But a buddy stays forever. Whether he’s single, whether he’s married, whether he’s a friend at home or a friend abroad, a buddy will always be a buddy. Nothing changes (well, except now you can’t barge into his bedroom without knocking, LOL). When a buddy leaves the country and returns after 20 years, he calls you up. When a buddy sees you walking down the wrong path, a buddy calls you to order. And many other things (you make up your own list).
Well it was in the midst of shedding the feminine population in my life (and building manly company) that I got to know this interesting young man. Uchenna Abiodun Enyioha.
He was a year behind in me in the Faculty of Law, University of Abuja, I believe we met in March 2008 when freshers were admitted. This dude came from Kaduna, knew Kelechi “Cassie”Okafor, wrote only in cursive, had this smooth Hausa-inflected British accent, and Most of all, he was an awesome bass guitarist.
Because I just started learning to play the guitar In March 2007, anyone who could manipulate strings better than me became an instant hero. And this boy knew ALL the black gospel musicians I did NOT know, could play the keyboard (was our specialist keyboardist when we needed to play hymns in church).
And we didn’t start off well. He had this caustic way of telling me to NOT play the bass when he was on the keyboards. In fact, he’d prefer to split the keyboard, play the bass notes with the left hand, the piano with the right. It totally pissed me off, made me feel bad about myself. Plus when he was playing with Monday Egamana, Sam Emeka John and Kenneth Ogueji it was as though heaven would land on earth- those guys were so good!
Uche helped out several times- even though my bass playing was annoying, he couldn’t beat me on the acoustic. he went out with my band- played Jadon Lavik’s “How majesic” for us at the first FCS concert; he played the keyboards for our song “Jericho Down” when we played live at the FCS drama night. Those times we went to sing at The Voice of Hope (meeting at the Lions’ Guest House), Uche would be there if I called on him.
Well, I was in the same choir as he was, and with time I began to listen more and more to what those guys were playing. I told myself it was only because I couldn’t match their standard that they could tell me off THAT way. So when I went on holiday in my 300 level, I decided I would apply my knowledge of the acoustic/electric guitar to the electric bass. Fine there were some differences in the tunings (standard guitar = EADGBE (go to blazes all you who play Drop D), 4 string bass = EADG, 5-String = BEADG, 6-String = BEADGB/EADGBE depending on your tuning preferences).
By the time I was in 400 level, my family moved to Abuja and we got a house on the Outskirts. And close to my house (less than 30 seconds’ walk) was ths little Redeemed Church with the BEST instrumentalists I had ever heard in my life. Cool equipment too (the small 100-seater hll had 4 power amps, an 8-piece professional drum kit, a Korg M50, Samick Bass guitar, 32-Channel Behringer mixer, Equalizer, compressor). So I joined them. They’d let me play during midweek services (when any blunders wouldn’t be too noticeable). With time I improved enough to be able to play with the FCS choir. When we went on the road to the hospital chapel, I remember playing Bishop Paul Morton’s “I am What you see” on the bass (with Uche on the keyboard and Monday on the Drums)
That song might sound easy and simplistic now, but it was a huge leap from playing Israel Houghton’s “Alpha and Omega”. And my upward Journey continued- I got to play two songs for the FCS concert in my Final Year, and Uche basically left me to do that. Even my version of the FCS Anthem “Home of Care” sounded something like a cross between Sam and Uche’s versions. It was the highlight of my “career”. I didn’t notice how much I’d grown until some other fellowships asked me to help them out sometimes (or when some churches invited me to play For them)
Then there was this time Uche asked me to come play at his church. Heaven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think that was when I started talking to Uche. We talked about music, talked about a little of sport (I remember he won a gold medal at the Airforce Games and played soccer for his class Team). We talked about girls (there was this certain someone who he was hopelessly hooked on). And about heaven, about God, about our relationships with human beings.
Slowly the bond has formed over the years- now I talk to him like every other week- the same person I disliked because I thought he hated me. I remember how he called me up at work one day and I extended my lunch hour to 3 so I could help him out with something. The work that consumed so much of my time and attention that I began to ignore a certain someone (*winks*). Well, that day ended with Uche helping out at my church when my keyboardist/Choir director and leaving my church around 7:30pm. We prayed together before he left. While I was skyping Monica (*another wink) he called to tell me that he narrowly escaped being in a car crash that killed 3 people (because he was with me)
The response to the accident was overwhelming. Food, drinks, drugs, toiletries, and visits kept pouring in day and night. I remember I met uche at the hospital every day I went there, not shrinking from the pain, not being “macho” and keeping away from the female ward. He stayed faithfully by my cousin’s bedside, coaxing her to eat her meals, making her laugh continuously. In fact, one evening she refused to eat unless Uche was there!
I remember I crashed at Uche’s place when I was doing my medical exam for law school, when I came for divine encounter (talked with blessing till really late and had to drive at night).
I remember all those days we said “You see, I want to really appreciate you for….”
Or with a David Oyedepo Voice, “you foul devil!!!!”
Now that I’ve told you a lot of wonderful details you don’t really know how it concerns you, let’s just skip to the real thing.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY UCHE.