From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Friends, relations and the Catholic faithful gathered on January 9 at St Benignus Catholic Church, Ihitte Isi-Mbieri in the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri to honor the late Charles Amaeze Obineche, a composer of Christian music who died on November 29, 1990.
He was honored with a commemorative plaque, an album of some of his songs, and a rendition of his songs, which was adopted only for Mass. The late Obineche composed over 200 religious and secular songs during his lifetime. The church’s auditorium with an estimated capacity of 5,000 was packed to the brim as several speakers took turns to eulogize him. The priest who officiated, the Very Reverend Father Kylian Eke, expressed in his homily a joy tinged with surprise that even those not born in his time have spearheaded the quest to honor him. He said: “There are so many lessons to be learned from this event.” He extolled the virtues of the deceased describing him as a true model for the church and the community. He said most of the songs sung during the blessings were composed by the late Obineche.
“Our beloved late brother was a devoted Christian who worshiped God with his talent. His service through his songs was selfless. He congratulated everyone associated with the event, adding that kindness will always prevail no matter how long.
The event brought back memories of the past and nostalgia among the many worshipers. The album titled “Agam Eto gi” (I Will Praise You) was performed to the delight of the audience with much applause and material appreciation.
He also collected the Responsorial Psalms of the Catholic Church, which today has enabled St. Benignus Catholic Church to go down in history as having the finest psalmist choir in the Archdiocese of Owerri and even in the -of the.
Those who know him well have said that his love for music began at a very tender age, throughout his days as a teacher in primary and secondary schools. He was born on June 6, 1926 in the family of the late Mr. and Mrs. Pius Obineche at Umuoromodo, Umunjam Mbieri in the Archdiocese of Owerri.
President of St. Benignus Choir, Mr. Ezechi Chibundu, said Obineche’s popularity in music became widely known in the 1970s when he single-handedly formed St. Ben’s Choir.
“The performance of this choir took him to places in the Archdiocese of Owerri where they were used as a sample choir for the teaching of choice pieces for the competition, in particular songs composed by him.
Ezechi further stated that “In 1981 his work, ‘Missa obi di Aso’ was adopted as the centerpiece of the Archdiocese of Owerri Music Competition. This qualified him as the first RC Omeaku Cup winner for Composer of the Year. Although our church choir was not allowed to participate, we were introduced as a demonstration choir.
He also informed that the late Obineche’s interest in teaching songs was not limited to his church and his groups, but extended beyond other parishes.
“For example, he led St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Ohi to win the Diocesan Cup in 1976, Mbieri Parish and Mary League Girls to win the Diocesan Cup in 1987, among others.”
With all this, he says, the church decided to immortalize the legendary composer and choirmaster. Ezechi added: “With his passing in 1990, the choir has worked hard to immortalize his name, to ensure that the legacy he left does not erode over time. It took three months to anonymous members of the choir to develop the scenario of the songs ready for the choristers of the new generation.
Receiving the posthumous award on behalf of his late father, his first son, Mr. Chidi Obineche, Special Investigations Editor, The Sun Publishing Company Limited, thanked the church for remembering his father after more than three decades.
“He was a great man, songwriter, teacher. We miss him sorely. We miss his intelligence, his advice, his dedication to his work and his ideals of life. What is playing here today is a refutation of some of his legacies. When he died at a time when we were young and still groping for a foothold in life, it was devastating. But anguish, we endured. I remember vividly that his alive, some people approached him to use his talent and services for commercial purposes. He rebuffed them, reminding them that God had given him the talent for free, and that he would freely deploy it to praise and to serve. Such an inclination to depth is rare to find today.
“I’m so happy and proud of him. That’s why I said I would be there physically to receive the award. Her Honor Award today taught me that whatever you do in life, you will be remembered for it, good or bad, if not today, then definitely tomorrow. We children will not forget the sacrifices and love that carried this posthumous honor,” Obineche said.