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Nigeria's Rivers State Pays Tribute To The Late Rex Jim Lawson - 2003-02-12

The government of Rivers State in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria recently organized a musical concert in honor of a musical icon, Rex Jim Lawson. A spokesman for the government says the concert was held to immortalize the musician and encourage other young artists to rise to greater heights.

(Story opens with music)

The title of that song is Soala Temen meaning God created royalty. In that song, Rex Lawson says the rich should not take advantage of the poor while the poor should not be jealous of the rich. Rex Jim Lawson died in 1971 at the age of 33 in a car crash. He used his music to preach love, peace and togetherness. He played highlife music.

Fellow musicians nicknamed him the CARDINAL because he was the king of highlife in the 1960’s till he died. He released over 30 songs and sang in different Nigerian well as the languages of Ghana and Cameroon.

As a result of his achievements, the Rivers State government held a musical concert to immortalize his name. Sonny Wokekoro is the commissioner for special duties, culture and tourism in Rivers State.

He says, “As a matter of truth, late Rex Jim Lawson represented a lot of things to a lot of people. During his lifetime, he used his music to propagate peace& unity in this country. As a matter of truth, his music was widely accepted and it was in course of carrying his music to the nook and cranny of Nigeria that he met his sudden death. Ever since then as a true Rivers son whose profession was devoid of ethnicity and the rest of them, that is the order of the day in Nigeria, we have done this concert in his memory.”

Mr. Wokekoro says government used the concert to honor the lifestyle of Rex Jim Lawson. One of the young musicians who tool part in the concert is 26-year-old University student Muma Gee. She says the concert was rewarding and emotional for her.

She says, “I will say it was really fantastic but quite touching because it is a memorial thing. I felt so emotional while I was performing especially while doing someone else’s song which is quite unusual but because its in memory of him, the concert was planned as a tribute to him and then we had to all perform and do his songs. It was really quite touching.”

Muma says Rex Jim Lawson played good African contemporary songs and traditional music, which young people can learn from.

Mr. Wokekoro says the government will continue to host the musical concert but not on a yearly basis.

He says, “I do not see the organization of this thing yearly because it causes government a lot of money. I do see the organization as a mean achievement. I think it is a major step in the right direction in immortalizing this man. May be other things will follow later.”

Mr. Wokekoro says the music of Rex Jim Lawson still stands the test of time.