Monday, February 04, 2008
Great Highlife Party for Asekun @ 76
IF there’s any man who has assumed the face of the monthly Great Highlife Party (originally named Elders’ Forum), that must be the veteran broadcaster, and music enthusiast, Chief Femi Asekun.
Right from the inception of the programme at Ojez Restaurant, Iwaya, Yaba, Lagos on October 2, 2001, up till three years ago, when the show was moved to the Restaurant’s National Stadium annex, Asekun has not only been consistent, he’s been totally involved, especially officiating the session in the absence of the Impressario and ElderArtsman Steve Rhodes, who traditionally leads the ‘rituals’ (prayer session). The third leg of this officiating elders is the veteran broadcaster, actor and diplomat, Chief Segun Olusola. Together, the trio supported occasionally by other equally elderly artistes that showed up in the house, have helped to sustain the programme in the past six years.
You now understand why the organisers, management of Ojez supported by the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) resolved to dedicate the 76th edition of the show to mark Asekun’s 76th birthday held last Sunday. You hardly would find a greater coincidence!
The hall was full with guests — both regulars such as Steve Rhodes, the celebrant Femi Asekun, Alakija, Femi Esho, Tomprai Abarowei of Radio Nigeria among others, an first timers such as Danniel Kotter and Constance Fischbeck, Video artists from Germany, who came into the country barely an hour into the show; and a whole lot of other guests. There was a group of expatriates who came all the way from Abuja to see the show for the first time. The event was indeed a thriller.
You need to see the celebrant digging it on stage with both the young and old that graced the occasion. In fact, even at 76, from his performance at the show, Chief Asekun will still hold his floor in any dance competition. And with veteran highlife artistes such as Alaba Pedro, Tunde Osofisan, Maliki Showman, Eji Oyewole and Fatai Rolling Dollar taking turns on the bandstand, highlife music was at its best. However, Che Chukwumerije, son of Senator Uche Chukwumerije,and an aviation senior executive, took the slot of the younger generation with his band. He has become a regular feature at the monthly music feast. He is perhaps the testimonial the organisers have to flaunt -- in claiming that they have accomplished a key objective of the show; which is to encourage young ones to take to the music that until recently was considrede a dead or dying heritage. – he performed on stage at the event.
Meanwhile, have you observed few changes at the last show? Yes, the new in-house band has added a new twist to the show by playing highlife songs from the eastern part of the country. You should have seen the excitement that enwrapped the Actors Guild of Nigeria president, Ejike Asiegbu at the event; he nearly jumped from his seat when the band played a popular Igbo highlife tune. But as the presido, he only resulted to only raising his two hands up in satisfaction.
As a pioneer staff of NTA, Chief Asekun’s zest for arts and music is commendable, and at the monthly Great Highlife Party, you will see him conducting affairs. He had, at a young age, performed in Norway, England and France, and has indeed, remained in practice even into his septuagenarian age.