Thursday, 1st June 2023

At 10th ‘Africa Sing’, choir from Nigerian universities deepen compositional ingenuity of Olukoya

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
24 May 2023   |   3:47 am
The General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries and Chancellor of Mountain Top University, Ogun State, Prof. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya, has said Nigerian universities must brace up for the challenge of tertiary education...

Final year students of the Department of Creative Arts (Music Unit) and Choir Master of UNILAG Choir 2, Ihechukwu David, conducting the choir at Africa Sings’ Intercollegiate Choral Festival 2023

The General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries and Chancellor of Mountain Top University, Ogun State, Prof. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya, has said Nigerian universities must brace up for the challenge of tertiary education and deliver values to their students with the right learning tools. 

He said music departments were particularly struggling and ill-equipped for the task of delivering the right music education to students, especially in the area of music studios and equipping them with the right musical instruments.
It was specifically for this reason that the 10th choral festival was dedicated to celebrating him for his efforts both in musical compositions and philanthropy in promoting music education in the country.
It is that philanthropy that has seen him gifting studios and musical instruments to universities, with the University of Lagos being, perhaps, the largest beneficiary of his largesse. 

Although, the near-seraphic performances of the seven universities that took part in the Intercollegiate Choral Festival at the 10th edition of ‘Africa Sings’ belied the bare-knuckle environment that Nigeria’s public universities work, the man being celebrated did not mince words in pointing out the direction they must take. 
Olukoya’s compositions are rendered in the classical compositional category. Indeed, what he has done for African music is comparable to what the Mozarts and Handels of Europe did for classical music that now enjoys globally acclaim.
But thanks also to the ingenuity of the different choirs that took liberty with the compositions to render them in different but pleasing manners to the admiration of the packed audience at the Ade Ajayi (Main University) Auditorium of the University of Lagos. 

The University of Port Harcourt came with its ‘Pidgin Medley’ version that was also pleasing to hear; same with the University of Jos Choir that also lent one of the songs a local tongue rendition other than Yoruba that Olukoya’s songs are originally composed. These variants show just how deep and adaptable the compositions are as they lend themselves to different interpretations and renderings.
Other universities that attended the Intercollegiate Choral Festival included Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, University of Ibadan, Lagos State University, Ojo, and host, University of Lagos, Akoka. 
Guest performers of the night, an all-female Heavenly String Orchestra from Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, ostensibly stole the show with its unparalleled performance. The ladies, with their stringed instruments like violin, cello and the likes thrilled the audience with their dexterity on the instruments that majority in the hall rocked to the medley of music they produced.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Obinna Chukwu, who represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Folashade Ogunsola, described Olukoya as a proud alumnus and illustrious benefactor of the University of Lagos. Chukwu noted that the choral festival was at the forefront of the revival of indigenous compositions that were otherwise going extinct due to attention being paid to other things in contemporary times.
According to Chukwu, “we are indeed happy to host this 10th edition of choral festival, not only because it is celebrating the works of Prof. D. K. Olukoya, but the University of Lagos, as part of its agenda, and the agenda of the vice chancellor herself, has keyed into the arts and culture, in a kind of renewal and to bring forward the various aspects of our culture that have been pushed to the background due to contemporary issues on our hands.

And in that regard, only last month, the University of Lagos hosted our convocation play, Femi Osofisan’s ‘Esu and the Vagabond Minstrel’, but took it to town at Terra Kulture Theatre Arena to premiere it. So it’s important for us as a university that what’s going on here today should be encouraged. There are several choruses, especially the indigenous ones, that are gradually going into extinction – because these things are usually passed on through oral literature. But we are glad that the competition of this nature that brought several universities will no doubt rejuvenate and reinvigorate our interest in several choruses especially indigenous ones.”

The Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Olufunke Adeboye, acknowledged the numerous contributions of Olukoya to her university, but like Oliver Twist, she urged the man of God to look the way of her faculty in his generosity. She said she had faith that Olukoya would certainly do more for the faculty she heads, a prayer that elicited laughter from the audience. She also commended the compositional prowess of Olukoya, which she are in one of Nigeria’s local languages – Yoruba.
“The Faculty of Arts is the home of creativity in the university, because of the departments it houses – the home of letters, the home of creativity,” Akinboye said. “That’s why we are all here. I want to acknowledge the contributions of the General Overseer to the university. All your donations, your support, we acknowledge them, and several generations of students will continue to benefit from what you have done for the University of Lagos. When I looked at the pamphlet, I saw that the majority of his compositions are in our local language; that is very important for us. It’s also a way of promoting the language. Again, it also buttresses what many of us in religious studies have been saying that spirituality has a way of being well-articulated when it comes from your mother tongue; you can feel it, you can connect quickly with God than when you’re still trying to put your thoughts into words in English. But when it’s in your mother tongue the anointing will flow. I’m sure that at the end of today our lives will be transformed.”
On his part, the Director of Programmes, Prof. Albert Oikelome, was effusive in his praise of the man of God whose musical compositions were being showcased, calling him “the man that has made a great difference in his generation!”
Oikelome responded to those who always asked why Olukoya was at the centre of ‘Africa Sings’ celebration, countering instead, “Why shouldn’t we? For a man who has demonstrated unwavering affection for the nation’s musicology. For one who is dedicated to furthering our cause as artists even when others choose to ignore us. For someone who has shown in word and deed his wish to ensure that wonderful music is experienced in the ‘now’ and the ‘years to come’, not just in ‘ages past’. For a man who is so enthusiastic about the growth of music among young people, especially the GenZs, our Generation Next! Exactly why not? When we witness Grace and great success, we celebrate it. And there is one right here in the building. We are here to perform just a few of his over 200 music compositions!”.