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The chronological history of organ playing in bille: A brief post-humous remissances to present perspective – Part 1

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DISCOVERY/FIRST Generation Organists, and their pursuit for education (1870-1920)
This category comprises those whose birth falls between 1870 and 1920. The Mungo Park and prime of organ playing in Bille, according to diatribe and documentation, was Chief Albert Olu Sibi (1899-1976). His educational pursuit, which made him proceed to Umahia to attend the school of theology then, exposed him to the discovery of the organ instrument, where he learnt how to play the harmonica, bought the instrument and returned home with it. Others in this category include Crother Balafama Bregbo, who was born in 1910; Chief Iwoama Benneth Pony Gbobo Oloko, born in 1916 and Augustus Hector Fenibo Amadiki, born in 1918. This generation had contact with the organ at the various academic communities they found themselves. Some of these institutions are either religious organisations or full-blown academic institutions. Therefore, they exemplified good ethics and morals in their lifestyle, thereby attracting admirers to themselves to further advertise their loved and lucrative vocations. This singular reason attracted more people to go into the vocation, in synergy with their educational pursuit, just to become their acquaintances. Most in this category took up profession as educationists, community leaders and ecclesiastical fellows. Most of them developed interest in choral training and conducting, including composition, especially our father Augustus Hector Fenibo Amadiki, who composed oloko ke kini oloma.

Popularisers’/Second generation Organists, and their quest for greener pastures and wide socialisation (1920-1950)
This category comprises those born between the years 1920 and 1950. The tripartite principal actors here are Cephas Achibong Wariboko Ebini Diri, born in 1927, Rt. Revd. Sunny Walter Herbert, born in 1933 and Albert Gillis Frimenjibo, born in 1935 respectively. Others include Alphaeus Ataminotorudikiari Samson Williams Alagba born in 1926. These popularised the vocation from the locality to the four corners of the state and the country.

Their strategy was to train a wide range of youths on the harmonium organ, send them out to churches to play, yet supervised their progress as a form of apprenticeship/mentorship. This category was lucky to have one of its period members, Mr. Albert Gillis Frimenjibo, who as part of adventure in one of his tour visit to play the harmonium organ at a harvest programme in Aba, fortunately met and was exposed to a harmonium organ producer and manufacturer, Mr. Nwakwo. This soon became a lucrative trade he engaged in, which further widened his scope to train more organists for service delivery in churches, private chapels and choirs. The breakthrough they had in wider socialisation enhanced furtherance of the vocation to far and wide places, which attracted them to elites that assisted them with diverse job opportunities and prospects. This sect facilitated the formation and establishment of the present Bille Musical Association in Rivers State.


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Alfred Albert
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