The life journey of Timiebi Maika Ekanpou: The storied storyteller philosopher
BY EKANPOU ENEWARIDIDEKE
Timiebi the storied story teller philosopher is the first daughter of late Mr. Ferebo Ezetu of Oyangbene, Ayakoromo and Akugbene and the daughter of late Mrs. Brafinine Ferebo (nee Ofiriki) of the Ofiriki Family of Ekyandumu quarter and the Saiya Family of Oturubiri/Ogunbiri quarter in Ogbe-Ijoh town of Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta state. From authoritative historical records orally channelled, delivered and relied on, the great philosopher Timiebi Maika who has aboriginal roots that have a reach and spread beyond Oyangbene, Ayakoromo and Akugbene to many other towns not mentioned here, was born on 25 December 1941 in Oyangbene, biologically parented by Mr. Ferebo Ezetu and Mrs Brafinine Ferebo who had Nine children in a family she had the credit and luxury of being the first child of the family of nine.
In the youthful days the philosopher called Timiebi Maika commanded magnetic respect and attention as the most beautiful girl among her peers with an indescribable alluring set of immaculate teeth (dentition). Because her beauty was only comparable to Helen of Troy and the Ejiro of King Robert Ebizimor’s creation, men flocked to her father’s compound in their thousands like pilgrims journeying to Mecca or Israel. Mr. Maika Ekanpou was among the pilgrim-like suitors. Right before her parents Timiebi turned down the marriage proposal of Maika Ekanpou. Maika Ekanpou’s marriage proposal turned down, he ingeniously plotted a coup against Timebi.
One fateful day Timiebi and her late younger brother Gbozimo Akpasafugha were away on Oyangbene River fishing with hooks and lines using tadpole as their baits for the targeted fishes. Maika Ekanpou and his squad swooped on them like a waiting hawk or kite and kidnapped Timiebi to Akparemogbene, leaving behind only Akpasafugha who paddled to Oyangbene in profuse tears and broke the news. Some able-bodied men immediately mobilised and stormed Akparemogbene and took Timiebi back from Maika Ekanpou. In the centre of Akparemogbene Timiebi was dragged between the able-bodied men of Oyangbene and the resistant men of Akparemogbene. It became a tug-of-war as the Oyangbene people held the head and the arms of Timiebi while the Akparemogbene people grabbed the legs of Timiebi. While Timiebi was dragged towards the waterside by Oyangbene people, Akparemogbene people dragged her inland. It was such a fierce battle that the elders of Akparemogbene had to intervene and placated the infuriated Oyangbene people. Upon the instant placation of Oyangbene people, a day was immediately fixed for the matter to be traditionally approached as a purely marital matter between the two communities.
On the appointed day Akparemogbene people stormed Oyangbene and fulfilled all the traditional formalities of a marriage between Timiebi and Maika Ekanpou. Timiebi was forced into early marriage by Maika Ekanpou. Because Timiebi demonstrated amazing precocity from childhood, it was the dream of Oyangbenites for her to progress educationally from primary school to university level, but all that eventuated in a folktale because a marital coup d’etat was staged against her by Maika Ekanpou in the morning of this her earthly incarnation.
The main occupation Timiebi engaged in with all the passion in the world was fishing. At the rudimentary level of her fishing occupation when she was intermittently paralysed by lack of canoe, she ingeniously constructed or built bamboo raft and went canoeing to any part of the forest for fishing, using hooks, lines, nets and spears – all to secure and guarantee a radiant future for her children.
Timiebi was not only a fisherwoman; she was also a sailor. As a sailor she had her ‘sky-house’ ship rigged with waterproof, sugar-cane, sweet potato, Ogogoro gin and banga and captained the sky-house ship from Akparemogbene to Izanza, Enieborgbene, Ikeremor and its environs. The cargoes in the sky-house ship were commercially disposed of through trade by barter. With Tobu fish from willing traders, all the cargoes were exchanged and bartered. In the homeward sail of the sky-house ship of Akparemogbene it was heavily loaded with Tobu fish to be sold to willing buyers at home. In the see-saw of the sailing business between Akparemogbene and the Tobu towns I was the only deckhand on the ship where among many other things I enjoyed the routine journey to Ezebiri town to buy sweet potatoes for the ship. In Ezebiri I enjoyed running everywhere even when there was thunderclap, thunderbolt and heavy rain, childishly and stubbornly dead to the motherly scold and harangue of Timiebi who was terrified of the danger of my exposure to the elements.
Timiebi was a great wrestler who could have beaten Jackson Ebide, Appah, Igali and Lokoja Suoye the alias sixteen if she had had a day with them. She was also a fierce human rights activist who would not like to see where somebody was deprived of his right. Her human rights activism was anchored on the philosophy of ‘Wiyouism’ – a philosophy which means who are you to express and deprive people of their rights? With this ‘Wiyousm’ philosophy she protected her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren from being bullied, knocked and oppressed by people just as she would not allow her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to bully and oppress others.
The storied storyteller philosopher called Timiebi was a remarkable philanthropist too. Her fish-philanthropy was known to all as anyone that came her way when she had a large haul from a fishing session always had generous offer of fishes from her.Timiebi’s fish-philanthropy was such a blazing one that sometimes she went home with only two fish after a fishing expedition, having generously given out virtually all the fishes to people in the spirit of philanthropy.
Referentially, Timiebi lived a life that placed the comfort and happiness of others far above her own. There are aspects of Jesus Christ in her as she was equally a devoted Christian, though with a conviction that idol worshippers and their shrines should not be forcefully bulldozed and burnt with ignominy except they were willing to walk on the path of Christ. Timiebi was an implacable hater of iconoclasm and religious fundamentalism that thrived in depriving people of their religious spaces of communication. Her vision is that of: allow everybody to follow their own religious convictions and persuasions without any forceful imposition and indoctrination.In the adulatory eyes and wordsof many Timiebi Maika is the mother Theresa of Africa.
A humble, selfless and self-effacing personality Timiebi was, her perpetual demand was that her educational background be kept a top secret though we know that she was informally educated from primary school to university. Yet no primary school in Ayakoromo, Akparemogbene, Oyangbene and their environs had a record of her educational achievements. To some this educational lacuna in Timiebi’s life was occasioned by her forced early marriage.
The fact that Timiebi was a great philosopher like Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, J.P. Clark, Gabriel Okara, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, King Robert Ebizimor, Bestman Doupere, Hon. Teiyeibo Agbeotu, Echo Toikumo, S.k. Karibo, Prof. IK. Belemu and Thankgod Ayagbene became a universal acknowledgment based on the depth, learnedness and intellectuality in her stories told to people in her any gathering. In her leisure time Timiebi told didactically striking stories to people. There was always something philosophically striking aboutl Timiebi’s folktales and her occasional daily communications with people. It was in the company of Timiebi the village boy called Ekanpou Enewaridideke had his literary apprenticeship and baptism.That Enewaridideke tells stories is derived from Timiebi. So Timiebi was Enewaridideke’s first literary mentor.
We are today chagrinned to discover that even with her storytelling prowess and devotion, her human rights activism, her blazing philanthropy, her religious devotion, her radiant beauty, her flawless character, her harmlessness and her humanitarian spirit, Timiebi still died. Between 2013 and 2014 she had intermittent invasions of memory loss. She was always healthy and existentially functional but whenever the memory loss came upon her intermittently, she would momentarily forget her children for some minutes and then when the memory resumed in full flush, she would continue the conversation without deflection. Her chastisement was an intermittent forgetfulness that had the character of JP Clark’s ‘ABIKU’ of ‘coming and going all these several seasons’. This intermittent memory loss assumed a serious dimension in August 2020.
In the deterioration of her condition Timiebi appeared to me in a dream. In the dream she told me she was ready to die and had come to give me a memorable parting embrace. With her motherly love-filled arms Timiebi embraced me happily and waved me good bye. In my state of wakefulness after the parting embrace,which is a prefiguration of the splitting of two coinjoined plantains as imagistically portrayed by King Alfred Izonebi in his musical masterpiece ‘Late Mama Timiebi Maika’, I broke down in a paroxysm of tears and creatively chose a poem to historicise it the next day.
Suddenly up from sleep like the ‘Jp-clarked’ doped fishes or the poor mother busy deploying earthenware to prevent raindrops from taking possession of the floor in ‘Night rain’, a telephone conversation from Akparemogbene revealed that my mother was about to die. And precisely on 30 August 2020 Timiebi the great philosopher took her last breath.
The storied storyteller philosopher Timiebi Maika had eight children but all the children left her to the underworld one by one until she eventually left her children to the underworld on 30 January 2020,leaving behind Collector, Mrs Akaraere Paul Tusemone,Gowon and Enewaridideke as her four surviving children. She can no longer sail; she can no longer fish using hook,line and nets; she can no longer fight for human rights, neither can Timiebi tell folktales until her next incarnation. However, flawless in interactions with people during her earthly journey, we are consoled that Timiebi died a stainless woman without disparaging stories before and after her painful departure.
Notably, as we finally wishTimiebi Maika safe journey to her valued new world with deep flaming, burning, deathless inextinguishable, unquenchable, emotions of love, she remains the quintessential mother,grandmother and great grandmother of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren till the close of this age. A memorable golden mother she was – a type of mother we shall be pleased to have as our mother in the next incarnations because she remains the best definition of motherhood and motherliness.
BY EKANPOU ENEWARIDIDEKE