‘It’s divine’: How the love of music brought two Nigerian musicians to Halifax

Ogo-Oluwa Sobukola, a Nigerian flutist, poses with the instrument that has brought him to Canada.
Ogo-Oluwa Sobukola, a Nigerian flutist, poses with the instrument that has brought him to Canada. Patricia Ceighton/Indiegogo

Driven by the love of music, two men have travelled over 7,700 km to attend Dalhousie Fountain School of Performing Arts. But the cost of following their dream may be too high.

Emmanuel Solomon, 23, and Ogo-Oluwa Emmanuel Sobukola, 23, say they’re struggling to get by as they attend the Halifax, N.S. university’s music program.

The countrymen have each earned scholarships and bursaries, but it’s not enough to cover the cost of rent, food and clothing that they both need to survive.

“I feel very stressed,” said Solomon, an operatic tenor and gospel singer.

“Sometimes when I wake up in the morning I feel like crying, cause I try to think of figuring out how I’m going to pay my school fees for next term. There’s no visible means of paying the fees now.

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From Nigeria to Canada

Both Solomon and Sobukola arrived in Canada to study music taking separate paths, but with a common goal: To attain a professional music education and become some of the best musicians to ever come from their native country.

Solomon comes from a family of nine and says he’s loved to sing since he first tried it a young age. Although he was enrolled as a science student in Nigeria, it wasn’t hard for him to put aside his pursuit of a medical degree and follow his passion for the arts.

Sobukola has a different story. Although he was taught the piano as a child it has only been six years since he began to learn the flute — teaching himself when there was no one who knew how to play the flute.

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“The more I did it, the more I loved it,” Sobukola said.

“I say it is divine, because it wasn’t something that I planned. It was something that just came to me.”

Ogo-Oluwa Sobukola describes the feeling of playing music as “divine”
Ogo-Oluwa Sobukola describes the feeling of playing music as “divine”. Patricia Ceighton/Indiegogo

He became so proficient that his teachers recommended he participate in the MUSIQUEST competition for young musicians. He placed as the first runner-up.

Sobukola says that he knew needed a change of scenery to achieve his goals.

“When I told them I wanted to go abroad they said ‘We don’t have the money, why don’t you stay here and go to a university in Lagos?'”  he said“I was like ‘No.’ In order to become a professional, I have to go international and study.'”

He took a leap of faith and applied to Dalhousie University. With the school impressed by his audition tape, he was granted a scholarship that covered the fees for his first term and much of the second.

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But now he, like Solomon, is on his own.

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What comes next

Sobokula says that when he is not studying he has been looking for a part-time job to cover his expenses and also applying for more scholarships.

He has been assisted by his teacher, Patricia Creighton, who has arranged temporary housing for him.

She’s even created a crowdfunding campaign to ensure that Sobokula’s natural talent will be able to thrive.

“I went in with the mindset of knowing it would be hard with no money, I have to keep myself going,” he said. “I have no choice, I have no options. (Music) is a diehard thing I have to do”

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Solomon says he is doing the same. It’s a tough balance but he says he wouldn’t change it for the world.

“Aside from the fact of needing to pay all these fees, I am always very grateful. There are amazing teachers, amazing people here” he said.

“I am so happy that I did make the move to come here… It’s just wonderful.”

If you’d like to help either of the men, Creighton says that the Fountain School of Performing Arts is open to taking donations. She recommends contacting  Tatijana Vukoja of the Fountain School of Performing Arts at or by phone at 902-494-2253