The recession that came with the new Government, was not suitable for Tari. Apart from the fact that she had to battle with her mother’s ill health, she also had to pay for the upcoming WAEC exams. She believed that with her result from the exams, she would be able to get a job to fend for her family, in the town close by, no matter how small.
Her small ijaw community was located in a corner of the river Nun. Due to the oil pollution it was hard for the crops she planted to strive. Having five other siblings wasn’t an easy job, as she had no uncle to run to for support. It was her, her family and the world and like an elephant, she bore the burdens alone, hoping that things will get better.
On a sunny Friday, her age group brought the news of Chief Otokolo’s burial from the neighbouring community to her ears. She listened attentively as they told her that the best ijaw music band would be playing live and that it will be fun. Since the dead man was really old, it was a celebration of life well spent.
She had gone to the burial in the next Community in a solemn state. Looking for a place to seek refuge, a place where she can forget about her problems, and may be, fill her empty stomach and get some leftover food for her family, all these had propelled her moving legs. She silently prayed to her ancestors and her late father to favor her that evening. She was positive the burial place would lighten her spirit, when she saw all of the bubbling and fun activities already taking place. She loved dancing, it has been long she danced, “dancing would give me peace”, She said to herself.
At the burial venue, there where two dancing location; the Nigerian music dancing ground for mainly youths and the Ijaw music dancing ground, which had the largest crowd. She did not hesitate to join the ijaw music dancing ground, the live band played there. It didn’t take Tari long to adjust to the frenzy activities that was taking place, the dancing, chatting and cheering. She let her spirit soar, forgetting about her problems, she started dancing. She was a fine dancer and miss the days when she sneaked to parties to dance, and was given little tokens as gift. Those days before the recession.
Her legs moved according to the beat. Her waist swayed and turned with every beat like a wave. Indeed, the goddess of music has called her. Each step she took evoked a desire to dance more, so she kept on dancing with more strength. She danced, moving forward and backward, like someone possessed. At that moment the band switched to the song “Wabu” and that was how it happened.
“ Wabu” is one of the popular ijaw songs in the Niger Delta, that would beckon on every waist to do the dance associated with it. As the song filtered into Tari’s ear her dance steps changed. This time she pushed her waist forward and backward, twisting and shaking her waist at intervals. That was when the money started dropping. Looking up, she had realized that, they had formed a circle round her and was cheering her on. She looked down, to her surprise it was a One Thousand naira note, that was being sprayed on her. This made her dance more and more. It seems luck was on her side as there was no stampede to pick her money, as seen in other burials. She had danced throughout the night, stopping to pick her money and placing them carefully inside the short she wore underneath her wrapper. It was exhilarating for her.
The next day, tired and exhausted, on getting home, she had counted more than sixty-five pieces of the one thousand naira note, minus the other small denominations that was sprayed on her. They said the men who sprayed her where oil moguls and government workers, it was their first time to attend a burial in an ijaw community. She was happy, this money was exactly what she wanted to survive, life has not favoured her like this before. The money, she knew, wouldn’t last for a lifetime but would enable her pay her WAEC fee, buy drugs for her ailing mother and start up a small shop that would enable her fend for her family’s needs. She hugged the money. With tears in her eyes, she knew she would never forget the day ijaw music saved her. Humming the “Wabu” song, she drifted into a world of fantasy, it was her future she saw, she saw things getting better for her and her family.
A story by Dinizibemo Ogboma, student of Niger Delta University, Ammassoma, Bayelsa state.