Where On Earth Is Evi-Edna Ogholi Ogosi?

“Where you dey go ooo, where you dey hurry go? You don forget say when motor jam you, you no go reach where you dey go, life no get duplicate ooo. Better make you late say you no reach you house ooo… make you dey look road before you cross…”

This was one of my favourite teenage songs reeled out by Nigeria’s erstwhile queen of reggae music. I remember vividly that this particular track, Look Before You Cross, taught many teenagers the basic ethics of road safety and the principles of road-crossing when it was released. Evi Edna Ogholi Ogosi ruled the Nigerian musical stage over the late 1980s and early 1990s with her own brand of reggae music which her fans subsequently tagged “Njoku Reggae,” because most of her tunes were usually oiled with a scintillating rhythm guitar chord which sounded something like “njoku, njoku, njoku…” Without doubt, most of her tracks were instant hits and she frequently performed in musical concerts across the country in those days, especially those sponsored by Benson & Hedges, Abtonia, Star Lager and others. Her songs were definitely a large part of the tunes that made my teenage days so much fun. Evi had an outstanding ability to transform words in her native Urhobo mother tongue into beautiful reggae lyrics, and interestingly, many Nigerians who enjoyed her music in those days never understood a single word in Urhobo language.

I recently stumbled upon some of her tunes posted on Youtube and oh my God, they brought back lots of memories and nostalgic feelings of my days as a boy growing up in the city of Lagos. Hmm!!! They remained evergreen, as beautiful as when they were first released. As I listened to some of her classics such as Ririovara (Wipe your tears), Oghene Me (My God), Message to the Youths, Look Before You Cross, Jealousy and Happy Birthday amongst others I just couldn’t resist having tear drops from my eyes because they made my day worthwhile. In fact, I couldn’t help listening to them over and over again. I smiled and remembered when Nigeria was Nigeria, where things worked; when Lagos was Lagos, the pride of our nation; when I saw traffic lights working; when power supply was near constant; and my family then belonged to what we could term the middle class, before the advent of our country’s economic recession that wiped out the middle class and created only two classes- the rich and the poor. Of course you can guess which class we painfully became.

Anyway, away from socio-economics and back to Evi-Edna. Remember her Happy Birthday track? It was the most popular birthday song of its time and the only contemporary song I can think of that comes near in comparison to its popularity was Sunny Nneji’s Oruka at wedding ceremonies. However, more than Oruka, Evi-Edna’s birthday song had a wider appeal, as it was accepted across the length and breadth of the country, from North to South, East and West. Everbody rocked to that track with lyrics starting off with the words “Silver and Gold have I not, so I give you my token gift… Uuuuye I wish you happy birthday… Uuuuye very very many happy returns.” When I remember Evi-Edna and her music, it saddens my heart that the impact of brain drain on the African continent, more specifically Nigeria, definitely cuts across every spectrum of our social fabric. Do you remember Evi’s husband, Emma Ogosi? He was one of the most talented music producers we had in Nigeria in those days, producing the works of Evi and a host of other artists. I remember he played the Keyboard, Guitar and particularly the Flute, and he also released an album with one track that was relatively famous, Eb’Awelem Di. I’m not really sure many people would remember that track, except those classical old skool enthusiasts, because that track was what we could refer to as Highlife-Blues back then. In addition, I also remember other musicians we lost to the same exodus that witnessed the exit of Evi from our musical scene. The likes of Majek Fashek, Ras Kimono, Oritz Wiliki, Mandators, Alex O (Okoligwe), Felix Liberty, Alex Zito (the tickle-me crooner), Lijadu Sisters, Mike Okri, Tosin Jegede (another young favourite of mine), Prince Wale-Man, Lieutenant Shotgun and a host of others. The list is endless and I believe you all remember them from time to time. We learnt that most of them left Nigeria for the UK, United States and Canada amongst others in search for greener pastures.

I really wonder where the lovely Evi-Edna has been all this while. Has anyone got any information about where she and her family have been hibernating? I must mention that she remains a musical icon in her own right and I honestly believe that she should be one of those honoured for her outstanding achievements and contribution towards advancing the course of Nigerian music, especially at a time when musicians were seen as geeks by some section of our society and when there weren’t many women in the scene. Wherever she has been and is at the moment, I only hope she and her family are faring well and that life away from home has been fruitful to them over these years of sojourn. I’ve got a couple of shout-outs to make to her, hoping that somehow it gets to her. Firstly, I want Evi to understand that she is one musician that is still remembered, loved and cherished in the heart of many of her fans, for the beautiful renditions she reeled out during her glory-days as queen of Nigerian reggae music. Secondly, she should realise that her numerous fans still await her grand home-coming.

The Nigerian music industry is huge and booming today, and the last few years have witnessed a good number of our musicians returning from their long-lost sojourns. The likes of Felix Duke and Lieutenant Shotgun have now returned home. Reports have it that Ras Kimono is also set to return home very soon. Perhaps the most successful comeback story so far has been that of 70+-year old Pa Fatai Rolling Dollars. Since his home coming and grand welcome, the grand dad has had the opportunity to bolster his musical career. He constantly jams at the elder’s forum and other Highlife Gigs organised by O’Jez Music around the country; and has also released a new album, featuring the famous track, Won Kere Si Number Wa, which has continued to be aired on TV and radio stations across Nigeria and beyond. Finally, Evi should understand that the country’s current musical landscape is vast enough for all talented artists and musicians to flourish. In this regard, I strongly advise that she considers linking up to one of our leading entertainment outfits (such as O’Jez, Kennis, Mohits-DonJazzy n others) in order to help her promote and stage a number of return concerts across the country. I’m pretty sure that even though many of her fans may be dancing Gan Gan Aso and Lori Le today, they would still be glad Evi’s returning home, very willing to attend her concerts and more enthusiastic re-patronise her music.

Written by
Bell’ Ihua
Join the discussion

  • Oh, pls. Where is she? I hope she is doing well. I was one of her band members. I was the lead trumpeter and her road manager during her west African tour in the 90s. Where and what is she doing now. Pls. Call and let’s hear your voice. ( +233249272873 )…….I still remembered the day when YVONNE CHAKA CHAKA from South Africa and EVI-EDNA OGHOLI concert at the Tafa Barewa square Lagos. During our second day rehearsals at Jazz Basin (Sururere), She send a message that her doctor wants to see her so she will not be able to come to rehearsal. She told to coordinate the band. During the rehearsal l noticed that there’s a lead vocals part missing so I took the microphone to sing all her songs we selected. I don’t even understand some of the Isoko lyrics but tried to mix it with Ghanaian languages just to guide the instrumentalists. It was fantastic. Sister Evi, wherever you are please let’s hear from you. May the Gods continue to protect you and your entire family

  • Pls 4get About This Urhobo-isoko Stuff…They Are One And Will Always Be One Thats How God Created It…Check History!

  • Thanks for this excellent write up.I just Google a biography of her as I savor her music I bought some time ago,when I fell on this excellent piece. I am a Cameroonian and I remember the nostalgia when ever I came across her music.I slow my steps just to enjoy her.Now when I hear her music I take a walk back to the nineties and I just which everything was the same. God bless her.

  • What a wonderful intelligent woman. Edna has been my best artist. Her songs cannot be taken off from my memories… I have being asking same question where could she bee..her music career has never doom she’s still all over the system… You will forever be the best.

  • I am glad that this icon and one of the best musician is alive, hail an hearty. I will keep searching to ensure l see her face to face wherever and whenever. Long life .

  • For those who wonder where she is now, she divorced her husband – who was also her producer and manager – and moved to France were she still resides.

  • the songs of evi was an epitome of happy days. It brings to mind the joy of a happy family that gather around the hamertan fire to tell heroic stories of the past. Late 80s n early 90 produced some of the finest songs and artists in our great history that’ll indeliably remain in our hearts 4eva! God bless u.

  • i always enjoyed and loved her songs. whenever i have a “me” i just sit back, relax and listen to them over and over again. And like you said no birthday was complete without her song being played back then “uuuye i wish you happy birthday…….” Wish Evi will make a come back soon.

  • Am from Malawi. And I listened to her songs during my childhood. she was so popular here. But I have to say that its the first time today that i have known her name to be Evi-Edna Ogoli. All along I thought she was Sophia George and I believe most Malawians think that her songs were done by Sophia George. There is even right now a morning program on radio that plays her happy birthday song every morning for birthday messages. I wish I could get hold of her album – not the videos, but the audio album. I need to let my kids know about old school songs!

  • God bless you.I am also a brit who grew up in Lagos, Calabar and Port Harcourt.I had a wonderful times in Nigeria.I still cherish the wonderful times back then.How I love it in Lagos VI. Nigerians are such a fun to be with.

  • I thank God for bumping into this article. I have been asking the same question about her whereabout. I am very happy to learn that she is alive and sound. She remains my Nigerian best music artist and my second best musician in the world after Michael Jackson. I play her songs everyday and I enjoy her music all the time eventhough I do not understand her dialect. My God continue to bless and keep her alive. I hope to see her face to face one day so that I could tell her “thank you for for all your songs”.

  • i am from the gambia n my country is still crazy about evi edna..africa owes this lady a lot..she was original and beautiful..why dont our governments help people like..her music is still fresh n soothing just like the great bob marley..i love u evi whereever u are and please come back…we still lookin for u sister

  • I’m an American-born fan of music from the continent, and I just discovered Ms. Ogholi’s wonderful music by chance. I was digging through a pile of old LP’s in a records store in Minneapolis and found an album called Bursting Loose that was pressed in the US in 1991. I’m totally in love with it! I’m been searching the internet to try to find out more about her. Thanks for the informative posting!

  • Claiming that Urhobo and Isoko are mutually intelligible is an unforgivable blunder. They are seperate languages.

  • Hi guys, I was on holidays In Ghana in 1989 at the time Evi Edna Ogholi was so popular there. When i listen to her music it remind me to that lovely time and it give me that nolgastic memories like everybody else who loved her music! Bell’, I saw on Facebook that she lives in Paris now!

  • you’ve said it all Bell! i downloaded all her songs from you tube and i play it every morning just to give me that nostalgic old but fresh memories….thnks Bell.

  • pls evi edna ogholi is my role model thou i sing r&b, am dedicating a song to her titled uwill make it. sooner u will hear it in the street,and all corners. am not dedicating it because am an isoko but is because i understand her struggles, you know we that are from isoko and also live in the environment,is not easy to get our dream point.

    so if u love evi edna ogholi you should love my songs and buy anywhere u see it. thank u.

  • Hi

    I am a white Englishman who grew up in Nigeria in the 50’s and 60’s my father trained many of the army officers of the Nigerian army and after independance we remained loving the country and its’ people and with great enthusiasm like so many Nigerians that a new begining after the shameful colonial days. When ever I hear Home Sweet Home by the lovely Evi (I discovered her while living in Gambia) I think of the many happy years I spent in Nigeria as I have always thought of it as my spiritual home. Unfortunately although we hoped to remain the Biafran war and subsequent political upheaval put pay to that. I have great faith in the African and hope with all my heart that one day Nigeria and others will become the great and wealthy nations they deserve to be. Good luck and health where ever you are Evi your music will always make me smile.

  • This is good write up but is good to cal a spade a spade -the Isoko dialect declared themselves an ethnic group since 1974 , just as the Okpe dialect of Urhobo is attempting to do .So today Isoko is its own language of which Evi-Edna is one . Urhobo and Isoko language culture are lije siamese twins !

  • evi-edna ogholi has always been my role model nd stil remains..whether she’s urobo or isoko..she’s stil my oni-ovo…m proud to b a reggea dancehall artist who’s urobo..pls evi if u can see this,i wuld rily luv to do a track with u…God bless u and ur family…pls cum back…

  • That is a poor assessment! Urhobo and Isoko are related like brothers and sisters – infant they are regarded as ‘sisters language’, if you are isoko and you do not know how to speak urhobo, you must have grown up in the coast town where your mother tongue happens to be PIDGIN, everi bodi no bi like you

  • Its unfortunate that most of these old skool artists are not resourceful enough to use the net for their benefit. All they need to do is get their old hits digital and up for download. Sure, there would the incessant sharing of files (piracy), but at least there’d be legit buying and downloading. Too bad they just dont realize the potential they’re sitting on. The likes of Alex O, Alex Zitto, Blakky, etc.

  • Evi’s native language is Isoko,not urhobo.I don’t think she has any idea how to speak urhobo much more sing songs in that language.Just a little correction.

  • Ur write-up is tremendous

    Hzve no idea where all these stars are.

    But we should no that nothing lasts forever. there r new n upcoming artistes everywhere in Nigeria, so these likes Uv mentioned above wud be considered as CLASSIc music or “old school”.

    We love them all

  • It is easy for you to say Evi Edna where are you? What has Nigeria got to offer her ? Do you think that playing for O’jez will bring her back to fame, or pay her rent? Nigerians have a short memory when it comes to assisting its past performers in the music industry. For instance in Europe, Elderly musicians are given Radio/ television shows to enable them continue their careers.They teach music in Schools, colleges .. This is what we should be doing. The Govt of Nigeria should be supporting and encouraging the music industry by giving grants to establish workshops for the future of Nigerian music industry.

    Any way ,coming abroad for past Nigerian musicans has proved to be their grave yard . As majority of them are either security workers or finding it very hard to survive. To survive, Nigerian musicians must learn to reinvest in Nigeria in itself.Coming to Europe, USA is not the solution unless you want to work to buy equipment for yourself , come backand establish like what dBang and Don Jassy have done.

    Michael Omolubi Appoh Ex sax player for majek fashek’s band in the 80’s

  • Hi!

    i totally agree with your write-up. back in the days i did not feel like any birthday was good enough until her music had been played.

    I wish i had an idea of where she is now…. the videos remind me of good times and it kind of makes me sad to see what we have been robbed of as a country (traffic lights and zebra crossings in lagos amongst other things).

    This is hoping that Nigeria rises again!