Agbo Benedict Nwabugwu
University of Nigeria
Sam Kenneth Iheanyi Chukwu was born on the fourth day of June in the year 1955, at the Catering Rest House, in Kaduna where his parents resided (an environment now turned into Hamdala Hotels, Kaduna). He attended St. Joseph’s Primary School, Kaduna (a school close to Kaduna main market). At the very commencement of the Nigerian-Biafran civil disorder, Sam and his siblings were forced to leave Kaduna and returned to the East (Igbo land), due to the Araba episode in Kaduna. His parents, Nze Innocent and Lolo Grace finally returned and sojourned in Nsukka in 1966. From 1967 to 1970, the little Sam experienced a war ever imagined, and had to play his own little contribution. He survived the war and returned to Nsukka in the year 1970 with his parents. Sam was a post-war ‘secondarian’ - a student of St. Theresa’s College, Nsukka (from 1970 to 1973). As a young student, he was an entertainer and a sprinter and footballer. He was very popular in the school that even the Principal noticed his popularity as a bright scholar and an entertainer, and his principal then, decided to single him out jealously for unnecessary punishments. This and some other oppressive issues led to the young Sam’s abandonment of his schooling in Nsukka and joined. Between 1973 to 1974, he decided on his own, to leave school and became an apprentice to Atomic 8 of Aba, a resident dance-band that came to the University Motel, Nsukka to carry out a project for Dr. Meki Nzewi of the Department of Music, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Sam Chukwu admired the bassist of the band and pleaded with the bassist to understudy him. He took lessons on bass guitar for almost 8 months, as well as joining the band during rehearsals. Dr. Meki Nzewi discovered that Sam was a good drummer (even though he was a young player), permitted him to play Kongas (3-in-1) membrane drums for the band. But this did not last. Sam, on seeing that his classmates in the secondary school were moving to higher classes, he pleaded with and requested parents to allow him go back to school. His parents obliged him and he went back to Kaduna in 1974. He was admitted as a Class 3 student of Government Secondary School, Fadan Kaje, Zonkwa in Kaduna State. As a footballer, the school authorities discovered his footballing and sprinting skills and the Principal of the School, Rev. Fr. Haverty and the School’s games master, Rev. Fr. Waters, took him as their pet boy and propped him up to become the school star footballer and sprinter. In 1976, he took his West African School Certificate Exams, and came out with flying colors. Between 1976 and 1977, Sam Cee worked at the Registrar’s Department of the University of Nigeria, as a clerk. As a pioneer Jambite, Sam was successful to gain admission into the Department of Music. From 1978 to 1982, he was so known as a proficient drummer/singer in Music Department which exposed his personality/popularity to every Staff and Students of the University environment. His showmanship was enormous that he became “the people’s man”. Sam Cee’s popularity did not stop there. As soon as he went for his youth service in 1983, at the College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti, Ondo State, he popularized the Department of Music, exposing the students to Radio and Television programmes, with his professional skills, that at the expiration of the youth service, he acknowledged with a prize from the Provost of the College. Back from the youth service in 1984, Sam Cee (as popularly known and called) refused to do any white-colar job. He decided to be on his own, until Dr. Meki Nzewi introduced him to the Imo State government to take up the challenge, (along with some other great artistes like Sam Ojukwu, James Iroha, Giringory (of the Masquerade fame), and Orville Johnson, a Black American dancer/choreographer, from University of Calabar), to interview artistes and recruit them for the new Performing Arts Division (PAD) of the Imo State Council for Arts and Culture (ISCAC). After the recruitment exercise, Sam Cee was employed as the Deputy Director of PAD and Head of the Music Unit, under the Directorship of Rev. Fr. Anozie. This was short lived though, as his services were urgently needed in the school system to teach and develop students in Musical Instrument Technology, Performance and Music Education. In that same year (precisely in November 1st1985), Sam Chukwu was employed in the Department of Music, College of Education Nsugbe, Anambra State, where he rose to the Rank of Lecturer 1, and became the Head of Department from 1993 to 1995. As an active staff of the Department and of the institutuion, Sam Cee organized a group called “NSUPET” (Nsugbe Performing Troupe) which toured round Anambra State and beyond with Choral Music, Choreographed dances and Operas, from 1987 to 1996. It became a popular troupe that individuals/organizations would like to invite at occasions. Yet, as a staff of the Department of Music, Sam Cee was a strong member of the Performing Musician’s Employer’s Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Anambra State Chapter. He was so active that he was given certain responsibilities as a Musician-Lecturer. From 1983 to 1996, Sam Cee became the Chairman, Anambra State Chapter of the Performing Musicians’ Employer’s Association of Nigeria (PMAN)after serving the association in different capacities; as Welfare Officer and as Secretary of the State Chapter of PMAN. In 1996, Sam Cee desired a change of environment and experience. He was employed as a Staff of the Department of Music, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as a Senior Tutor 1. After his Master’s programme in 1999, he was converted to the lecturership cadre. Yet, as a lecturer, Sam Cee did not abandon his performance skills, he had a very famous dance band in Nsukka called “The Professionals Band”, to cater for the social entertainment needs of Nsukka community. This band later metamorphosed to the “Ojemba Professionals Band”. However, this band finally became the training ground for youths in Nsukka, who, as of today, most members have developed and have proudly owned their personal groups. Highlife music, especially Old school tunes, became popularized in Nsukka and Enugu State. Every hardworking, good person is an example to the youths. You have to practice what you preach. That is Sam Cee’s philosophy. In 2007, he bagged his PhD in Ethnomusicology from the Department of Music, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka in Anambra State. Dr.Sam Chukwu is an ethnomusicologist/performer with twenty-five (sole and co-directed) albums; author of three books; a former Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts, and a former Head, Department of Music, University of Nigeria, with specialty in ethnomusicology, musical instrument technology and performance. Sam Chukwu has travelled nationally and internationally, researching on other musical cultures, presenting scholarly papers as well as organizing workshops. His taxonomical study on traditional Igbo musical instruments (his PhD Dissertation) and his new theory of Research Retrieval Strategy (RRS), which he co-authored with Dr. Alvan-Ikoku Nwamara; as well as his sole-authored book on African Membrane Drum; its Performance and notational system, are currently in the front burner of musical science in Africa. As a biographer, Dr. Sam Chukwu co-authored the book, Braving the Stars (The Biography of Prof. P.N. Okeke - a famous Nigerian Space scientist and a Professor of Physics) with Jeff Unaegbu a Cinematographer of the Institute of African Studies, UNN. Currently,they are both working on the biography of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu (Ahaejiagamba Ndigbo) - a renowned Nigerian politician, a great business giant and a successful Civil Engineer. And the biography of Chief Chukwuma Bamidele Azikiwe, Owelle of Onitsha titles “The Exclusive Breathe”, co-authored with Dr. Nnanna Arukwe a Senior Lecturer of the Department of Sociology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. All these shall be presented to the public as soon as possible. In addition to these achievements, Dr. Sam Cee has produced some musical video albums for other clients, and has produced some audio albums titled, The African Child (2005); The Giant Awakes (2007), for the Department of Music UNN); The First ever musical Concert of Ten Lessons & Carols, for the Dept. of Music, UNN (2012); Co-directed a film documentary on PN Okeke,a famous space scientist & Professor of Physics (2013); Executive Director/Arranger of a 9-track musical album titled “Faculty of Arts University of Nigeria, Nsukka mourns Prof. Albert Chinua Achebe”(2013); Dr. Sam K. I. Chukwu (a.k.a. Meister Sam Cee) hails from Ndi-owerre, Umuezegwu in Ihitte-Uboma Local government Area of Imo State. He is currently the Deputy State Coordinator (DSC), Special Marshals & Partnership (SMP), Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), RS9.1, Enugu State Command (from 2011 till date). He is married with the Lord’s gift of five children.
African musicology, Instrumental music technology, Musical acoustics & Performance