Onyia Zeal
Zeal Onyia with the trumpet. Photo: NNP/Ronke Asekun-Adebajo

Onyia Zeal; famous trumpeter with records of spectacular performances. Zeal fine-tuned his budding skills under the tutelage of Bobby Benson of Nigeria and Emmanuel Tetteh Mensah of Ghana. After starting his music under Benson, he travelled to Ghana to further what became a flourishing career. For him, Ghana was a fertile ground. It took little time for him to outgrow the teething problems of a sojourner. After a period of rewarding apprenticeship with Mensah, he came on his own feet.

Onyia left Mensah and found Rhythm Dance Band with his partner being Apike Angyankor, a celebrated Saxophonist. Together they made music which built for their band a strong fan base. Later, Onyia returned to Lagos to form the Zeal Band, playing highlife and jazz. At the Voice of Nigeria radio he worked as programmes editor. Onyia Zeal composed the signature Radio O-Y-O interlude for the BCOS, which was ubiquitous for a generation. He led the national band which performed at Nigeria’s independence in 1960. He was also a central character in the band which entertained the world in the  historic Festival of Arts and Culture, FESTAC 1977. Born in 1938, Onyia raised four daughters.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer