By Ekanpou Enewaridideke
Dance is an artistic form of expression rhythmically built into man from the womb before expulsion, or after expulsion when man is carried pickaback by nursing mothers. It derives the mainspring of performance from the type of choreographic excellence or ingenuity that underpins the dancing fame of Amgbare Embeleakpo,Augustine Ferebo and Tosi Pafiye. Gbaramatu kingdom’s dance is arrogantly spiced with condiments of historical superiority complex. It is this aroma of historical superiority complex perpetually characteristic of the Gbaramatus that makes them perpetually and disgustingly ‘Gbaramatuic’ in any gathering they are spotted in their usual identifiable dance. Why are the Gbamaratus so annoyingly arrogant, hysterically carrying a superiority complex too complex in altitude to be trapped and measured geographically? Is this what they learn from their so-called Ijo, Gbaraun and Oporozawei?
Yes, I know Gbaramatu kingdom has a well-packaged history, though hysterically packaged rather. With their hysterically packaged history, drawing on all their intellectual arsenals anywhere in the world, I see in Gbaramatu Kingdom a songbird with a diseased and dislocated syrinx churning out musically a succession of notes that have alienated thousands of their hitherto mesmerised enthusiasts. Has Gbaramatu Kingdom become the songbird with a diseased syrinx that urgently requires epidemiological attention?
From now till the bones of this generation grow weary and yield way to oceanic waves in their tireless crested dance for another generation to surge wave-like, the truism will always grow ageless in the assertion that nobody swallows tolerantly being awfully hooted at by owls in the forest without a responsive exercise of exorcism prayerfully cast in any language of choice – Urhobo, Ijaw, Isoko, Itsekiri, Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa etc.
When a particular kingdom in Ijaw nation historically places itself above Ngbilebiri-Mein, Ogbolubiri-Mein, Akugbene-Mein kingdoms and many other kingdoms in Nigeria, a boat of anger journeys towards that kingdom. That the Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State has historically projected herself above other kingdoms is tantamount to the imprecatory hooting of owls in the forest, frightening forest-dwellers and occasional forest visitors towards meditative thoughts of exorcism harboured instantly to harmonize mystically the threatened environment inhabited by awful owls. Today is therefore no day to chart a laudatory path to Gbaramatu kingdom over some commendable achievements attained by pure dint of hardwork, rather than by the Achebic ‘benevolent spirits’ imbued with the power to break kernels for men without formal solicitation.
My mother Timiebi whose failing memory now subjects her to fitful forgetfulness of my existence,my mother who told me that Ogbolomo is the father of Mein the eponymous father of Mein Kingdom,my mother who taught me how to hollow canoes out of Kuru trees, still knows that I am a canoe-carver.All through my canoe-carving business I have always operated convivially on identifiable wavelength with Gbaramatu kingdom because some of their men have often entrepreneurially constituted the solid base of my canoe-carving career. But today I have to take a different path to interrogate and silence the historical arrogance of Gbaramatu kingdom and be gladly labelled the perpetual enemy of the Gbaramatu Kingdom.
Dear Gbaramatu Kingdom, if the route to losing your friendship is through an intellectual interrogation and faulting of your historic historical arrogance, I am glad to go down in history as your number one enemy in 2020 because my hatred of historical arrogance and historical superiority complex is instinctual and inextinguishable.
Can anything be more maddening and arrogant than the historical placement of Gbaramatu Kingdom’s existence in the 13th Century? Where did you get that historical dating from,dear Gbaramatu Kingdom? Which historical data gave Gbaramatu Kingdom this ‘objectionable’, ‘excommunicated’, ‘redundant’, ‘unpalatable’, malodorous historical superiority complex and arrogance intellectually deodorized as the history of Gbaramatu Kingdom? Have we sailed into the season where kingdoms like Gbaramatu kingdom are at liberty to claim historical superiority dressed and passed off as deodorized historical excrement?
However, though instinctually provoked by Gbaramatu Kingdom,I hope I have not just morphed into that ridiculous Lakunle of Wole Soyinka’s creation in LION AND THE JEWEL?
In the deliberate move to win the first prize of historical superiority in the neighbourhood and deodorize their stinking historical claims, the Gbaramatu kingdom shamelessly tells their story thus: Gbaramatu is historically the first dispersal unit of Ijaw nation – possibly after the historically claimed position of B.O.Agidee,Y.Agidee and F.O.Penawor of the ancient Akugbene-Mein Kingdom that Ijo migrated from Mecca to Ile-Ife and other places with his brothers Idodo and Oduduwa though Simon Koromoweri Owonaro claimed contrarily,historically that Lamurudu is the father of Oduduwa who gave birth to Ijo, Lufou,Ajibota and Godo. By Owonaro’s historical claim, Ijo had three brothers dispersed into different parts of the world – which is different from the historical stand from the Gbaramatus at some level.It was from Gbaramatu kingdom,as historically claimed,the entire Ijaw nation dispersed South- Eastward and beyond. Is this a deliberate historical fictionalization? Has Simon Koromoweri Owonaro equally read the questionable historical claims of the Gbaramatus?
Steadily and fearlessly, in their deodorized dance of deliberate historical superiority, the Gbaramatu Kingdom poled their way historically in the River down the course that Gbaraun was the first son of Ijo (Ijaw, Izon) who had many children. The man called Ijo first lived in Oporoza in Gbaramatu Kingdom with his children before his expansionist tendencies moved him away to Gbaraun town in Bayelsa State where Ijo eventually died at old age and got befittingly buried in Gbaraun. Here historical divergence can be located between Gbaramatu Kingdom’s account and that of Simon Owonaro whose historical stand maintains that Ijo died in Apoi – a place in Ondo Province of Yoruba land – later named after one of Ijo’s grandson called Apoi. Between the two accounts, which one stridently strikes notes of believability? Who deserves and qualifies for the trophy of historical arrogance here?
Gbaramatu kingdom became a void after the departure of Ijo from Oporoza to Gbaraun town and his death at old age there. Gbaraun the first son of Ijo died in the early 13th century. Upon the death of Gbaraun, Usaka the founder of Usakubiri and his kinsmen named Tomibi and Oporozawei journeyed to Gbaramatu kingdom to relocate the creek (Oporoza-Uba) in the Escravos River where Ijo first lived and left a thunder-stone as a historical marker of his first place of sojourn. Oporoza was located as the place where Ijo first lived when he migrated having left his father Oduduwa, his grandfather Lamurudu(as Simon Owonaro would say historically). To the Gbaramatus,Okita the son of Oporozawei had Gbaranwei, Kabowei and Kumbowei as his three sons. However, these three sons got separated and went different ways as Gbaranwei dwelled in Taylor creek on the way to Kaiama and founded Nedugoama, Polaku, Ogobiri, Agbia and other towns.Kabowei founded Aven, Trofani, Adagbabiri, Elemebiri, Abari and others. Kumbowei founded Agolomo, Toru-Angiama, Sagbama and others. Perebiyenmo the founder of Arogbo-Ijo Ibe in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State had lived in Oporoza before he founded the Arogbos of Ondo State.
In the historical stand of Simon Owonaro who dances fractionally different from the Gbaramatu kingdom is that Gbaraun had Fieowei, Arigbo and Isuku as his children. Fieowei gave birth to Oporoza who gave birth to Gbaran, Kumbo and Kabu. Isuku gave birth to Tuo, Effurun, Tubuigbe, Tamuigbe, Torugbene and Ikerre. Despite the fractional divergence between Simon Owonaro and Gbaramatu Kingdom, it is a clear historical truism that Oporoza, Kunukunuma, Okerenkoko, Benikurukuru, Azama, Inikorogha, Kokodiagbene, Igoba, Opuede and Kantu are the nine communities that make up the Gbaramatu kingdom though eight communities out of the nine are the eigtht ruling communities traditionally empowered to produce kings with the exception of Okerenkoko whose power does not go beyond the production of king makers (Pere-tuabu) and the Regent when the king dies.
The historically arrogant Gbaramatu also had it in their deodorized historical account that the Gbaramatu Kingdom had 52 years of Interregnum when the British stormed Nigeria with their indirect rule of adminstration. Because the Gbaramatu kingdom refused to kowtow to the British administration, the traditional institutions were dismantled in favour of Warrant Chiefs. For effective adminstration of Gbaramatu kingdom, Chief Uwenegha (1918( Chief Oluba (1924), Chief Ogelegbanwei (1925) Chief Osokiri (1925) Chief Okrika (1925), Chief Osiboge (1925), Chief Ogun kale-Egran (1925) and Chief Ukere Okoh (1925) were appointed Warrant Chiefs by the British Colonial administration. When the era of Warrant Chiefs died, Zai-Teimo Gbaraun II was traditionally made the king of Gbaramatu kingdom in 1976, and he died after 24 years of rulership – 1976-2000.
Radiantly arrogant as the Gbaramatu Kingdom in historical dance steps, her traditional traditional institution was phenomenally well-organized before the arrival of the British Colonial administration and after the death of the era of indirect rule, their traditional institution staged an unbeatable dance of admirable resurgence demonstrated here by their questionable historically dated, deodorized account of systematic Pereship in their ancient Kingdom traced to the life of Ijo the Progenitor of Ijaw nation and his first son Gbaraun – Pere Gbaraun I (Gbaraun Ijo) 1372 – 1421, Pere Oporozawei I (Oporoza Gbaraun) 1421-1426, Pere Oporozawei II (Fiebai Oporozawei) 1426-1468, Pere Ogei I (Egbelou Ogei) 1468 – 1495, Pere Ikiretimi I (Sei Ikirentimi) 1495-1560, Pere Oboro I (Burut Oboro) 1560-1590, PEre Ebiabu I (Ebiabo Ofomini) 1590-1627, Pere Arugu I (Ebiowei Arugu) 1627-1652, PEre Daugeregha I (Veke daugeregha) 1652-1670 Pere Dein-Owei I (Agidi Deinowei) 1670-1689, Pere Ugborugbo I (Ebime Ugborugbo) 1689-1711, Pere Saisai I (Ekiri Saisai) 1711-1728, Pere Tomitibe I (Ebilade Tomitibi) 1728-1739, Pere Ogbeyama I (Amakubu Ogbeyama) 1739-1760, Pere Usaku I (Suaru Usaku) 1760-1761 PEre Usaku II (Bojo Usaku) 1761-1800, Pere Fieowei I (Brabai Fieowei) 1800-1825, Pere Etibo I (Ikiyan Etibo) 1825-1848, Pere Kenebra I (Ofini-Ege Kenebra) 1848-1861, Pere Agbo I (Ofomini Agbo) 1861-1872, Pere Gbazo I (Egbene Gbazo) 1872-1892, PEre Ekpesin I (Furuh ekpesin) 1892-1913, Pere Ukpolukpo I (tanga Ukpolukpo) 1913-1924, Interregnum (1924-1976), Pere Zai Tiemo Gbaran II (Zai Teimo) 1976-2000, Regency (Chief Alfred M. Bubor, Chief Wolo Ukulor (2000-2008), Ogeh-Gbaraun III (DSP Godwin K. Bebenimibo) 2008-2013, Regency (Chief Elder Oyagha P.T Heavens JP) 2013-2016 Oboro-Gbaraun II (William Ogoba) 2016 till date.
Interestingly, a familiar sense of quotable historicity is struck only when kingdoms trace their historical roots of origination from 1923 – 1927 or from 1927 to eternity after the Intelligence Reports of various kingdoms had been written by the whitemen. Kingdoms hardly trace their roots of Origin beyond the Intelligence Report territory.That is a repellent intellectual laziness!
Stubbornly, the Gbaramatu Kingdom traced their roots of origin from IJo the progenitor of Ijaw nation to his son Gbaraun and his grandson Oporoza, indicating historically that there was Gbaramatu Kingdom long before the advent of the Colonial Masters and after the departure of the Colonial Masters. Before reaching their questionable historical position, the Gbaramatu Kingdom depended on the quotable authoritative voices of people like .A. Talbort, Professor E.J. Alagoa, William Moore, Daurte Pacheco Pereira and many other oral and archaeological authorities. These written, oral and archeological authorities either gave the Gbaramatu Kingdom direct or indirect historical cartography merged into this so-called deodorized historical narrative that gave them away as lovers of historical superiority complex and historical arrogance. Were the Gbaramatus aware of the existence of historical superiority complex and historical arrogance while they were collating their history?
It is a fact, not a fiction, that whenever an invention sails beyond the identifiable territory of historical orthodoxy, it is often blessed with trophies of derogatory language and infantile accusations. The G5 technology is yet to recover from its season of bashing and derogatory categorization. It is only natural that the Gbaramatu Kingdom would be derogated as historically arrogant animated by thoughts of historical superiority complex when their own history of origin is intelligently and systematically traced along verifiable historical contours using names of places and people whose historicity can be verified.
That some so-called intellectuals are too lazy to trace their history of origination along verifiable historical contours long documented and date it chronologically is no license for the use of derogatory language on the Gbaramatus over their history of origin traced beyond the orthodoxy of Intelligence Reports though the historical echoes of the Intelligent Reports are still there in a subdued tone.
I do not see any historical arrogance and claims of historical superiority complex in the historical accounts of the Gbaramatu Kingdom. If the intelligently traced contours of Gbaramatu Kingdom’s account of origination can be associated with a conscious dance of historical arrogance and historical superiority complex, it should be attributed to the controversial avant garde stylistic arrogance of the village writer whose words now stray either like the detected pen’s vagabondage of Benike Joseph’s creation or the Jpclarked Fulani Cattle known for ‘the drunken journey from desert, through grass and forest, To the hungry towns by the sea…’
Likely, ‘contrition will now strike and ‘twine’ my readers ‘like a snake’ upon the discovery that my pen has strayed once again vagabond-like and Fulani-Cattle-like to the extent the Gbaramatus are derogated and minimised as historically arrogant people carrying a historical superiority complex on their heads. Oh! when will the reckless stray of Ekanpou’s vagabond pen stop and silence Benike Joseph’s projected pen’s vagabondage in this era of Covid – 19 pandemic when the Gbaramatu Kingdom gracefully dances out quotable and verifiable historical steps in a historiographical language that goes back to the 13th century?
Enewaridideke Writes from Akparemogbene