Chief Mike Ejeagha, the legendary Igbo language minstrel music maestro is 90 years old. He took the centre stage with his special musical genre, mainly of tales by moonlight kind of music for over 40 years shortly after the Civil War, across the South-East zone and beyond. Now, age has caught up with Gentleman and he could no longer do what he knows best.
And of course, age took a fortune out of his resources; resources he was able to garner in his active years. However, with the support of his children especially his first son, Emmanuel, hopes of living longer are fortified in the past decade since he could no longer reel out live performances.
His state of health became issue of public interest during the heat of the 2019 heneral elections when the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State, Sen. Ayogu Eze visited the Gentleman at his Abakpa Nike, Enugu residence. Syphilis had promised that once APC takes over seat of government in Enugu, he will immediately put together n enduring welfare package for elder statemen like him, whose fame brought honour to Enugu and beyond.
Hardly had Sen. Eze left Ejeagha’s residence than Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi landed at the residence with his campaign team. He promised automatic health care and welfare package to sustain the music mastero.
Sadly, all those were mere political talk. According to his family members, “since after they made political show of our father, we have not seen anybody, nor heard from the state governor anymore. That was the end of the razzmatazz. You know everything evil is wrapped in politics and so, all those things you heard, fizzled off immediately they left this compound”.
The AUTHORITY, desirous of finding out what happened thereafter, met the Gentleman, Chief Ejeagha at his residence over the weekend, but due to his frail nature, he was unwilling to interact with anybody. From the corridor of his one storey building where he sat, he sighted THE AUTHORITY Reporter, humbly responded to greetings and ended the discussion.
He was so angry that he rejected pleas to make one or two sentences on his current state of health and if the state government fulfilled the promise to support him.
Chief Ejeagha simply said he is not disposed to engage in any further discussion.
However, efforts to speak with his children or next of kin paid off. His first son, Mr. Emmanuel Ejeagha, in a telephone conversation, told our reporter that his father was unable to take my questions because he is still mourning the death of his wife, who passed on six months ago. He said it was just recently that Ejeagha returned from Imezi-Owa, his home town, as the customs demanded.
But, he accepted that the Enugu State Government did not completely abandon their father as they kept the promise of refund of his medical bills whenever he visits physicians at the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUTH), Parkland, Enugu.
While the family still waits for upkeep package from the governor, the other promise to upgrade the road to his Abakpa Nike residence and even handing over palliatives for the upkeep of the elderstatesman within this period of COVID-19 pandemic are still being awaited.
Explaining that it has been tough since the Gentleman Mike Ejeagha Musical Band, which he is currently leading halted live performance due to the Covid-19 lockdown it has been tough for the famy.
He disclosed that under normal circumstances, after every performance, they send across some token for their father’s upkeep.
Emmanuel told THE AUTHORITY that their family had planned to celebrate Chief Ejeagha in grand style during his 90th birthday, but the death of their matriach disrupted the plans. While Chief Ejeagha still mourns his wife the family plans to strategise on next line of action, afterwards.
As for the music Mastero, he relies on the philosophy of one of his popular numbers, IJE UWA BU MBE-MBE, meaning, living is but gradual process; not hustle and bustle as our folks would rather think in misjudged concept.