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Mfreke Obong Ibanga (b. 1984), known professionally as el Mafrex, is a Nigerian-born urban contemporary gospel singer-songwriter based in Scotland.
At the 2012 Scottish New Music Awards, he took home both the “Artist of the Year” the “Urban Recording of the Year” awards.
After being released on YouTube, his 2012 single “Jehova” – featuring the Christian rock band Royal Foundlings – got more than 500,000 hits within five months.
The el Mafrex 2013 single “That Man from Galilee” debuted at no. 49 on the iTune UK Chart for Gospel and got over 500,000 hits on YouTube within six months.
The young Mfreke Obong Ibanga attended the Nigerian Militar School in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. It’s a school that gives its pupils both academic and military training.
After military school, Ibanga studied physics and majored in electronics at the University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, graduating in 2006.
In 2010, Ibanga obtained his master’s degree in information-systems development from the Edinburgh Napier University, a public university in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In 2001, while still living in Nigeria, Ibanga started the boy band M.O.D. (Men of Destiny) with four other musicians and became the band’s lead vocalist. The band toured southern Nigeria, and eventually gave rise to Destiny Kids and MOD dancers.
During his time at university in Akwa Ibom State, Ibanga formed another boyband, Da Grooves, together with two other musicians. The band chiefly focused on playing within the university environment. At the end of 2004, Ibanga left Da Grooves to focus on a solo career.
Solo career: el MAFREX
For his solo career, Ibanga created the el MAFREX project. He did well in Uyo as a solo artist, and the SUG of University of Uyo proclaimed him Artist of the Year in 2005.
In 2006, he released the single “Rhythm in the Air” which got qutie a lot of airplay on radio and television in Nigeria.
After focusing on his move to Scotland and his master studies, el Mafrex released a new single, “Igaba”, in 2010, the same year he obtained his masters degree. It was followed by “Thank You” in 2011, and no less than four singles in 2012: “Jehova”, “No Denying”, “Bounce”, and “Your Word”.
El Mafrex won the prestigious cathegories Artist of the Year and Urban Recording of the Year at the 2012 Scottis New Music Awards, and was also nominated in the category Video of the Year.
At the 2012 MOBO Awards, he was nominated in the category Best Gospel Act 2012 but didn’t win.
Christmas performance in 2013
In December 2013, el Mafrex headlined the Akwa Ibom State Government Christmas Carol night. This night included performances by numerous internationally renowned gospel artists, such as Lionel Peterson, Aity Dennis, Nathaniel Bassey, and Israel Houghton.
|Single||“Rhythm in the Air”||2006|
|Single||“Since I be Pikin”||2013|
|Single||“Oh that men will praise the Lord”||2013|
|Single||“That Man from Galilee”||2013|