Legendary highlife star, Victor Uwaifo is 80-years Today

Biography

Sir Victor Uwaifo (the ‘Sir’ is apocryphal) is a Nigerian musician, writer, sculptor, and musical instrument inventor, born in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria on 1st of March 1941. He is famous for his joromi music.

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 1996. 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.

The Federal Government of Nigeria, in appreciation of his talents and contributions to Nigeria honored 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, 2001–2003.

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..

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