Why is King Robert Ebizimor’s remembrance day different?
BY EKANPOU ENEWARIDIDEKE
The common accreditation known to man which does not need the approval accreditation of the Nigeria Universities Commission is that thinking is a Jewel in any society that believes in growth because no society moves forward that devalues thinking and moves dismissively towards it. Thinking is the torchlight of the society, and for a society to be on the progressive lane, it must be peopled by great thinkers.
Writers are great thinkers whose thinking yields societal growth. Musicians are equally great thinkers whose thinking yields codes that guide the society as are dancers whose thinking yields varying dance styles sustaining the culture of dancing. Government as an institution is as well a great thinker whose thinking yields policies that become the lifeblood of the people. A combined application of the yields of these four agents of societal growth would be a memorable remembrance and celebration of King Robert Ebizimor on the 31 of July every year but alas, musicians, dancers and government are the relentless killers of King Ebizimor’s remembrance day because, as the great philosopher Timiebi Maika coughs philosophically thus: ‘the killer disease that kills the date-palm (Bia tree) dwells on the foot of the date-palm’!
King Robert Ebizimor is a king and legend from Angalabiri town in Bayelsa State and Ojobo town in Delta State whose legendary kingship was felt in music, politics, culture and tourism. He reigned for decades from 1943 a king without a mutiny in his multiple kingdoms where his Royal Majesty was duly recognised. Because he reigned for decades without any report of ill-health and rebellion in his kingdoms, everyone thought he would be ‘Methuselahed’. In 2014 it pleased death to commission one of King Ebizimor’s legs to rebel against him. This was the first rebellion in the kingdom. This rebellion resisted all philosophical and medical entreaties and blandishments offered until 31 July 2014 – when with the brave prayerfully channelled acquiescence of King Ebizimor who was already existentially content with his experience on earth – death suddenly swooped on him inside his own car in a manner beyond human intervention close to Warri. This sudden visit came at a time King Ebizimor had prayerfully appealed to God in his swansong ‘My Leg (Doutimi)’ to summon death to storm him in a manner devoid of pains in any part of his anatomical structure because he was already convinced there was nothing existentially new for him to behold in life beyond what he had already seen in his reign from 1943 to 2014. At death it was King Robert Ebizimor who waited for death to storm him, not death threateningly waiting to take him away with a flourish.
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So, as philosophically posited by King Ebizimor in his song ‘In Honour of Kurutie Community Chairman Anthony Ayebibode (Late mama Oruogele Ekiamene)’ he eventually became God’s sheep slaughtered whimisically by God for his supper on July 31 2014. It is this day of 31 July every year the Ijaws have chosen to remember and celebrate every year in agreement with King Alfred Izonebi’s position in his song ‘The King of Music (The Voice of King Robert)’ that the departure day of Robert be remembered and celebrated like Bob Marley’s remembrance day. It was perhaps in anticipation of his remembrance day King Robert Ebizimor vocally stresses in his song ‘Ogoinbiri Special’ that so many things would be cumulatively gathered by him that at death the celebration would be epochal like the famous Olorogun Masquerade carnival.
A critical survey of King Ebizimor’s song released while on earth reveals that it is his wish that he be memorably celebrated after his departure. With the departure of King Ebizimor, this exhortation further reinforced by King Izonebi on his two kneels right before King Robert Ebizimor’s corpse, seems to have evaporated like a boiling water. From 2014 till date the remembrance days of late King Robert Ebizimor have been poorly celebrated by Ijaw musicians, writers, dancers and government functionaries.
It saddens that the man King Ebizimor whose songs philosophically constitute an encyclopedia of solutions to man’s problems on earth in every dimension of life have not been given adequate critical physiotherapy for the benefit of society. Virtually, there is nothing in life – no components or aspects of life – about which King Robert Ebizimor’s songs don’t thematically dwell on except the traditional ‘Duwe Awee’ requiem for the dead as a dirge instrumentally and vocally constructed to mark the social wake of the departed in a purely traditional way.Another lacuna could equally be seen in the failure of King Robert Ebizimor to compose and release songs falling traditionally into the category and music taxonomy of Kuro-endi and Birifou’s Ijaw traditional series suited to ‘Agene’ dance steps. This dearth of traditional ‘Duwe Awee’ requiem for the dead and the traditionally designated ‘Agene sei’ songs in King Ebizimor’s repertoire of songs while alive marks the only lacunas in his widely applauded unbeatable music career.
Ritualistic it appears that with every remembrance day that comes and goes, King Robert Ebizimor is poorly celebrated by Ijaw musicians. Beyond music, indelible imprints of King Ebizimor can be located in politics where he had two respective political appointments under two different governors in Bayelsa State – Special Assistant on Culture to Governor Sylva Timipere and Governor Seriake Dickson at different times. But whenever he is remembered and celebrated, it is not King Ebizimor’s imprints in politics, contract-execution and community development that form the focal point. Everything celebrated about King Robert Ebizimor is purely, totally and undilutedly music which was deployed by him to solve all types of societal problems confronting man. So if King Robert Ebizimor must be remembered and celebrated deservedly anytime his remembrance comes full circle like ‘Yenrenyenren’ full moon, the remembrance and the celebration must be purely based on his songs bequeathed by him. Vibrations of remembrance are hauntingly and poignantly dispersed, distributed, everywhere when King Ebizimor’s musical classics are produced on the performance stage by various musicians who are chiefly there to celebrate his legendary achievements in the music world. It is this skillful stage-reproduction of the musical classics of the remembered and celebrated music legend that is usually seen even when Bob Marley’s remembrance day is celebrated by musicians. Why is King Robert Ebizimor’s remembrance day different?
Statistically speaking, on King Robert Ebizimor’s remembrance day people do come from far and wide in large numbers to pay posthumous homage to him but some of the Ijaw musicians purposely gathered to remember and celebrate King Robert Ebizimor theatrically behave like miscast actors and actresses who flub or blow their lines and kill the expected joy of the day by singing their own songs on the performance stage rather than skillfully reproducing the songs of the late music legend. In this atrociously reversed stage-performance order it is the musician on the performance stage who is remembered and celebrated in place of the music legend King Robert Ebizimor. This is a questionable reversal which must be given a serious thought for it to be reversed again to the reproduction of King Robert Ebizimor’s musical classics on stage whenever his remembrance day is celebrated.
To remember and to celebrate the music legend, King Robert Ebizimor, is not an engagement for one-off musicians with one or two songs to their credit whose popularity or reputation is based on their studio songs rather than based on the ability to reproduce on stage the songs of different musicians in a manner that commendably stands in approximation to the original owners of the songs. The centre-piece here remains the fact that any musician coming on stage to remember and celebrate the music legend must have the musical capability to reproduce any of the songs of King Ebizimor to arouse the sensibilities of the people to the fact that King Robert Ebizimor once lived on earth as a great musician. For memorably referential remembrance and celebration of King Ebizimor on his remembrance day only Ijaw musicians who can demonstrate the skill to reproduce the musical classics of the music legend King Robert Ebizimor should be seen on the performance stage.
Not only is King Robert Ebizimor poorly celebrated by Ijaw musicians. The Ijaw professional dancers do too. King Robert Ebizimor ‘generally known as crybaby’ (6, Robert Ebizimor A King and the Legend) at birth based on his amazing capacity for musically seasoned tears began his entertainment career from childhood as a dancer whose services were employed in Angalabiri town and the neighbouring communities subject to the solicited permission of Ebizimor his father and Ziwuru his mother. Even after King Ebizimor’s dancing skill had been swamped, consumed and overshadowed by his prodigious musical skill in a matter of years, that he was a great dancer could be seen on his performance stage when he occasionally signals his band boys to take corresponding dance steps with him like the ‘Olu’ crab on sandbanks known for corresponding rhythmic movement of their legs and hands as if in response to rhythmic song only understood by them. Up till this moment Barrister Smooth, Sir Abraham young, King Izonebi and their band boys are fond of recreating this crab-like movement of legs and hands on stage like late King Ebizimor.
For a music legend like King Ebizimor who has a history of mesmerising dance steps prior to his full music career, and to whom the origin of ‘FILETE Dance’ is traced when his musical classic ‘H.R.H.Chief Igbugburu Special’ – a song that ruled the airwaves at the time of release – Ijaw dancers have obligation to dance his song on the remembrance day as a special emanation from special choreography reinforced and sustained by repeated rehearsals taken before the remembrance day. If rehearsed choreographically arranged dance steps voyaging skillfully around Filete, Weirei, Egebu, Wabu, Owusei, Ongusei, Ekpedesei, Abosei, Agene and Anda dance steps are enacted on stage by Ijaw dancers, nobody will still voice out frustratingly that the music legend is poorly remembered. Rather than showcase choreographically arranged rehearsed dance steps, the Ijaw dancers dance haphazardly in predominant rebellion against the equally incongruent rhythms from the performance stage dominated by rebellious musicians who are either unwilling or cannot reproduce the music legend’s songs on the stage. For the rebellious IJaw musicians and the Ijaw dancers their performance output is the equivalent of a victim of ‘Arikpokpo’ constipation.
What about the worrisome habitual appearance and disappearance theatricality often displayed by some Ijaw musicians on the remembrance day of King Robert Ebizimor after their timed performance on the stage? With a dose of panache and flourish some of the Ijaw musicians demonstrate their attitudinal rebellion in the area of appearance and disappearance on the stage like Shakespearean actors and actresses.There is nothing reprehensible for a musician to appear and disappear from the stage after performance provided the disappearance is not synonymous with disappearance from the remembrance jamboree.Some of the musicians do habitually leave the remembrance jamboree and retire to bed; they do not even wait to watch the performance of their fellow musicians on the stage after their own performance,forgetting that it is an all-night remembrance jamboree.Some members of the Ebizimor family and the Angalabirians may equally be habitual practitioners of the disappearance drama of some musicians. Any musician that goes to sleep before the remembrance celebrations are over has no respect for King Robert Ebizimor and the remembrance day.This habitual appearance and disappearance drama must stop now! That some people do habitually leave the remembrance jamboree before it is over must not be exampled by Ijaw musicians, members of the Ebizimor family and the Angalabirians during King Robert Ebizimor’s remembrance day in Angalabiri town.
The circle of poor remembrance and celebration of King Ebizimor also expands to include writers of Ijaw extraction. Writers have the power to carry and spread the philosophical and ethical codes buried in the songs of the music legend. The intellectual and philosophical components/compositions of King Ebizimor’s music world can be critically massaged and revealed by writers as a moral and intellectual guide of this generation and globalise the greatness and musical achievements of King Ebizimor since writers are the voice of vision in any society, who are also capable of functioning as the vehicle for the vision of others in intellectual direction but the Ijaw writers would not do this for the music legend whose stories are endless when told – even more endless than the endless stories of the Ozidi of JP Clark’s creation!
Ijaw writers are known to respond with amazing speed, steam and chemistry to certain issues but displaying no speed,steam and chemistry when issues border on the Ijaw music legend King Robert Ebizimor. When issues like the politics of desperation, economic attrition and similar other issues concerning politicians are spotted, writers would deafen everywhere with the resultant stench from politicians. In this category the Akparemogbene-born village writer and others could be identified but when it comes to the philosophical, moral, religious, political, economic, educational, sociological and cultural issues buried in King Robert Ebizimor’s songs, they eagle away as if they were not aware of his life and legendary achievements in the music world. Is this critical antagonism against King Robert Ebizimor’s musical classics a good thing, dear Ijaw writers?
King Robert Ebizimor’s remembrance day is always poorly celebrated because even the Bayelsa State Government under which the music legend had two respective political appointments has not moved beyond its fixed traditional role of providing some financial support for the celebration.
The annual celebration of the music legend provides an opportunity for government to turn Angalabiri into a tourist destination through massive construction of recreational centres, tourism centres, hotels, amusement and entertainment centres. With the provision of these facilities Angalabiri town could become a tourist destination as people coming from far and wide for the remembrance would be liberated from the scourge of zero-accommodation in the town. Turning Angalabiri town into a tourist centre by the Bayelsa State Government because of King Robert Ebizimor would mark an end to the complaints and murmurings of poor remembrance and celebration of King Robert Ebizimor, but will the Bayelsa State Government attitudinally move away from her traditional role of financial support and embrace this tourism-filled reawakening?
The world knows that it would be chimerical to think that attitudinal re-adjustment/reversal on the part of Ijaw musicians, dancers, writers and the Bayelsa State Government will mark the dawn of the memorable and flawless remembrance and celebration of King Robert Ebizimor’s remembrance day. Videography has a central role to play on the remembrance day. If all activities associated with the remembrance are videographed and produced for people to buy and watch leisurely at home – even for those who did not put up appearance on the remembrance day – it will always swell the number of would-be participants privileged to watch the remembrance day on video. However, the disgusting captured experience is that the remembrance days are not videographed and produced for people to purchase and watch apart from the maiden edition of King Robert Ebizimor’s remembrance day.
No one denies that videographers are always seen at work during the remembrance day of King Robort Ebizimor but the expected visible production of the videographed activities cannot be seen commercially in the market after the remembrance jamboree. There is no alternative to celebration of King Robert Ebizimor’s remembrance day without a video produced in commercial quantity after every celebration. Even for those unable to put up appearance in the remembrance day, the produced video tells the story fully and perpetually hangs on the wall of the world the annual ritual of celebrating the Ijaw music legend as an indestructible historical tapestry. For the organisers of King Robert Ebizimor’s remembrance, they organise and achieve nothing if a flawlessly edited videotape on the activities does not eventually emerge in commercial quantities for people to buy and satisfy their compulsive curiosity of watching the music legend’s video after every remembrance day celebrations. However, even at the risk of aberrating rather interjectionally, would it strike the world as a repellent presumption, transgression and space-invasion if King Pereama Freetown, Barrister Soja Smooth and King Alfred Izonebi are collectively enjoined, pressurised and empowered to rotationally claim on commercial basis the responsibility to videograph and produce King Robert Ebizimor’s remembrance videotape every year after every celebration as differently conceptualised by these three wise men?
For all believers and lovers of King Robert Ebizimor and his directional philosophies buried in his numerous songs, the above path charted should be walked on unwaveringly. This is because with every remembrance day memorably celebrated, the Ijaw music tree is planted and watered as the inspiration for this generation and beyond. As Sk Karibo of Esanma town in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State once sold Ijaw music/songs bought by King Ebizimor upon which he grew into a remarkable musician philosophically referenced everywhere, so shall King Robert Ebizimor become another wholesaler of Ijaw music/songs in the history of Ijaw music industry if the widely celebrated Ijaw music legend is memorably remembered on his remembrance day on every 31 of July every year.
ENEWARIDIDEKE, writes from Akparemogbene, Delta State