The name DJ Humility is now a household name particularly among the millions of party-loving youths throughout the length and breadth of this country and beyond. It is an established fact that many a time when the acronym “DJ” is mentioned, Humility readily comes to mind. Interestingly, very few know the very humble beginning of this now renowned DJ. Indeed many do not know the real name of this super-star! Who cares? So long as he rocks the party making us go “gaga” with a heavenly blend of the latest beats and sounds of all genres of music. This is DJ Humility’s unadulterated story as narrated to us by the man himself.
“From that moment on, the marriage of Benedict and music proved to be till death do us part! He was like a bullet waiting for the trigger to be pulled.”
Before now we all called him DJ Humility but his real name is Benedict Isimekwenuya Afagwu. He was born 33 years ago to a policeman father. Yes, he was born in the police barracks but please do not jump into conclusions. Contrary to what you may be thinking, Isimiekwenuya Afagwu had the strictest of moral upbringing as his father was a very committed Christian. In his own words, “Growing up, for me was a little bit calm. I was born and brought up in the barracks; Surulere Police Barracks in Lagos to be precise. We grew up in a Christian home. Despite the fact that my father was a police officer, he was also a strong Christian. As a result of his faith, we grew up having the fear of God”.
Amazingly, as a young lad, disc jockeying was the last thing on the mind of the now famous entertainer. “My career path was not certain when I was a little boy” he confessed. “I never knew what I actually wanted to become in the future. Believe me, I just found myself in the music setting.” It is hard to believe but he went on to admit that he was always musically inclined from the outset. He fiddled with rapping even as a boy of thirteen or so. He was president of his debating club in high school and soon after in 1995, at age 16, he won his first DJ championship competition.
Recalling those “prophetic” years when he began to get a grip of his bearing in life and his pent up passion for the entertainment industry, he said, “My source of inspiration was my late cousin, Happiness Ikegwu who taught me the lyrics of one popular song, Mr Lover Man.” From that moment on, the marriage of Benedict to music proved to be till death do us part! He was like a bullet waiting for the trigger to be pulled.
Sure enough, DJ Humility as a young lad was the type of child that many undiscerning parents would have grey hairs and wrinkles over. Being a music freak, after school (and sometimes long before school was over), you were sure to see him still clad in school uniform and all, going to studios of one DJ or the other practically as an apprentice of the DJ trade. There, he remained for the rest of the day or most of it trying to cut his first teeth in dee-jaying. He had a keen sense of destiny with this DJ thing!
Remarkably, the origin of the nickname Humility came from those embryonic days when Afagwu was still a teenager. Reminiscing, he told us, “The name Humility came from my late cousin (Happiness Ikegwu). He used to call me Humility in the village because I was indeed humble. When I was in JSS 3, one day, I just told my classmates that nobody should call me Afagwu anymore. I would rather be called Humility and before I knew what was happening, the name stuck with me.”
“…However disc jockeying should be accorded same respect as other professions like medicine, law, pharmacy, engineering… just name them!”
Consistently in 1994, he was the vice president of the interactive club in his school. After one of the shows, he met Larry B Fresh and said he wanted to learn disc Jockeying. Quoting him on that destiny shaping encounter, he said,“I asked him, ‘Can you put me through?’ That was how I started. After school hours, I would go straight to Larry B Fresh’s studio which was not far from DJ Stranborella’s studio. DJ Stranborella’s studio was just on the next street. All these happened way back then in Surulere (Lagos) and I attended this DJ training session in my school uniform. Stranbo frequently visited Larry B Fresh’s and always saw me, so I started helping him out and going to his studio as well. Officially, Stranborella was the first DJ that taught me how to mix”.
After an initial rigorous training from Stranbo, DJ Humility further trained on the various disc jockeying equipments, their usage and finally mastered the basics. While the school uniformed teenager disc jockeying apprentice of Stranborella was busy mingling with other DJs, fortune smiled on him one fateful day as his path crossed that of DJ Funky J. This was in 1994 and it was a pivotal turn around in Humility’s rising career. It was Funky J. that eventually gave him full training on the vacation.
He has attributed his ability to carve out a niche for himself in the industry to character. According to him, it is not how good one is ,technically or one’s creativity that matters but one’s character.“I think this is where i have an edge over many others,” he said. “If you look at it, Jimmy Jatt is successful because he’s a good person. Just check out the guys that are good at both singing and disc jockeying or check out most of the top ones, they all have one thing in common, character. They are all high flyers and its character that got them there”.
So far, since his debut in the industry, the journey has been interesting for DJ Humility-so much so that he wishes to continue in that path forever! “I like to do it forever; I want to be in the industry till I die.”
However, this humble DJ is the first to admit that there are many challenges still confronting disc jockeying in Africa. According to him, these challenges among others include lack of adequate equipments and modern musical facilities or gadgets to keep pace with modern trends, the high rate of illiteracy among DJs and would-be DJs which robs them of good communication skills as they lack good command of the English grammar. He also felt that chief among these challenges is the general negative attitude of the public who see DJs as misguided people and party fanatics that have nothing positive to do with their lives. In DJ Humility’s owns words, “People look down on DJs, especially in Africa. They look at the DJ profession as low, meant for outcasts, school drop outs and for the third class never-do-well folks…However disc jockeying should be accorded same respect as other professions like medicine, law, pharmacy, engineering… just name them!”
As for success, this celebrated DJ doesn’t see it as a tall order. For him, success is when you are happy with what you do, when what you do pays your bills and you are comfortable in life. He says to all who have dreams and aspirations ‘Determination today makes room for success tomorrow. Whatever you want to do, be determined and work towards success. Definitely tomorrow, it will become a success story”. When asked who His mentors were, he mentioned Jimmy Jatt and Maxin while DJ funky and Master Flex are regarded as international mentors.
INTERVIEW BY: AROWOLO N. OLA AND YINKA OGBEWI