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MEET CHIKA UCHE-EKWE WHOSE VIRTUE INSPIRED PATTY OBASSEY’S SONG, EZINWANYI DI UKO

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EZI NWANYI Chika

In our Special Sunday Pull Out, WORDS AND SHOTS brings to you the story about one of Nigeria’s most iconic gospel singers and a lady who had inspired one of his most popular songs. This is the story of Patty Obassey, Chika Uche-Ekwe and the song, Ezi Nwanyi Di Uko.

You must have probably heard Patty Obassey’s Ezinwanyi Di Uko severally, and perhaps have been as much moved by both his sonorous voice and the deep messages it conveyed, particularly about the rarity of the virtuous woman, Ezi Nwanyi, he intoned, her price was more than all the rubies of the world. And it is also probable that while you are taken in by the wonders of this perfect woman, you would also be thinking she was all a fictitious composition and creation of Patty’s genius.

Well, Patty created the song, but not from nothing. Not only was there a person who Patty encountered, she also so moved him by her exemplariness in beauty, character, patience, sacrifice and trueness that he felt it was most appropriate to cast her memory in a mold of immortality, where her virtuous traits, through a no less fitting medium of such an iconic song, would last till the end of time.

Chika came into Patty’s life at a time he had literally seen what the inside of hell looked like through, wait for it, a woman! It was a woman he loved and married but would turn out to be everything a wife should not be. When the marriage hit the rocks, Patty came out mentally seared, emotionally battered and totally disillusioned. He would go on to put down for posterity this experience in a song that ironically shot him to fame, somewhat by the character portraiture of the woman, relaying as it were, his terrible ordeal. That famous song was about the infamous Nwa Mamiwata we all know, profiling the Jezebel and Dlilah of the womankind; that devil’s agent that represented everything that was bad in the life of a man, that the wellbeing of the society is threatened by her mere presence.

He was thus single, taking his time, and not getting anywhere close to any woman yet, when his nephew, Uche Ekwe, brought a beautiful lady to show him as the one he was going to marry. Then, Uche was still a young man and junior staff of the Nigeria Labour Congress in Enugu, who was practically starting his life. He had nothing and shared a room with about several other young men, his friends all struggling to find footings with life.

Patty was quietly skeptical initially about the workability of the relationship, between a very young lady who just finished her secondary school and was very pretty and practically had the world before her to explore and possibly conquer, and a young man that had nothing but just dreams not many could see not to talk of willing to share in. But he chose to just wait and watch how it panned out; and see how this young girl at such very impressionable age would stick with a man without money, house or a car, the parameters of measurement for young people.

But Chika not only stuck to Uche, she married him, even when life was tough. She lived and came to school from Iva Valley, a very low-income neighbourhood in the outskirts of Enugu, the only place they could afford a rent, as they waited for their wedding. Most times she missed her early morning classes in IMT where she was by then going to school because of the challenges associated with distance and traffic.

They would visit Patty for days in his New Haven apartment where only he stayed in a flat. Patty saw how she so much loved her nephew and literarily worshipped him. He saw how she attended to her chores and never stopped marveling at such a young girl with such a total devotion to love and nothing more, especially as he knew she was beautiful enough for most men to eat off her palm.  She never complained of anything even when they had nothing much. She just loved her man and believed in his potentials and future.

Nearly one year after, when they were about to wed, Patty told her she found her so honourable and virtuous and would honour her with a song! Sometimes she would meet him working on the composition. He was done and told her no one would hear it until she presented it to her on her wedding day. Patty did as he promised, singing Ezinwanyi Di Uko to her at her reception, and for the first time anyone would hear the song. The original song he performed had her name and that of her husband, Chika and Uche, where he would later insert Sarah and Abraham, to universalize and unify it with the gospel ministration that had partly powered the theme.

Today, Chika and her kids live in Europe where they migrated after her husband had gone into party politics and won a seat at the Federal House of Representatives with the support and sponsorship of Dr, Hyde Onuagoluchi, who politically adopted him just about the time they were getting through with their wedding. Uche’s life had turned around for good. Her patience had paid off. Her third eye had seen the future. Her heart had been precise about the love of her life. Patty had preserved all of these in the time pod of an immortal song and a classic that added so much to his legend.

Chika was however jolted to her bones when she read on Facebook about Patty’s illness, that he was down with a kidney problem. Patty, the ever loving and caring father she had become to her, didn’t want her to know as she was alone in Europe with the kids. Uche would eventually rally friends, especially Osita Chidoka, his long-time friend and strong fan of Patty’s, to come to his aid. However, it was an intervention already little too late as Patty died before he could be flown abroad for treatment after all arrangement had been made.

Today, Patty Obassey may be dead and physically no longer available in the world, but to her, he is not only alive in her mind but also remained one unforgettable person that showed her the greatest love and honour of all outside of her immediate family. She said Patty was the father-in-law she never had as she was just more than an uncle to her husband he had looked after and cared for more than a father would.

She said “I still feel and miss him a lot. However, I remember him with mixed feelings of joy and sadness all at once; of the stories he told me, the places he took me to, the love he showed me and all that. I remember him and feel sad he is gone now. But I see him in heaven with his guitar, playing for God who must be absolutely enjoying his beautiful voice and good guitarworks, in His praise. We will reunite on resurrection morning. That is my comfort”

She was still in very good relationship with his family, saying that he married about a year after their own wedding, noting that his wife, Esther Patty-Obassey was an amazing and incredible lady who herself was no less virtuous and prayer answered to Patty by God, just that he could not live to consummate the union longer.

When asked to compare Patty with the gospel artistes of today, she said, “without meaning disrespect, Patty is incomparable. Patty was on a league of his own. Comparing him with anyone today is like attempting making two parallel lines meet. Patty wasn’t just making music; he was singing the scriptures. That is one of the reasons his songs are evergreen. He was a genius that was very talented and versatile. He could have done anything and excelled. For me to have found favour with Patty Obassey was divine.”

She said Patty told her she was a blessing to her husband, as his coming into his life marked a major turning point for him. While agreeing her husband’s life took a dramatic turn for good, a fact she wasn’t keen to take credit for, she was just a young woman in love with a man she was willing to believe enough in to stake her life and future with his. It worked, and today Comrade Uche Ekwe continues to be with that exemplary woman of virtue, whose price is in every way, priceless, as has been in the timeless testament of Patty Obassey, in Ezi Nwanyi Di Uko.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Praise Asoegwu

    August 15, 2021 at 10:04 am

    This is amazing, inspiring and worth emulating of every woman…
    May all women be a blessing and inspiration not just to their husbands and families but to the world at large, I know Mrs. Chika Ekwe and the husband Hon. Uche Ekwe, I can attest that she is truly a virtues woman, she is godly and she love humanity.

  2. _great_cee

    November 13, 2021 at 6:29 am

    one great personality

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Entertainment

THE ORIGIN OF ORIENTAL BROTHERS INT’L BAND?

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The origin of the Oriental Brothers International Band can be traced to a man, JOHN IKEDIALA. He’s a relative of Dan Satch, who himself is a founding member of the group.

Shortly after the Biafra War, a lot of Igbos faced hardship as a fallout of the War. Igbos lost homes, property, friends, and family. One such person was John Ikediala, a musician, who could barely survive and his music career was at a standstill. So, Dan Satch’s wife pleaded with him to help Ikediala resuscitate his band so that he could have a source of livelihood and not die.

Dan Satch, in his usual nature of benevolence, abandoned his job as a mechanic, to help John Ikediala to revamp his band. This however came at a cost to Dan Satch. Not only did he abandon his work as a mechanic, friends, and relatives mocked him for abandoning his work for music.

And so, the journey to the great Oriental Brothers International Band started, without their knowing it. Dan Satch assembled musicians, those he knew and those that were brought to him. Among these musicians were Tony Awoma, Kabaka, and Warrior. Actually, Kabaka came to replace Awoma, who in his usual nature was not a stable person and had gone even before anything too serious had begun. It was because he was always coming and going that Dan Satch actually brought Kabaka to replace him. (Awoma returned in 1977 to replace Kabaka when he too left in 1976).

Warrior himself also came to replace the first vocalist. At this time, Dan Satch could only play xylophone and nothing else. He left the xylophone when Aquila joined since Aquila was good at percussions and conga. Dan Satch then started teaching himself how to play the guitar and bass. Finally, a band was formed for John Ikediala with Warrior on vocals, Kabaka on guitar, Dan Satch on bass, Ichita on drums, and Aquila on percussions.

In search of greener pastures, the band moved to Kano around 1970/71. However, the move turned out to be a disaster. John Ikediala became selfish and didn’t take care of the band. According to Dan Satch, the band members had to endure serious hunger, with Kabaka quitting the band.

By 1972, the boys couldn’t bear it any longer and Dan Satch appealed to those who were left that he had a sister in Lagos and that they should move there. So the band landed in Lagos and stayed in Ikeja. They initially were playing in hotels and joints. Dan Satch began searching for Kabaka again and eventually brought him back to the band. However, according to Dan Satch, Kabaka was very reluctant to come back. He had to send important people to him with some cash to persuade him to come back. Kabaka eventually returned but was rumoured to have given Dan Satch one condition: that he be appointed band leader. A request Dan Satch granted.

Kabaka, Warrior and Dan Satch on the cover of their 1997 reunion album, Anyi Abiala Ozo

They continued as a band in this fashion without a name, not to talk of the Oriental Brothers International Band they are now famously known. Dan Satch started visiting record companies to secure a recording contract. He first went to EMI where the band was rejected outrightly. This was because Sony Okosuns who was the A&R Manager at that time allegedly blocked them. From there, they went to DECCA/Afrodisia where they were also initially rejected due to comments also allegedly made by Ebenezer Obey, but the receptionist, a man at the studio who was Igbo, pressed a few buttons for them. Miraculously, DECCA officials sent a message to Dan Satch that they were coming to the hotel where they were based to audition.

Warrior and Dan Satch on the sleeve of Obi Nwanne album

Dan Satch got the boys ready including buying polo t-shirts for each of the members so the band could look clean and professional. The band played Ìhè Chi Nyere for the audition. It was a simple setup with Warrior on vocals, Kabaka on lead guitar, Dan Satch on bass, Ichita on drums, and Aquila on percussion. There was no rhythm guitar part for the song and Kabaka had to keep playing non-stop throughout the length of the song.

Fortunately, DECCA was somewhat impressed and the boys were invited to the company to sign a contract in 1973. It was at the point of filling out the forms that the name ORIENTAL BROTHERS came about. This was how the Oriental Brothers International Band was born.

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NOLLYWOOD: WHAT SIN DID SAINT OBI COMMIT?

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By Bobmanuel Udokwu

Obinna Nwafor aka Saint Obi was no doubt one of the leading celebrities in Nollywood – the multi billion dollars Nigerian film industry.

He etched his name firmly in the industry by playing several leading roles in his active years to the admiration of millions of his fans across the globe as well as respect and admiration from his colleagues in the industry. He was as vibrant as can be when he was on any movie set, sharing jokes and banters with both senior and junior colleagues – a delight to be with. I have acted with him on several major film productions and we complimented each others performance on set.

Sudden News of Death and Shock

Outside the movie set/industry however, Saint Obi was a shy, self-effacing, almost reclusive individual who loved his privacy. This trait made it difficult for many to know when he took ill early in the year and eventually died on May 7th, 2023 in Jos, Plateau State.

Confusion, disbelief and sorrow followed his passing which was confirmed about a week after his death. He was an enigma both in life and death!

As the general public was coming to terms with his death, the Actors Guild of Nigeria embarked on fund raising (which I contributed to) and organised a Candle Light Vigil in his honour on the 11th of August in Lagos.

Shockingly, the turnout of our Nollywood colleagues to the event was abysmally poor! It left watchers of the Nigerian film industry perplexed.

The remains of the veteran actor lying in state in his country home. Photo: BOBMANUEL UDOKWU

Grief of A People

On Friday, August 18th, 2023, Obinna Nwafor better known as Saint Obi was laid to rest in his home town Umuezealaeze literally meaning “King’s children of the kingdom”, Alaenyi – “Elephant Town, Ogwa in Mbaitoli Local Government Area, Imo State.

The event was well attended by people from all works of life. His people (Ogwa community) were out in their large numbers, united in grief for the passage of their celebrity son.

As the black and gold coloured casket bearing Saint Obi’s body was lowered to the earth, his wife cried bitterly, shaking her head from side to side, perhaps reminiscing the wonderful times they shared together. His children were looking mostly lost and confused.

Nobody From Nollywood

I looked around the crowd for our Nollywood colleagues and could find none! Nollywood completely turned it’s back on Saint Obi in death! From the church service held in front of his palacial country home to his burial inside his large compound, Nollywood industry people were not there, not even those from his home state Imo State! I eventually sited only Charles Awurum.

Bobmanuel Udokwu and Charles Awurum (centre) with other mourners at the funeral. Photo: BOBMANUEL UDOKWU

No film marketer was there. I didn’t see any film producer or director at Saint Obi’s burial. Even veteran directors who claim to have made Saint Obi a star were not there!

I arrived at Saint Obi’s place early enough to join in the events of his funeral even before it started.

Did Saint Obi Express His Dismay?

After his burial, as I was sitting with some visitors in his main parlour, his enlarged picture on the wall suddenly crashed to the floor! My interpretation? He must have been showing his disapproval that friends and colleagues in Nollywood completely abandoned him in death.

Saint Obi has gone to be with his maker. He has left the stress and worries of this earthly existence behind. For those who of us still living, the journey continues.

My question however remains – Nollywood: What Sin Did Saint Obi Commit?

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CAEAN ABUJA DOLES OUT AWARDS FOR JESUS CHRIST’S FILMS 

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The Catholic Artistes and Entertainers Association of Nigeria (CAEAN) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja has given awards to the deserved winners of its Jesus Christ’s Passion Play Competition 2023

From Nwagbo Obi

The event took place on Sunday, 13th August, 2023 at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Abuja

CAEAN which is the umbrella body of Catholic filmmakers, actors, actresses, directors, dancers, musicians, makeup artistes, costumiers among others in Nigeria had recently called for entries on a short film on Jesus Christ’s Passion that would attract prizes

Entries were received by Marcos Habila-led Committee set up by CAEAN Abuja. Adjudicators chaired by the Nigerian veteran actor, Zulu Adigwe with Prof Barth Oshionebo, Dr Olympus Ejue both scholars of Theatre Arts department, University of Abuja, Ambassador Wahala, a Nigerian renowned comedian among others as members keenly watched them and announced the winners

The prizes were accordingly won in this order,  St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church Pasali, Kuje (First); Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Wuse Zone II (Second); The Church of Archangel Parish, Durumi/Garuwa (Third).

They were given the cash prizes instituted by the trio of and tagged, Rev. Fr. Patrick Alumuku, CAEAN Abuja, Chaplain first prize for Abuja CAEAN Jesus Christ’s Passion Play Competition 2023 (2) Sir Dr. Rufus Ebegba second prize for Abuja CAEAN Jesus Christ’s Passion Play Competition 2023 (3) Dr. Mrs Chinwe Abara Third prize for Abuja CAEAN Jesus Christ’s Passion Play Competition 2023.

The CAEAN Abuja chairman, Mr. Patrick Nwagbo Obi who represented the CAEAN Abuja Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Patrick Alumuku said the prizes were to encourage creativity in entertainment such as; filmmaking, directing, acting, music, dancing, makeup, costuming, etc for evangelism in the Catholic Church.

He added that the Catholic Church is blessed with enough stories that artistes and entertainers can use to make all-year-round productions. Citing the example of the film made by Pete Edochie on Blessed Iwene Tansi, as an instance, Obi said Catholic Artistes can focus on the stories of biblical figures like Moses, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon etc and saints like Anthony of Padua, Kizito, Joseph, Mary, Patrick, Augustine, Padre Pio, Charles, John Paul II, Theresa, Mother Theresa, Cecilia among others can provide continuous contents

The chairman of the Adjudication Committee, Zulu Adigwe told the winners, though they won, they need to constantly engage in the creative and performance activities to perfect their artistic and entertainment engagements

Stating that though perfection belongs to God, he asserted that man can struggle to be excellent. On this note, he added that the only way to arrive at being excellent as a Performing Artiste is to consistently practice. He counseled that one can buy a large mirror and continuously look through it while imitating other people’s actions and mannerisms

Sir Ken Achine, former Chairman, Catholic Men Organization (CMO) who represented Sir Dr. Rufus Ebegba commended the winners for their efforts saying that there are potentials in them, while Dr. Mrs Chinwe Abara advised that CAEAN should strive and reach to organizers of festivals for them to be included and called on individuals to strive towards excellence that should create stardom in them

CAEAN Abuja Secretary, Mr. Mathew Kaha thanked the institutors of the prizes and called for more people to institute more awards like best actor, best actress, best Director, best makeup artistse, best costumier, best cinematographer, best producer among others to encourage individual creative ingenuity for evangelism

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