From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Friends, relations and the Catholic faithful on January 9 gathered at the St Benignus Catholic Church, Ihitte Isi-Mbieri in the Owerri Catholic Archdiocese to honour the late Charles Amaeze Obineche, a Christian music composer who died on November 29,1990.
He was honoured with a commemorative plaque, an album of some of his songs and a rendition of his songs, which was adopted solely for the mass. The late Obineche composed over 200 religious and secular songs in his lifetime. The estimated 5,000 capacity church auditorium was filled to the brim as several speakers took turns to eulogise him. The Parish priest who officiated, Very Rev Fr Kylian Eke, in his homily expressed joy tinged with surprise that even those who were not born during his time spearheaded the quest to honour him. He said: “There are so many lessons to learn from this event.” He extolled the deceased’s virtues describing him as a true role model to the church and community. He said most of the songs sung during benedictions were composed by the late Obineche.
“Our beloved late brother was a devoted Christian who worshipped God with his talent. His service through his songs was selfless. He commended all those associated with the event, adding that goodness will always prevail no matter how long.
The event rekindled memories of the past and nostalgia among the teeming congregants. The album entitled “Agam Eto gi” (I will praise you) was played to the delight of the people with great applause and material appreciation.
He also put together Catholic Church responsorial Psalms, which today has made St. Benignus Catholic Church to go down in history as having the best Psalmist choir in Owerri Archdiocese and even beyond.
Those who know him well said his love for music started at a very tender age, through his days as a teacher at both primary and secondary schools. He was born on June 6,1926 to the family of late Mr and Mrs Pius Obineche in Umuoromodo, Umunjam Mbieri in the Owerri Archdiocese
Chairman of St. Benignus choir, Mr Ezechi Chibundu, said Obineche’s popularity in music became widely known in the 1970s when he singlehandedly formed the St. Ben’s choir.
“The performance of this choir took him to places within Owerri Archdioceses where they were used as sample choir for teaching of choice pieces for competition, especially songs composed by him.
Ezechi stated further that “In 1981, his work, ‘Missa obi di Aso’ was adopted as the set piece for Owerri Archdiocesan music competition. This qualified him as the first winner of R.C Omeaku Cup for the composer of the year. Although our church choir was not allowed to participate, but we were showcased as demonstration choir.”
He also informed that the late Obineche’s interest in teaching of songs was not limited to his church alone and groups but stretched beyond other parishes.
“For instance, he shepherded St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Ohi to win the Diocesan Cup in 1976, Mbieri parish and Mary League Girls to win diocesan cup in 1987, among others.”
With all these, he said the church decided to immortalise the legendary composer and choirmaster. Ezechi added: “With his demise in 1990, the choir made efforts to get his name immortalised, to ensure the legacy he left behind were not eroded over time. It took some anonymous members of the choir three months to put together the script of the songs ready for the new generation choristers.”
Receiving the posthumous award on behalf of his late father, his first son, Mr Chidi Obineche, Editor Special investigations, The Sun Publishing Company Limited, thanked the church for remembering his father after more than three decades.
“He was a great man, song composer, teacher. We miss him sorely. We miss his intellect, his counsel, his dedication to his work and ideals of life. What is playing out here today is a rebutting of some of his legacies. When he died at a time we were young and still groping to find an anchor in life, it was devastating. But from the anguish, we endured. I remember most vividly that when he was alive, some people approached him to make use of his talent and services commercially. He rebuffed them by reminding them that God gave him the talent freely, and freely he would deploy it to praise and serve Him. Such inclination to profoundness is rare to find today.”
“I’m so happy and proud of him. That was why I said I would be here physically to receive the award. His award of honour today has taught me that whatever thing you do in life, you would be remembered for it, whether good or bad, if not today, but certainly tomorrow. We, the children will not forget the sacrifices and love that bore this posthumous honour,” Obineche said.