By Gesikeme Akparakata
PEREAMA FREETOWN, is the music GRANDMASTER of Ijaw land, a no mean appellation and achievement in the Owigiri Industry. He is indeed the master of the stage. The sedative power of his songs can take even the most reserved person to the dancing field. Aside that, his songs are ladened with proverbs and philosophical aphorisms. Born on the 7th day of November, 1970, the music icon was prepared from childhood to conquer the music forestry as a genius. His father, Freetown Sanuku hails from Kpakiama and Ayamasa, while his mother Wurutuwo-ere Freetown is from Isampou, Azebiri and Eriama communities, all in Ijaw land in Delta and Bayelsa states. In fact no one has a stronger Ijaw afinity than the Grandmaster Pereama Freetown.
As a child of destiny and purpose, he became aware of his music calling as early as when he was at the age of seven. His first encounter with Robert Ebizimor occurred in 1977 at Obrigbene, where the late music icon had come to play. Then his father, Chief Freetown, being a palm wine tapper was a guest of Mr Yandukeme of Obrigbene. Perhaps, it was his father’s dream to make a great musician out of his son, and to realize that vision, he had to make him a wooden toy guitar. And that action completely changed his life.
From Obrigbene, he moved to Isampou where he had a brief stay with his grandmother Elatimi in 1978, there his music interest was further enhanced in the company of his uncle, Dennis Ayamah. And in the year 1979, he moved to Ayamasa with his father, and there his flair for the guitar was again improved. It was at Ayamasa that he first played the acostic rhythm guitar belonging to Mr. Onuama. Interestingly, there were only three persons in Ayamasa who were privileged to have owned guitars, and they were Sara, Sir Gbese, and lastly Onuama.
His active music career began in 1981 at Ebedebiri when he was officially introduced to Mr Paulin Isampou, popularly known as Melege by Aperemiebi. The man Melege was astonished to see such a young boy who could do wonders with his hands. Of course, his first outing with the band was at Toru-angiama in 1983. Their second outing was originally supposed to be at Oboro, but there was a twist of event. One of the reasons being that, there was a feud between Chief Kanu of Ayamasa and another Chief from Toru-Orua, over who becomes the king of the ancient Tarakiri Kingdom. In the midst of that kingship tussle, Chief Kanu died. And so, when Pereama and the musical team went for Ebibuloukame Moroye who was the bass player from Orua, unfortunately they were denied of gaining access to him. To the people of Orua, the band was going to Ayamasa to play in Chief Kanu’s burial, and that was not permissible to them, bearing in mind, the kingship tussle of both communities. But on their way to Oboro, their engine developed some faults beyond their control leaving them stranded, only to be assisted by the boat conveying Chief Kanu’s corpse. In that way the band ended up playing at Ayamasa as the people of Orua previously envisaged. But the truth was that they were not originally prepared to go to Ayamasa, and that what happened was simply a detour.
And so in the absence of Ebibuloukaemi, Pereama was given the responsibility of playing the bass. And ever since he remains the champion of the bass.
Contrary to public opinion, Pereama was not under the tutorship of Chief A.S. Eseduwo, but the latter only employed Melege’s musical band where young Pereama was a member in 1984 to 1985.
Then in early 1985, the music legend, King Robert Ebizimor heard of Pereama’s fame and personally came to Ayamasa to employ him into his band. But then, Pereama was not around. And so shortly afterwards, perhaps a day or two, King Robert again sent an errand through Chief Ogor of Ebedebiri to fetch Pereama to Sagbama, and that was how the young genius became an integral part of King Robert Ebizimor’s musical band and career growth.
After a while, Melege, his former boss, also joined Robert Ebizimor to play the solo guitar but only had a short stay. And immediately young Pereama was asked to replace him thereby becoming the master of the solo guitar. Again at Ekowe in 1986 where King Robert Ebizimor had a show to perform but coincidentally, the drummer and the conga player had left for Lagos with Fine Diaware to produce his new song. Once again Pereama was assigned to play the drum while King Ben Pafiye of Ayakoromo took over the conga drums. From that experience Pereama became one of the greatest drummers of our time.
Furthermore, when Bestman Doupere left King Robert Ebizimor as a backup singer, the lot fell on young talented Pereama again as a suitable replacement. As destiny could have it, he left King Robert Ebizimor peacefully and went solo on February 1994. Historically, the first song he assisted King Robert Ebizimor in the studio to sing was ‘Friday’ and the last was ‘Ofeni ama puke’.
His first point of call as an independent musician was staged at Otorofani community on the 22nd of April 1994, at Chief PerryRich Kpodor’s father’s memorial. Since then, Chief Pereama Freetown’s musical career has been very eventful and progressive over the years. He has done a well over hundred of songs. His first song titled ‘Dennis Ba Yo Kumor’ was produced in 1988, and his current song is ‘Elaemi Bebe Dimie’.
True leaders are those who produced others to succeed them. Chief Pereama Freetown has made several other musicians in the Izon High- Life Musical Industry. He provide both mentorship and human capacity development to his followers so that they too can become self sufficient. Over time, he had also assisted a great number of musicians in the production of their songs. For instance, he was very instrumental to the production of the first three songs of Chief Barrister S. Smooth. He was also very useful and instructive to the career development of Alfred Ezonebi under Later King Robert Ebizimor in those early days when he first appeared before the maestro at Ogodobiri to play the song ‘Duama Bo’.
As a great musician he is, he equally assisted Bestman Doupere, Teibou Agbeotu, Prof I.K Belemu, Abraham Young, Azene Maika, Dr Mike Marcus, Chairman Allen Otobo, Ebikabowei Koromowere, etc in the production of some of their best songs. Those who were under his direct tutelage are; Kennedy Duduku, Eyeogha Kalu, Ebinimie the great Kelly, Oyas Freetown, Capt Bartholomew, Kingsway Enrigna Baby Tuma, Kingsway David and others, including Commander Tika, whose musical career was greatly influenced by the Grandmaster. Significantly, they too are masters on their on own in the industry today.
BEHOLD THE KING
The crowning of Pereama Freetown as the NUMOUPERE ll of Izon-Ebe is long overdue and well deserving, considering his musical credentials and antecedents, track records and long years of entertainment and cultural Ambassador of the Izon Nation.
They say ‘Kings are ordained by their mentors and superior authorities’. This underlines the fact that, the preparation of Chief Pereama as a King took place long ago when he was prayed for by late King Robert Ebizimor as the rightful and genuine successor. This happened at the production of Pereama’s second song titled ‘Sele Eneni’ in 1989 as he was assisted by king Robert in the studio. Since then Pereama’s life often times has been preoccupied with this prophetic revelation that he is the next King to take over. Think of his songs and lines like this: ‘ If Pereama the true embodiment of music has come to play in your town or locality, what could possibly be your entertainment?’. In another instance, he sang: ‘ If the whole of Izon Musicians have gathered to make me their King, so be it.’ Interestingly, these were songs released so many years ago. Apparently, all of this is a pointer to the future, and today we have walked into that future.
Though it is a common knowledge that the musical prowess of Chief Pereama Freetown has no equal. It is equally a matter-of-fact that a music king should possess both oratory skills in songs and the mastery of musical instruments. The new crowned king, Chief Pereama Freetown is a professional who does not sing to thrill his audience only, but his songs are full of moral lessons. He is a great teacher via his songs. And these are unique qualities of a music king. For this, he is second to none, except the sage King Robert Ebizimor of blessed memory.
As a musician of uncommon greatness, Chief Pereama’s songs are ever green in the memories of music lovers of the Owigiri dance as orchestrated by Prof. Isaac Koroware Belemu. No wonder, Mr. Japan of Tuomo, equally known as Sack-the-sacker described Pereama’s songs as “made in Japan”. In fact, the market value of his songs are timeless.
Worthy of mention is the fact that, since the inception of Owigiri music, Pereama remains the only person who could produce a song without any assistance. Inside the studio, Chief Pereama Freetown is the gifted hand as an instrumentalist, the melodious backup voice and the talented lead voice as well. This of course is rare breed in the history of music within and outside Nigeria, globally.
His selfless and patriotic contributions to the growth of others also distinguished him as a deserving king. His willingness to assist without grudges, makes him the ‘bride’ of all musicians and music lovers. That is why he had been featured by almost all the Ijaw musicians in their songs. Indeed, his kingship is uncontestable as a result of his pedigree.
Chief Pereama Freetown is widely accepted by all the musicians as a multi- talented instrumentalist, and a man of high professionalism, discipline, integrity and honesty. These virtues are so eminent in him that even his arc critics would not deny.
Above all, Pereama’s musical ingenuity as gifted youth, with great natural ability, courage, devotion, originality, creativity, durability, fame- all these fully made him outstanding among his contemporaries as a credible, historical human phenomenon.
As a man of high values, Chief Pereama Freetown (JP), is married to the beautiful amazon of a wife, Chief (Mrs) Premier Pereama Freetown, and they are blessed with children.
ALL HAIL THE KING!
Gideon Okorobia is an author writes from Yenagoa