Highlife music icon, Godwin Opara popularly known as Kabaka, who broke a two-decade silence with the release of his acclaimed “Abialam” album in September 2023, is dead. He was aged 77.

Derda Promotions, the management team, confirmed the death of the music icon, who spearheaded and transformed the realm of highlife music on Thursday.

The Chief Operating Officer of Derda Promotions, Amarachi Anyanwu, disclosed this in a statement released on Friday morning.

The statement read, “Derda Promotions is deeply saddened to announce the passing of our esteemed artist, Godwin Kabaka Opara, an icon who pioneered and revolutionised Highlife music, on March 21st, 2024.”

His death comes barely six months after his return to the highlife music scene.

Kabaka was not only a gifted highlife artist but also a renowned songwriter and guitarist whose melodies resonated deeply with legions of admirers.

In 1973, he co-established The Oriental Brothers International Band, a Highlife force celebrated for its socially conscious lyrics, musical prowess, and authentic sound that captivated audiences across Africa and beyond.

Kabaka began his solo career in 1976, when he formed The Kabaka International Guitar Band. He continued to make high-quality Highlife music, releasing fourteen albums and producing successes such as ‘Mangala Special’.

Displaying his versatility and creativity, Kabaka delved into Ezebongo rhythms, pushing the boundaries of musical expression. Subsequently, he collaborated with The Imo City Band, solidifying his legacy as an indomitable Highlife luminary.

His comeback in September 2023, marked by the release of the album ‘The Return of Kabaka’, garnered over a million streams and secured a place among the top 100 albums worldwide.