Friday, October 17, 2008

We Shall Win!

The mid-western region of Nigeria--an area once known as Bendel State, but now subdivided into Delta and Edo States--has produced a great many outstanding musicians. However, few of them get the opportunity to rise to national prominence largely because the region is composed primarily of minority ethnic groups.

Yes, you have your Sir Victor Uwaifo, Sonny Okosuns, Kris Okotie, Felix Lebarty, Evi-Edna Ogholi-Ogosi and others, but for each one of these, there are scores of talented artists whose fame never extended much beyond their immediate locality, so I'm always happy when I discover some of them.


Until recently, Pogo Ltd was unknown to me... though a few of the members were not: the Benin-based band was made up of guitarist Emma "Cherry" Ogosi, bassist Robo Arigo, keyboardist Emman Osagie Iguagbonmwen, drummer Mike "Gasper" Okuofu (though they all traded instruments) and lead singer Pat "Finn" Okonjo, former frontman of The Hykkers.

(click to bigificate)

They seem to have been fairly popular down there, but the only album from them I have encountered is the reggae set We Shall Win, which I shall--by way of an educated guess--date to 1979.

Interestingly, I found that I was actually familiar with at least one song on the record, the title track:

Pogo Ltd - "We Shall Win"

It was a ubiquitous anthem during the era of the struggle against apartheid, but I actually thought it was an ages-old church song or a public-domain standard or something... But then again, it has somewhat specific references to then-current events involving Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith and South African President John Vorster. So yeah... This must have been a pretty big hit for them.

It would seem that Pogo Ltd broke up soon after We Shall Win: In 1981, Emma Ogosi embarked upon a successful solo career as a country singer, and then later as producer/husband of mid-80s reggae star Evi-Edna Ogholi. Robo Arigo also launched a less sensational (but still very interesting) career as a solo artist and producer. Pat Finn Okonjo went and got himself a 9-to-5, working at the Nigerian Television Authority's Benin office.

When (the awesome) Jake Sollo returned to Nigeria after his long London sojourn, he looked up his old Hykkers buddy Finn, with a mind to putting the old band back together. I don't think that project ever came to fruition in the midst of Sollo's busy schedule, but Pat and Jake did collaborate on the album In The Beginning in (again, educated guess) 1982.


Among the tracks is a reprise of Pogo Ltd's big hit:

Pat Finn - "We Shall Win"

(By the way, I have been wondering whether Pat Finn Okonjo is related to renowned economist Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, who also happens to be the father of Nigeria's former crusading Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and grandfather of novelist Uzodinma Iweala. Anybody know?)

12 comments:

zim said...

How's the Robo Arigo LP? that's one great cover.

Leo adiele said...

I never knew who made this song until now. However, this song has remained indelible in my memory for one reason. In 1983, the Shehu Shagari led NPN rigged itself into an Umaru Dikko proclaimed “moonslide” victory at the polls. I lived in Kaduna then as a youth. I remember hearing this music played on the Federal government owned and controlled radio stations in mockery of all the other political parties’ ‘loss’ at the ballot box. Since then, I had not heard this song (until I played it a few minutes ago), but I have always had it steadily humming in my mind, especially when issues about Nigeria’s mediocrity at democracy resonate.

Whoa, Uchenna, keep up the good work.
Leoadiele@aol.com

BeninBoy said...

This brought back very good memories. I know you mentioned that Pat Finn Went back to the NTA Benin after the band broke up. The thing is, most of the band had one or two things to do with NTA Benin before (and during) the Band. Most of the Band (Ogosi, Okonjo and Arigo), Had a weekly music show on NTV (and Later NTA) Benin (can't remember the name), where they did covers and some of their own compositions. was a very cool show. Thanks for the memories. Lovely stuff!!

Comb & Razor said...

BeninBoy -

wow! thanks a lot for that info! i'll try to find out some more about that TV show...

Leo -

you know... now that you mention it, i believe i remember this song being played around the time of the 1983 elections as well!

(i love it when you all help stir up some of my long-dormant memories...)

Comb & Razor said...

zim -

sorry i missed your comment before: the Robo Arigo album is actually pretty funky. very stripped-down and raw slap-bass and razor-sharp guitar... i'm gonna post some soon.

Anonymous said...

I must thank u 4 this great work on this blog and it has awaken me to help givea further info.
I was lucky to be around this band fomation. We were all singers in an NTA programme called, Music Panorama on saturdays.I was trying to sing then and those in the band where the best of the programm then, Chris Okotie,Felix leberty,Majec fashek,Don pedro Okojie.Ehi Duncan and Emma Dorgu were as good but were already doing solo productions,Pat Finn was already a top TV producer,with Emma 0gosi and they produced the programme.

Comb & Razor said...

Thanks a lot for the info, Anonymous! Could you tell me some more about your experience?

email me if you will: combrazor (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Anonymous said...

Interesting contemporary historical accounts and perspectives about music and entertainment. But somehow no one has mentioned the main programme where all these people featured: "Voices from Within". That was when Nigeria and Midwest (Bendel, now Edo) showed so much promise.
By the way, does anyone know where Robo Arigo is?

Comb & Razor said...

Robo Arigo presently lives in Asaba.

chukwuka a.t. agubamah said...

By the way, where's pat finn, jeff stone, eddie black, emile lawson, bob miga, eddie roberts of the hykkers international? Just remembered those guys last nite.

Comb & Razor said...

Chukwuka,

Jeff Stone died in January 2010, Pat Finn passed three months later, in April. I don't know where Emma Lawson and Eddie Black are, but Bob Miga lives in London. As for Eddie Roberts, I have been desperately trying to locate him myself!

Anonymous said...

No one seems to talk of Mike Jasper Okuofu. Any gist? I am interested in all these.