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Music Development In Ibusa - Concluding Part - Culture - Nairaland

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Music Development In Ibusa - Concluding Part by Peppermaster(m): 6:52am On Jun 03
Music Development in Ibusa - Concluding Part

- Emeka Esogbue

"Obodo Amaligor Na Anyi Bu Ndi Egwu" - Egwu Osodi

The biggest musical actor of modern-day Ibusa is Chief Ogbogu Anthony Okonji. A Journalist from neighbouring Okpanam community, Sylvester Asoya, once described him with the following words:

"Ogbogu Okonji is unarguably the biggest music ambassador in the Anioma area of Delta State. The traditional music exponent who had a stint with the Nigerian Customs Service has done remarkably well with his career. Apart from his admonitory lyrics which constantly place a check on society, Ogbogu's music is appealing and a major source of unity among people. But the musician has also been regularly criticized for praising only the rich and powerful."

In general, Ogbogu is the most consistent Anioma traditional musician and also the one with the highest number of albums to his credit. He was born to the Okonji family of Ogboli in Ibusa. He also stands, not only as one of the community's living legends but one of the most Ibusa indigenes. Outside of the music business, Ogbogu Okonji is a reserved man who is hardly ever seen at functions. He started his career early in life, singing songs while his mates danced to his rhythms.

It was from here that he grew to take up the music profession. In an interview with this author, Dr. Emeka Esogbue, and other Anioma Essence crew members, Ogbogu Okonji stated that he began his career as the lead vocalist for the band Otu Onye Sopulu Onwea Dancing Group of Ibusa, which was led by Mrs. Ejeteh.

His musical career took off almost at the same time as Dana "Agility" Okonji and his cousin, Etiti Okonji; a trio who would record optimal success in the profession. Except for Agility Okonji, who is now late, the other two are still active in the profession. Ogbogu shared with this author how it all started.

According to him, while he was already with Otu Onye Sopulu Onwea, Mrs. Ejete's dance group as the Lead Vocalist, two other vocalists were needed so, agility came up as a volunteer.

The group did the "Mbunete" album which has been previously explained in Part Two of this article. After the recording of the album, Ogbogu didn't return to Ibusa but chose to remain in Lagos. As Ogbogu further said, it was when Etiti Okonji, his cousin heard the success of "Mbunete" that he joined the Band in Lagos. Nevertheless, the relationship went sour among the group members and it was Ogbogu Okonji who left to form Anioma Brothers Band.

When they noticed that Ogbogu Okonji's Anioma Brothers Band was doing well, they came to beg with delegates for the reunification of the Band with Ibusa delegates as Ogbogu Okonji further alleged.

When they were younger, Etiti Okonji and his cousin Ogbogu Okonji began their musical careers together. But around twelve, he started taking music more seriously. They developed such a strong affinity for traditional music with Ogbogu Okonji that the Igbuzo people began asking them to play for them. They coincidentally met a Mrs. Ejeteh at that point. Ogbogu Okonji told him he had founded a group named "Otu Ife Onye Lolu Nwa Nmadu Dancing Group of Ibusa" while they were in Lagos.

The group was founded in 1979, but after encountering certain difficulties—according to Etiti Okonji—Ogbogu and Etiti decided to split up because they could not get along.

After Ogbogu Okonji left the group to join the Anioma Brother International Band, along with some important members including Nwadishi, Cletus Okocha, and gong player Obiechie, Etiti Okonji reorganized the group and the album "Nwasi Nwasi" was made available to the public.

In fact, the public in Ibusa was taken aback by the dissolution of the Otu Ife Onye Lolu Nwa Nmadu Dancing group as it occurred right when the group was starting to see success. The last of the Group's album perhaps, was "Ajukwu Special." It was the Group that confirmed Ogbogu Okonji as "The Message Man" because of his satirical messages in which human folly was exposed.

Since the Ibusa music was not all about Ogbogu Okonji and his cousin, Etiti Okonji, it will be apt to discuss Otu Ofu Obi of Ibusa, Benin Branch also called "Egwu Osode," a Benin-based Ibusa group that spread the Ibusa music far and wide.

The Group led by Emmanuel Oraegbu and Okwute released several hit albums among which was "Kalama Kalama." At their peak, the group occupied the Ibusa music industry and garnered the utmost popularity for themselves with the various albums released by them thereby contributing to the development of music in the community.

They became the second group after "Otu Ofu Ndu" to recount the Ibusa experience in the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970. "Mmili Zue Na Igwe" was another beautiful track from the Group that hit the Anioma music chart and remained for a long time. The group had several chartbuster albums that not only redefined Ibusa but made the people proud of their cultural background. The coordinated and well-rehearsed singing prowess of the Group characterized them as meticulous in their approach.

In 1982, the Group "Otu Mbonsionyewu Obulunjoa Dancing Group of Ibusa," founded at the residence of Madam Queen Ebedike in Umuafene in Isieke part of Ibusa, released "Nkwuka," an album that revolutionized Anioma in entirety.

The Group fathered by Senator Nosike Ikpo, a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also had Queen Ebedike as its mother and Dana Agility Okonji was the Lead Vocalist. Once founded, Mbosionyenwu with some of the brightest Enuani indigenes as members influenced the Ibusa community in no small way. Mada, Emeka Agidi, Ikedinma Nwaojine, Usonwanneka Oraegbu, Okocha Halim, Awele Ubaka, and several others formed the membership of the Group.

With their lyrics encouraging people to intensify their support for the planned Anioma State, Mbosionyenwu became the first Enuani group to identify with the quest for its creation. With the success recorded in "Nkwuka," the Group again released "Idaibo," and followed it with "Ogodinma," "Olinzele" and "Otukpokpolokpoi." The Group had three vocalists who utilized Ibusa folklore with the use of proverbs to pass the message and made use of traditional musical instruments such as uboma, agogo, small and big gongs, isaka, and others.

Regretfully, it seems that Otu Mbosionyenwu never produced as many records as one might have thought—despite her frequent trips to give private performances around the Anioma community. Otu Mbosionyenwu Obulunjoa is still one of the most well-known Ibusa groups today in spite of this.

Isichei Eluemunor Okafor, also known by his professional name "Onyeoma Diyoyo," came from Umuwor in the community's Ogbeowele Quarters later in the history of Ibusa entertainment. Diyoyo started with "Otu Onye Fu Eziokwu Dancing Group of Ibusa" with Dr. Anaza as the Patron but he was at the time an instrumentalist and backup vocalist.

He would join the "Otu Ife Onye Wepu Anyaa Dancing Group of Ibusa and Akalusia Abana, a group that would take Ibusa by surprise due to its unique genre.

Akalusia Abana was founded by Izuka Mozea with "Ndidi Bu Ije Uwa" as its first album. As we shall see, the Group seemed to be populated by Ogbeowele people. While Onyeoma Diyoyo was the Group's Lead Singer, Anthony Onyeisi Ajukwu popularly called "Sir Shady Shay" was the Second Lead Vocalist.

Other members of the Akalusia Abana include Ifeanyi Mozea, Amaechi Odina, Okey Onwuemeli, Esso Nwajei, Ayude Dumebi Nwajei, Andrew Okolie, and Kanayo Anaza. Nwabu Tony Uwaechue was the Patron while St. Michael Obanya was the Mentor.

Chief Sunny "Kuti" Okocha supported the Group's 1993 release of "Uwadilinma," and Chief Daddy Okeleke provided fatherly advice. Later, Diyoyo took the lead solo with the group "Onyeoma Diyoyo Okafor and His Musik Makers Band," and he has other albums to his name.

With the release of "Uwazulu Onye," Uche Nwalama made a splash in the Anioma music industry throughout the 1990s. The pool of gifted traditional musicians in Ogboli increased with the arrival of Uche Nwalama. The youthful, energetic Uche had created an own genre apart from what the Ibusa people were recognized for.

Anioma icons such as Nwanze Odue, Peter Nkwuka Udeze, Chuks Okonji, and others were praised in the album "Uwazulu Onye." Everyone came to accept him, and as word of his renown spread, he shot to the top of the Ibusa chart, where he remained for the duration of his record releases.

He also became widely sought after by event planners as far as Agbor. Incidentally, Uche Nwalama died in 1999 and the Ibusa community lost one of its most promising traditional musicians. His brother, Isioma Derek Nwalama would rise to prominence but it was a short stint in the music industry.

In 1998, my mother, Mrs. Theresa Nwasiwe Esogbue nee Okolie, from Umuohule, Umuisagba was lost to the cold hands of death and the wake aspect of her burial was entertaining to Ibusa music enthusiasts.

The ceremony coincided with the formative Ibusa musical career of Socromojo Okonji from Umuodafe. He was so amazing that he moved the mourners with a series of rhythmic moves performed to his song. The wake became a night of pleasure and a social gathering where dancing was the main activity even for non-Enuani indigenes who were present at the occasion and I was pleasantly surprised at his outstanding performance.

The wake changed from being a ritualistic expression of grief to a joyful celebration of Socromojo, a traditional Ibusa musician as mourners enjoyed the experience, departing Isieke, the location, to return to their homes.

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