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My father’s name has opened many doors for me — Music legend Celestine Ukwu’s daughter

My father’s name has opened many doors for me — Music legend Celestine Ukwu’s daughter. Barrister Cynthia Chikwado Ukwu is the only child of highlife music maestro Celestine Ukwu. Cynthia was born December 27, 1977, about 7 months after the untimely death of her father whose music remains at the top of highlife music chat even after 47 years....CONTINUE READING

In this chat with FRED IWENJORA, Cynthia speaks of the burdens and benefits of being the daughter of a musical genius she only met in pictures and ubiquitous records.

She also makes a solemn pledge to continue to celebrate her father’s name as long as blood still flows in her veins.

Again, she speaks on the Celestine Ukwu Foundation and plans for Celestine Ukwu Memorial Symposium, a music and philosophy symposium set for May 7, 2024.

And more . . .

At what point did you realise the daughter of whom you are?

I was about 11 years old when ideas of my identity started sinking into my senses.
What did you hear?

At that time I started hearing and understanding that my father was well known for his contribution to highlife music.

I started hearing different sides of his story from different people from time to time.

Aside close family members,

I recall one of his friends or band mates named Uncle Buzuzu Mogbo who always told me that I look like my father in many ways and that I spoke softly like him.

By the way I hear that Uncle Buzuzu (Mogbo) has also recently passed. May his soul rest in peace.
As a daughter of a musical great, you must be interested in music? It must be running in your blood…

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I was very interested in music earlier in life while growing up. But that interest soon died at some point in my life.
What other passion took the place of music in your life?

I am still trying to figure it out myself.
In my mind, you may someday burst out in songs because it runs in the system…

How I wish it happens. For now I am just a learned counsel.
Do you sing his songs?

I always do…. always. My favorite track which I sing often is Ije Enu. That song trips me much. It evokes so much philosophy and deep thinking. It’s like all his songs. Recall his band was named Philosophers Nationale because he was a deep thinker.
Let’s be sincere here; What fascinates you about a father you never met?

Big question. I see and feel my father in his songs.

I am enchanted by his wisdom, passion for his music and the pack of moral values contained. I am thrilled by his philosophy.

I often feel the aura of his personality. I heard from many sources that I have some of his many character traits and attributes.

Every day my love for my father continues to grow deeper than it was when I was younger. Maturity makes me really understand whose child I am.
Having listened to his music how proud are you to be associated with a talented artiste?

I am profoundly proud of my father and eternally grateful that he fathered me. I have his photo as my screen saver and digital profile photos and his music as my ring tones. I believe they give me a deep connection.
What memorable tales did your mum tell you about your daddy?

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My mum told me my father was a very caring character and was very family oriented.
How has being his daughter benefitted or shortchanged you?

I count it all as gain. My father’s name has opened many doors for me. His name endears me to many people. His name has been a blessing and shield for me.
Tell me a bit about your mum….

My mum Mrs Josephine Uzoyibo Ukwu is there managing her life. She remarried years after the death of my father and had a daughter. But when that marriage failed, she returned to me. I can tell you that my mum is doing OK.

She must be missing her main guy?

That’s very true…..but life goes on

Have you ever asked her how she got news of his passing?

Yes. She told me how she was tricked and lured back from school by her dad. Once home, she wondered why all her siblings far and near were also home. She enquired what the occasion was and eventually the heartbreaking news was broken. I still remember her facial expression and teary eyes whenever we discuss my father…even after so many years.

From time to time she tells of how good people don’t last. And each time she says this. I know she’s reflecting and referring mostly to her first love, my dad.

Tell me about Celestine Ukwu Memorial Foundation.

After my graduation from ESUT faculty of law, I started thinking of how to immortalise my father’s name. Some trusted friends joined me to put together what we called Celestine Ukwu Memorial Foundation, a platform to promote whatever is related to my father. We plan to do everything that will immortalise the name that has brought joy to many homes.

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A few years ago in 2017, distinguished Senator Chuka Utazi put together an event tagged An Evening with the Sage. It was a remembrance event that brought together many friends and fans of my father. We continue to acknowledge him for all his support.

We are taking a cue from that event to put together another of such Memorial events on May 7, 2024 which is the 47 years death anniversary of Celestine Ukwu.

How far are you in your plans?

We are trying our best to see that Celestine Ukwu Memorial Symposium 2024 holds bigger and better than the first event and we are seeking every support we can get.

We plan for his friends, fans, and family to gather and speak about him and relive his memory 47 years after.

We also want to use this event to officially launch CELESTINE UKWU MEMORIAL FOUNDATION in his memory.

On that day, an academic paper on Celestine Ukwu’s music and philosophy will be delivered by an erudite music scholar.

There’s also expected live music performances by many people including his surviving musical associates.

We are still working on getting my dear governor Mr. Peter Mba of Enugu state to support or sponsor this event. It will be my wish to see him host the event. The foundation will be so grateful.