Tuesday, 20 January 2015 03:00

Kunle Orlando Owoh and his father's legacy.

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The joy that  many fathers feel in their hearts is better imagined than described when any of their children follow their own line of occupation or profession or when a child does something that reaffirms their father ‘s dreams and values.

Mohammed Ali, the world ‘s greatest boxer and legend  did not have a son to reenact his boxing genius, but the peoples’ champion  was blessed with a daughter, Leila Ali who dominated women boxing ring like her father. Pretty Leila actually went on to become women boxing champion. She gave to her father a priceless gift by beating the daughter of Joe Frazier, Ali’s greatest nemesis in the boxing ring. Frazier’s daughter  had wanted to do to Leila what her father could not do to Mohammed Ali in their famous “thriller in Manila” encounter , the greatest fight in the history of boxing which finally sealed Ali’s legacy  as the greatest heavy weight champion of the world who is more famous than many Presidents of the United States.

I still cannot get over the joy I felt in my heart the first time my first son got enrolled as an officer in a unit of the United States Navy otherwise known as the Seal. My joy grew by leaps and bounds when a few years later; my youngest son was enrolled again at the famous Boot Camp in Chicago in preparation for his career in the US Navy one more time. I felt on top of the world  again when my second son and my last daughter both graduated as medical doctors from my alma mater – the great Obafemi  Awolowo University  of Nigeria. The two of them and their sister who studied Pharmacy at the same University were all far smarter than me. I would be the first to admit that, but I am as proud as hell that they were all able to do what I had wanted to be but could never be because of my own limitations and circumstance.

Those special occasions are some of my proudest moments as a father. Joining the Military and wearing the uniform was something I had hoped to do  as the first recipient of the British/Canadian Legion Scholarships first awarded to children of Nigerian veterans of the Second World War in 1963 I got the award in recognition of my father’s participation in that war. My father who was a foot soldier in the war had risen to the rank of only a Sergeant. I wish the man is alive today to see 2 of his grandchildren proudly wearing the uniforms of the greatest Navy the world has known. What I could not do for my father is being done by two of my sons as a proud citizen of the United States by naturalization.

I am one American of Nigerian origin who values the impact of God’s own country on my life because I just knew I could be dead by now if I had never left the shores of Nigeria. I could count tens of my colleagues and classmates who have since made their transition, and I am still here making some positive contributions to my home away from home.

I get upset when I hear some Nigerians say General Buhari at 72 is too old to be President of Nigeria. General Buhari and I are age group even though the General is a few years older than me. Those who talk like that are silly to say the least.  A 72 year old Nigerian with a plan for the country is never too old to serve if he has something credible to offer. You are old as you feel. What difference does it make if you are young but clueless and daft like the man we currently have as President? I served Nigeria before in my prime and can still go there to be of service to a President I believe he is going to win in less than 4 weeks from today . I believe in the precept that “You are as old as you feel “

My ultimate mission as a young man who grew up in Nigeria was to join the Military after my graduation in 1966. I could not do so because my mother told me she would kill herself if I ever joined the Army. The Yorubas like the Igbos of Nigeria at the time did not very much want their children to seek a career in the Military. The Igbos actually had a proverb very much similar to the ways the Yorubas view the Military when I was young.

“Nne mulu soja gba ka wan” simply means in Igbo language that a mother who has a soldier for a son does not have a child. My mother and her generation took that to heart and that was one of the reasons I did not make it to the Military in Nigeria. If I was born in America, the Military would have been my first choice as a career because America truly treasures and honors her veterans. It is awesome when you have children who love what you do and would like to follow your footsteps.

Kunle Orlando Owoh of Nigeria taking Cannery music from where his father has left off is something I believe his great father should be very proud of.  I thank God for living in a country that appreciates those values better than their counterparts in the third world.  I get nostalgic the first time I saw Natalie Cole do a make-believe duet with her late father, the great Nat King Cole of the United States. Father and daughter were put on stage  to sing one of the greatest songs of all times titled,  “Unforgettable”  Those are the kinds of values I so much admire America for, and why I call America the greatest nation on Earth. You may disagree with me. I am only telling you my opinion and we can disagree to agree or agree to disagree because we live in free society where dissent is never criminalized like we do in Nigeria.

I view Andrew Cuomo becoming Governor of New York as one of the reasons for the early retirement of late Governor Mario Cuomo from partisan politics. Readers would recall that Mario Cuomo was for 12 years the great Governor of New York State. By the same token, I can imagine President Bush the 41st President of the United States already singing his “Nunc Dimitis” with pride and fulfillment because his first son had been President for two terms and his second son; Jeb Bush is just about ready to seek the same office while his own father is still alive. Only in America! It doesn’t get any better than that for any father, I might add.

Of course America remains a mysterious country where all kinds of miracles happen time and again. It was here in America I first saw a dead senator defeat a living senator in an election. It is one country where one of the two sons of President Reagan insisted he was going to be a Ballet dancer, and the parents did not call the move “Infra dignitate” like Honorable Patrick Obahiagbon our bombastic legislator from Edo would have described it. Today young Ronald Reagan is an MSNBC political consultant or commentator who identifies more with the Democrats than he does with his own father’s party.

I go into all of this background to underscore my curiosity on the rookie Cannery musician named Kunle Orlando Owoh who just released his first major album of 6 beautiful tracks. One of those tracks titled, “Oro Ife, ore mi, bi adanwo ni” meaning the whole concept of Love is one hell of a jigsaw puzzle if you think about it. Even though Kunle usually sings most of the old songs and tunes of his father, the young man finally released his own first album made up of 6 tracks. Three of those tracks he took from his father and the other three were those he himself had composed or put together.

I have listened to the 6 tracks of the new release and I am, almost moved to tears as a father as I watch Kunle demonstrate how much of his father’s DNA the young man has captured. I never met Kunle’s mother but I can tell that Kunle took the lion share of his father’s DNA from just listening to him perform in that album. His looks, his voice, his mannerisms, his carefree attitude to life as expressed in many of those songs all came from the father. When he said in one of the tracks  “I no de love”  but that he only knew what love was all about after he met  his present wife named “Toyin Tomato” from Oka Akoko. That was his father talking.

That statement was a statement his late father would have made because the man was as crazy as hell once he was under the influence of Marijuana... I knew Owomoyela Orlando Owoh like a book. He was crazy but amazingly talented as a musician. His son is a carbon copy of the man. He is a typical Ifon man who composed all of his songs in Ifon dialect and accent his son has picked up. You can hardly differentiate between the two of them. It is beautiful when you see your picture in all of the children God has given you. The late Kabiyesi Olowo Olateru Olagbegi could not count the number of his children but everybody could tell who his children are because they all look like their father. Owomoyela should feel the same pride in Kunle.

Orlando Owoh, the father was one of my favorite Nigerian musicians whose music was a cross breed between the Ghanaian tunes of the 50s and 60s and the Jim Rex Lawson tunes of the 60s and early 70s. Orlando Owoh’s music is totally unique and his voice and demeanor on stage was totally different from those of his peers.  You can tell that his father, Orlando Owoh definitely smoked Indian hemp and he drank a lot of liquor as I recall. I once served as the master of ceremony when the father entertained guests all night at the Iwuye festivities of retired Colonel Elijah Folorunsho David, the former Olisa of Akure at Ijapo Recreation Grounds. It was one night to remember.

Orlando kept the thousands of guests on the dancing floor till the early hours of the morning. Nobody could tell where he got the energy to do that, but it was clear to all and sundry he did live up to his reputation as a musical giant that night. The man had a natural talent for music and he knew it. That was why he used to sing that if he did not die young, he was surely going to his music talent to dazzle the world and he did for more than two decades.  I thought nobody could duplicate Orlando’s voice until I listened to his son’s new release which is the main subject of this tribute.

If it is true that the dead do party in Heaven and if it is true that the dead can see what is going on down here on Earth, I am sure that Owomoyela would be smiling up there in Heaven completely happy and fulfilled that his son had kept his music and legacy going.

Kunle has widened the horizon of his Orlando’s music to a level Orlando himself could not have imagined possible buy adding the trumpet to complement his other musical instruments. Kunle has added  a new style of his own to give more color and luster  to his father’s music just like the sons of prominent musicians in Nigeria have started to do with great success.

Commander Obey, Haruna Ishola, Fela Anikulapo Kuti have all passed on their music genius to few of their children who have carried their names to all parts of the world. Kunle is going to do the same for his great father without any question.

I recall Ola Jombo of Akure doing the same thing for his great father who dominated Akure traditional music for more than two decades before Wale Glorious showed up. I do know that one of the sons of I.K Dairo is continuing his father’s legacy while Adedara arun ra loja Oba and his Adamo group of Ilesha has pretty much passed on the touch to one of his sons. We are still hoping that one or two sons of Jim Rex Lawson and Victor Olaiya are going to follow their fathers’ footsteps sooner or later as time goes by.  It is beautiful when children step up to the plate to engage and excel in the occupation or professions of their father.

I am hoping that one of the children of Ajoyemi Ajibola from Omuo and Ishola Adepoju from Irun and Elemure Ogunyemi from Isaba in Ikole Ekiti are going to follow in the footsteps of their fathers someday.

I now want to quickly touch on the new album of Kunle Orlando Owoh. The first track was titled, “Ko ma seni ti ko mo pe awa lo l’odu”. The track ended with “Tina ba wo le, okuku a para da” It was a composition by Kunle himself and it was a good one

The second track titled, “Ti Oluwa ba fun e lowo, ki lo ma ti se” It ended with the chorus. “Ariya ko l’opin, ojo iku l’ojo isimi. It was one of the old tunes of his father. The third track a creation of his father was titled “Ma wo mi roro” and it ended with “Oluwa la labaro mi” The 4th track titled, “Edumare lo fun mi l’ebun ti mo nlo, to ba se omo enia wan ti segi ola” and it ended with “Alase kari Baba Alase kari” It was a mixture of his father’s composition and his own improvisation which was beautifully done. The fifth track was titled “Imokimo ko ma gbudo jo ni, Etekete ko le du ro” and the 6th track which was the best of them all was the brain child of Kunle himself.

It was titled “Oro Ife, ore mi, bi adanwo ni” meaning that the concept of Love is a jigsaw puzzle which is very hard for anyone to explain. It was like saying that Love is blind and very few could explain who to love and when to love. I gave Kunle a lot of credit for connecting the dots and explaining why “Love” is such a big mystery.

Everything said in that song by Kunle was the absolute truth. The music was superb and the rhythm was excellent showing the growing genius of the young man who still has a long way to go in his career. This album was a very promising start showing that Owomoyela Oluseyi Orlando Owoh’s music would live forever as the music is passed on from one generation to another.

Orlando Owoh has every reason to be proud of his son who has shown a lot of promise and talent. As a distant friend of his father, I encourage Kunle to remain steadfast in what he is doing. The sky remains his limit. I enjoyed the new album and encourage many of you reading this to get yourself a copy of the album for your listening pleasure.  Long live the two Orlando Owoh and long live their music and legacy.

I rest my case.

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