Art Salon

July 1, 2011

Christy Essien -Igbokwe another flight to Byzantine…

By McPhilips Nwachukwu
THE death, yesterday, of Christy Essien Igbokwe, notable musician, former Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN, president and famous actress added yet, another blow to the number of deaths that are witnessed in the culture  and entertainment clime in recent time.

Coming in the heels of the death of famous Oshogbo multi artist, Twins Seven Seven, and notable art patron, Managing Director of GT Bank, Tayo Aderinokun, Igbokwe’s death came as a big shock to an already tear-dazed members of the entertainment house.

Originally born Christy Uduak Essien on November 11, 1960, the late musician who became popular as Nigerian Lady of Songs with her kind of music ruled the nation’s air wave in the 70s’.

Essien-Igbokwe began her musical career in secondary school, where she sang at various clubs. In 1976 she joined the satirical NTA series, The New Masquerade where she acted the very engaging character, Apeno.

Her short role in that popular sitcom that was the most popular television drama in the 70s and 80s’ helped to put her in the limelight.

But as fate would have it, Essien in1977 became launched into professional music career at the age of  17. Many of her albums became hit  numbers, but none came close to the success of her 1981 hit album ‘Ever Liked My Person’ produced by Lemmy Jackson.

Through her famous Seun Rere, Essien Igbokwe singularly launched Nigeria’s name on the world music map. A very creative and talented artist, Essien belonged to the generation of Nigerian women , who saw gender barrier as no obstruction to  reaching the peak of the careers.

It was through this commitment added to innovative spirit that she became the first female president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN. Always at the forefront of issues affecting women and children, she also played remarkable roles in some of the early Nollywood flicks such as Flesh and Blood and Scars of Womanhood, both of which addressed issues of child abuse and female circumcision.

With a desire to make life better for Nigerian artists, she is credited as having initiated the first meeting that brought about the formation of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN in 1981.
Reacting to her death, another erstwhile President of PMAN, Bolaji Rosiji, described the death of late Christy Essien Igbokwe as shocking adding: “She was one of the PMAN presidents that left a lasting legacy.

“Christy Essien Igbokwe transcended borders of gender and ethnicity in her leadership of PMAN. She is like an aunt to me and was very important to the various welfare efforts I pursued as president. Her generosity crossed the borders of entertainment industry.”

For Ben Tomoloju, former Deputy Editor of The Guardian and culture pathologist, the death of Christy Essien is “ simply too many for the arts house.”

He said:  “I have been following Essien since the 70s’ until the point she transited from singing to acting. I see her as a strong factor in motivation. She was quite motivating and legendary in every aspect.”

Stella Monye in her reaction summed up the whole feeling of loss when she rhetorically asked: “Christy die? Wetin kill am? Which kind death be that?

“Old Boy, she was the best President that PMAN ever had. She worked day and night to make sure that PMAN  worked. She impacted on all the musicians and was more like a mother to all of us.”