The shoe determine what I wear, says Victor Uwaifo

Victor UwaifoAt the age most of  his contemporaries retired because of their fame and wealth, Victor Uwaifo was an
unfulfilled man. His hunger for education pushed aside whatever achievements he made as the highest selling musician on the African continent.

Dogged and determined, the Benin Edo born music maestro was bent on reaching the pinnacle of University education.  And that dream has been achieved. Victor Uwaifo, apart from being on the pay roll of the University of Benin, he also parades a Doctor of Letters degree from same University.

In spite of these achievements, he has refused to give up on his first love music, a profession that brought him fame. With several international and local awards in his kitty, the Benin Prince man remains undaunted.

His latest creation is a tourism center he calls The Revelation. The tourism center, the Prof told Manstyle unfolds many things people have taken for granted in the past. Works on display in the center are so gory that children less than 16 are not allowed to visit, except they are accompanied by their guardian.   Professor Victor Uwaifo is our man of style today.     Enjoy it.

You are an amazing man and I wonder how you are able to manage as a musician, printer, sculptor, teacher and father?
The strength is divine. It takes precedents over all other matters. And I belief that for one to be happy, one should be engaged in something that would keep him busy. And if you have a sense of purpose, dedication and the enthusiasm, it’s a kind of fulfilment. And fulfilment is not something money can buy.

So it’s also a matter of getting fulfilled and exploiting my talents. I have explored and I have exploited my talents When God is happy about it, he gives you more.

It’s like when you have children and they are doing well, you’d be happy and you’d want to encourage the children more. So it is with me.

In life, you give to the left and the right gives back to you. How many years do we stay on earth? Time is short, but you have to make the best use of it.

With so much to do, how do you keep appointments?

This is my annual leave paper and  it fell into the period, we are on strike. Instead of wasting the annual leave doing nothing,  I’m now very busy doing all I need to do so that I don’t just waste the leave.

It’s been long since we heard from you musically?

That’s not true. In almost every three months, there is something new from my studios. The truth is that my standard has gone so high, that the ordinary man may have difficulty coping.  Right now, my standard is too high for the ordinary person.

Today, most musicians today are mediocres. There is no music at all going on now. Musicians of today  no longer play musical instrument and they don’t want to learn. So tell my friends how can they interpret anything musical.

Until the youth of today come back to their senses, they may not understand what I’m doing.

Secondly, my music is today played all over the world and royalties come to me every month. I make an average of between 400 and 600 pounds monthly. I get regular interviews on live radio programmes, right here in my sitting room.

The usual question they ask is, how did I manage to play my kind of music. They want to know how I came up with the concept of my twin headed guitar. They tell me it’s baffling how I managed to do it. And sometimes, they want to equate my mastery of the guitar to that of the late Jimi Hendrix. And I tell them the young man is not my contemporary. I tell them that he might have borrowed his knowledge from me.

And I have never stopped telling them that the difference between the African musician and his ‘oyibo’ counterpart is that we can play their music, but they can’t play ours.

How do you expect the Whiteman to play high life or Ekassa music, when he doesn’t even know the root? Can he tell you where to begin with the first note, no? They learn from us and of course it’s very natural. We keep improving with their own and other genre in the world but they can’t play ours.

What I’m trying to say here is that in a long while we’ve not had any formal album release from the Jolomi maestro . . .
I have gone beyond the stage of launching an album. Instead, it’s the album that launches me. Let me show you part of my musical works that you can’t find on the streets. (Shows the reporter a collection of albums  released between the year 2000 and 2008).

These are some of my complete works in different packages. My album is not amongst those you buy at N100 per CD.

It’s an insult for a man of my standard to sell his CD at N100. What kind of insult is that? And what kind of music is that?

We package our music in such a way that if you need any of our albums, you go to big stores and pick each for N5000. Pick it up, you’d know you have bought something that is original from Sir Victor Uwaifo. This makes it difficult for pirates to feast on my musical work.

I visited The Palacio (gallery ) and it’s amazing to see what you have in there. It was a bit scary listening to the blood chilling cries emitting from the speakers . . .
Those were stimulation from my studio.

I know, how do you live with all that noise, its kind of weird and scary?

I am the art and the art is me. We are both inseparable. So how do you remove the soul from the man? If you do so, the man becomes an ordinary carcass. I see, I hear.  I hear art they talk. I see sound and it says to me, have fun.

All the voices, noises are my creation and it is done to give The Palacio flesh and blood otherwise it will look like an ordinary gallery.

And what is the essence of this creation of yours?

How else do you know your past? If you don’t know your past, you are nobody. And if you don’t know the present, how can you talk about your future. All that you saw in there were research projects, history.

The Director of  National Museum, ministers, and some other top government functionaries have visited here. In fact since their visit, I have received  more visitors.  His Excellency the Governor of Edo and some members of his cabinet have also been here.

It must have costs millions to build and gather all these materials. . .

(Cuts in) Of course yes. I put in everything that I have made in life. My life, my blood and sweat are embedded here. I did this because I belief in it. Besides it gives me joy. You could create a film, do anything, but one thing you can’t buy is joy. You may have money and still not be happy.

You have on a beautiful design, is it also one of your creations?

Of course I did. Who else do you want to design that. I’m an artiste. It’s not only sculpture that I’m involved in, I was first a graphic artist, later on I went back to school.

And you love playing around with colours?

I like white and if you say white yes . . .

But on stage, you have a lot of red colours on?

Yes. On stage its fire works because its fire during my stage performance. There is excitement everywhere and you have to be strong to cope with my actions.

How would describe  your  mode of dressing and which would you say is your best?

There is nothing best about anything in life. When you describe something as best, then you have created a limit to where you ought to be. There is nothing that could be described as best in life. So I don’t have a best mode of dressing.

It depends on how I feel, the mood and where I am going and the occasion. I used to like a lot of suits but as I grew order, I started loving the traditional wears but with a difference. I began with designing my clothes.

Those suits you wore, were they imported or made here?

Some of them I bought when I travel, and the rest, I bought in here in Nigeria. But I had no particular design and they could come double breasted, one button, two buttons, but it all depends on where I’m going to. But the suit must align with the shoes I have on.

You also design your shoes?

No. But sometimes, when I buy a pair of shoes, then I design the cloth that will go with it.

How often can one see, you dressed up in shirts?

Ha, if you see me in a shirt, you’d take me for a school boy. The other day, I had on a short sleeve shirt, on a pair of Jeans, my staff all bursted into laugher. They told me I looked like a school boy. In short sleeve shirts, it’s comfortable and you can do anything easily.

Infact there is a dress you wear, that will make you feel younger than your real age. But most of the time, I feel younger than my real age.

And you like wearing the singlet?

Yes I always wear the singlet.

Why do you wear the singlet if I may ask?

I really don’t know, but the singlet is like when you put on a pair of socks before footwear.

On your bed, you don’t just spread the sheet, you put on the blanket before it. So before you wear a shirt, you must have your pant on. It helps to dissipate the heat from the body. It’s good and it makes you comfortable. And without the singlet you’d feel naked.

And how do you like your under wears, pants or boxers?

I can wear pants and still wear my boxers on top?

Isn’t that being overdressed?

It’s not. It keeps you going. You see, I’m not looking for a massage, with just the boxer on and no pant,  you’d look feel empty. But if you are at home, relaxed, you may wear that. The boxer is not the real underwear. In a normal situation it should follow this pattern, the singlet first, the pant, the shirt, tie and the trouser.

And perfume?

I wear different kinds of perfume and this also depends on time too. I cannot tell you that this is the particular one I love. In the past I used to wear old spice, but today there are so many ranges.

How do you shave?

Oh, I use the shaving stick. I shave regularly with the shaving stick and I use each on two or different occasions before I discord with it.

After the after shave . . .?

I don’t  use the after shave at all.

I see you are wearing a chain, you . . .

I don’t wear the chain, always but for this dress, the chain complements it. That’s why I made it hang on the dress because you don’t wear this kind of attire without a complementary accessory like the chain on it.

How much of influence does madam wield when it comes to your dressing?

She has no influence when it comes to what I wear on daily basis, because she endorses everything I do. But there was a day she made a remark. It was on a day, I had on a boxer short on, and there was this guest coming into the house. She advised that I change that boxer to shorts, insisting that it was improper.

And I saw there was sense on it.  I quickly dashed back upstairs to do her bidding. That was the first time she ever got involved in my mode of dressing.

And how much time do you have for the family?

We are together most of the time. They see me every day, they see me when I’m working and sometimes they join  me to do one or two things to help out. And when I’m through in the night, we move together to the dinning table to share dinner.

And when I’m in the studio, they come in to add their own contributions. We have time to mix.

And how does the University community relate with a living legend, how do they see you?

Well, the students are not the only ones affected by my presence, even my fellow lecturers too.
They call me the maestro, that’s how they address me. As for the students they see me as a role model and when I teach, they listen. And the way I handle my lecture is unique. I try to make the seemingly difficult task simple for them to understand and that’s true.

By Vanguard