COBHAMS Asuquo, a songwriter, music producer, and singer makes waves in the music world. He is the Chief Executive Officer/Head of Productions of CAMP (Cobhams Asuquo Music Productions), an all-encompassing entertainment company that discovers, nurtures and exposes great talents.
It would be difficult to picture him practicing law, given his visual impairment but he is a trained lawyer. He had wanted to be a lawyer and work with the International Court of Justice. Perhaps, today, it could have been a different Cobhams in The Hague, Netherlands, with fewer imprints in the legal profession. A man of immense talents, he understood the vast chasm between his training and calling and chose to listen early to the beat of his heart.
For a man that has worked with and shared the stage with many ‘A’ list artistes, globally and locally from Bono to Beyonce, Angelique Kidjo, Asha Tuface and a host of other international acts, the visually impaired Cobhams life tells a story that to achieve success one has to brave the odds. It resonates with the age-long statement that no challenge is insurmountable.
An unfair life is the thought that plays in the mind of some people; who feel that nature has incapacitated them, yet there are people with physical disability who battles and conquer what other finds overwhelming.
Cobhams has kept faith with destiny. He believes any challenge can catapult anyone to new heights. As the saying goes –’You can climb a mountain, skirt or walk through it’ and all that counts is to overcome it. It does not matter how Cobhams accomplished that by overcoming his predicament – he is a success story.
The award-winning producer, who has made massive contributions to the music industry never saw himself disadvantaged as some people have labeled themselves, or deprived to make life count. Physical disability is a huge challenge no doubt; Asuquo agrees to the words of visually challenged Helen Keller, “The worst blindness anybody can have is vision blindness,” in other words, blindness of the mind. Cobhams is an inspiration to millions of physically challenged; his life challenges them that the real disability is that of an un-productive mind.
Born blind, at three months old his mother, Mrs. Gladys Asuquo, a clerical officer in the army, observed some abnormalities with her son’s sight, even when Cobhams looked perfectly normal. His visits to University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan, and to a referred hospital in Kano, confirmed her mother’s fear, he was born blind.
Cobhams said of his childhood, “I will state the obvious fact that I was born blind. No one else in my family of six children is blind. There’s no known cause. Just the reality that I cannot see with my eyes. Now, blindness does not have any physical, psychological, or social meaning. Since I’ve never experienced sight, I wasn’t aware that I was without sight.
And so, I indulged in the innocence of young boyhood. I ran downstairs, jumped over gutters, played hard. Fought even harder. And got into any imaginable trouble that a Skinny young child could get into. On a number of Occasions, I ran into walls. Ran into people. Ran into furniture’s so hard that observers will shake their head and say in Pidgin English: ‘Person wey we dey feel sorry for, e no dey feel sorry for himself.”
As a young boy, Cobhams said he used to organise concerts in his neighborhood, drumming on his mother’s barrels of water. “All the kids from the neighboring block would come and we’d hang out and we’d make so much noise. I didn’t realize at the time that I was preparing myself for what would be my life, my career path, my destiny,”
Last child of six children, Cobhams was raised in army barracks. He did not start school until he turned 10. He was enrolled at Pacelli School for the Blind and Partially Sighted Children in Lagos and attended Kings College Lagos for his secondary education. At 16, while in secondary school, the studio became his second home. He gained admission into University of Lagos to study law but dropped out to pursue a career in music.
Cobahams hints that he has no regret dropping out of school to pursue his first love – music, “Dropping out of school means not finishing your degree, since, I didn’t finish my degree that makes me a drop out. For me to have run things successfully and be able to have impact in my society positively then, there is no cause to worry.
I believe what is important is knowledge, not the certificate, which is an attestation that you have that knowledge. I wouldn’t encourage people to get out of school, rather I would encourage them to get knowledge beyond getting a certificate because that is what is key and speaks for you, that is the in-thing, knowledge is what adds value to one’s life.”
He came to limelight when Faze’s brother who happened to be his senior at Kings College introduced him to Faze. “His brother, who was my senior in secondary school (King’s College), introduced me to Faze and later I met Maintain’s manager in the studio. They took a chance with me and it just began to happen from there.
I was a rookie, who goes in and out of the studio to work on commercials, jingles and other kinds of stuff. If they didn’t believe in me and taken the chance to work with me, I don’t know if anyone would have known me right now. And it is something I don’t take for granted.” His international acclaim came with the music production of Nigeria’s soul performer – ASA’s debut album.
Before his breakthrough, he slept on studio floors all across Lagos, worked at different studios, even worked without pay and even had to convince people that he could do it, “I had sessions that were canceled because they weren’t sure I could deliver either because they thought I was too young or maybe as a blind person to entrust their music which is their future and investment?’
Cobhams creativity and contributions to the music industry has earned him both local and international honours and awards. He is married to Ojuolape with a child.