BY EKANPOU ENEWARIDIDEKE
A time feelingly crude, odd and unforgettable it was; a time harmattan walked boldly on the surface of the earth. The sun itself had to wait for a long time before shiveringly making its appearance because everyday the morning in its dawn dance often woke up fogbound. When the sun eventually came after a frustrating wait, it was always furious as if it had piled up all the vengeance in the world to descend on the fog and gloatingly demonstrate dominance over it. Even with the chastisement from the harmattan, fog and the seemingly vengeful sun, they waited patiently for Otuaro, the Deputy Governor of Delta State.
Within the few years of Otuaro’s journey on earth clarity in communication has become his second nature. Characteristically, in a telephone conversation that was not communicatively jinxed on account of its racist undertone, undertow, undercurrent, unlike Soyinka’s ‘Telephone Conversation’, Otuaro had told them in lucid language that he would definitely come however the official inhibitions. So they believed his words and waited for him, their minds many miles away from the thought of waiting for Godot like Viladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
One view tenaciously held like a morning furiously colonised and hegemonized by fog in the harmattan season was that Otuaro had tentacles theologically, ecclesiastically, politically, philosophically and epistemologically prehensile and sensitive. Comparatively, in a lesser degree, Otuaro’s tentacles were said to be culturally and sociologically prehensile. Over his cultural credentials a threatening mist, an unfailing twilight, hangs; yet the people waited for Otuaro without grimaces and vengefully twisted faces even where there was no certitude to guarantee his coming beyond their individual theoretical wanderings built around the existing ‘Otuaroism’ and ‘Otuaro-culturalism’ seasonally parroted by the village boy/village story-teller in every available space.
A brobdignagian uncertainty hangs on their waiting for Otuaro because while the wait lasted, no emissary came from Otuaro to give them double assurance about his coming. That they were waiting for him was based on their belief in ‘Otuaroism’ and ‘Otuaro-culturalism’ and the conceived characterizations likely to slake or asuage the waiting thirst of the believers.There was no day better suited to know Otuaro’s cultural inclinations/dispositions than the day referentially focused here because it was the day different masquerade cultural carnivals in the named communities came full circle like either a full tide or a full moon!
Over the years, Ayakoromo town, historically famed for their ‘Olorogun Cultural Carnival’ and ‘Ayakoromowaibode Cultural Carnival’, Obotebe for their ‘Agula and Awouziowu cultural’ ‘carnivals’, Akparemogbene for their ‘Eselekere Cultural Fiesta’, Oyangbene for their ‘Agoropomu Cultural Carnival’, Gbekebor for their ‘Pelekoro Cultural Carnival’ and Torugbene for their famous ‘Okeleke Cultural Carnival’ were among the communities in Burutu Local Government that waited for Otuaro though there were many other enthusiastic waiting believers from other Local Government Areas of Delta State. Also visible among the waiters was Ekameta town in Bomadi Council famous for their ‘Ekerekagodo Cultural Carnival.’ The resolve of the waiters was to see His Excellency Barrister Kingsley Burutu Otuaro on that very day. Admittedly, a communal war could be triggered off immediately if Otuaro went to see one particular community and ignored the other waiting communities.
Stirringly, in all the communities waiting for Otuaro’s arrival, they had well-organized cultural festivals to match Otuaro’s famed ‘Otuaro-culturalism’, and interestingly so because it was that season of masquerade cultural carnivals. Drumming, singing and dancing ruled the entire universe in all the towns eagerly awaiting his arrival. As a specially counterpointed choral arrangement, the rhythms and lyrics were made danceable to ‘Owigiri’ dance steps because Otuaro had a designated passion for the Ijaw ‘Owigiri’ dance encapsulated in the theory of ‘Otuaro-culturalism’ which sees culture as one of the centres of human engagement.
In every waiting community there were aesthetically attired masquerades choreographically programmed to entertain Otuaro. In terms of culture and tourism it was a hypnotizing kaleidoscope of sights that imprisoned the eyes startlingly. However, while the wait lasted, Otuaro had a baptism of dilemma. Otuaro’s dilemma was how to reach all the communities and culturally justify the confidence reposed in him and the seminal ‘Otuaro-culturalism’ theory now journeying across the world like the moon dancing seasonally in the firmament.
In a gale of applause and approbation Otuaro visited all the waiting communities and gave them a delicious dish of his cultural deep-rootedness without ditheistic inclinations, yet without any gaudy and sanctimonious dramatization of his immaculate godliness. Who says religion and culture are implacable enemies? Who says Otuaro is not an enemy of ditheism? Who says ‘Otuaro-culturalism’ and ditheism are compatible ideological allies?
With approximation cast as a mathematical accuracy, Otuaro spent one hour in each of the communities – Gbekebor, Ekameta, Obotebe, Akparemogbene, Oyangbene and Torugbene. Ayakoromo was the last community visited by Otuaro where the beautifully carved head-pieces cast after fishes and animals in the forest in artistic approximations, and the beautifully attired masquerades coupled with their nimble kaleidoscopic dance steps dramatically varied here and there to entertain Otuaro were a great tourist attraction. In vain the waiters never waited for Otuaro. Otuaro actually came to them at last in veneration of his released words. This is an indication that the Ijaw culture will never die with Otuaro and the cultural theories conceptually built around Otuaro.
Seated on a designated chair meant for him during his visit to Ayakoromo as the last community in the visiting itinerary, Otuaro was so captivated by the cultural carnivals that he was occasionally seen humming and nodding his head to the counterpointed choral rhythms and lyrics packaged for his entertainment.Amazing appreciative nods and hums from Otuaro!
Moved rhythmically and lyrically, as the drums and the songs strikingly rose to a crescendo, Otuaro abandoned the occasional appreciatory nods and hums and energetically broke into steps of ‘agene’, fluidly throwing his hands here and there, his white handkerchief joyously held aloft, and when some fatigue crept in unannounced, he skillfully changed into slow steps of Owigiri and dramatically cleared the surging space back into his seat as if he had been a professional dancer over a century!
Established, firmly established, is the fact that Otuaro is a lover and promoter of Ijaw culture stored in the theory of ‘Otuaro-culturalism’; however, that His Excellency Otuaro visited Ayakoromo, Akparemogbene, Gbekebor, Oyangbene, Torugbene and Ekameta and partook of their cultural carnivals is an imaginative creation, an imaginative approximation of Otuaro’s pragmatic passion for culture and tourism.
Yes, it is an imaginative journey by the village boy _ nay the village story-teller now that Timiebi Maika is dead awaiting final funeral journey at Oyangbene! Though Otuaro’s love for culture is imaginatively foregrounded here, culture can never die as long as Otuaro and ‘Otuaro-culturalism’ remain as comrades in cultural companionship. This is why His Excellency Kingsley Burutu Otuaro should be waited for patiently because his arrival is the benevolent radiance of the sun, the benevolent radiance of the moon for the germination of the planted cultural seeds in Delta State and beyond.
Enewaridideke Writes from Akparemogbene, Delta State