Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Chukwuma Bamidele Azikiwe ( February 1940 - May 2015)

Chukwuma Bamidele Azikiwe was the first son of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria's first President. He was born in February 1940 and attended Harvard University Cambridge U.S.A

He was the Owelle of Onitsha a traditional position inherited from his father.

He died over the weekend at 75 years old 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Thomas King Ekundayo Phillips 1884 - 1969 The 'Father of Nigerian Church Music'


Ekundayo Phillips was born in 1884, in Ondo state to Marian and Bishop Charles Samuel Phillips. He was educated at St Stephen's school,Ondo; St John's School Aroloya, Lagos; C.M.S Grammar School, the school of Pharmacy and Trinity College of Music, London. England in 1911.

On return to Nigeria in 1913, he went into private Practice as a professional chemist but also set about through lectures and publications, to enlighten the public about music. 

In 1914 he was appointed Organist and Choirmaster of the then Pro- Cathedral Church of Christ. He held the post till 1962 when he retired and was awarded the title of Organist Emeritus. 

He travelled all over the country and collected indigenous music which he developed into piano and organ compositions, especially choral music.
His compositions included chant settings for canticles and psalms, Yoruba choruses and native tones, a Yoruba cantata entitled 'Mesia' ( Messiah) and an English cantata entitled 'Samuel' incorporating a 'Coronation Cantata' specially composed for and rendered on the occasion of the coronation of King George VI.

Other achievements include the production of some important oratorios and cantatas including Elijah, Messiah, Hymn of Praise, Hiawatha and Ode to St. Cecilia.

Another significant accomplishment was the fact he trained some of Africa's finest composers like Fela Sowande, Ayo Bankole, Lazarous Ekweme, Christopher Oyesiku and his son, Charles Oluwole Obayomi Phillips

After his retirement from Pro Cathedral Church of Christ he continued to practice as a pharmacist.

Dr Phillips was a Licentiate and a Fellow of Trinity College of Music, London. He was decorated with an M.B.E, for his contribution to the progress of music and honoured with a doctorate by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1963.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Emeka Ojukwu (r) with his older sister Esther Biggar (later Mrs Davies) and younger brother Tom Biggar. 8th of May 1945 VE day.

West African Soldiers - World War 2

Today the UK is celebrating Victory in Europe Day or V Day.
70 years ago ( it is generally agreed that ) on the 8th May 1945, World War II ended
Many countries took part in securing victory, including some 375,000 men and women from African countries who served in the Allied forces.
During this war, British-trained Nigerian troops (which made up more than half of the total force of West African soldiers) saw action with the 1st (West Africa) Infantry Brigade, the 81st and the 82nd (West Africa) Divisions which fought in the East African Campaign and in the Far East.
Men of the 81st and 82nd West African Divisions served with great distinction against the Japanese in Burma, as part of the famous ‘Forgotten’ 14th Army.
The 81st was composed of units from the Gambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast (now Ghana), while the 82nd comprised further reinforcements from Nigeria and the Gold Coast.
Both Divisions formed part of the RWAFF (Royal West African Frontier Force).
The contribution of West Africans was played down in the official versions of the Allied war in Asia. Even, when Allied commander General William Slim thanked his 14th army at the end of the campaign, he did not even mention the Africans.
But recently people like journalist Barnaby Phillips, have given a voice to some to tell their tale.
Here are some images of life in the Military for Nigerians and British soldiers in Nigeria between 1942 and 1944

Friday, 8 May 2015

Nigerian Football Team In England 1949

This Nigerian football team was the first ever to leave West Africa. They arrived in the UK on the 29th August 1949 and played nine matches in five weeks against top English amateur teams. 

This video is of a training session with their coach 'the famous Fulham football star' John (Jack) Finch.

The 1949 tour, was said to have sought to change perceptions of Africans. The organisers 'wanted the players to present a collective face to the British public that went some way to dispelling racial myths about Africans'. The tour included a visit to Parliament, a tea party at the Colonial Office, a trip to Westminster Abbey and Wembley Stadium.

But despite the organisers claim to want to portray a different Africa they were also heavily reinforcing the ‘westernisation’ of colonial Africa. On this visit the Nigerian footballers were prohibited from wearing their traditional African clothes. 

The players selected were largely representative of colonial society. Fourteen of the eighteen players were civil servants, and another two were teachers, while the team’s player/secretary Kanno had been educated in England and had thus, it was deemed, ‘acquired the refinements necessary for the public engagements’ 

Significantly, even though the British administrators wanted the Nigerians to wear boots, the Nigerian players insisted on not wearing them and so the decision to play barefooted could also be seen, as a sign of defiance – the retention of a traditional Nigerian identity – within a tour that clearly sought to establish an image of a modern ‘British’ Nigeria

The Nigerian team won their first match against Marine Crosby 5-2 at Liverpool. It was watched by a capacity crowd of 7,000. Unfortunately they lost the other 8 matches including that of Dulwich Hamlet

The Nigerian tour in 1949 was followed by tours from the Gold Coast in 1951, Uganda in 1956 and the Caribbean in 1959 these were also meant to illustrate the development of these areas under British rule and to highlight the continued role of the British throughout the Empire.

The Nigerian team included Tesilimi 'Thunder' Balogun, Sam 'The Black Magnet' Ibiam , Etim Henshaw, Peter 'Baby' Anieke, Daniel Anyiam, and Hope Lawson

The official programme for the Dulwich Hamlet v Nigeria FA match 1949