|Prof. Sir Victor Uwaifo|
|Born||1 March 1941
Benin City, Nigeria
|Instruments||Electric guitar, flute, saxophone, electric piano, percussion, vocals|
|Years active||1960s onwards|
|Labels||Hypertek Digital, 960 Music Group|
|Associated acts||Victor Olaiya‘s Cool Cats, the Melody Maestros|
Prof. Sir Victor Uwaifo (MON) (born 1 March 1941) is a Nigerian musician, writer, sculptor, and musical instrument inventor. He also served as commissioner for arts and culture in Edo State under the government of Lucky Igbinedion. Uwaifo is famous for his joromi music. He records under the name Sir Victor Uwaifo.
His best-known songs, “Guitar Boy” and “Mami Water”, were a huge hit in 1966. “Mami Water” was inspired by an encounter (which he has long maintained actually occurred) with a “mami water” (mermaid) while lounging on Bar Beach, Lagos.
Early years and education
Victor Efosa Uwaifo was born in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, and obtained his secondary school education at the Western Boys’ High School Benin and St Gregory’s College, Lagos, from 1957 to 1961. He began playing guitar when he was 12 years old, his earliest popular music influences being records of Spanish and Latin American music. He studied graphics at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos and graduated in 1961–63. He received a bachelor’s degree with first-class honours and a master’s degree from the University of Benin in 1994, where he studied fine and applied arts and majored in sculpture.
After leaving Benin, Uwaifo continued playing music at St Gregory’s, Lagos. He was a contemporary of Segun Bucknor, and they were both among the leading Lagos high school bandleaders. During school holidays and weekends, he jammed with Olaiya’s All Stars band. After completing secondary school studies, he played with E.C. Arinze’s highlife during late hours. Uwaifo also briefly worked with Stephen Osadebe and Fred Coker before he formed Melody Maestros in 1965. The band released “Joromi” which became a huge hit in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.
Between 1965 and 1968, he developed the Akwete rhythm sound. In 1969, he launched a new beat called Shadow accompanied by a new dance also called shadow, a mixture of Akwete and twist. The sound was released when soul music was popular in Lagos and lasted a few years. After the launch of Shadow, the Melody Maestros went on tour of various Nigerian cities. Uwaifo later experimented with a new rhythm that was similar to soul but soon left it for Ekassa, an interpretation of a traditional Benin sound.
Uwaifo, who has a total of 12 golden records to date, has travelled to many countries, including the United States, Russia, Japan, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, France, Hungary, Rome, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin Republic, Spain, and Canada.
His song “Joromi” has is appreciated among his fans and his performances are characterized by his ability to play the guitar with both his feet and also his tongue.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, in appreciation of his talents and contributions to Nigeria, honoured him with a National Honors Merit in 1983, 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, 2001–03.
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, Uwaifo was invited by the United Nations Staff Day International Committee to perform during the UN Golden Jubilee celebration. He 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, US.
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 is married with children.
He also is a lecturer at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Benin, Benin City.
- Sir Victor Uwaifo Guitar Boy Superstar 1970-76 (2008, Soundway)
- Contributing artist
- The Rough Guide to Highlife (2003, World Music Network)
- The Rough Guide To Psychedelic Africa (2012, World Music Network)
- The Rough Guide to African Disco (2013, World Music Network)
- “Sir Victor Uwaifo” page at BBC Music.
- “Sir Victor Uwaifo – Guitar Boy (recorded version)”, YouTube.
- Interview with Sir Victor Uwaifo – “Tales from the Guitar Boy”, Thicc Tourism, 30 April 2014.
- “Biography”, Victor Uwaifo website.
- Collins, John (1985). Musicmakers of west Africa. Washington, DC: Three Continents Press. pp. 77–80. ISBN 9780894100758.