Late high-life musician and guitarist, Oliver de Coque, real name Sunday Akanite, spent N30,000 weekly to take care of his signature beard. This was revealed by one of his 12 children, Darlington, in a new interview. Enjoy the excerpts:
What was it like growing up with your father?
It was awesome. My siblings and I didn’t see him as a famous figure. He was a normal, caring, jovial and loving dad to us.
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How did he come up with the name, ‘Oliver De Coque’?
His other name is Oliver. But while growing up, he was popularly called the Game Master. This is because he was good at the game of draft. Draft in Igbo language is ‘Okwe.’ People began to call him Oliver di ka okwe. He then changed the name to sound more like a French name that was how he came up with Oliver De Coque.
Would he have loved to change anything about himself?
I think his flamboyant lifestyle. He always said he wasn’t proud of some of the financial decisions he made.
What were those things he liked to splurge on?
He loved to buy clothes. He spent a lot of money maintaining his looks. In fact, he spent N30,000 on his beard weekly. It may sound funny but taking care of his beard alone cost him N30,000. He went to his salon twice a week. He always said his beard was his signature look. He said if someone decided to keep beard, it was right to maintain it.
What led to his death?
He fell ill at the end of year 2007. He was diabetic and hypertensive. I believe most artistes don’t like to disclose their health challenge. I think that mentality is wrong. I feel if he had disclosed his health challenge, he would have gotten help quick. He was ill for three months. He then recovered in February 2008 and began to go for shows. He died on June 20 but he had planned to travel to the US on July 2 for checkup.
It was as if he knew he was going to die because on the day he died, he decided not to go out and he wanted me to stay by his side. That morning, after he had his breakfast, he began to feel ill. He said he was going to cancel his appointment for that day. I didn’t know it was a serious matter; all I did was to console him. I went to the bathroom to take a shower and then told him that I wanted to visit a few friends.
He begged me not to leave his side; I became upset. I thought he was depriving me of catching fun. I grudgingly stayed back. While I was with him, he began to tell me the story of how he started his career. While talking, he complained of not breathing well. He then decided to go to the hospital. On our way to the hospital, he called the driver to increase the temperature of the air conditioner; he said he was feeling hot. I became scared when he began to shout ‘wheelbarrow! wheelbarrow! ‘Darlington, please bring a wheelbarrow.’ I was wondering what was happening. It was after he died I realised he was referring to a wheel chair.
What did he need a wheelchair for?
I think he was becoming paralysed and unconscious. When we got to the hospital, he was rushed to the emergency ward. Throughout his time at the hospital, he kept begging me to save him but there was nothing I could have done. Before he died, he held my hand close to his side and took his last breathe. I closed his eyes and kissed him on the forehead. I was so confused about all that happened.
I told him to make his health condition public. I believe more than 200 Igbo people can lay their life down for him. He is gone and the vacuum he left can’t be filled. It is a lesson for us all, whenever one is facing a challenge, one shouldn’t keep quiet about it. I want people to learn from his death.
How many children did your father have?
We are 12; seven boys and five girls.
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