Classical Journey Episode 151: An array of Nigerian classical greats

Today, we focus on great Nigerian composers – Joshua Uzoigwe, Fela Sowande and Babatunde Olatunji

Joshua Uzoigwe

Joshua Uzoigwe (July 1, 1946 – October 15, 2005) was a Nigerian composer and ethnomusicologist. A member of the Igbo ethnic group, many of his works draw on the traditional music of that people.

Fela Sowande

Fela Sowande, father of Nigerian art music, was a highly prolific composer in a variety of genres: organ, choral, solo, and orchestral works as well as an author of four books. He composed music for the British Ministry of Information during World War II. After the War he worked for the BBC Africa Service and then in 1953 moved back to Nigeria to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation.

Babatunde Olatunji

Arriving in Georgia, Babatunde Olatunji began a full experience of Southern segregation when he was told to take a black-only taxi. The idea of black consciousness was still mostly in the future as he began to interact with his classmates at More-house, who included Martin Luther King Jr. and future Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson. “Don’t you ever tell me I’m of African descent,” Jackson told Olatunji, as the latter recalled in his autobiography. “I am a Negro. I am born in America.” Some Morehouse students believed Africa was a place inhabited by beings like the fictional character Tarzan. Olatunji was planning to become a diplomat, but he added a second aim to his outlook. “I have a job to tell these people about the rich cultural heritage of Africa,” he remembered deciding. “I better get on with this mission now.”

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