Bongos Ikwue & The Groovies ‎– Otachikpokpo

EMI ‎– NEMI (LP) 0155
Vinyl, LP, Album


A1 Apo-o-o
A2 Ouno
A3 Ella
B1 Otachikpokpo
B2 Katanga

Companies, etc.



When in December 1975 Bongos Igoche Ikwue asked me to author a write-up for his new record album, I received the gesture with mixed feelings. As a lawyer and a diplomat unversed in the language and art of the musical profession I hardly qualify for this honor. On the other hand, my profound personal association for fourteen years with Bongos during his musical amateurism and professionalism, and the inspiration which this situation has brought to bear on his life, have placed me in a position to write this preface.

As I sat down with him that cool Saturday morning of December 13, 1975 at EMI recording studio at Apapa, Lagos, listening to the tape recordings which today constitute this great album, I could not help saying to myself repeatedly that here is the only man in Nigeria who is giving modern blues a real meaning - a real soul; a musical genius destined to make a colossal impact on the contemporary African music scene.

Born 32 years ago of modest Idoma parents, Bongos demonstrated early academic competence and successfully completed the Ordinary Level and Advance Level secondary school education. In 1965 he was matriculated for the B. Sc. Electrical Engineering degree course at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, but realised after two years studies that his musical aspirations and his academic pursuit were in complete conflict. I remember the funny sight in those days how engineering books and musical appliances used to compete for control of his room at University. It is no wonder therefore that Bongos unceremoniously called it quits with campus life to devote his time and energy to professional music.
The Bongos music story is a success story, professionally, he started singing in 1967 but his amateur days date as far back as 1959. Although with three albums now to his credit, the real measure of his achievement is the incredible popularity which has attended his musical career. His massive rhythm and blues sounds; the haunting melodies, the ease and excellence with which he renders his native tunes in modern soulful dance beats; and the unique class that is his music - all too readily commend him to a wide spectrum of fans. It is significant to note that in recognition of his immense musical talents the Federal Government of Nigeria sent him and his band on a musical tour of the Republic of Mali in 1973 in furtherance of a cultural exchange programme. Indeed, his most memorable performance before the exalted Heads of State of the Economic Community West African States (ECOWAS) at their historic inaugural meeting in Lagos in May, 1975, was at the special invitation of the Nigerian Federal Military Government.

The album which Bongos has aptly called OTACHIKPOKPO opens, in Side One, with the striking and perhaps most successful number APOO (do you hear?). Apoo is a compelling Idoma dance tune which will soothe every soul and mind. Its success perhaps lies in its solemnity and poetic artistry reflecting the artist's mastery of the Idoma language; its potrayal of some of his basic philosophies of life his real, deep thought and intellectual alertness. The other two numbers on this face of the album are OUNO - the legendary Idoma girl whose tragic death plunged the village community into deep mourtin and ELLA - a popular mad man in Otukpo town whose death from a dog-bite left the town folks wailing and wailing and wailing. Side Two of the album opens with OTACHIKPOKPO the number from which the album derives its name. It is rendered in Idoma and is noted for its rich dance music. As Bongos himself put it, "the number has all Africa in it". The face closes with "Katanga", "the rebellious female hostel" at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Northern Nigeria. It is beautifully rendered in Hausa.

It is impossible to do full justice to Bongos and his music in a brief write-up such as this. So prodigious are the qualities of the man and his music that they scorn comprehensive enumeration. You need to meet him and to patronise his music to know what I mean. You will be glad you did.