Bongos Ikwe was in Jos on June 12, not because of Abiola’s mandate commemoration but to witness the commissioning of some projects at the Nigerian Film Institute Jos.
As the Minister of Information and Communication, Dora Akunyili and the second most important citizen of Plateau State, Pauline Tallen went round commissioning the projects, the dignitaries followed them. Among them was Nigeria’s superstar of the 70s. I approached him, introduced myself and demanded to have an interview. Bongos replied, saying ‘I don’t have time as I will soon be going.’ I did not allow that to mess my burning spirit as I fired my first shot straight ahead: ‘where you indeed in Jos?’ ‘Yes I went to St. Luke’s Primary School at Church Street here in Jos.’ I quickly recalled Hellen D B Zang once told me she went to St. Luke’s Primary School in Jos. She however, left before him. Bongos left the school in 1966 but that was just one year ahead of the year she finished Secondary school at Bompai Kano http://primedatesblog.blogspot.com/
Bongos said the school doesn’t seem to be there anymore. He said the last time he was in Jos, a few years back; he went there at around 9pm. There is river around there and a bridge over it. So he just stood on the bridge and listened to the sound of the water flowing beneath.
Sure, it is the kind of situation during which the greatest songs are revealed. Just the sound of the flowing river can be the inspiration for a new song. The man said he is soon going to have a new album. I just figure out that the river may have given him one fine song that night.
Bongos also talked about the rewards. He insists it was more rewarding back then than it is now. The musicians of the time all did well, not just him. He was able to buy a 47-seater Mercedes luxury bus at the time. After a good show you could buy a brand new Peugeot vehicle then. He is not sure that is possible now.
In today’s music, there is the need for artiste to improve on content and quality and there seems to be just one genre. It means that there is a vacuum and somebody has got to fill it, he says.
During his days in just he says policemen were white often seen riding bicycles. The kept the peace of the city of Jos, ensuring that even an ant did not die.
As an oversight I did not remember to asked whether the civil war caught up with his family and changed the course of history. Perhaps the full actualization of his music ambition would have been recorded in Jos. When next we meet, it will be the starter.