Though she had been in a coma for close to three weeks, it was with shock that Nigerians received news that gospel music star and Branama Queen, Kefee Obareki, had passed on to the great beyond abruptly terminating a career spanning over a decade.
According to reports, three weeks ago, the singer, who was rumoured to be six months pregnant, had collapsed aboard a 14-hour flight to Chicago. Consequently, the aircraft had to make an emergency landing in Los Angeles where Kefee received urgent medical attention. Though her family is yet to comment, reports on social media claim that the singer had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia – pregnancy induced high blood pressure and was on life support.
While Nigerians waited with baited breaths, her husband, Teddy Don-Momoh of Star FM confirmed her deteriorating health status when he went on twitter to appeal to Nigerians to pray for his beloved wife as doctors had revealed that her condition was critical.
Overnight, social media was overflowing with prayers for the star. Unfortunately, the singer reportedly gave up the ghost yesterday, after a three week battle thus throwing the entertainment industry into a mourning mood weeks after another denizen, Amaka Igwe, collapsed and died on set in Enugu.
Even in death, Kefee’s light continues to shine as she was a frontline gospel music star. With four albums to her credit and a number of hits, she would go down as one of Nigeria’s most successful contemporary gospel musicians.
However, even in death, her broken marriage continues to haunt her. Reports have emerged that a certain pastor in Abuja had placed a curse on her due to an interview she granted a junk magazine earlier in the year where the late singer had alleged that the said pastor dropped her from a show his church was organizing because of her marriage break up to her ex-husband, Alec Godwin, in 2008. In the said interview, Kefee had made an allusion to the sex scandal which rocked the pastor’s church to its very foundations. Sources said the pastor got angry and placed a curse on her.
Once upon a dream…
Born to devout Christian parents, Deacon and Mrs. Andrew Obareki in Sapele, Delta State, Kefee began singing at the tender age of eight. While her father was a Deacon in church, her mother was a frontline woman leader. At her tender age, they discovered that Kefee had a gift for singing. However, when she tried to join the choir, she was denied. Reason, she was too small to be in the choir.
However, Alec, her future husband who was choir master then got her into the choir through his influence and when she turned 15 he drafted her into the senior choir and thus a romance which would blossom into marriage and eventually heart break for the pair was born. Kefee eventually became the choir director at age 18.
Romance, marriage and messy divorce
In time, they fell in love and in the late 1990s, they relocated to Lagos. In 2000, Kefee, a graduate of Public Administration from the University of Benin, released a debut album entitled Trip, with a friend. However, success came her way in December 2003 when she signed on with Alec Music and released her first solo album.
Under Alec’s tutelage, Kefee recorded her first hit song, Branama, which was a runaway success. Overnight the couple became the poster couple of the industry as Branama took Kefee to new heights and she won several awards. Meanwhile, the romance continued to flourish and the logical thing to do was to get married which they did in 2005. In 2006, Kefee released another album, Branama 2.
However, by 2008 the couple was at the end of the road. Still childless and always at loggerheads, cracks began to appear on the wall amid rumours of infidelity and domestic violence. Soon, the marriage broke up in a messy divorce which saw the pair washing their dirty linen in public in 2008, three years after they tied the knot.
The climax was when the divorce proceedings began in court and the pair revealed a can of worms. On his part, Alec packed his bags and baggage and relocated to Port Harcourt and closed his record label, Alec Music, which at the time boasted the likes of TWO, Gordons, Dude Tetsola, Segun Obe, Rymnzo and Kefee.
Commenting on the lessons she learnt from her broken marriage Kefee had said: “
It only opened my eyes more to what life is all about; if you don’t go through challenges you never become a stronger person. That was a chapter in my life that was meant to make me stronger as a person. People go through challenges and that was my story and when we couldn’t carry on any longer, we had to part ways.”
Getting back her groove
However, determined to make a career for herself, kefee rebounded from the crisis after she recorded a new single with Timaya entitled Kokoroko and landed herself a UN ambassadorship deal. Kokoroko got her the biggest award for her career for Best Collaboration at The Headies in 2010. She also began work on her business, Branama Kitchen, and there was also talk of a cloth line. She embarked on various tours both within and outside the country during this period.
Love at last
Unknown to many, Kefee had been secretly dating OAP, Teddy Don Momoh after the breakup of her marriage and in March 2012, gospel music lovers were shocked when word broke that Kefee had secretly married her long time friend, Teddy Don Momoh. Pictures of the traditional marriage went viral. Shortly after, the singer launched her Branama kitchen. In an interview she had granted at the time, Kefee declared that indeed the storm was over.
The couple tied the knot on Saturday, March 3, 2012 in Sapele, Delta State. The wedding ceremony and news about their marriage were, however, kept on a low with lots of surprises from Teddy’s associates.
Commenting on why she chose to settle down with Don Momoh kefee had said: “My husband is a very nice guy and I am actually writing a book about my first marriage. The bottom line is that I am happy and if you ask me, this is the first time I am getting married.”
In a career that spanned well over a decade, Kefee successfully wrote her name in the annals of Nigerian music. Kefee’s Branama album sold nine thousand audio cassettes in just three weeks of the album’s release and over two million copies of CDs/VCDs in a month. She became the hottest Nigerian female artiste and won a number of awards increasing her fan base all over Africa and also on the international scene. She was invited to perform in London and other parts of Europe and America.
Kefee’s second album entitled Branama 2 was just as terrific as her first and consolidated her hold on the gospel genre. The release of A Piece of Me in January 2009 catapulted her career to new heights due to its diversity. She released her last album in 2012 entitled Chorus Leader.
Meanwhile, tribute has been pouring in for the singer who until her death was one of Nigeria’s most popular gospel musicians. Below are reactions from a cross section of Nollywood artistes and musicians.
I can’t believe Kefee is gone-Lara George, singer
I truly can’t believe Kefee is gone. She was a very tenacious woman whose faith in God was unwavering, in spite of all that she went through. She was obviously a very resolute person, determined to succeed and extremely enterprising. This is a massive loss to gospel music in Nigeria, and the entire Nigerian entertainment industry. I pray that God consoles her family at this time and grant them fortitude to bear the loss.
Who are we to question God? -Chinyere Nwabueze, actress
The number of celebrity deaths of recent is so embarrasing and it’s giving me concern. We were all praying for Kefee to come out of coma only to wake up to this sad news. Who are we to question God? I guess, He needs her more than we do. Kefee died so young but she made a mark. It’s not how long that one lives that matters but how well.
Her death has created a big vacuum-Essence, singer
She was my sister and friend, her death has created a big vacuum. Adieu Kefee
It’s hard to believe you’re gone-Aneke Twins.
It’s hard to believe that you are gone my sister and my friend. I haven’t stopped crying. I will miss you, the world will miss you. May your soul rest in peace. We love you but God loves you more. Adieu Kefee.
This is a rude shock-Ejiro Okurame, actress
I have been praying so hard to see Kefee come out of coma but I got another rude shock again after losing my dear friend, Lizzy Ogbodo, who also never came out of coma. I have received so many bad news this month and I’m just trying to be strong. Kefee’s death is a big blow to me.
We will all miss you-Lisa C, singer
It’s hard to hold back the tears. Dear Kefee, my beloved sister and friend. You shone your light to the world. We love and miss you. Rest on in the Lord’s bossom till we meet at the rapture.
I am speechless; I have nothing to say.
I still can’t believe she’s dead-Dj Gosperalla
I don’t know what to say because I am yet to believe that my younger sister from another mother is gone until her corpse arrive Nigeria. Your legacy will continue to live on. Adieu my sister.
Kefee was like my younger sister-DJ Jimmy Jatt
Kefee was like a younger sister to me. We were in the studio when she was recording her last song. She loved God so passionately and she lived a good life. Adieu woman of good nature and warm smiles.
The industry has lost a rare gem-Cynthia Onuoha, actress
The industry has lost a great icon. Keffi brought life to the music industry with her talented dance steps; she had so much zeal to get to the top and she didn’t relent. A wonderful mother and a sweet coach. Rest in peace.