STEVE RHODES REMEMBERED IN LAGOS
By Oris Aigbokhaevbolo
Six years after his death, music maestro Steve Rhodes is remembered at a memorial in his honour.
The memorial, consisting of a photo exhibition and holding at Freedom Park, Lagos, was declared open May 29, by Professor Wole Soyinka. Recalling meeting with Rhodes at a church service, the Nobel laureate referred to himself as a ‘church lapsarian,’ saying his favourite encounter with Steve Rhodes was during the 2003 COJA Games.
Noting that May 29 is the nation’s Democracy Day, Professor Soyinka said “Unlike certain names on the centenary list, we know the contributions of today’s honoree.”
Among items on display were scanned newspaper clippings—from 1991 to 2006, from profiles by journalists Benson Idonije to Steve Ayorinde, and from the defunct publication African Concorde to the extant Guardian—which adorned the walls, speaking of the very rich and public life of the late music impresario.
Also on display are a list of members of Steve Rhodes Voices, a group of young musicians led by Rhodes from 1971 to 2001.
The list contains several recognizable names, including Dejumo Lewis of the Village Headmaster series from 1971; actress Joke Silva from 1974; and late actors Enebeli Elebuwa and Francis Agu from 1982 and 1988 respectively.
The exhibition provides some surprises, one of which is that Steve Rhodes, as a child, along with his elder sisters attended Queen’s College, known mainly as an all-girls institution. Gloria, his eldest sister, however said at the opening that it wasn’t entirely strange at the time as a few other boys also attended the school.
Singer Yinka Davies performed as visitors entered to see photos and memorabilia from Rhodes’ life, and later spoke about her relationship with the musician, saying: “Steve Rhodes found me really. But I was never in the band because I couldn’t stay still.”
She continued, “We had a cat and mouse relationship, and I loved daddy. Yet I had to be away from him because he was mean while working. But he was a softie outside of the music. You could stroll with him and not be bored.”
Musician Lagbaja also visited the exhibition and sang a duet with Ms Davies, the duo giving a rousing rendition of Lagbaja’s Skentele Skontolo. Comedian Ali Baba joined in and added a comic improvisation to the performance, as Professor JP Clark, renowned poet, watched.
Lagbaja said Steve Rhodes was, for him, a figure representing “quality and the quest for that ever evasive perfection.”
That view of Rhodes’ importance was supported by Ben Ogbeiwi, a judge on Project Fame, who said, “Steve Rhodes was a true definition of an icon whose impact was felt worldwide.”
The Steve Rhodes Foundation, organisers of the memorial, has hopes of the event becoming a yearly celebration of the life and work of Steve Rhodes. This inaugural edition closes June 5, 2014.
Steve Rhodes died May 29, 2008, at 82, after a career spanning 6 decades.
See more photos from the opening, below.