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Chido @50: When the book reads like its cover

Chido @50: When the book reads like its cover
July 31
16:56 2014

By James Eze

In the world of Masters of Ceremonies (MCs), Chido Obidiegwu towers above his peers like zuma rock over the low plains of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.

From his lush silver hair and well-sculpted face to his deep voice that rumbles like rain-bearing thunder in the middle of July, Chido wears charisma like an Arabian musk – thick, persistent and nostalgic.Chido is set aside. And it is an act of God!

There is hardly a gathering of the human community where Chido’s striking looks and forceful personality will go unnoticed. And his choice of event-anchoring as the field to invest his incredible energy and talent couldn’t have been influenced in any sphere lower than heaven.

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Although Chido naturally comes with a combustible personality, with the microphone in his hand, a new dimension is instantly added to his profile; he transforms into a sweet mass of spell-binding speaker, evoking the memories of Soul Train’s Don Corlenius, the iconic showbiz impresario of the 20th Century.

Like a bee to the scent of nectar, Chidolue Obidiegwu has been fatally attracted to events and social engagements right from his high school days at the highly-regarded St Theresa’s Nsukka. A passion that began with the block parties he hosted with his bunch of rascally high school friends soon snowballed into a flaming passion at the University of Benin where every successful event had the print of his infectious touch.

Chido’s luminous personality stretched across the Niger to light up the University of Benin where he studied and the University town of Nsukka where his parents lived. He had a cult following on both campuses where nubile young women were smitten by his guttural voice and rippling body while young men sulked in envy. There was no off-season for him as life felt the same regardless of school holidays. Campus parties, pageants and cultural shows were not quite the same without him as he shuttled between ancient Benin and ethereal Nsukka. Most students at Nsukka were unaware that he was not one of them until he finally returned to the campus for his Master’s degree in Mass Communication after bagging a Bachelor’s in History from the University of Benin.

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Recalling one of the memorable events in his time at Nsukka, Chido laughed at his blunt refusal to admit Nigeria’s most memorable pop king of the 80s into the venue of one of the parties on campus. “I was the bouncer on that day. I had been working out for a while and built up some muscles. He was famous at the time after the release of his debut album which had the hit-song, I Need Someone. I heard that he was coming to the party and I waited at the gate. He arrived, dressed in his trademark leather jacket and jeans but I turned him back. I asked him, “Were you invited to this party?”  He said, “I am Chris Okotie!” And I asked him, “So what?” he recalled, doubling over with laughter.

We were in a car, blazing down the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway. Although we had been friends for a while, I was just getting to know him better, observing him away from the stage and the quizzical look of others who see him as the silver-haired bombast whose long sounding words make the locals scream “supu! Supu!” when he is compering events in south-eastern Nigeria.

“I consciously developed that style,” he said of his trademark bombastic approach to MC-ing, a crooked smile playing at the corners of his mouth. I had wanted to interrogate his style for some time but I worried how he would receive it. I had often felt that there were times when simpler words conveyed greater lucidity.

“I purposely wove that into my style because I consider it very important that I should also entertain the audience when I am performing,” he explained.

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“It was my late mentor, the accomplished MC, Ikenna Ndaguba who taught me the trick. He advised that I should develop a style that would mark me out. So, I had to find a way to entertain the audience while at the same time doing my job. I am not worried if I sound bombastic. I am comfortable with it.”


Bombastic or not, Chido’s style has kept clients queuing up for his service for about 20 years now. And perhaps more importantly, he owes his current appointment as the special assistant to the governor of Anambra state on events to his trademark style. In fact, since his appointment, the Okija-born but Nsukka-raised maestro has become the life of every event in Anambra state. Looking polished with his silver hair and bespoke senator suits, Chido always wows the crowd, dropping high-sounding words that are reminiscent of the oratorical effusions of politicians of the First Republic and often times, swiftly switching to Igbo language to connect with the rural folks.

Perhaps it is plain naïve to expect anything less from Chido, who packs diverse experiences in broadcasting, integrated marketing communications, network marketing and corporate social responsibility. But even so, it is doubtful if any MC on this part of the planet ever puts in as much effort into their preparation for an event as Chido does. A thorough professional, Chido usually asks for a comprehensive brief on an event before taking on the job. Naturally, a general idea of the likely guests to be expected at the event features prominently in this due diligence. Thereafter, he spends a great deal of time researching and reading up on the subject matter as well as the prospective guests. Through this method, he gains a remarkable insight on the entire event that usually comes in handy when he is behind the microphone.

Like many people who were built for the stage, Chido is probably happiest when with the mic in his hand. His face suddenly acquires an indescribable glow when the liquid rumble of his voice ripples through the loudspeakers. At such moments, he transforms into the master of his own universe, orbiting a planet that is known to him alone. At such moments too, he hates to be distracted, no matter what the matter is.

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Off the stage, Chido is no less enthusiastic about life. He likes to be among friends, downing a bottle of Hero beer, popularly known as O mpa in Anambra and the sister states of the southeast. Two Heroes down, you could hear his booming laughter like a clap of thunder. Chido is so gregarious that he can hardly drink a glass of water without friends. He is compassionate and a friend to lean on when the blue skies are gone.

But if you are Chido Obidiegwu’s friend, you will probably find him too blunt at times. He is not one to swallow his grief in silence or whimper in the corner weighed down by unexpressed grudge. Chido shoots from the heap. He feels things with passionate intensity and close friends have often been at the receiving end of his flaring temper once he is rubbed the wrong way.

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At 50, Chido is increasingly beginning to look like the archetypal Igbo man, reminding us of the unforgettable image of Okonkwo that Chinua Achebe hewed out of his matchless imagination in Things Fall Apart – bold, brusque, successful, war-like and irrepressible. A fine figure of man! As he turns 50 on Thursday, July 31, 2014, what more can I say to this massive man that cuts the image of a great character out of a storybook but “Happy birthday”?

Eze can be reached on [email protected]

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