with children. His song Alex “Andre Vibez” Uwaifio is also a musician/producer who has produced for notable Nigerian A-List artistes. His Daughter Idusogie is also a former Beauty Queen, Winning the Miss Edo pageant.
He also is a Professor at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Benin, Benin City.