By Tony EKE
Delta State Cultural troupe which performed to a rapturous audience during the celebration of Nigeria’s golden anniversary at Tokyo, the Japanese capital, returned a few days ago to Asaba with tales of pleasant experiences. The 30-member contingent that comprised 20 staff of the performing arts division of DSCAC and 10 officials drawn from the Directorate of Culture and Tourism, and Delta State Tourism Board.
The trip, being the first outside of the country since the creation of Delta State 19 years ago, was at the instance of the Nigerian Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Godwin Agbo, who held an elaborate ceremony to commemorate the country’s 50th independence anniversary.
Obviously elated at the successful trip, the Commissioner in the Directorate of Culture and Tourism, Barrister, Richard Mofe Damijo, described it as “the breaking of a jinx which has given our artists the much needed international exposure.”
He commended the Nigerian Ambassador for the invitation to the Delta state troupe and also praised the State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, whose love for the arts and support for the ministry, manifested in his approval of the trip.
Recalling their experience with this reporter, the Permanent Secretary who led the contingent, Mr. Andrew Okogba, spoke of their arrival in Tokyo on September 29 from Dubai which took 11 hours of uninterrupted flight, after the initial eight hours during which they were airborne from Lagos.
He further recalled that the troupe rested the next day and also busied itself in preparation for October 1 performance, in order to achieve the main purpose of their trip to the Asian country, known for its enviable achievements despite its horrifying experience in World War II.
Okogba, who was meticulous in his narration, said they had all looked forward to the D-Day. First, to justify the choice of Delta State for the show by the Ambassador, His Excellency, Godwin Agbo, who he said deserved commendations for his pan-Nigerian conduct, and second, to show the richness of Delta State in cultural performance to the Japanese and other nationals who came to witness the occasion.
Expectedly, hundreds of Japanese, nationals of European and American countries, members of the Nigerian community and other Africans constituted the audience at Hotel Okura, which shares the same neighbourhood with the Nigerian Embassy.
The performance of the troupe was admired because the troupe successfully portrayed the diversity of Delta State by concentrating on such indigenous dances as the Opiri of the Urhobo and Isoko, Aguba/Egwu-Ota of the Anioma people, Owigiri of the Ijaw and Omoko of the Itsekiri among other cultural musical types.
He recounted the peak of performance when some officials of the contingent took to the floor in response to the rhythms of the throbbing drums and mellifluous voices and harmonious sequences of choruses that lasted two hours before and after dinner of sumptuous meals and exquisite drinks.
“Our troupe was wonderful on that day; you needed to see what they did. They did not do Delta dances only but also performed dance forms of the Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Tiv, Efik and Edo. On the whole the audience knew we came from Nigeria, not just Delta State”, he added.
His view was corroborated by the Director of Culture at DSCAC, Mr. Napoleon Akpobecha, who not only cast his mind back to that momentous time but also described it “as a rare cultural display of memorable import.”
On his experience during their stay in Tokyo, Okogba spoke glowingly of the Japanese who, he said, “are an organized group of people with an infectious hospitality and adherence to their culture”, adding that Nigerians have a lot to learn in their quest for development which can earn them respect of the outside world.