THE Melody Maestro, Sir Victor Uwaifo, is a Nigerian musician, writer, sculptor, and musical instrument and car inventor, born in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria in 1941. He is famous for his joromi music. His best-known song, “Guitar Boy and Mamiwater” was a huge hit in 1966. It was inspired by an encounter (which he has long maintained occurred) with a mami water (mermaid) while lounging on Bar Beach in Lagos. He also served as commissioner for arts and culture in Edo State under the government of Lucky Igbinedion. Uwaifo obtained his secondary school education at the Western Boys’ High School, Benin City, and St. Gregory’s College, Lagos, in the years 1957–1961. He studied graphics at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, and graduated with distinction in 1961–1963. He received a Bachelor’s degree first-class honours and a Master’s degree from the University of Benin, Benin City, in 1994, where he studied fine and applied arts and majored in sculpture.
Early in his career, Victor Uwaifo was a member of Bobby Benson’s Highlife band. Uwaifo made history in Nigeria when he won the first Golden record in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa (presented by Philips, West Africa) for his song “Joromi” in 1996. Victor Uwaifo, who has a total of 12 golden records to date, has travelled to many countries, including the United States, Russia, Japan, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, France, Hungary, Rome, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin Republic and others. His song Joromi has legendary status among his fans and his performances are characterized by his ability to play the guitar with both his feet and also his tongue.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, in appreciation of his talents and contributions to Nigeria honoured him with a National Honors Merit in 1983, which reads in part:”…whereas you have been nominated and appointed as Member of the Order of Nigeria to have and hold and enjoy the privileges of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of the said Order, MON.” Uwaifo was the first professional musician in Nigeria to receive such an award. He is a Justice of the Peace and has served in many capacities. Uwaifo was also appointed as the Honorable Commissioner of Arts, Culture and Tourism and Member of the State Executive Council, the highest policy-making decision body in Edo State, 2001–2003. Appointed as Justice of Peace (JP) Public Notary and Lay Magistrate, Sir Victor Uwaifo was honoured by four Nigerian
In 1995, he was invited by the United Nations Staff Day International Committee to perform during the UN Golden Jubilee celebration. Uwaifo is cited in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1983 edition, documented in the “Who’s Who in Nigeria”, “Who’s Who in Africa”, “Who’s Who in the Commonwealth”, and “Men and Women of Distinction in the Commonwealth” sections. He is an Honorary Member of the Biographical Advisory Council, Cambridge, England, a member of both the Performing Right Society and of the Advisory Board of American Heritage University, California, U.S.A.
Uwaifo is the Chairman of Joromi Organization, a multi-track recording and television studio in Benin City. He runs and manages an art gallery and the Victor Uwaifo Hall of Fame.
Uwaifo’s hobbies include swimming, bodybuilding, gaming, reading, and writing. He is a Christian and married with children. He also is a lecturer at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Benin, Benin City.