History, Music

King (Dr.) Oliver De Coque- A Musical Legend

Nmesoma Okwudili


March 28, 2024

Oliver Sunday Akanite, famously known as Oliver De Coque, was a renowned Nigerian guitarist and one of the most celebrated recording artists in Africa. He was born on April 14, 1947, in Ezinifite, Anambra State, Nigeria, and hailed from an Igbo family.

When De Coque picked up a guitar for the first time at the age of 11, his musical journey officially began. The foundation for his future musical endeavors was laid by a Congolese guitarist living in Nigeria, who taught him his first lessons. Immersed in Nigeria’s musical culture, De Coque trained under renowned juju artists like Sunny Agaga and Jacob Oluwale. He quickly gained local prominence through hard work and enthusiasm, earning praise even as a teenager.

De Coque’s skills developed as he broadened his musical palette and honed his craft, blending modern sounds with traditional Igbo rhythms to carve out a unique place for himself in the music industry. His distinctive approach and unparalleled guitar prowess captivated listeners worldwide, solidifying his place in music history.

Oliver De Coque made a lasting impression on the music industry throughout his lengthy career, leaving behind a rich legacy of classic songs and memorable performances. His impact transcended national boundaries, elevating him to revered status not only in Nigeria but throughout the African continent. Oliver De Coque will always be remembered as a great maestro of African music due to his incredible contributions to the genre

Coque garnered international recognition following his performance in London in 1973, and his exceptional guitar skills were showcased on Prince Nico Mbarga’s 1977 album, Sweet Mother.

In 1977, he released his debut album, “Messiah Messiah,” which marked the beginning of a remarkable career. With 93 albums to his credit, De Coque’s discography is astounding. Many of his compositions were classified as “ogene” (Igbo for “traditional harmonies with modern elements”), and he was well-known for this fusion.

The songs “People’s Club of Nigeria,” “Nempi Social Club,” “Biri Ka Mbiri,” “Ana Enwe Obodo enwe,” “Nnukwu Mmanwu,” and “Identity” were among his well-known hits. The latter was extremely popular on Radio Nigeria 2’s Top Ten for multiple weeks in 1981. With his varied repertoire and exceptional musical ability, De Coque cemented his place in Nigerian music history as a highly esteemed personality.

In addition to his solo endeavors, De Coque frequently collaborated with the Igede International Band, led by his brother Eugene. De Coque was a father to at least four sons, namely Solar De Coque, Safin De Coque (Darlington Akanite), Edu De Coque (Chinedu Akanite), and Ikenna Akanite. Recognizing his immense contributions to music, De Coque was awarded an honorary degree in music from the University of New Orleans.

Unfortunately, on June 20, 2008, De Coque died after a sudden heart attack. De Coque’s son subsequently disclosed that in 2008, despite his failing health, he had remained dedicated to his performances and planned to consult a physician in the coming month. Although the passing of this musical icon left an indelible void in the industry, his legacy continues to inspire musicians of all stripes for generations to come.



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