Following the split, Essiet continued with The Mandators as a solo act with moderate success (After Nelson Mandela’s freedom in 1990, and the 1991 release of winner Blackky’s About Tyme which saw Nigerians embrace a new style of reggae, as well as the rise of rap/hip-hop, most old-school reggae artists were thrust out of the limelight).Umanah attempted to break out as a singer in her own right, but sales of her solo album were unimpressive.While they were not my favourite act, I loved the tune.The pair, which consisted of Victor Essiet and his partner Bose ‘Peggy’ Umanah, were among the most successful acts on the Polygram label, and while they often competed with Majek Fashek and Ras Kimono, their place in Nigerian music history was secure with the release of two more albums.Nevertheless, Essiet will always be noted for using reggae to speak for the masses during Nigeria’s economic turmoil, and deserves his place as a music legend.In 1991, fans were stunned to hear that Essiet and Umanah’s relationship had ended, with the latter duly leaving The Mandators.During her illness Essiet, now in America, was not informed, which was odd considering she was the mother of his sons.Yet he was expected to pay for her funeral, which was when he was aware of her death.
Contrary to popular believe, she was not legally married to Essiet, although she was known to officially use his surname on occassion.
Umanah’s family also played a role in the demise of their relationship.
Apparently, her mother had threatened to take her daughter out of the home she shared with him unless he revealed the size of his bank balance.
Nearly twenty years have passed, and Essiet continues to defend himself.
How many of these so-called fans have thoroughly analysed the events leading to the situation? As an Akwa Ibom-native, he had asked his Bendel-born girlfriend to enlighten him on her native requirements so the dowry process would run smoothly, but she never took his demands seriously, which stalled any matrimonial plans.
Ras Kimono had already tied the knot with former Nigerian Navy sailor Sybil Amuta, probably encouraging Essiet to follow suit with Umanah, but the latter reportedly ignored him, which was why they never married.