Ika heroes diary:
Mr Isaac Eluehike, popularly known as, King One Nigeria is one of the most talented Ika high life musicians. He hails from Ake, Igbanke,in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State.In this exclusive interview with Ika Mirror last weekend at his residence in Igbanke, he spoke on his background, musical career and why he is fulfilled as a musician.
God day sir, may we meet you?
My name is Isaac Eluehike, popularly known as, King One Nigeria. I am from Aki, Igbanke, in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State. I was born into the family of late Pa Eluehike Ehima. My mother, late Mrs. Comfort Ewawutomi Eluehike was also from Ake, Igbanke. My parents had nine children(five males and four females). I’m the number eight child. My father married only one wife. He was a popular cultural dancer in Igbanke. I was born and brought up in Igbanke. I was born on October 12, 1961. I started my musical career at the age of six years. I joined a dance group led by my eldest brother, now of blessed memory, Chief Ucheka Eluehike. At the beginning it looked like joke as we performed at any gathering in our village. I was a kongalist while Ucheka who later became a was the vocalist. My father gave us a free hand because he was a music lover. In 1967, I followed Ucheka to Lagos where we tried to grow our career in music. Through that experience I came in contact with Victor Olaiya. We never knew how we were going to survive or succeed in Lagos but, we gave it a trial. While in Lagos our people received us very well. One of them called Azobu provided an accommodation for us. During this period I was yet to get my primary school education. In 1968, we returned from Lagos to Agbor where I settled at the house of the late Ero of Umunede Kingdom, Chief Osian. Army Barrack was in Agbor then. While we performed at De Martins Hotel owned by Chief Osian, Chief Ifeanyi Akwete performed at VIP Hotel, both in Agbor. From Agbor, we joined 7th Brigade Band in Asaba. It was formed by soldiers during the war. During the period we were performed in Agbor I came in contact with Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha, the two gallant soldiers later became Nigeria’s heads of state. Before we left for Asaba, General Yakubu Gowan requested that I should come down to Lagos to be part of an entertainment band owned by the military.The military respected my talent and saw great potentials in me. Then I was eight years old. Unfortunately, Ucheka and Chief Osian rejected the offer saying I was too small to travel and live alone in Lagos. Also during the period, I featured with St. Augustine Anwuzia. I was with St. Augustine when my father directed that I should be brought home where I later acquired my informal education.
How long were you in Lagos with Chief Ucheka Eluehike and what prompted the return to Agbor?
There was no trouble, we just decided to come back home on our own discretion. There was no phone at that time, so, we were cut off from our parents. They became worried and appealed that we return home which we did.
During the early period of Chief Ucheka musical career, was he singing his own songs or that of other musicians before him?
He was singing his own songs. He was a good vocalist.
At what point did you leave his band? I was with Chief Ucheka till 1988 when I established my own band, ‘King One Nigeria and his Sound City Original Dance Band of Africa Nigeria’ in 1989. I produced my first record, ” Onyenworim Ibenwonrin, Yarieseokwu”, (if you achieve your goal I achieve mine, it always attracts envy). Before I left Chief Ucheka we were five brothers in his band. All my parents male children were in that band. Ours is a family of music.
How did you come about the name, “One Nigeria”?
Like I stated earlier I was born a year after Nigeria’s Independence. During the period the likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe were very hot in politics. It happened that during the course of enlightening Nigerians on the need for Independence, an helicopter throwing fliers passed through Igbanke. My mother was pregnant then. There were very serious rush to pick the fliers only to realize that they were not money. Three weeks later my mother gave birth to me. I was named Zik, but I grew up, I rechristened it to be “One Nigeria”which later became my stage name.
Apart from Chief Ucheka Eluehike which other musicians you did you look up to?
Other musicians that I looked up to were Victor Uwaifo and Victor Ulaiya. I featured in one of Victor Olaiya’s record (Victor Olaiya Ike agunayi ooh, eewoh, Ike agunayi ooh).
How was it having your own musical dance band?
It was not easy at the beginning. I went through rough roads. First, was the challenge from my brother, Ucheka. He never wanted me to leave him. I insisted that I must leave to establish my own band. He refused to fund or support my plan to own a band. Second, it was not easy when I resisted him and nobody was there to buy musical instruments for me. At the end God showed up in my life and used one, Chief Emmanuel Otumunye of Owanta Aliosimi to bless me. He was the person who bought my first musical instruments for me. I will remain grateful to him.
How was the acceptance of your band from members of the public?
The acceptance was great. My first record “Onyenworim Ibenwonrin” was a bomb. It launched me fully into the music world. I competed favourably with Chief Ucheka, Chief Akwete and Dr. C.K. Morgan. I was the first Ika musician to have a keyboard in his band. The second person was Dr. C.K. Morgan. I am a good guitarist. I don’t flow well if I am not with my guitar.It gives me inspiration.
What were the challenges you encountered at the beginning?
The only challenge I had was lack of instrument, but, all that came to an end after Chief Emmanuel Otumunye came to my rescue.
Do you have favourite track?
No, it is only my fans that talk about that. As a musician I love all my records.
What inspires you?
Nature. I can sit down quietly in a place and get inspired. In all, it is a gift from Almighty God. He has been there for me.
How many musicians have passed through you?
Victor Nwanbi, who is my immediate younger brother, my former wife, popularly known as, ” Uwawayi” Jethro, Richard, Felix Ugbekile and many others.
Could you please tell us about your emotional record, “Nneka”? Laughs….., There was something that happened in my life that made me to come up with that song. I’m a man, I did not compose it to discredit fathers but to let them know that mothers are greater. The song was a tribute to all mothers. I am always emotional each time I sing the song because it usually brings that nostalgic feelings about my late mother, who was a pillar and strength to her children. The song was also an advice to mothers. They should learn how to take the training of their children seriously.
What is your take on Nigeria’s musical industry?
The Nigerian Musical industry is growing. Music has different styles and every musician is doing his or her own. As musicians we don’t discredit ourselves. We are all trying to the best of our knowledge and abilities. All we need is support and patronage from Nigerians.
What inspired you hit track and maiden album, “Onyenworim Ibenwonrim”
It was my fall out with my brother, Chief Ucheka. He was the one who first challenged me with his record, “Nmewei Orun Neyinzo Rigunefor” ( I employed you to enable us enjoy together). I responded with my hit track(Onyenworin Ibenwonrim). He was not ready to sponsor me and insisted that I remained in his band. Thank God for Chief Emmanuel Otumunye who saved my poor situation then, by giving me #30,000 to purchase my musical instruments.
Was there a time you left music for any oil company work?
No.Though there was a time the rumour was everywhere that I have quit music, it is all lies. Those doing it don’t want me to get patronage. They have failed. My last show was two weeks ago at Igbanke. My next show is going to be Agbor-Obi.
How has it been with you as a musician?
It’s been ok. I’m not a greedy man, I’m not in a hurry to succeed. I believe so much in God, I do my things quietly without quarrel, bitterness or rancour.To succeed in life you must have patience. I’m a very patient man. If you are patient you have luck.
Are your children into music?
Yes, my children are into music. One of them, Adviser Uche has a band. My eldest son is a strong and talented musician.
Is there any mistake you made in music that you don’t want your children to make?
They should be patient, learn how to tolerate and speak with people.
How did you meet your former wife, Uwawahi?
I met her during my shows at Umunede. Then, she was the leader of a cultural dance group in Umunede. I saw her and liked her, the rest was history. I enjoyed her music, we had children together before we parted ways.
Was there a time both of you performed in one event?
No, I am grateful and thankful to my God for taking me thus far.
If not music what would you have been doing?
It would not have been anything better outside music. I started music at the age of six years, an indication that music was my ministry here on earth.
Do you have any project at hand at the moment?
Yes, anytime from now I will go to the studio. Hopefully before the end of this year.
Most musicians are into drugs, is that really a yard stick to success in music?
No.I quit drugs more than thirty years ago. The adverse effect of drug addiction is very bad. For instance, Majek Fashek is still struggling to get his health back due to his long addiction to drugs.
Have you received any award?
I have received many commendations but for awards, no.
Music then and now is it the same?
It is not the same. Nothing is constant in life. It is how life presents itself that is how it is lived(Kelubia). The motivation then was different compared to the one of today.
Is there any special virtue you learnt from your late brother, Chief Ucheka Eluehike?
One special thing I learnt from him was human relations, how to speak to people. He respected people very well. He has a sweet tongue when it comes to interacting with people. I copied this from him.
Are you proud of your family?
I’m very proud of my family. From nowhere we have been able to carve a niche for ourselves in music.
Are you a member of Performing Musicians of Nigeria,PMAN?
At the moment no. I was a member but, I left some years ago due to reasons I would not like to disclose here. I’m not quarreling with any musician, I just felt I should relax.
Do you wish to be a musician in your next life?
Laughter…, I’m not God, He has the life, He alone decides what man will become in life.
Are you a Christian?
Yes. I am a member of Church of God Mission
Are you a fulfilled man?
I’m a fulfilled man. I don’t look at people or envy them. I’m contended with what God has blessed me with.
Is there any plan to put your records in CD, DVD or YouTube?
We have plans to achieve that. When the right time comes we shall unfold those plans.
Why have you remained in Igbanke?
Laughter…., you know wherever you find peace and joy remain there. I have found peace and joy in my community, I decided not to go anywhere again.
What advice do you have for upcoming musicians?
They should be patient, focused, honest and disciplined. Music is all about fulfillment not money. When you have fulfillment all other things will be added to you.
Are there people you would love to appreciate using this opportunity?
I would love to appreciate my benefactor, Chief Emmanuel Otumunye of blessed memory. I will never forget his gesture and love. I also thank Mr. Oge Emordi and all my fans in different parts of the world. May God continue to bless, protect and prosper them.