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74-year-old surviving member of Rex Lawson’s band plans big for ailing traditional music

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For 74-year old music legend and surviving member of the Cardinal Jim Rex Lawson’s music band, Tamunoemi Gold, the significance of local music, which narrates the culture and way of life of the riverine people, especially the Kalabari in Rivers State cannot be over emphasized.

The disappearance of such traditional music since the demise of Lawson, singer, trumpeter and band leader from New Kalabar, and best-known for his highlife music dominated Nigeria and the African continent in 1960s, as a vocal voices seemed silenced.

Engrossed with undying passion for music, Pa Tamunoemi in a bid to revive the traditional music, in the Niger Delta region, during the 2019 general elections, gathered the natives in his community in Buguma, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, and treated to a feast of traditional songs that not thrilled them but also educated them on the need to ensure a violence free election.

While the song feast lasted, a youth in the area, who was so thrilled by performance, recorded the songs and posted it on the social media. Fortunately to the septuagenarian, the founder and president of Belema Oil Producing Limited, Jack-Rich Tein Jr, listened to the songs online and was fascinated by the great talent he saw in the aged man.

Upon invitation and interaction, Tein observed that the septuagenarian could revive the Niger Delta traditional music if empowered, but he noticed that old musician had no shelter needless say musical equipment, as he was living in shanties.Spurred to restore the traditional music in the region, Tein through his foundation, Jack-Rich Tein Aid and Belema Aid Foundation built and donated a five-bedroom duplex equipped with modern musical equipment to the music legend.

Pa Tamunoemi, who thrilled guests with his musical performance during the commissioning of the building, which will serve as a music house and his residence, said the gesture has ignited his passion for the music industry, adding that his life’s span would be prolonged by the act.

He said, “I’m the happiest man today in this world. I am 74 today and for me to have a building with musical instrument means a lot to me. Now it has prolonged my life. I think I am the first person of all the musicians that have benefitted from such gesture.” “No musician has gotten such gift before now. Music has to do with passion; it is a gift from God. Music calls those who like it. There are those who just play it. But I love music and that was why I learnt it from my childhood till now,” he added.

He assured that young musicians from the region would be trained and also be empowered to become music stars with the aim of promoting culture of the people in the area thereby contributing to the economy of the state and nation at large.

Commenting on the development, former Governor of old Rivers State, King Alfred Diete Spiff, represented by Prince Iwefa Aganaba Spiff, described music as a veritable tool for economic growth, adding that such empowerment initiative by the founder and president of Belema Oil would preserve the culture of Kalabari kingdom, which he described as priceless.

He said, “The music industry today is booming and is one of the credible tools for economic growth. Cultural music is unique, it is priceless so there should be measures to train the next generation.”

On his part, Jack-Rich Tein, who was represented by the General Manager, Geosolutions, Mr. Sunday Akpaduado said he is concerned and committed to the development of rural communities in Niger Delta region. He, however, expressed dismay why communities in Niger Delta still live in shanties despite huge revenue accrued from the area.“I do not know the extent of my joy but when I look back and I look at history, I believe today is a very special day. I don’t know how many people are happy today. I am particularly very delighted to see smiles on the faces of people from the region,” he said.


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