Monday, September 17, 2007

Ikenga Super Stars: Kickin' Ikwokilikwo!

The Ikenga Super Stars of Africa, led by Victor Okoroego, weigh in here with a funky slice of Ikwokilikwo. The Ikengas were born in 1973 as "The Nkengas" when they split from bandleader Osita Osadebe, in the process hijacking the master tape that became the legendary Nkengas in London (Orbitone OTO 06, 1973). This was but a prelude, though, to the group's massive hit, 1975's Ikenga in Africa (Rogers All Stars ASALP 2).*

The band continued kickin' it at least until 1984, when its output seemed to trickle out with the rather weak War Against Indiscipline (Rogers All Stars RASLPS 065)
. In the meantime the Ikengas established themselves as one of the most beloved Nigerian groups of all time, not only in their homeland but across Africa and in Europe as well. African music fans were delighted when a collection of Ikenga recordings, Great Hits Vol. 1 (Rogers All Stars RASCD 018), was finally issued on CD a couple of years ago.

Side 1 of this LP, Late Celestine Ukwu Special (Roger All Stars ASALPS 12, 1977), pays tribute to the great highlife musician Celestine Ukwu, who died in 1977 in an auto accident. It opens with the refrain "ariri," meaning "grief" and continues, "...we go about our lives but we don't know how close death is... Life is pleasurable but death spoils everything... The death that took Celestine Ukwu did something terrible to us." "Ego di Nogwu" on Side 2 is actually mis-spelled. It should be "Ego di Nugwo" ("There's Never Enough Money"). The refrain repeated throughout the song, "Ego siri ike, ego di nugwo," means roughly "Money is hard to get, there's never enough money." The song continues in that vein, stating approximately, "I'm not going to steal for money, I'm not going to kill for money... Make sure your hands are clean."

Neither of these tunes is on Great Hits Vol. 1. Enjoy! And once again thanks to my wife Priscilla for interpreting the lyrics.

Ikenga Super Stars of Africa - Late Celestine Ukwu Special

Ikenga Super Stars of Africa - Ego di Nogwu

* W
hich you can download here. And in case you were wondering, Ikwokilikwo (or Ikwokirikwo) refers to a fast-paced form of highlife popularized by Oliver de Coque and Godwin Kabaka Opara (of the Oriental Brothers and later Kabaka Guitar Band) in addition to the Ikengas. A product of the confluence of Congo music, benga from East Africa and the Igbo cultural renaissance that took place following the Biafra war, Ikwokilikwo was quite the rage in Nigeria in the late '70s. A discography of the Ikenga Super Stars is available here.


Anonymous said...

thanks VERY much. Keep the nigerian flowing...

Are these two tracks the whole disc?

John B. said...


zim said...

John - thanks for the ikenga's - they're a personal favorite. I also think its pretty interesting how their LP was bootlegged as the "ka-la-ka afrobeat band"

Juan Carlos said...

thank you for special the ikenga
here in Colombia (barranquilla) , of ikenga is very popular the song "Soffrey Soffry Catch Monkey" , you can translate it? that he says, the singer in this song?

that it has happened with the members of the group?


Juan Carlos

AfricaRuge said...

I am Happy for this post ,i like very this style music , i love the Nigerian Music


Best Regards--

griotmedia said...

Ikenga superstars, waoo! met these guys at their peak. My goodness, now I wish I knew where I can find the interview I had with them during my early radio days in Nigeria.
Thanks John again for another wonderful treat.

Anonymous said...

Hello does anyone have the lyrics and translation of the song "songs at sunset" by the groupe IKENGA? I would be very, very glad.

Anonymous said...

Hi John, thank you for this beautiful blog of yours, some of the tracks you have here, i haven't heard them before.

Your entry on Oliver de Coque was well put together well done.

I will like to correct you on the song Ego Di N' Ogwu by Ikenga Superstars, i just listened to the track and i think the title on side 2 seems more apprioprate and not a mistake.

The refrain #Aga m eso ego nke uwa gbuo onwe m, A ga m eso ego nke uwa na mmuo, ego siri ike, ego di n' ogwu#

The translation in english will be.... I will not kill myself in the quest to make money, Am not prepared to enter my grave because of money, Money is hard to come by, Money has buried itself among thorns (ogwu).

Amongst Ndiigbo, people will say (ego di n' ogwu i.e money has buried itself among thorns therby making it hard to reach)whenever the are finding it difficult to accomplish a task or to make end meets.

Am also desprately looking for Nelly Uchendu's classic love Nwantiti and Mama hausa.

I will be in Enugu this yr, i will contact homzy records (if the are still around)or search markets in and around Enugu, am sure its out there somewhere. unfortunately i come from a country were people tend to forget their history all so soon.

Well done

Oge Franklin Friday said...

When Nigeria was sweet.
I was not born then but Ikenga music still reign till now.