By Osa Amadi As a journalist, whenever a big story broke out, one of your biggest expectations is to write a big story about the big story, especially when the big story broke out on your beat. And so it was when the story of the death of the highlife music maestro, Chief Osita Osadebe, broke out. We tore the internet and the libraries into pieces gathering all available information about the indomitable King of highlife music. We also made several calls to several sources and contacts, trying to locate someone who may be very close to the chief, so that we could get an exclusive interview from him.
Suddenly someone phoned in and said someone had located the son of Chief Osita Osadebe, who is also a musician. I became excited, and spent the whole night drafting the questions I would throw to him during the interview. Early the following day I had some visitors. When I sat down with them, I realised the inexperienced journalists looking for information about the Ezeafulukwe of Atani. The first question they put to me was, sir, are you Amadi Osadebe? I said yes. Then they asked me another question, “Are you a musician, sir?” I answered “yes, a highlife musician.” They exchanged glances amongst themselves as treasure hunters who have found gold.
As they were setting up their tape recorders, I also rolled my dangerous TCM-40DV Voice Operated Recording Sony cassette. The interview proceeded:
Sir, could you please give us a brief history of yourself and of your musical career? I am Amadi Osadede. I attended the Bishop Shanahan College, Orlu in Imo State. After secondary school, I spent a whole seven years in my village running around with my friends whose life ambitions were to be musicians. We constructed locally made guitars and practiced so vigorously with the instruments. When I discovered I was not making any headway, I decided to go and study music at the famous Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife. That was in 1989/1990. I graduated from the university in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in music. I have composed quite a number of highlife songs.
Sir, you are a highlife musician, and you said you have composed a number of songs. Have you waxed any of those songs? Yes, I have waxed some of my songs. Very soon I will release just two tracks out of over thirty songs I have written. And I believe God who gave me the talents that those two tracks will make some impacts. What are the titles of those songs? I am proud to be a Nigerian You are proud to be a Nigerian? Yes, I am. Are you not proud to be a Nigerian? Sir, we are supposed to be asking the questions. Sorry. But I am also a journalist (laughter). Honestly, I am proud to be a Nigerian. Nigeria is a great country. Do not mind that the country had the misfortune of being devastated by some bandits who called themselves leaders.
Sir, the big question that brought us here is this: Are you the son of the late highlife maestro, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe? Why do you say he is late? He has gone to the Lord earlier than you and I. We are the people who are late. He has finished his job early, and perfectly too, and has been triumphantly called back home. The big question, sir. Well, yes, Chief Osita Osadebe is my father. In fact, I have two great Dads. One is a lawyer. The other one is the incontrovertible king, the Ezeafulukwe of Atani, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe.
wo dads? How is that possible? You have not read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. When I was born in 1963, my father named me Osadebe and sort of adopted me to the Highlife maestro because he loved him and his music so much. Now Osita Osadebe became Agum or Nnam Ukwu (my big father) according to tradition in Igboland. So in that sense, Chief Osita Osadebe is my father. I have the greatest fortune of having two great fathers. One was a musician, the other, a lawyer. I decided, or rather, Providence egged me on to become a highlife musician. And I am going to take over from Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe. This is very interesting. Now, sir, how are you sure you are going to take over from the consistent King of Highlife? You are yet to release any album. O ye men of little faith! Well, journalists are so empirical that they hardly see beyond the physical. What about Chief Osita Osadebe’s shoes? Are they not going to be too big for you? Was Marley’s shoes too big for Majek, or Tosh’s too big for Dube? Besides, I am not going to be wearing any other person’s shoes. God has designed my own shoes, and they are going to fit me perfectly. I am not even sure I am going to sound like the Chief. I love him and his music so much. But there is a musician I love more than Osadebe. He is Dr. Sir Warrior of the great Oriental Brothers.
Sir, you have other siblings. One of them who reside in USA is also a highlife musician and sounds exactly like your father. Are you going to contend for the crown? I have no brother who lives in USA. I have five other brothers. One is dead, another one is in South Africa, and the other three are here in Nigeria. (They exchange glances again, this time, ominous glances) You are therefore not a blood son of Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe I told you so. They sighed, stood up, and left angrily. When I played back my own tape recorder. I knew I had gotten a fantastic story. You have just read the story!