Celestine Ukwu

No Condition Is Permanent

Mississippi • 2022

»No Condition Is Permanent«, nothing has to stay as it is. The title of this compilation can primarily be regarded as an indirect call for initiative with the goal of change, but also as a warning that no state of affairs can be relied upon to be assured for all time. The Nigerian musician Celestine Ukwu, whose music is available to discover under this heading in a selection from three of his albums from the years 1971 to 1974, might have meant it in both senses. He called one of his records »Tomorrow Is So Uncertain« and sang about the transience of life. At the same time, he found clear words against the hatred shown by his enemies and took a clearly pacifist position. At the time, his band was called His Philosophers National, which suits the music perfectly. His highlife style presented here does not feature energetic dance tempos or soul muscle work, but an introspective peacefulness that relies on complex Afro-Cuban rhythms accompanied by a steady pulse. Nevertheless, the danger of overlooking the merits of Celestine Ukwu’s music is fairly limited. In his case, the cleverly woven fabric may unconsciously induce hypnosis, so that transfixed without coercion, you simply have to listen because you want to. Incidentally, the title »No Condition Is Permanent« has a bitter note: In 1977, Ukwu, born in 1940, died in a car accident.