Oriental Brothers International Band was the musical group that surfaced in Eastern Nigeria shortly after the devastating Nigeria -Biafra civil war in 1970.
Created in 1970, with Godwin Okpara also known as Kabaka, as its first leader, the other members of the group included Ferdinand Opara (Dansatch), Christogonus Obinna (Warrior), Livinus Alaribe (Aquila) and Ahumaraezemma (Ichita).
In 1974, Oriental Brothers released its debut album entitled “Ihe Chukwu nyere m”. Decca was the recording studio while Afrodesia was the label. The following year, the group sensationally watered the appetite of highlife music followers with its high flying second album entitled “Oriental Special”. The album was an instant hit as all the tracks were chart toppers.
In 1976, the band came up with other equally well celebrated albums including “Nwa ada di mma” and Muritala Muhammad. Obviously, Warrior was the poster boy of Oriental Brothers International Band. He was the most visible an indeed, his name became synonymous with Orientals. He was also the most popular Mbaise ward prior to the emergence of Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha as the Imo State governor in 2019.
Warrior, through his sonorous voice, poetic lyrics spiced with witty Igbo proverbs, myth, philosophy and legends, methodologically popularized Oriental Brothers International Band. Warrior’s tune, image and visibility launched Orientals into glorious orbit and fired it to an Olympic degree. As a matter of fact, Warrior, by overwhelming majority ranking, was the face of the band. He was the standard bearer of the group. And so, he was the name and man that Orientals was nursed, groomed and tended.
The evil hand of resentment which expectedly gave birth to greed, envy and jealousy crept into the five member group and the band was unraveled. Consequently, various nefarious activities allegedly committed by the group against one another ruled the airwaves. For certain reasons, Warrior was the worst hit. He was called names and branded an evil man.
Everything bad about Orientals was rightly or wrongly ascribed to Warrior. Since he was Mbaise, the notorious blackmail against him was equally meted out to his Mbaise clan. The climax of it all was when it was rudely alleged that the band’s first leader, Kabaka, in his debut solo album, (Kabaka left in 1977, just four years after Orientals came into being) had chorused that “if you encounter an Mbaise and snake, first eliminate the Mbaise ward before giving attention to the snake”.
It was a wicked propaganda that worked against the Mbaise nation even today. It was a satanic lie orchestrated by Mbaise haters to tarnish the image and reputation of her sons and daughters and whatever they represent. So, by a shocking play of dramatic irony, Warrior who was acclaimed as the man who catapulted Mbaise’s name to global political map, also had a hand in the almost national derogatory comments and attacks that have splashed mud on the face of Mbaise both as a race and as a people in view of the dirty politics that played out in Oriental Brothers Band.
On January 8, this year, this reporter traced Kabaka to his Imerienwe community in Ngor Okpala LGA, Imo State. After a lengthy discussion, the question was put to Kabaka: “Sir, why did you sing such song against Mbaise people”? Kabaka, with his two hands up and shuffling his legs on the floor, vehemently denied releasing such song. He said it was a lie against him and Mbaise nation. He challenged any person who believes such to provide the particular record where he made such a damaging and reckless song.
What type of person was Warrior? Kabaka answered: “Warrior had both good and bad sides. As long as it concerned music, entertainment and showbiz, that is, making money by making people happy, Warrior had no equal. Just mention a line to him and you would be surprised at what Warrior would make out of it. He never liked quarrels as he loved his drinks and sticks. He liked jokes and he understood the art and made very good use of it. But I must tell you that all of them, I mean I had wicked partners, including Warrior because they forced me out”.
And the question was put to him thus: Between you and Dansatch, who floated Orientals? Kabaka answered: “I gathered the group. I gave it the name, Orientals Brothers. I got the name from a wrist watch given to me by Afrodesia, our German partners. On the surface of the wrist watch was written Orientals. When I asked, I was told that it had something to do with east and then added brothers to it. I think it was Dansatch or so that came up with international band to it”.
In another interview, Dansatch claimed he was the one that gathered the group and coined its name Oriental Brothers International Band. He maintained that he allowed Kabaka to lead the group on age grounds.
After Kabaka left in 1977, the other band members continued and brought in Alloy Anyanwu to replace him. By 1980, the band had completely scattered. All were now on their own but Warrior lasted the distance beyond others.
One striking feature in the music played by warrior aside espousing Igbo philosophy and morals often, each album was usually tied to specific activities or events. At the coming of Christmas festivities the fans are already in expectation that an album from the band would accompany it. An example is the lamentation of the band after the death of late Head of State, Murtala Mohammed
Warrior and his Oriental brothers popularized the Mbaise nation and by extension the Igbo nation. Their renditions were well received globally. We are yet to see any youth step into the shoes he left behind. Indeed, an exciting echo from the past especially for those who lived the period.
Sadly, like every other thing that must come to an end Sir Warrior as he came to be popularly known bowed out joining his ancestors in July 1999 after a protracted illness. It is on record that he paid his dues in highlife music in Nigeria which came handy in getting people ease the pains and pangs of the war.
By Ori Martins and Afam Echi