Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Showtime: Ijaws Salute King Ebizimor At 60

THE Ijaws are breasting up to celebrate the 60th birthday anniversary of Niger Delta most celebrated singer, composer, guitarist and band leader, King Robert Ebizimor. Before he became one of the pioneers of Ijaw high life music the king had engaged in so many ventures such as palm wine tapping, timber merchant, canoe carving and commercial fishing. Things worked out for him. Since he began to make impact on the high life scene in the early seventies King Ebizimor's songs depicted social trends; the philosophy of life, political and economic manipula-tions and indeed all aspects of life. As a born philosopher, his songs conjured images. They were like themes which give root to varying development and move-ment. The Agaibiri musical king created issues out of themes and provoked the thought of his audience to the point of inspiring and even mobilizing them to action but the greatest weapon is his voice which he projected with happiness and enthusiasm.

King Robert Ebizimor's popularity was felt through-out the country and across West Africa, espeically in Ghana. In the early eighties Ebizimor and other gifted stars of Ijaw origin like Professor I. K. Belemu, Master Pereama Freetown, White Eagles, etc brought back high life nick-named Owigiri in a different style and from dominating the instrumentation with vibrant guitars and exiting rhythms which were missing in the early sixties and seventies.

The rhythms turned out to be more agitated than typical conventional high life with the element of Izon agene mixed with Ogele and Makossa. The Ebizimor and his Izon brothers band formed by the legend around the seventies began to undergo several fragmentation with some members like Mr. Agbotu, Mr. Beatman and Pereama going their separate ways to form their own band in the late eighties. They operated as different entities but the cooperative effort indicated that the relationship is cordial. The worst period in the life of King Ebizimor was when he lost one of his trusted and beloved band member, manager of the band, Mr. Stanley. The death of Stanley shook the foundation of the Ebizimor music empire.

Ebizimor was known in Ijawland and beyond as King perhaps because of his extremely powerful and vocal ability and domineering stage presence. He was able to achieve this great feat by endearing himself to all and apart from natural talent, his organized musical format made him dominate the scene for over two decades providing a good opportunity for the artistic creativity of some deserving Ijaw musicians to surface.

The Sagbama-based star's contribution to high life no doubt is authentic and individualistic. He has derived a rhythmic approach not only from Ijaw traditional idioms but also from his own inventive perception. Born out of immense talent and artistic creativity, King Robert Ebizimor, a title holder in over ten Ijaw clans and kingdoms remains the leading voice that has in the roaring flames of traditional music in Ijaw land from Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Ondo states. On the 6th March 2004 (even today) the Ijaw nation will stand still at Sagbama town, Bayelsa State to give the legend a deserving 60th birthday salute. Long live the King of Ijaw Music.

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