Safin De Coque, one of the sons of the late legendary highlife singer, Oliver De Coque, has expressed joy that people still celebrate his father who died on June 20, 2008, at the age of 61.
Celebrating his 74th posthumous birthday, Google honoured the legendary guitarist with a Google Doodle.
Reacting to the gesture, Safin De Coque, in an exclusive chat with The PUNCH, noted that the family was happy that their father was being celebrated even years after his death.
“Personally, I feel happy that people are still celebrating my father even though he had died. The fact that he is gone but still remembered shows the amount of effort and dexterity he put into his craft while he was still alive. I think it calls for celebration and I am happy about it,” he said.
Oliver De Coque fathered about 12 children, of which five of them are musicians. Safin De Coque, who has toed his father’s path as a musician, stated in an earlier interview with The PUNCH that none of his father’s children could fit the shoes he left behind.
Safin said, “I don’t think any of my father’s children would surpass his record in highlife. We can only try, but there can only be one Oliver De Coque. We are only living under his glory.
“We would find it very hard to break his record. Don’t forget my father had been making waves even before the advent of the internet and social media. I am just being truthful and realistic; I cannot beat my father’s record.”
Asides from Oliver De Coque’s family, Nigerians were also ecstatic about the Google Doodle as they took to Twitter to air their excitement.
Onye Nkuzi, via his handle @cchukudebelu, noted that it was a pleasant surprise. He said, “I was pleasantly surprised to see a Google doodle on Chief Oliver de Coque’s 74th birthday.”
Also, Joboson Chisa with the handle @jobosonchisa gave a thumb up to the illustrator of the Google Doodle. He said, “Really love the Google Doodle of Oliver de Coque! Big ups to the illustrator!”
Lagos-based Ohab TBJ made the illustration for the doodle. The artiste shared the image of his work via his Instagram handle as he stated that working on the project was a dream come true.
He wrote in the caption section, “Ayyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Darling, I illustrated a @google Doodle. It is a doodle to commemorate the late Oliver De Coque, a Nigerian guitarist and one of Africa’s prolific recording artist, on his birthday today.
“OMG! This is one of my dream project come true and I still can’t believe it!!! Today I’m literally googling everything before the day ends. AND shout out to @helenecleroux. Go Google everything today too darling! (It’s only live in Nigeria tho) Make sure to click on the Doodle to learn more about Chief Oliver De Coque.”(sic)
Google Africa, via its verified Twitter handle, said the doodle, which was illustrated by Lagos-based guest artist @OhabTBJ, pays tribute to Nigerian musician ― Oliver De Coque ― on his 74th posthumous birthday.
“Crowned the ‘Highlife King of Africa’, he is widely revered as one of the continent’s most prolific recording artists of all time,” Google Africa tweeted.
Born Oliver Sunday Akanite, Coque was one of Africa’s most prolific recording artistes. He began to play music at 11 and was taught to play the guitar by Piccolo ― a Congolese guitarist living in Nigeria.
He further served as an apprentice with juju stars ― Sunny Agaga and Jacob Oluwale ― and became a star by his late teens.
Attracting international attention with a London performance in 1973, Coque played on Prince Nico Mbarga’s album ‘Sweet Mother’ four years later.
Since releasing his debut album ‘Messiah Messiah’ in 1977, Coque recorded about 93 albums in his homeland. His dance-inspiring “Ogene” style of Nigerian high life, which blends modern high life and traditional Igbo music, has produced such hits as People’s Club of Nigeria, Nempi social club, Biri Ka Mbiri, Ana Enwe, Nnukwu Mmanwu and Identity, which remained on Radio Nigeria 2’s Top 10 for the most of 1981.
Coque was often backed by his brother Eugene’s Igede International Band.