Friday, September 28, 2012


Uche(as he is more commonly referred to) came to South Africa in 2003 as part of a group of singers and preachers on a tour of the country and neighbouring Lesotho. They had the opportunity to sing at various venues including Soweto. Shortly after the tour, Uche enrolled at the World Harvest Bible College in Germiston and completed a qualification in theology.
As a result of the qualification and serving in Christian ministry, Uche is now a pastor at Lyndhurst based Hallelujah ministries.

His most notable achievement is perhaps his hit track, "My God is good oh". With over a million hits on the online video portal You Tube, the song has had phenomenal success with listenership across the African continent and in other parts of the world.
"I performed the song with Joyous Celebration, a choir headed by Mthunzi Namba, Lindelani Mkhize and Jabu Tshlongwane. The song incorporates various African languages including bits of pidgin, Swahili and Lingala. This is part of the reason that it has become so popular on the continent and I have been invited to a number of countries to perform for large audiences including the 50,000 who showed up for the New Year Eve party in Kenya last year."
Other than countries in Africa, Uche has also had an opportunity to travel to a number of international destinations promoting his music and spreading the gospel. In particular, he makes frequent trips to the United Kingdom.
"What really strikes me about places like the UK is the simplicity of the people in spite of being in a first world economy. This differs from places like Nigeria where people are quite extravagant. A man will have several cars and live in a really big mansion in spite of having only a wife and a couple of kids whereas in the UK people think of investing their money rather than making a statement. They are not that interested in expensive new stuff but spend wisely."
He takes a moment to shut down his Samsung notepad and places it next to his brand new iPod. I smile broadly and he immediately picks up on the irony.
"Hey, am Nigerian, have to keep it real!" he giggles.
I ask him about being Nigerian given the fact that most of the stories you hear about his country men are lacking in the sort of praise he has come to be associated with.
"Well our reputation is like a perfume that follows us everywhere we go," he elucidates, "but every country on earth has good and bad people but it is Judas who is the most well-known amongst all the disciples. Our people are all over and are quite aggressive, particularly in business. If you go to any country and you don't find Nigerians doing their thing, you need to leave immediately. There is no money to be made there!"
I laugh. Perhaps encouraged to expound, he continues.
"A Nigerian does not sit around and wait for government to give him money to start something. He sells his shoes and starts small and before you know it he is a millionaire. We are very creative but one of our problems is bad governance. Hopefully with the election of Goodluck Jonathan things will change and our leaders will become responsible. Our country is full of of potential."

We come back to discussing Uche's own potential. He scooped two honours at the Crown Gospel Awards late last year: Best DVD and Best Praise Album, and on the morning of this interview, he was on his way to a rehearsal to perform at the South African Music Awards. In addition to performing at the awards, he was nominated for two awards at the most prestigious multi-genre musical award event in the country. He views these nominations as the beginning of great things to come.
"It was more than an honour just to be nominated. I plan to continue serving God and look forward to more of his blessings. I am close to dropping my second album and I am also working with others in creating a platform for talent from all over Africa."
Although Uche is a gospel artist, he is also able to perform inspirational and promotional music. He would however not record music that is contrary to his beliefs.
"I don't think it is wrong to sing or appreciate music that is not bona fide Christian. The Songs of Solomon is a chapter in the Bible made up of mainly love songs. So I am definitely open to collaborating with a secular artist as long as it is not vulgar or distasteful."
Uche says that as a result of his recent publicity, he now gets recognised in public places. However, he does not consider himself a celebrity and has therefore not let the attention get to him. He does however find it difficult to have to stop and chat to strangers and smile even when he is tired or in a hurry.
He is still single but lets me in on his imminent plans to tie the knot.
When I ask about his hobbies, Uche insists that he is a good cook and an excellent swimmer. He doesn't fit the profile of an onion chopping Michael Phelps but as he is a man of God, I accept it and we part ways.

Source (expatriate)


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