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Chukwuemeka Edward ‘Morocco’ Maduka: Music maestro, social crusader

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EMEKA ‘Morocco’ is the stage name of Chukwuemeka Edward Maduka, the unassuming and down to earth man, who is a huge music star. In spite of his larger than life image, the Ekpili music legend, today, might be pursuing a different career path if his father’s wish had prevailed. Morocco loved and played football before music took over him.

It was while displaying his football skills that the name Morocco stuck. Ekpili music is both life and passion to Morocco. He waxes strong on this career path that offered him fame and fortune despite advancing in age

Regarded as the King of Ekpili, Morocco did not invent Ekpili music, but is acclaimed as the innovator of the modern day Ekpili music. He is a bridge between the old guide and the new breed.

The Ukwulu, Anambra State born music legend is the first Ekpili musician to perform outside the shores of Nigeria. That Ekpili music has stood the test of time is because Morocco is involved. His tireless effort to promote and preserve the music is notable. For his perseverance, people now identify with Ekpili across the borders of the Southeast zone.

Morocco is not against music collaboration. He made it clear that he does not like doing collaboration. He noted that he turned down requests from musicians who want him to collaborate with them. A young artiste whose music did not sell once approached Morocco to remix his songs, Morocco declined. “I want my music to remain mine.

So, let other musicians compose theirs. Many young artistes copy our pattern, refine it and do hip hop. For example, late MC Loph sang Osita Osadebe’s music, Osondi Owendi with a different concept and changed the concept.”

Morocco started doing music in 1962, when he left secondary school. Then people accorded less regards to musicians. He was regarded as vagabond (Akogheli). Morocco’s father was disappointed in him for going into music, “After my secondary school education, my father saw it as height of madness that I deemed it fit to go into music.”

Back in the day, secondary school education has more value than today’s university education. Then, when you see someone taking to football or music, most people in the society saw them as never do wells; people without future. My father felt disappointed with my change of career.

“Then, nobody believed that I would be successful.  By God’s providence, I became a success story. Since I started music, I never regretted I did. Nothing has impeded my music career. It has always been a progressive movement. It shows God’s involvement in it. I wish my father was alive to see and taste my success story.”

The ace musician recalled how the name Morocco originated, “The name Morocco came about in my secondary days at Eastern Commercial Secondary School Aba, Abia State.

I played football then. On the pitch, I often told my teammates that I would dribble them from Nigeria to Morocco. From there other students started calling me Morocco Boy. That was how the name stuck. I later looked up the word in the dictionary. And you know what I discovered. That it was actually hide, skin whose meat has been consumed, thinking that the skin was useless. It serves as raw materials for other products.

But looking at it from moral perspective – the message is that  someone who people thought won’t succeed has now made it and that told my story. From then I decided it would by my name.”

For every chart toping artiste, a song brought them to limelight. For Morocco, it was the song ‘Mgboye and Dominic’, from the Egu Ngbedike album released in 1979. According to Morocco, “It tells the story of how Dominic was reduced to a pauper; his wife abandoned him and ran to Aba.

Dominic then won lottery and became rich. The wife unknowingly lodged in Dominic’s hotel. Dominic was told of a beautiful lady that lodged in his hotel. He requested to see her so that he could ask her out, but discovered the lady was his wife. He asked her to leave the hotel.

She threatened to send him to jail, if he assaults her. She discovered the man she was pouring invectives on was her husband and the owner of the hotel and begged for forgiveness. Dominic insisted that she leaves. She left for Enugu, got pregnant, and was delivered of a baby boy. Thereafter, she left for Aba with the baby for Dominic’s place to ask for forgiveness for the sake of the baby. Dominic did. “The album was a hit. It really announced my arrival on the music scene.”

One incident that remains indelible in Morocco’s life, which initially appeared as a sad chapter, but projected his career to a new height, was his rumoured death. While on a music tour of Northern Nigeria in 1998, Morocco was rumored to have died in a motor accident. The tour kicked off in Abuja. It was while performing in Maiduguri that he heard about his supposed death.

“I received message from the East, while performing in Maiduguri that I was dead. They asked me to come back home, probably, to dispel the rumour.  I told them, I wouldn’t return until I was through with the tour. Let the gossip mill grow stronger, I won’t return until the end of my tour.

I told them when I’m through performing in Maiduguri that I would leave for Gombe in continuation of my tour. After performing in Gombe, I would go to Yola and then I will return home. Anyone that claimed that I was dead should come and see me there.”

Morocco returned to Ukwulu to a tumultuous welcome. Before then en route to the East, he had to be stopped at Makurdi, Oturkpo, Obollo Afor, and every other city he had performed after the rumour broke out, to make people believe that he was alive. People trooped in, even from neighbouring towns to jubilate with him.

The incident produced ‘Asili 98’ album; it turned to be a smash hit, one of his bestselling albums. He described the song, which also bears the name of the album as his most favourite song. “This storey building where I reside was built from the proceeds of Asili 98.

The song rained me money. The rate at which money was coming, I decided to erect a building. I bought land and started building immediately. Beside, the money it fetched me, it was an interesting song.”

Morocco recalls no incident as the worst moment in his life but takes life as he sees it unfold, that whatever that happens, he take it like that. Comparing Egwu Ekpili then and now, “one thing with music is that as a town or society grows, people tend to adapt with changes that comes with it. Back in the day, the music content was the message or moral lesson you want people to learn.

Today, there is much praise singing in our music that happens to fetch easy money. Most of today’s musicians are into praise singing. You hardly get message from them. That is just the difference.”

When it comes to Ekpili music Morocco is known for introducing certain elements. “I was the first person to introduce the guitar into the genre, the keyboard, and the first to use microphone to sing in Ekpili music. I was the first Ekpili musician to perform outside the shores of Nigeria.

I have performed in the United States, London, South Africa and Malaysia. And by next March, I will perform in London and Hong Kong.”

As a veteran in the music industry, he has groomed many and his influence rubbed off on some budding acts in the Ekpili genre. Some go by his name, “We have Morocco Junior, Francis by name; he is from Anam, popularly known as Nwa Morocco. There is Young Morocco, from my hometown, Ukwulu. There is also Morocco Mbaise. He does my music but with a touch of highlife. We also have Morocco Agwu in Enugu State. So, you can see, we have lots of Moroccos.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. UMUNNAKWE KEVIN OGEMDI PROMISE

    June 3, 2020 at 10:36 am

    Having read about a mentor and an extra ordinary man who has broken the records to possibly position “Ekpili Music”to the higher order… They call me Morocco junior… is what am known to be and his life story reflects on my ongoing life juorney… “ALLOWANCE” is my stage name…A name that came from my football life via My regular say as a goal keeper and magnetic catching of the ball which made me Allowance till tomorrow… coincidentally, my house was the first place he visited in Awo-omamma Oru East LGA Imo State. Precisely in 2006.

    I made bold to tell you that am another person of his kind from the Igbo Ekpili Music… Always keeping his name and making myself popular in the field too. I love and respects him till tomorrow. Nobody sings MOROCCO MADUKA like ALLOWANCE UMUNNAKWE except MOROCCO MADUKA himself…Put me in contest for any track of this my mentor. Finally, quote me that I said that.

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