Sung in Pidgin English, “Sweet Mother” is one of the top sellers in the history of Nigerian and African music. Here are some interesting facts about this hit and the talented artist – Prince Nico Mbarga.
- Prince Nico Mbarga born in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State Nigeria in 1950 to a Nigerian mother and a Camerounian Father.
- He started by playing the xylophone, conga, drums, and electric guitar in his secondary school bands.
- He formed his own group, Rocafil Jazz in 1970 at when he was 20 years old and performed regularly at the Plaza Hotel in the eastern Nigerian city of Onitsha.
- ‘Sweet Mother’ is classified under a genre called “Igbo Highlife” (Osita Osadebe is an associated act) with Congolese Soukous-style guitar finger-picking.
- The demo-tape of “Sweet Mother” was turned down by EMI in 1974, citing the song’s “childish appeal.” “Sweet Mother” was later also rejected by Decca Records and Philips Records. He never gave up.
- ‘Sweet Mother’ was eventually released in December, 1976, by Rogers All Stars, a Nigerian recording company based in Onitsha.
- It went on to become one of the most popular hits in Africa, selling over 13 million copies.
- It has remained evergreen and often times called Africa’s anthem.
- It was voted Africa’s favourite song by BBC readers and listeners in 2004.
- Mbarga and the original members of Rocafil Jazz separated after some disagreements.
- His ban member Louisa Tilda released a later version.
- In his later years, he left music he turned his attention to managing the 4-star hotel that he owned, the Sweet Mother Hotel, located in the town of Ikom just minutes away from the Cameroon-Nigeria border.
- Prince Nico Mbarga was killed in a motorcycle accident on June 24, 1997, leaving behind “Sweet Mother” as the most popular song amongst Nigerians.
His legacy and the contribution to move naija remains. Stop asking what Nigeria can do for you, but
what you can do to #MoveNaija