Connect with us


Olive De Coque: The Music Lives On



By Onyeka Uwakwe

In memory of Oliver Sunday Akanite, April 14, 1947– June 20, 2008 (Olive De Coque)

Oliver Sunday Akanite
known by the stage name Oliver De Coque was a Nigerian guitarist of Igbo descent. He distinguished himself as one of the Africa’s greatest highlife artists.

Oliver De Coque was born in Ezinifite, Nnewi South Anambra State, Nigeria, in 1947.
De Coque attended primary education at Saint Simon Central School, Ezinifite and later attended the Niger Institute of Commerce, Aba where he studied English, Book Keeping and Accounting.

He was reported to have started playing music at the age of 11 and was brought up in the art of guitar by a Congolese guitarist living in Nigeria.

He kicked off in marriage early marrying when he was only 20 years old.

De Coque released his first album, Messiah Messiah in 1977. The album was an instant success and was reported to have sold more than 50,000 copies. The album was a success to extent that from the funds he made from the record Oliver De Coque bought three brand new vehicles and employed three drivers, all in just one day.

In total, De Coque is reputed to have recorded about 93 albums and we can list some of them:

Nwanne Di Na Mba,
Father Father,
Opportunity, Uwa Cholu Obi Umeani, Identity, Ana Enwe Obodo Enwe, People’s
Club, Uwa Bu Aja, Biri Ka Mbiri, All Fingers Are Not Equal, Nke Nakpa Onye, Tolerance, Kayi Bilibe Ndu,Oma Obi Dia, Messiah Messiah, Biri Ka Mbiri, Appreciation, Sympathy, Olisa Kanyi Nayo, Uwa Bu Ofu Mbia.

Tracks such as Identity, People’s Club, Appreciation, Sympathy, Father Father all ruled music clubs and parties in those days.
Identity was several weeks on Radio Nigeria 2’s Top Ten in 1981.

Some of the spectacular hits were: People’s Club (1979), Ana Enwe Obodo Enwe (1990) and Nnukwumanwu/Bili kam Bili in (1992)

De Coque also collaborated with the Igede International Band, led by his brother Eugene.

To put this essay in context and situate De Coque’s era in proper perspectives, we also refer his contemporaries in highlife:

  1. Prince Emeka Morocco Maduka And His Ekpili Music:
    Ever listened to Asili ’98? That was a master piece from Prince Morocco Maduka. You probably have listened to ‘Uwa Ekwe Mmeta” from him too! You can check out these titles: Ezeudene, Jonko Loco, Ochuba Aku, Osisi Oma, Money Palava, Nkeonye Metalu, Obinwanne, Ubanesse and Udokamma.
  2. Prof. Sir Victor Uwaifo (Joromi).
  3. Prince Nico Mbarga (Sweet Mother).
  4. Celestine Ukwu (Igede, Ijenu)
  5. Muddy Ibe,(Ka Ima Nkea Ima Nke Ozo, Ndi Kwe Na Ndi Ekwena);
  6. Jim Rex Cardinal Lawson (Jolly Papa, Anate, Bere Bote).
  7. Victor Olaiya (Trumpet Highlife, Invitation Highlife, Omo Pupa).
  8. During this era too, Oriental Brothers International led by Christogonus Ezebuiro Obinna, “Dr. Sir Warrior” took the center stage and some of their tracks were: Nwanyi Di Ya Bu Eze, Akwa Uwa and Ama Onye Wu Onye.
  9. Chief Akunwata Ozoemena Nsugbe aka Ayaka Igbo (Ifunaya, June 12, Igwe John Nebe Olisa).
  10. Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe (March 1936 –May 11, 2007) as well as Oriental Brothers International took their bands to the international scene in London and America. In those days, husbands and wives could attend live music concerts as well as attend movies at Glover Hall Lagos. Youths also shared in the city splendor. City life was good!

Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe –king of highlife music– deserves more than a passing comment in this piece. He is from Atani in Ogbaru Local Government of Anambra State.
With a career spanning over four decades, he is rated one of the best known African highlife musicians. He records were mostly on Polygram Records Nigeria.
Chief Osadebe had many hit singles and they included
Agadi Nwanyi n’inine, Kedu America,
Aye Mama, Nwannem Ebezina, Agbaluaka Na Azo Ani, People’s Club, Anaedo Social Club, Makojo, Asempete, Inu Social Club and the smashing Osondi Owendi.


Most of these artists played live especially in the 70s and 80s in different cities such as Onitsha, Port Harcourt Enugu, Kano, Calabar, Lagos to the delight of fans.Those days are gone.

At Onitsha, city dwellers as well as other people could move in from Enugu, Benin, Calabar and Owerri to attend live shows by Chief Osadebe or Oliver De Coque. In those days at Onitsha, every weekend was almost a big musical treat and the city was full of life! Are those music halls still there?

In the 70s, 80s and 90s, business men and women and other travellers were treated to great tracks while in transit. Travellers by flagship transport companies such as Ekenedilichukwu, Young Shall Grow, Izuchukwu, CN Okoli, G.U.O. Motors, New Tarzan, Ifesinachi, Chisco, etc enjoyed Ekpili music and other highlife tunes while on board.

They also occasionally listened to some Ghana music (Agatha) and music from Zaire.
These transport companies came up with their Concord or Busscar executive brands. Good music was sure in these vehicles!
In those days, if a trader chose to travel by “Akpuruka” (poor quality) specifications, that trader was on his own! The vehicle could break down severally while on the way to Lagos or back to Onitsha.

Within the period of review, some successful business men who had Pathfinder, Isuzu Rodeo, Mercedes Benz, Peugeot 504 or 505 vehicles announced their arrivals in loud De Coque’s music or that of his contemporaries.

Oliver died on June 20, 2008.

Consider looking up these hits and spice up your day. After all, according to De Coque, “Uwa Bu Ofu Mbia.”

May his soul rest in peace as his music lives on!

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *