Oliver de Coque – Nigeria’s Highlife Legend Gets a Google Doodle on His 74th Birth Anniversary

Today, Google is celebrating the 74th birthday of a Nigerian guitarist through a special animated doodle. Known as Oliver de Coque, Oliver Sunday Akanite, Crowned the “Highlife King of Africa,” he is widely revered as one of the continent’s most prolific recording artist.

Celebrating the legendary man’s 74th birthday, the Google doodle features a sketch of Oliver de Coque which was design by Lagos-based guest artist Ohab TBJ.

Born on this day in 1947 in the small town of Ezinifite in southeastern Nigeria, Oliver Sunday Akanite first took up the guitar at a young age, and as a teenager, studied the traditional Igbo music of the region and Congolese soukous. In 1970, at a performance by the popular Sunny Agaga and his Lucky Star Band, Akanite convinced Sunny to let him stand in as their guitarist; he was hired on the spot, providing a massive boost to his young career. Also a skilled player of the Nigerian board game okwe, Akanite became known as “Oliver de ka Okwe,” which he later adapted into his stage name, Oliver de Coque, the description on Google Doodle’s website reads.

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Oliver De Coque broadly implanted the modern West African highlife genre with a Congolese-impacted guitar style and the vigorous dance elements of Igbo music he grew up with, creating an extraordinary musical style.

Since releasing Oliver De Coque’s debut album Messiah in 1977, Coque had recorded no less than 93 albums in his country.

His dance-inspiring ‘Ogene” style of Nigerian high life, which mixes modern high life and traditional Igbo music, has produced such hits as “People’s Club of Nigeria”, “nempi social club”, “Biri Ka Mbiri,” “Ana Enwe,” “Nnukwu Mmanwu,” and “Identity,” which stayed on Radio Nigeria 2’s Top Ten all through most of 1981.

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Starting with Oliver De Coque’s first solo release in 1976, de Coque’s music just filled in prominence at home and abroad, as he put out a great many albums including his awesome guitar work and new interpretation of African pop more than 70 all through his lifetime.

In 1994, in acknowledgment of his massive music achievement, Oliver De Coque was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by the University of New Orleans.

Oliver De Coque is likewise considered the most flamboyant Igbo musician. Attracting international consideration with a London performance in 1973, he played on Prince Nico Mbarga’s album Sweet Mother four years later.

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Oliver de Coque died at the age of 61 on June 20, 2008.

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