Ghana-based Cameroonian chromatic xylophone virtuoso, Obase-Aboli Namolongo is a contemporary pan-African singer, songwriter, composer and entertainer brandishing his soothing traditional percussion instrument, the “Double 22 keys”.
He started out from childhood, although he was more of a footballer than a singer, according to the artist, “Unlike a lot of musicians, I was not born into a family of music makers.” Obase-Aboli, as he is popularly called, attended Bishop Rogan Minor Seminary in Buea, Southwest Region of Cameroon where he was introduced to the arts and classical music.
In his fourth year, he discovered the xylophone and became obsessed with the musical instrument. In a short period, Obase-Aboli became the number one xylophonist in the school and music prefect for the remaining part of his studies. It was during this time he composed his first classical piece and got his first musical award for best conductor in an all catholic schools choral competition in the region.
While at the university of Buea, Obase-Aboli expanded his choral/classical music prowess and acted as music director for several choirs. Apart from the xylophone, he plays the acoustic guitar, piano, the Atentebe and other African percussion instruments.
Obase-Aboli has worked with Salif Keita, Lassana Diabate, Les Ambasadeur du Hotel Bamako, the Kronos Quartet, Just a Band from Kenya, Amboley Jedu Blay, Bessa Simons, Aka Blay from Ghana and several other artists. He revealed to eyesofalagosboy.com, “Music has been and is even more at this time a great tool for change in our continent and the world at large. Our music is the new gold and oil business of Africa. Above all, it is one thing that we have as a continent that can never be taken from us. Let’s cherish it and treat it as such.”
In 2015 Obase-Aboli moved to Abu Dhabi where he got the opportunity to take an introductory course in Jazz at the New York University Abu Dhabi. This started a new affair and interest in jazz music in which he immersed himself. He was a member of the Blue Fever Jazz A Capella and the Abu Dhabi National Symphony Orchestra. During Obase-Aboli’s time in Abu Dhabi, he was also invited to play percussion at the 2015 National Autism Day. He plays jazz along side several genres of music from the African continent including Amekoko, Makosa, Agbadja, Rhumba and many more.
Obase-Aboli’s ambition to exploit African rhythms took him to Ghana in 2016 where he has been experimenting with Ghanaian highlife and other African genres of music. He said, “I chose Ghana after reading that Fela Kuti spent some time there.” He would also like to work with Femi Kuti, Richard Bona, Lionel Loueke, Petit Pays, Charlotte Dipanda and Yemi Alade.
On coping with COVID-19 which has negatively affected lives this year, Obase-Aboli has this to say, “Aside music, I have always kept a job. Right now I work as a marketing manager for a communications outfit. I have a background in aviation, sociology and anthropology. Plus teaching piano, percussion and xylophone.”
In May 2017,Obase-Aboli released his first album titled Etapo. ‘Elaka Oboso’ (Move on), released last August, is the third single this year to his second upcoming album, Ujhasuma Africa slated to be released mid 2021.