By Dr. Chido Nwangwu, Founder of USAfrica and analyst for CNN and SkyNews.
Houston, Texas: One of Africa’s prolific music masters, Dan Orji, would have achieved the biblical age of ‘three scores and ten’, that’s 70, this first week of December. Dan was born on a minty, harmattan day of December 6, 1945. But the music genius joined his ancestors on July 30, 2015 at 69 years. He will be buried tomorrow, Friday December 18, 2015, at the Mmawuru Court in Aro Orji in Owerri.
And, the music paused…. Yes; it only paused!
For almost 55 years, as the maker of masterpieces, Dan Orji’s songs continue to inspire the boundless, creative imagination of millions, across the Igbo nation, Nigeria and parts of the African continent.
For almost 55 years, Dan Orji held a consistent delivery and exposition of what I consider his delicious trifecta of acoustics harmony, inspirational messages and merging of the subtle artistry of his Owerri ‘bongo’ music and the ‘abiriwa’ serenade. For almost 55 years, he saw and utilized music for joyful serenade.
After all, his husky baritone voice and smooth highlife style since the 1970s remain present to the new generation of highlife superstars like the supremely talented Flavour and ‘bongo’ musicians such as Sonny Bobo. I must state that Nze Dan Orji is the undisputed godfather of ‘bongo’ music.
For almost 55 years, he wrote and sang songs with a distinct cross-cultural and multi-lingual style that has not been matched. But has been copied and remixed and pirated.
For almost 55 years, he elevated his music for worthy, philosophic reflections. He always had a song or two in every album to inspire the distraught and the needy in society.
For almost 55 years, as a creative powerhouse, every one of the songs he placed on the Skylarks and Peacocks albums were hits across age groups and cultures. And, then, suddenly the music paused… in the summer of 2015.
Dede Danny — as some of us, his nephews and nieces and cousins called him, reflecting, in part, our great Arochukwu heritage of unconditional deference to older folks — interacted with effortless ease and sense of humour to both the old and very young.
He was the younger brother of my mother Nwakaego (child is greater than money); their oldest brother being the prolific, renaissance man of uncommon wisdom, Ugwu Aro Mazi Emmanuel Amaugo Chima Orji. This is important; to understand Dan Chukwuemeka Orji you’ll have to know the influence of this 88-years old patriarch on his life.
He was to learn later from his eldest brother that their father, Mazi Joseph Chima Orji died about 100 days after Dan’s birth.
For the purposes of securing a permanent, trans-generational digital home for his body of work, musical value and historical assessment of his profound genius of harnessing creativity and perfecting his craft, we set up the USAfrica-powered web site www.DanOrji.com. It offers an interactive platform for tributes and messages celebrating one of Africa’s music masters!
… and the music paused… at 69! But his legacy endures! And, the music plays on!! Long Live Dan Orji!! @Chido247
•Dr. Chido Nwangwu
specialist and founder of USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the INTERNET, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela. http://www.mandelaachebechido.com/