A Cultural Journalist’s 15 years of Research on Ijaw Culture and Worship

Image

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

No man, according to Aristotle, chooses anything but what he can do himself. And thus, choice is limited to the realm of things humanly possible. Aristotle further stated that there is no choice among impossibilities. Choice, by its very nature, is free. A necessitated choice is not a choice at all but a great sacrifice, he concluded.

The above lines from great Aristotle amply capture the ‘fate’ or better still the position of Asiayei Enaibo, Bobogbene community, a Warri, Delta state-based journalist who made a necessitated choice/sacrifice by opting out of conventional journalism to explore formation that is supremely foundational to knowledge and cultural production processes. This knowledge in question focuses on the heritage, belief, and values of the true origin and practical belief to commune with the gods and ancestors.

Adding context to the discourse, Asiayei Enaibo hails from Ayakromo, Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State. He is a thoroughbred journalist with great insight into political reportage as well as laced with in-depth knowledge of socioeconomic issues, development and analysis. Also working in his favour is the fact that he is well-foresighted and naturally at home when it comes to broadcast and any other form of commentary.

Despite these virtues, attributes and proficiency needed by the global community,   Asiayei Enaibo, in what could be described as extraordinary sacrifice and response to a call for the highest level of spirituality, opt for little-known and less attractive cultural communication where he has since become both sign and symbol to the hearth of traditional worshippers in the whole of Ijaw land and Niger Delta region in general.

Also newsy is the awareness that Asiayei has remained resolute and laced with an unwavering commitment to this spiritual call for the past 15 years, precisely since 2009.

Like a self-willed prisoner, Enaibo has traveled a long windy road to be here.

Most profound about the country is his deep understanding of Ijaw in the African traditional worship institution which has given him both leverage and latitude to deconstruct negative arguments that posture the African traditional worship system as evil. He has not only changed the narrative but vehemently defended African culture and traditional worship system at local and international gatherings.

For instance, he believes and has argued beyond reasonable doubt that the consciousness of Ijaw spirituality hangs on the powers of Egbesu and Egbesu, according to him, is the deity of justice of the Ijaw people of the Niger Delta region. Egbesu, he said is also perceived as the spiritual foundational force for combating evil and cleanses them at every point of confession for forgiveness. The Egbesu force can only be used in defence or to correct an injustice, and only by people who are in harmony with themselves and the universe.

‘Before the coming of the Western religion, Egbesu worship had been in existence. The god of warfare and justice, Egbesu, is regarded as a divine guardian who protects the Ijaw people from their enemies. He is often invoked before battle and is believed to grant victory to those who fight with righteousness and integrity, those who go to the temple of Egbesu must go with a clean heart. If you abore any evil at the point of entrance, there is a pot for purification to cleanse and wipe every evil thought away’.

Enaibo’s investment of his time and talent in cultural journalism has equally seen him widely travelled on a fact-finding mission to the entire Ijaw nation, an ethnic nationality which happens to be the fourth largest in the country.

He has not only made friends and commanded followership but moved severally from Ondo to Edo state, Rivers to Bayelsa down to Akwa Ibom and back to Delta state among others, researching and documenting the undiluted fact that centres on Ijaw history, traditional worships and other critical knowledge areas-as well as participated in high profiled seminars and conferences that has Ijaw culture and traditional worship as its thrust.

This has undeniably made him a reference point for the present and future generations when it comes to Ijaw affairs and in the world of cultural journalism/communication in the Niger Delta region and the nation in general.

However, even as this feat is celebrated, it will on the other hand elicit the questions; first and very importantly, what got Enaibo fixated in this area of communication? Why is cultural communication in the face of other attractive areas of journalism that are considered more lucrative? Why not areas such as political and socioeconomic affairs?

Providing an answer to these questions recently, the Bobogbene/Ayakromo community-born creative writer described himself as a privileged channel chosen by the gods to write their stories, noting that cultural journalism depicts the cultural sensibility of the people and the consciousness of their true identity as their heritage, belief, and values to their true origin and practical belief to commune with the gods of their forefathers.

He said that as a cultural journalist, I feel awakened to the core values of our people. It is the root pride of people who believe in their existence and perception of the God of their creator. I am culturally conscious of the belief practice and worship of the ancestral God of the Ijaw land.

On Ijaw traditional worship, Enaibo has this to say; the great Egbesu is our being that protests the land in time of war, justice, and freedom as an indomitable supernatural power solely for the Ijaws beyond conquest in time of war for justice. Yes, the power manifestation of this spiritual being was deeply abandoned by the coming of the Christian faiths that painted everything in derogatory mental brainwashing. And the gods elude us, but now with Tompolo, there is a new paradigm shift of root consciousness to our Spirituality.

‘Tompolo who I often referred to as gods, begotten son of Ijawland communicates to the gods in the language of metaphysics and gods change its story and that has been with our forefathers. There is no new formation, but what has been. With morality and sincerity, there is no mistake in the story of the gods, and there is no deception, once you hand twist the wish of the land the gods dare you with death or you make an urgent confession and please for forgiveness at the sacred Temple of Egbesu or any other power you have offended’.

‘And it is a few journalists in Ijaw land like myself as part of this entity that the gods reveal their potential to. To me, in any temple I visit, I write their stories with ease because this is an old institution I was born into. Many because of this dislike distance themselves from Cultural Journalism’.

‘From masquerade stories to gods of the land that protect us, to God and man, when we understand the missing bridge, the better prosper us as we have returned to our original paradise lost and regain with full glory as the examples of Tompolo and other high priests of Ijaw land. Writers like Enaibo have an internal soul personality that attracts this energy, purity of thoughts at the same frequency beyond the mundane world,’ he concluded.

Essentially, going by his age and physical appearance, Asiayei in my view, is by no means an old man. But his under­standing of and competence in promot­ing the culture of his people have conspired to confer on him, the enviable title; ‘Talking Drum of Niger region’ by his friends and admirers because of his creative writing prowess. He has proved that history does matter and that ordinary calculation can be upturned by extraordinary per­sonalities.

Enaibo’s regular intervention in Ijaw culture and worship has blown fresh wind to the discourse in ways that accelerate the process of the reemergence of a fully functional historical document that will be trusted by both present and future generations.

Regardless of what others may say, the new awareness created by the cultural journalist can engineer disruptive as well as construc­tive ideas that will help shatter set pat­terns of thinking, threaten the status quo or at the very least raise people’s concern to further question time-hon­oured historical accounts.

A circle of learning and empowerment has been created by Enaibo’s 15 years of unbroken commentary that allows the peo­ple of the Ijaw nation to see things that others cannot see.

Another reason why Enaibo’s deep dive into Ijaw cultural journalism should be appreciated is that in population, Ijaws are the fourth largest ethnic nationality in the country. And the people, in ma­terial terms, have, through hard work, and planning, established themselves in all sectors-finance, sci­ence/technology, sports and education among others.

The above achievements notwithstanding, the people would have needed, yet, another generation to correct some sloppy traditional worship accounts that have invaded so many literary works currently in the public domain if not because of Enaibo’s correctional

Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy) for Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]/08032725374

Share
Related Stories
Image
13-February-2024

Aleph Presents Unique Strategies to Grow Business This Ramadan

As Muslims around the world get ready to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, Aleph (formerly known as Ad Dynamo by Aleph) presents insights for businesses on how best to leverage Meta platforms for business growth. Did you know that… Ramadan’s focus on community and connection also enables brands to connect in a unique way with the audience? The research also shows that 91% of social media users in Nigeria like to see content that promotes community and togetherness on Facebook and Instagram. Advertising that respects and highlights Ramadan’s traditions, businesses can enter the conversation in a new and positive

Image
13-February-2024

Is Reciting the National Anthem by Force?

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, sent out a State House press release, the summary being that the President was directing the Mandatory Recitation of the National Pledge After the National Anthem at Official Engagements. I wrote this piece in its original form in 2006…but I am rehearsing it again because (1) we don’t listen, (2) it is important that we listen, and (3) Cassandra in Greek legend, I recall, was condemned to know the future but to be disbelieved when she foretold it. Hence the agony of foreknowledge

Image
19-February-2024

Christianity: The Social Media War Against RCCG and Adeboye

By Nneka Okumazie Africa is a continent where the little that people have is never enough. What people have is never maximized for purposes. The problem is always that more is not available. So, when things get worse, it is never because of a lack of prudence, since several opportunities in the past, when things were easier, had been lost. Africa is a continent where those who observe that they are better than others in some respects, forget to notice how many more are far better than they are. They sit on how they are better and lose out on

More Stories
Image
07-June-2018

N122b Debt: Court Convicts First Bank Chairman, CEO of Contempt

By Modupe Gbadeyanka First Bank of Nigeria Limited; its Chairman, Mrs Ibukun Awosika; and the Managing Director, Mr Adesola Adeduntan, have been convicted of contempt of court by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos. The court on Wednesday found the trio guilty of refusing to release the N122 billion bond the bank allegedly guaranteed to pay the Ejama-Ebubu community in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State on behalf of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited. Recall that 10 indigenes of Ejama community, in the substantive suit had sued Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Netherlands, Royal Dutch Shell Plc,

Image
02-July-2018

International Lenders Warn on Capacity Constraints in Africa

By Dipo Olowookere Global and African financial heads identified country risk as the biggest challenge to their ability to lend more to African countries. Speaking in Abidjan during a one-day forum on investment risks in Africa hosted by the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI), experts acknowledged that the abundance of current liquidity in the market did nothing to alleviate the capacity constraints faced by most banks when doing business in Africa. Lenders are bound by regulations that prevent them from lending significant amounts to sub-investment grade sovereigns, which is the case for most African countries. Institutions such as ATI that

Image
05-March-2021

X-Raying Oragwu’s Suggestions on Nigeria’s Science and Technology Dilemma

By Jerome-Mario Utomi As a response to a recent intervention entitled Historical Perspectives on Nigeria’s Tertiary Education which among other things chronicled how Nigeria’s tertiary education originally got into trouble and with solutions on ways out of the debacle, I got several reactions/emails from esteemed readers. Indeed, all contributions were well appreciated, but two qualified as outstanding. The first queried; why can’t we as people forget the past and face the present/future? Why are you always in the habit of making reference to history? In my response, I started by quoting EH Carr’s observation that history is an unending dialogue

Image
06-May-2020

BDC Operators Donate N10m to CACOVID, Share Food Items

By Modupe Gbadeyanka Some authorised foreign exchange (forex) dealers under the aegis of Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) have donated N10 million to the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Relief Fund, spearheaded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The group led by its president, Mr Aminu Gwadabe, stated that the money was doled out to support the on-going efforts of the federal government to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country. “In this, the Association has donated N10 million to the CBN inspired CACOVID Relief Fund,” the ABCON boss said. He also said

Image
09-January-2017

Kaduna Electric Employs 310 NYSC Members

By Dipo Olowookere Not less than 310 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have been engaged by management of Kaduna Electric across its franchise states for the ongoing Project 415 customer enumeration exercise. The exercise which would be carried out in Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States has commenced in earnest in Kaduna metropolis. Kaduna Electric’s Head of Human Resources, Hajiya Khadijah Kabir, said her department specifically made a request for the number of youth corps members to the NYSC state secretariats in its franchise and that Kaduna Electric is glad they accepted the request. “We intend to

Image
20-November-2016

Governors Back ‘Change Begins With Me’ Campaign

By Dipo Olowookere Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has canvassed the support of state Governors for the success of the Federal Government’s National Re-orientation Campaign, ‘Change Begins With Me’, which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on September 8, 2016. Speaking while formally unveiling the campaign to the Governors’ Forum at a meeting in Abuja on Wednesday night, the Minister specifically requested the Governors to donate generous airtime on their states’ radio and television stations for airing the campaign’s jingles. “We are of the strong belief that your cooperation is absolutely important if the campaign is to

Image
31-March-2021

Nigeria Seeks Global Help for Robust Food System

By Ahmed Rahma The Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has stated that the food situation in Nigeria and other African countries is unsustainable. The Minister said this at the ongoing virtual World Bank-IMF 2021 Spring Meetings Roundtable On ‘Food Security in Africa. She noted that Nigeria, like any other country, has faced critical challenges in her drive for food security which has affected both the upstream and downstream of the agricultural sector. According to Mrs Ahmed, the government believes “the current food situation is unsustainable.” “We strongly believe that given the quantum of arable land

Image
18-December-2017

Market Looks Forward to N136.4b Maturing T-Bills This Week

By Modupe Gbadeyanka Treasury bills worth N136.39 billion are expected to mature this week through open market operations (OMO) and the primary market. This is expected to provide a big boost in the financial system liquidity with resultant decline in interbank lending rates. According to analysts at Cowry Asset, from the N136.39 billion worth maturing T-bills, N92.56 billion is expected from the OMO, while N43.84 billion is from the primary market. Last week, interbank lending rates moderated on the back of boost in financial system liquidity as fixed income securities; T-bills and FGN bonds worth N158.56 billion matured. However, there

Ad
Ad
Recent Stories
Image
05-March-2024

Deel Buys 100% Stake in African HR Solution Company PaySpace

By Adedapo Adesanya Global human resources company, Deel, has announced the acquisition of African-based payroll and HR solution company, PaySpace, for an undisclosed amount, in one of its largest acquisitions to date. By acquiring PaySpace, Deel will become the first global payroll and Employer of Record (EOR) with its full-stack payroll engine localized in 50 countries and integrated into its offering. PaySpace’s proprietary technology is a cloud-native framework built as a single engine. Its platform allows for easy configuration to add additional countries through localization. These localization projects normally take years to complete, but with PaySpace’s innovative technology, it can

Image
05-March-2024

Emotions Pour as Dignitaries Eulogise Late Herbert Wigwe

By Adedapo Adesanya  It was an emotional rollercoaster at the tribute event held on Monday night to celebrate the late group chief executive of Access Holdings Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe. Dignitaries from government, corporate organisations, and royalty paid tribute to the late titan who died alongside his wife, son, and a former group chairman of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc, Mr Abimbola Ogunbajo, on February 9 in the United States. The event which was monitored by Business Post was divided into six segments – Young Hebert, the banker, the entrepreneur, the CEO, the builder and the ambassador. These personalities

Image
05-March-2024

Nigeria’s Economic Outlook is Challenging—IMF Declares

By Aduragbemi Omiyale The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has alerted that tough times await Nigerians, though it retained its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for 2024 at 3.2 per cent. In a statement on the conclusion of the IMF Staff 2024 Article IV Mission to Nigeria, the global lender said the administration of President Bola Tinubu “inherited a difficult economic situation marked by low growth, low revenue collection, accelerating inflation, and external imbalances built up over years.” However, it praised the government’s approval of an effective and well-targeted social protection system, including the release of grains, seeds, and fertilizers,

Image
05-March-2024

Banks Involved in 70% of Economic Crimes in Nigeria—EFCC

By Aduragbemi Omiyale Nearly 70 per cent of financial crimes in Nigeria have the involvement of banks, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has claimed. “Broadly speaking, banking fraud in Nigeria is both inside and outside related. “The inside related fraud comprises outright selling of customers’ deposits, authorising loan facilities, forgery and several other kinds of unhealthy and criminal practices,” the chairman of EFCC, Mr Ola Olukoyede, said while speaking at the Annual Retreat and General Meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria held in Abuja. The EFCC boss, represented by the agency’s Director

Image
05-March-2024

Nigerian Air Force Airstrikes Hit Two Illegal Refineries in Rivers

By Adedapo Adesanya The Nigerian Air Force component of Operation Delta Safe, through airstrikes destroyed two illegal oil refining sites in Krakama and Temakiri, Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State, in continuation of efforts to stamp out the activities of crude oil thieves and oil pipeline vandals in the country. This was disclosed by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Mr Edward Gabkwet, an Air Vice Marshal, saying the illegal oil refining sites were observed actively operating with Cotonou boats sighted nearby with the probable intent to illegally siphon crude oil from the sites. Mr

Image
05-March-2024

NGX Remains Catalyst for Economic Growth—Chiemeka

By Aduragbemi Omiyale The acting chief executive of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, Mr Jude Chiemeka, has described the bourse as a catalyst for economic growth and development. He said this at the listing of 7.5 billion ordinary shares of Transcorp Power Plc at N240 per unit at the exchange on Monday. The energy firm raised the market capitalisation of the trading platform by N1.8 trillion yesterday. According to him, the inclusion of Transcorp Power into the NGX, the first listing of the year, underscored the pivotal role the bourse plays in shaping Nigeria’s economic landscape. He added that NGX

Image
05-March-2024

Dangote Renames Lagos Refinery Road After Herbert Wigwe

By Modupe Gbadeyanka The road to the Dangote Refinery in the Lekki area of Lagos State has been renamed after the late group chief executive of Access Holdings Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe. This development was announced on Monday night by the owner of the oil facility, Mr Aliko Dangote, during the Celebrating Herbert Wigwe’s Professional Legacy, who said this gesture was to immortalise his friend. The Nigerian billionaire businessman and the richest black man on earth, in an emotional tribute to the late banker, who died in a helicopter crash in the United States on February 9, 2024, along with

Image
05-March-2024

Investors of Unlisted Securities Lose N43bn

By Adedapo Adesanya It was a bad day for investors of unlisted securities in Nigeria as the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange ended the first trading session of the week on a negative note with a 3.11 per cent loss triggered by four stocks on the platform. The culprits were UBN Property Plc, Aradel Holdings Plc, Central Securities Clearing System Plc, and Resourcery Plc. They were under selling pressure during the trading session. This resultantly trimmed N43 billion from the market capitalisation of the bourse to N1.449 trillion from N1.542 trillion, as the NASD Unlisted Security Index (NSI) dropped 35.53

Image
05-March-2024

Naira Value Improves at Official Market, Deflates at Parallel Market

By Adedapo Adesanya The Naira appreciated further against the greenback in the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM) segment of the FX market on Monday, March 5 by N14.06 or 0.9 per cent to trade at N1,534.19/$1 compared with last Friday’s value of N1,548.25/$1. The improvement in the value of the domestic currency happened as the forex market attempts to find stability after months of turbulence due to a shortfall in the supply of Dollars into the system. Yesterday, the value of forex trades depreciated by 39.7 per cent or $117.37 million to $178.63 million from the $296.00 million recorded

Image
05-March-2024

Oil Market Falls Despite OPEC+ Cut Extension

By Adedapo Adesanya  The oil market fell slightly on Monday, as demand headwinds outweighed a widely expected extension of voluntary output cuts through the middle of the year by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+). Brent futures dropped 81 cents to quote at $82.74 a barrel while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) weakened by $1.22 to trade at $78.75 a barrel. The OPEC+ producers agreed over the weekend to extend their voluntary oil output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day into the second quarter to cushion the market amid global economic concerns and