BY EKANPOU ENEWARIDIDEKE
A prophet has honour except in his own land. This biblical axiom had dominated discourses for centuries breeding its own circle of ingratitude and irrational verbal outburst against even the unblemished in their own lands. Whenever emergent backlash is timely spotted like a submarine systemtically out of water, it is this biblical aphorism that is always summoned to soothe the minds of the unblemished frothing like dancing palm wine in the morning. I think it is time we intellectually subjected this saying ‘a prophet has honour except in his own land’ to gruelling interrogation since it is now lazily appropriated by phrase-mongers to darken the known phenomenal radiance of achievers all over the world. After all a snake seasonally casts off its skin to cope with the exigencies of its environment.
The ethical codes criminalise the unmasking of a hooded masquerade. For perpetrators of masquerade unmasking-sacrilege the anger of the gods, spirits and members of the masquerade cult would surge like furious waves breaking on the shores of Rivers Forcados. High Chief Government Expemupolo is a masquerade revered for riveting universal dance steps, daily charming away sorrows and encumbrances. Arrogant defilement and profanation of this universal masquerade in whatever form, rather than beatification of it, would attract corresponding punitive interrogation from the component forces – both human and spiritual.
Leadership-oriented vindictive maledictions and media profanities which are products of verbal recklessnees, should not be heaped on Tompolo because for a man who cleared a river of enervating turbidity and made it navigable, accolades, only interminable accolades, should flow effortlessly from liberated mouths like OKILOLOBENI (stammer-curing) waterfall in Ogbobabou forest. Where were the various FRONTS and MOVEMENTS now parading as Jesus Christ in Gbaramatu kingdom when Tompolo was hacking away at the thick hostile forest?
For a man deeply philosophical, constantly meditative, always probing the mystical space for divine truths required to underpin and reinforce his stance on issues, recriminatory arrows (which rejoinders typically demand) are alien to his world – a world closer to nirvana than to mundane proclivities – mundane proclivities that immorally excite the unrepentant traducers of Tompolo. For a man whose sensibilities are more drawn and responsive to the progressive sacred codes of Christianity, Islam and African religion, he would not be bothered by irrational inuendoes of contract-hijacking and hegemonic posturing in the affairs of Gbaramatu and in the affairs of Niger Delta. Tompolo’s avowed devotion to the ideals of Egbesu has lifted him above mortals and above irrational insinuations of thievery heaped on a man entitled to harvest from his farm of sacrificial labour. Despite his stoic personality adopted even in the face of disparaging inuendoes, some of his kinsmen should know that Tompolo no longer belongs to Gbaramatu kingdom alone: he belongs to the whole world. He is as much a Moslem, Christian as he is a traditionalist; his genuine activist engagement to free man from exploitation has transmogrified him beyond Gbaramatu kingdom just like that carpenter boy Jesus Christ now claimed with fervour by all Christians.
So occasional cracks with Tompolo in Gbaramatu kingdom, sometimes magnified to claim fanciful leadership kudos and bravado, should not progress to the pages of newspapers as this is likely to provoke backlash only the afflicted could appropriate on a verbal platform for the uninitiated to comprehend. This is where even town-crying claims elevation as a functional sacred task finding its way only to the territory of the genuinely inspired insightful. Because Tompolo is a mystic he appears undaunted by irrational outburst of some of his kinsmen bordering on culpability for contract-hijacking and other sundry vices: he looks obviously bothered only by what he can do to put smiles on the face of the marginalized, oppressed, exploited…
Seemingly Tompolo’s resolute stand is this: let my achievements exemplify my avowed commitment to the struggle to transform the lives of my people in the Niger Delta and beyond. The disparagement of the leader Tompolo is clearly an unhealthy exploitation of his mystical inclinations which constantly keep his responses embargoed.
Disparaging irrational outburst could dislodge Tompolo’s devotion to his struggle but the mystic in him would not allow him to lose his way in the labyrinth of the forest. Mystics are known for transmutation of base materials into gold. This is indeed the orbit along which Tompolo journeys daily. He found himself in a hostile forest, nay, evil forest, in the Gbaramatu axis of Nigeria. With extraodinary penetrating eyes he could see the glories in the forest. He was convinced through the Egbesu inspiration that the evil forest could be transformed for the betterment of mankind. Towards the transformation of the hostile forest, now tantamount to alchemical transmutation of base materials into gold, Tompolo led an armed struggle against the oil companies and the Nigerian Federal Government. The activities of MEND which he formed are too familiar to be mentioned here.
After adequate internationalization of the Niger Delta problem he was persuaded by all well-meaning Nigerians to claim amnesty offered to him in 2009 when he was convinced that government had demonstrated some visible commitment, which was enough to grant them a corresponding probationary season of watchful hibernation.
By this persuasively attained metamorphosis, he declared himself a positive agent of the Federal Government working for the peace, security and development of the Niger Delta and by extension, the Federal Government of Nigeria. From a hunted wanted man Tompolo became another hotly wanted man for the security of the country. Amidst pointers to his commitment to the peace and security in the Niger Delta, he has begun to address the problem of human capital development through Tompolo Foundation.
It sweetens the heart that most of the boys who befriended the forest along side Tompolo in the heat of the liberation struggle are now university graduates, ably piloting the affairs of Tompolo Foundation. Even in the heat of the struggle and after the struggle, Tompolo unlocked the gate for the educationally promising ones to study in different universities. Only a committed leader disdainful of greed, arrogance, hegemony, narcissism and megalomania who can create this educational space for his freedom fighters. It is this jewel Tompolo some of whose kinsmen irrationally accuse of contract-hijacking and hegemonic posturing. The symmetry that typified his liberation struggle and made it successful will not depart from him now that he has taken on armless struggle to transform his people on whose interest he became a forest inhabitant for many years like ROBINSON CRUSOE.