A Unique Group Called ‘Osibisa’ And Their Powerful Rhythm Explodes With Happiness

Osibisa 3The group ‘Osibisa’ performing

While very young, it came as a shock to us in Ghana, when a group known as ‘Osibisa’ gained instant international stardom, recording classic contemporary songs, giving Ghana a facelift in music and tourism. But who are those behind the band simply known as ‘Osibisa’ with slogan ‘Criss-Cross rhythm that explodes with happiness?

Osibisa is a British Afro Pop band, founded in London 1969 by four African expatriate and three Caribbean musicians. Their music is a fusion of Africa, Caribbean, jazz, funk, rock, Latin, and R&B. Osibisa were one of the first African-heritage bands to become widely popular and linked with the world music description.

In Ghana in the 1950s Teddy Osei, Saxophonist, Sol Amarfio, drums,  Mamon Shareef, and Farhan Freere, flute, played in highlife  band called The Star Gazers. They left to form The Comets, with Osei’s brother Mac Tontoh on trumpet, and scored a hit in West Africa with their 1958 song “Pete Pete.” In 1962, Osei moved to London to study music on a scholarship from the Ghanaian government. In 1964, he formed Cat’s Paw, an early “world music” band that combined highlife, rock, and soul. In 1969, he persuaded Amarfio and Mac Tontoh to join him in London, and Osibisa was born.

Joining them in the first incarnation were Grenadian Spartacus R bass,Trinidadian Robert Bailey, Keyboard, Antiguan Wendell Richardson, lead guitar, lead and Nigerians Mike Odumosu and Fred Coker (bass guitar) and Lasisi Amao percussionist and tenor saxophone. The band spent much of the 1970s touring the world, playing to large audiences in Japan, Australia, India, and Africa. During this time, Paul Golly (guitar) and Ghanaians Daku Adams ‘Potato’ and Kiki Gyan were also members of the band.

In 1980 Osibisa performed at a special Zimbabwean independence celebration, and in 1983 were filmed onstage at the Marquee Club in London.

Changes in the music industry, however, punk and disco primarily) meant declining sales for the band, and a series of label changes resulted. The band returned to Ghana to set up a recording studio and theatre complex to help younger highlife musicians. In the 1990s their music was widely anthologized in many CD collections, most of them unauthorized and paying no royalties whatsoever to the band.

In 1996, Osei reformed the band, and many of their past releases began coming out legally on CD. The revitalized band remains active, although Osei has cut back his touring schedule due to the effects of a stroke.

Osibisa had an energetic performance in India, at the November Fest 2010 on 28 November 2010 at the Corporation Kalaiarangam in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

 osibisa-7The original founding members of the group called ‘Osibisa’

The name Osibisa was described in lyrics, album notes and interviews as meaning “criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness” but it actually comes from “Osibisaba” the Fante  word for highlife. Their style influenced many of the emerging African musicians of the time and even now, as Ghanaian hip-hop music producer Hammer Of The Last Two stated that his debut production, Obrafour’s ‘paemuka’ album, the highest selling hiplife album to date was inspired by a single song (Welcome Home) by Osibisa. He also had the chance to work with Kiki Gyan few days before his death.

One of Osibisa’s hit ‘Woyaya’- We are going, became  the signature tune of an Akan drama series known as ‘ Osofo Dadzie’ for a number of years.

Explore the official website to know more about the group: http://www.osibisa.co.uk

GREAT NIGERIA IS NOW A BROKEN GLASS NO ONE CAN MEND

Lagos 4#Traffic congestion in Lagos is a common thing

Early February 1980, Babatunde left Accra, Ghana, for Lagos, the populated city in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It was then an era when every young man wanted to go to this oil-rich country. It was like the Exodus, the mass departure of the Israelites from Egypt to the promise land. The oil boom had improved the economy, giving rise to employment in every field.

At one time, Nigeria is the largest exporter of groundnuts, cocoa, and palm oil. Petroleum plays a large role in Nigeria’s economy. It is the twelfth largest producer of petroleum in the world, accounting for 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product and 80 percent of government earnings.

Babatunde found himself a place to stay at Surulere, a suburb of Lagos, through the help of a relative living in Nigeria over four decades. Lagos is one of the most populated cities in the world. Looking for accommodation was just as hard and tedious as excavating te ground for gold. The city was very beautiful despite its filth. Lagos Island is surrounded by a vast body of water. It has the largest seaport, especially the Tin- Can port, then also Apapa.

The numerous overhead bridges connecting the whole city exposed the beauty of the country. For example, the Third Mainland Bridge right from Ebute-Metta to Obalende, both suburbs of Lagos, was a well-done job by the German firm, Julius Berger. In the city, wriggling through the crowded afternoon shoppers was what the pickpockets liked most.

The city was very beautiful at night; unfortunately, poor drainage system made life unbearable for its inhabitants when it rained. It was very common to see a single room occupied by seven or more people. Babatunde shared a room with four other men who had been in the country for a very long time. The four were working at the same place, the Apapa port.

Nigeria was a country with regard to foreigners, each one for himself and God for everyone. Don’t expect to be fed when luckily you have got someone to accommodate you, so most of the time Babatunde used to go out with them when they were not working. Thus, within a short period of his arrival, he had already become familiar with the neighbouring suburbs, such as Yaba, Orile, Ebute Metta, Eko, Ikeja, Edu-Motta, Palm Grove, and a host of other places.

Nigeria was at its peak and probably could be one of the richest countries in the world, with various jobs available in all fields. The economy was too good and the poor could afford everything like the rich with a bread worth 10 Kobo on the table. The exchange of the dollar was somewhere between 45 to 65 Kobo. A ticket of four hundred Naira could provide your round trip to Europe and back.

Around the music shops, the competition between musicians Sunny Ade and Ebenezer was heavy, as the fans of King Sunny Ade and Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey fight to establish supremacy.  I (Babatunde) got a job as a driver to a politician, which paved the way for me to drive the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo through the principal streets of Calabar when the Unity Party of Nigeria was having a campaign in Calabar.

I met great people including Chief Ebenezer Babatope, UPN Publicity Secretary. Meeting Chief Obefemi Awolowo, the leader of Unity Party of Nigeria was a great experience. With him and chief Essuene behind me, I wouldn’t like to listen to their conversation, so I increased the volume of my reggae music. But Awololo told me to bring down the volume and I did. I travelled extensively throughout the states of Nigeria. Just guess, if your boss has nine cars including Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota SuperSaloon etc.

Nobody ever thought such a great country could fall on its knees beyond recovery. Like a broken glass which can’t be mend, Nigeria at the moment is beyond recovery. Poor governance and corruption have crippled the economy of the  country to the extent that the common man lives with hopes and dreams. I don’t know any head of state who has a magic wand to pull this country which was once better than many European countries out of this economy storm.

Extract from the book Road Of Agony

Paint 8

:  http://www.amazon.com/Road-Agony-Joel-Savage-ebook/dp/B013L99T44/

http://www.amazon.com/Joel-Savage/e/B008SCTYI6/