1970s Psychedelia: West African Style

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 07:40 AM

With perfect BBQ weather already here, it's an ideal time to dig out your kaftan and get some world music tunes pumping on your stereo. And there’s no one better at making you want to groove and grill than 'Sir' Victor Uwaifo. The 'Sir' is entirely unofficial, but both he and his fans believe he deserves it.

A child prodigy from Nigeria, Uwaifo built his own guitar at age 12 and won Africa's first gold disc age 18. He has since become one of Nigeria's most prolific musicians and a major proponent of West African Psychedelia. It's a scorching mix of fuzzy guitar techniques and avant-funk fueled by political independence and the pop-cultural revolution that followed.

His biggest hit, 'Guitar Boy and Mamiwater' (1966), was inspired by his encounter with a mermaid while lounging on a beach. The incident (which he swears is true) also inspired him to invent a 'revolving guitar'.  Check out the trick here:

And that's not all. Uwaifo's website declares 'The maestro not only plays the guitar with his fingers but also with his jaw, his toes, his teeth, from behind his neck and back.' (By the way, his website alone is a sight to behold.)

In addition to playing sizzling, summery, foot stomping music, Uwaifo creates sculptures which adorn the roads of his hometown. And he has an eye for building things from unlikely materials.  Here's a lounge room he built as an extension to his house using a decommissioned airplane:

Airplane attached to house

Today Sir Victor lives on Victor Uwaifo Avenue in Benin City and serves as Benin's Cultural and Tourism Ambassador, still enriching the world (and our summer picnics) with funky, hip shaking West African Psychedelia.

- Britta Conroy-Randall


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Comments [3]


I wish it was BBQ weather here. I also wish I had an airplane lounge room.

Jun. 14 2010 08:35 PM

@James, very cool -- thanks for the link!

Jun. 14 2010 05:42 PM

The always fabulous music magazine, The Wire, had an amazing West African psychedelia Primer a couple years back. The issue (December 2008) may be a little hard to find now but a fantastic mix of West African psychedelia, produced by Samy Ben Redjeb, can still be found on The Wire’s website.
Here's the link: http://www.thewire.co.uk/articles/1635/

Jun. 14 2010 11:24 AM

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