17 Aug 2022



The great philosopher and musical genius lives on....

'Great son of Aboh Ngwo,Udi Local Government Area of Enugu state Nigeria. Philosopher Celestine Onwura Ukwu who died on 8th of May 1977, as he was returning from music show in Enamel Onitsha,Anambra State Nigeria with his band leader Alexander Nwobodo. May their souls rest in the bosom of the Lord Amen.' -Reuben Obi

Prof. D
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
'Music of the year by me'

5.0 out of 5 stars an early sunset
'A masterpiece. Celestine Ukwu, at a tender age, understood life. He was blessed, and definitely had the right message for mankind from GOD. May his young soul continue to rest with GOD. LISTEN TO THIS SOULFUL MUSIC AND ENJOY. Get a friend to interprete the language, if needed.'

'Nigerian bandleader Celestine Obiakor (aka Celestine Ukwu) was a 1960's highlife pioneer who played a laid-back style of guitar music that harkened back to early music from the 1940s and '50s... And yet he was also an innovator, introducing the pedal steel into his sound several years before King Sunny Ade made it the cornerstone of his own "juju" music. This delicious collection draws from two albums by his 1970's band, The Philosophers, 1971's True Philosophy and Ilo Abu Chi, from 1974, an album that included his gentle, enchanting "Igede (Pt. 1)." This isn't really a "greatest hits" collection, though, and I'm sure many music fans would welcome a proper retrospective of his work... Ukwu recorded numerous tracks before the Biafran war of independence (an event that sidelined his career in the late '60s) and like many African artists, his discography is packed with singles-only releases that beg for someone to collect and reissue them. If you give this sly, gentle set a good listen, I'm sure you'll agree.' -slipcue.com

'He was an Igbo musician, songwriter, bandleader, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, multi-linguist, philosopher, poet, music-mentor, etc. He was born in Enugu, Eastern Nigeria in 1940. In 1966, at the age of 26, he started his band “Celestine Ukwu & His Music Royals of Nigeria” which later became “Celestine Ukwu & His Philosophers National”. He quickly became a household name in Nigerian and African Highlife music arena. 

Despite his meteoric rise and popularity he never sought the limelight. Very disciplined, he never smoked nor drank alcohol. He was humble and treated all members of his band with utmost respect, always acknowledging and praising their contributions. 

His work ethic was phenomenal. Even though he was active for only about 10 years as a musician before his tragic death on May 8, 1977 from a motor-vehicle accident at the tender age of 37; he left an amazing collection of euphonious, delightful, awe-inspiring, evergreen, classic and philosophical songs for us to enjoy for generations to come. He was ahead of his time in terms of music talent and prowess. His compositions, arrangements and lyrics attest to this. Even though he released many songs in a short period of time he still maintained his high standards in terms of the quality of his songs.
On top of all these he was blessed with a rich and soulful voice which enabled him drive home the philosophical content of his songs. He sang fluently in Igbo, Efik and English languages. He played the maraca, xylophone and various percussion instruments. Shortly after the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war in 1967 he released a song entitled “Hail Biafra”. It was so good that there was a popular demand for it to be adopted as the Biafran National Anthem. 
Just before his death he had processed travel documents to embark on a grand music tour abroad. This was shortly after his traditional marriage. As we enjoy his music and appreciate his legacy, let’s ponder on the philosophical content of his songs and celebrate his life on earth. Another positive update: His daughter, who was conceived before his death, is now a Barrister and Solicitor. God will continue to bless her.' -Chuks Chuks

Celestine Ukwu – Greatest Hits

Label: Flame Tree – FLTRCD532
Series: African Classics
Format: CD, Compilation
Country: UK
Released: 1997
Style: Highlife

1. Ije Enu (Life) 4:02
2. Osondu (Escape from Death) 4:06
3. Ejina Uwa Nya Isi (Don't Be Arrogant) 5:58
4. Igbo Abuchi (Destiny) 5:53
5. Uwem Eber Mbot EMI (No Rest Till Death) 6:04
6. Nwa Anyi Egbuna Anyi (We Should Not Kill Ourselves) 6:01
7. Okwukwe Na Nchekwube (Faith and Trust) 6:17
8. Elege (A Slang) 4:32
9. Igede 4:03
10. Onwunwa (Temptation) 5:01
11. Ife Si Na Chi (Gift from God) 5:07

Incl. scans