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Victor Olaiya: Nigeria's 'Evil Genius' Trumpeter Who Influenced Fela Kuti

Nigeria has been mourning music legend Victor Olaiya, who created Nigeria's highlife rhythms and influenced a generation of musicians including Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Nduka Orjinmo looks back at the life of the trumpeter, who died last month at the age of 89.

Just like the well-turned out government filing clerk that he was, Olaiya always carried a pen in his breast pocket. This was not for noting instructions that had to be precisely followed, but rather because he needed to write down the musical notes and phrases as they came to him.

This was at the beginning of the 1950s, his early days as a performer, when the trumpeter was trying to create Nigeria's highlife rhythms.
More musician than bureaucrat

At this stage, music was something he did in his spare time and Olaiya thought he had lost his job in the civil service when his boss saw a newspaper photo of him performing at a nightclub.

Instead, he was told that he was a better musician than a bureaucrat at the survey department of…

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