Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe (March 1936 - May 2007) is a legendary Igbo Highlife musician and composer who has had a successful musical career spanning across 4 decades. Osadebe first came into the music scene at the tender age of 22 as vocalist for the ‘Empire Rhythm Skies Orchestra, lead by Steven Amechi. Around the late 1950s, Osadebe dropped his debut solo ‘Lagos Life Na So So Enjoyment’, the song became a hit and landed him the opportunity to lead his own dance band called the ‘Nigerian Sound Makers’ or ‘Sound Makers. As Nigeria started to face challenging times as a country in the late 60s, artists of that time had no choice but move away from the dance-band style of Highlife and reflect a more turbulent Nigeria in their sound. Although Osadebe wasn’t as confrontational as Fela Kuti, his sound did evolve to reflect on the social injustice and commentary of turbulent Nigeria of that time. Alongside maintaining his Juju and Afrobeat style of music Osadebe introduced a new style sub-genre of Nigerian Highlife recognised as ‘Oyolima’. One of his most notable hits ‘Osondi Owendi’ fully represented this sound, rhythmic and tranquil.
Osondi owendi. ‘What is cherished by some is despised by others. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. Different strokes for different folks. To each their own. Osondi owendi.’
Collins, J., 2018. Highlife Time 3. 3rd ed. Accra: DAkpabli & Associates.
Oti, S., 2009. Highlife music in West Africa. Lagos, Nigeria: Malthouse Press.
Researched and Written by Paulina Nkansah