by ali eminov
Tribute to John Nwanze Nwabuwa (a.k.a) Nwanze Nwagbodi: an Anioma Traditional Musician of Great Repute
John Nwanze Nwabuwa stood about four feet six inches tall; dark complexioned was a traditional musician of great repute. Born 8 March 1930 to Agbodi and Nwanneadiazi Nwabuwa of Umuozoma, Ogeowelle in Ibusa, Delta state, South-south, Nigeria. In May, 1937, he was enrolled in the then Sacred Heart Primary School (Now Umejei Primary school) Ibusa, Delta state at the age of 7 where he soon began to exhibit his talent in Anioma traditional music though he did not immediately take up a career in music because there was no encouragement to enable him do so. “Nwanze Nwagbodi is the most respected natural Ibusa singer of note” (Ibusa Pathfinder Magazine)
Immediately after his primary school education, he was taken to live with one of his relations in a particular village in the present South-East region of Nigeria. Shortly afterwards, he was to return to Ibusa to continue to live, an act people have attributed to his inability to come to terms with the social kind of life totally different from what he was used to in his home town, Ibusa where he was born and had spent most of his life time living. He soon again moved to Jos, the now capital of Plateau state where he briefly engaged in a kind of job to sustain him. Owing to the reason given above, he returned to Ibusa again and assisted his relations in the farmland.
After farming for about one year, he in accompany of other youths soon discovered that the bush they set on fire was not totally consumed perhaps due to improper procedure so he abandoned it and traveled down to Lagos where he took up a white collar job with the Federal Ministry of Defence as a civilian. Thereafter he worked in a secondary school, still in Lagos until his death.
Nwanze Nwagbodi contrary to expectations did not begin his musical career quite early in life but rose to become one of the most prominent musicians to come out from Ibusa and Anioma in entirety. He became a lead vocalist for “Otu Ifechukwude dancing group of Ibusa, a traditional dancing group founded in the 1960s known as “Egwu Ikate” among Ibusa and anioma music lovers because the group was then based in an area called Ikate in Surulere, Lagos. A lot of people have credited the architecture of the formation of the group to him. Otu Ifechukwude Dancing Group of Ibusa was founded in Ikate, Surulere.
The patroness of the group was Cecilia Osadebe who commanded respect from all the group members because of her kindness heartedness to the welfare of the members of the group and the interest of the group which she had at hand.
The group recorded several of their albums in what was then known as “small plates”. More than 12 of their albums were recorded in this “small plates” and about three in the Norman records. He last of his records were waxed in the 1980. a lot of Anioma traditional music lovers appreciated his kind of music because the rhythm was purely the traditional and sounded pleasantly natural, produced with traditional musical instrument some of which were Ubome (big gong), Isaka (maracas), Agogo (small gong), Udu, Akapele (native flute) etc. His kind of music was Agbalani but he also sang other types which represented pure native music.
His strong dictions, eloquence and perfect understanding of Ibusa language were often exhibited in his lyrics. Nwanze Nwagbodi is excellently gifted in the ability to compose songs using his name and marching it with tender rhythm, halting and starting up but his ability to command the traditional Ibusa vocabs by far assited him wonderfully in singing his praise songs using virtuous names and figures who have contributed to the development of Ibusa one way or the other. These songs often make sense. Nwanze nwagbodi once stated that music was in his family and his village of Umuozoma in particular. In his life time no social occasion of Ibusa background was successful without Nwanze Nwagbodi. He was popularly called the singing Bird of Ibusa.
Nwanze Nwagbodi was a member of Ibusa Community Development Union, Ogbeowelle Family Union, Umundofue Family Union to which he was the Diokpa until his death. He was a lover of children who dedicated most of his time playing with them. Nwanze Nwaagbodi suddenly took ill and died on May 6, 1996 and was interred December same year. He was married to two three wives, with six children. “He is the most respected natural Ibusa singer of note” (Ibusa Pathfinder)
Emeka Esogbue hails from Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria. He is is a History and International Relations graduate with lots of tremendous published and unpublished works.