By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Obi Cubana is not just a patron of the arts but an artiste in his own right. Take the message from the master minstrel, Gerald Eze, the genius of the Igbo musical instruments Oja and Uboaka, who jammed with Obi Cubana in Abuja as a forerunner to the Christmas festivities.
It started out with a one-in-town concert on Saturday, December 18, 2021. The compelling idea was to celebrate Christmas in a way natural to Africans.
There was the host with the most, Mr. Amobi Ogum, who generously facilitated the landmark performance of Gerald Eze and his Ichoku Ensemble who had to be ferried in from Awka, Anambra State. The endearing hospitality saw the members of the ensemble lodged in the choicest apartment in town.
Mr. Ogum ensured quality sound, colourful stage lighting, and all the accoutrements of total performance. He treated the band like the real future of music coming from Nigeria to the world.
In the words of Gerald Eze, “It’s particularly exciting to me the way he has made a pool bar to become a place of immense value where, instead of naked girls twerking inside the pool, we have the pool covered and a minstrel mounts the stage to teach the society through music.”
The “Celebration Africana” event turned out a great outing. According to Eze, “It was an evening of quality music, cutting across various genres, and served to an audience of high class. I am convinced that good music comes from the soul and not from doing what every other person does.”
Gerald Eze offers special thanks to Mr. Obinna Iyiegbu, that is, Obi Cubana, and his personable wife, Mrs. Ebele Iyiegbu. Eze extends the greetings “to their esteemed friends for being with us.”
One special personality that Gerald Eze holds in top esteem happens to be “Dr. Goddy Nnadi for not just having enough of us and as such hosted us in his home for an acoustic session on December 20.”
“I’ve got a special band, the Ichoku Ensemble, and I am proud of them,” Gerald Eze says, stroking his goatee with his right forefinger. “Together, we engaged and entertained the audience, and they enjoyed every bit. The band is increasingly becoming a family and each member of the band is a multi-instrumentalist.”
The creative contingent making up the ensemble that travelled to Abuja include: Muoka Lawrence (keyboard/xylophone), Bruno Okafor (saxophone), Dieudonne Ezeanyim (trumpet/uboaka), Dominic Onyejekwe (conga), David Chiedozie (drums), Somto Paul (bass guitar), Emmanuel Ezedimbu (voice), Benita Amaluwa (voice), and Blessing Chiedozie (voice).
“We enjoyed Bubbles Cubana and the elegance the place represents,” Gerald Eze submits, adding, “indeed Bubbles Cubana is increasingly becoming a place that is taking the lead in bringing value and high art to Abuja. My message to young people is that they should dare to be different. It pays.”
On Sunday, December 19, Gerald Eze accompanied Amobi Ogum to attend the birthday ceremony of the son of Obi Cubana.
“I had a gift of a specially carved Oja for the boy,” Gerald Eze tells. “Towards the end of the party, I gave the Oja to Obi Cubana. What he did next surprised me. He started blowing air into the Oja with the posture of a master performer.”
This Oja-blowing act excited Obi Cubana’s friends as he succeeded in making a few sounds. Then the Oja duet between Obi Cubana and Gerald Eze got off in earnest.
Gerald Eze takes up the story thusly: “Whenever I called his name with the Oja, he would respond with his own Oja. This worked well and though it was spontaneous, it almost became an art of a sort. I dipped my hand in my bag and brought out another Oja, which has now become his. Eventually, he asked me to come into the house so that we can make a video in front of a giant woodwork in his house. This really got the children there excited. The adults no less were thrilled. Obi Cubana said he simply wants to inject positive energy into the mind of people through the display so they will be encouraged to travel to the village at Christmas to have fun and do good, instead of presiding over cases and making trouble.”
Obi Cubana and Gerald Eze are indeed committed artistes poised to take life easy and exude positive vibrations.