How OLIVER DE COQUE’s most kept secret took him to an early grave as told by his son.
(April 14, 1947 – June 20, 2008. Age: 61)
HIS NAME, HIS MUSIC & HIS LIFESTYLE
Chief Dr. Oliver Sunday Akanite popularly known as Oliver De Coque was a Nigerian highlife musician and guitarist who has more than 50 albums to his credit and whose career lasted over 4 decades, making him one of the most popular highlife kings in Africa. Oliver and his music band group, ‘Ogene Sound Super of Africa’ blended modern highlife and traditional Igbo music.
The music star had 12 kids; 7 boys and 5 girls and they all enjoyed their father’s presence. “It was awesome. My siblings and I didn’t see him as a famous person. He was a normal, caring, jovial and loving dad to us,” Darlington Akanite, one of his sons disclosed.
While growing up, Oliver was popularly called, ‘The Game Master’ because he was good at the game of Draft. Draft in Igbo language is ‘Okwe.’ So, People began to call him ‘Oliver Di ka Okwe.’ He then changed the name to sound more like a French name; that was how he came up with, ‘Oliver De Coque.’
HIS SIGNATURE LOOK
He loved to buy clothes and spent a lot of money maintaining his looks. Infact, he spent #30,000 on his beard weekly and that amounted to #120,000 monthly. He visited his Salon twice a week and always said his beard was his Signature look. He said that if someone decided to keep a beard, it was right to maintain it.
HIS SICKNESS & HOW HE DIED
He fell ill at the end of 2007. He was diabetic and hypertensive. Most artistes don’t like to disclose their health challenge and his son is of the opinion that if Oliver had told people about his health challenge, he would have gotten help quickly. “He was ill for three months. He then recovered in February 2008 and began to go for shows. He died on June 20 but he had planned to travel to the U.S on July 2 for checkup,” Darlington added. He went further to tell the press that it was as if his father knew he was going to die because on the day he died, he decided to stay indoors. “And he told me to stay by his side.” “That morning after he had his brekfast, he began to feel ill and cancelled his appointments for the day. I didn’t know it was a serious matter; all I could do was to console him. I went to the bathroom to take a shower and then told him that I wanted to visit a few friends but he begged me not to leave his side and I became upset. I thought he was just depriving me of having fun. I grudgingly stayed back.”
While Darlington stayed with him, he began to tell him how he started his career. As he was telling the story, he complained of not breathing well. Oliver then decided that he should be taken to the hospital. On their way to the hospital, he told the driver to increase the air-condition that he was feeling hot. His son became scared when he started to shout, “Wheelbarrow! Wheelbarrow! Darlington, please bring a Wheelbarrow.” It was after his death, Darlington who wondered what was happening realised that the highlife maestro was referring to a WheelChair not actually a Wheelbarrow.
“I think he was becoming paralysed and unconscious. He was rushed to the emergency ward when we got to the hospital. And throughout his time in the hospital, he kept begging me to save him but there was nothing I could have done,” the Son said.
He held Darlington’s hand close to his side as he took his last breathe. His son closed his eyes and kissed him on the forehead. “I was so confused about all that happened.”
His son believes that more than 200 Igbo people would have laid their lives down for him if he had made his health condition public.
He’s gone leaving behind a vacuum but he’s taught the entire family a lesson that whenever one is facing a challenge, one shouldn’t keep quiet about it. “I want people to learn from his death.”