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The highlife sound forged by civil war and the dancefloor

In 1957, at only 10-years-old, Waziri Oshomah was sneaking out of his home in the southern Nigerian region of Etsako to watch club bands play the highlife music that was taking his country by storm. With their blend of palm wine guitar, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and American swing sensibilities, local groups would recreate hit records by the likes of Victor Uwaifo and Bobby Benson to produce a sound that was unlike any other Waziri had heard before.

“People were moving and they were singing in all different kinds of dialects,” the 76-year-old says over the phone from his home in Edo state now. “It excited me and made me want to join in also.” Before long, school-age Oshomah’s conspicuous presence in the clubs led to Etsako groups like Yakubu “Anco” Momodu & His Afenmai Dance Band inviting him onstage to sing a few numbers alongside their groove-heavy backing.

Read the feature in Vinyl Factory.

[This piece was published on 23/08/22]

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