BY EKANPOU ENEWARIDIDEKE
It is beyond any argument that the Okowa-Otuaro canoe is professionally hollowed out of the Kuru tree, fired and beached to be untied for transformational visits to the communities in Delta State. Over the years the Okowa-Otuaro canoe has become the personification of transformational voyages. His Excellency Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, the Governor of Delta State, and his deputy, His Excellency Burutu Kingsley Otuaro, the humility genius who has privatised humility and loyalty as relationship-enhancement drugs always dispensed in their right dosages for maximum physiological, psychological and socio-economic result in the anatomy of administration in the state, have not thought of embarking on a transformational voyage to Akparemogbene – that peaceful and law-abiding community in Burutu Local Government famous for it’s morally and aesthetically alluring kaleidoscopic cultural displays and entertainments during festive seasons and during the visit of notable personalities – until their recent visit to South Africa and England respectively when they were approached by two renowned writers for an unpremeditated conversation.
Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali, a great South African poet known for his poem, ‘The Washerwoman’s Prayer,’ told Okowa and Otuaro he had been to Akparemogbene many times and that the development challenges of Akparemogbene were worse than the predicament of the washerwoman in his poem. Another intimation came from William Wordsworth after the departure of Mtshali. Wordsworth the famous English poet known for his poem ‘The Solitary Reaper,’ maintained that the developmental predicament and hopelessness of Akparemogbene parallel the plight of the solitary reaper in his poem. Okowa and Otuaro were immediately arrested by the storied hopelessness of Akparemogbene. The two gods of Delta State became enraptured like that poet enraptured by the song of the solitary reaper in the ‘Solitary Reaper:
‘I listened, motionless and still,
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more’
In their enraptured state in England, Okowa decreed a historic transformational visit to Akparemogbene in March 2019. However, as a prelude to the proposed visit, an advance party led by Chief Boro Opudu (Chairman, Delta Waterways and Land Security Committee) was dispatched to Akparemogbene in February 2019 to prepare the ground for a smooth visit. The people of Akparemogbene grew jubilant on the intimation that Okowa and Otuaro were coming to initiate them into their confraternity of transformation because it would be the Governor’s maiden visit to the underdevelopment-stricken Island of vibrant culture and tourism potentials.
Sadly, when Okowa and Otuaro were about to launch the beached Okowa-Otuaro Canoe unto the waters of River Forcados for onward progression to Akparemogbene, they suffered infiltration and intrusion in the hands of demonic diversionary rumour-peddlers that Akparemogbene was located in a fordable non-navigable creek inhabited by wild pythons ready to swallow visitors alive. Governor Okowa, and his deputy Otuaro, the proprietor of humility and loyalty who deploys these two virtues with a fascinatingly progressive accuracy in his working relationship with his boss, gave the Satanic rumour-peddlers the worst embarrassment when they ordered their immediate expulsion from their sight. Because Okowa saw Wordsworth and Mtshali as reliable personalities, he said the decreed transformational visit to Akparemogbene was unstoppable. Okowa and Otuaro saw themselves as the magi in T.S. Eliot’s poem, ‘Journey of the Magi’ who journeyed to see Jesus Christ and presented to the child the symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, undeterred by the challenging distractions associated with the journey.
The engine kept chugging, the Okowa-Otuaro canoe mounted the black waters of the fordable Akparemogbene creek on the appointed day. Alas, It was a rainy day! The canoe went aground when they were still many kilometres away from Akparemogbene because it was an ebb tide. The Akparemogbene creek being fordable, silty, muddy and horribly shallow, the Okowa-Otuaro canoe was imprisoned and immobilized by the outgoing tide whose speed was amazingly faster than any other day. Governor Okowa and his deputy Otuaro had to wait for five hours for the incoming tide to make the creek navigable for their canoe. When it was feared Okowa and Otuaro would be bored and provoked to cancel the visit, they did not, despite the torrential rain.
At full tide when the Okowa-Otuaro canoe was eventually freed from the temporary five-hour incarceration by ebb tide and terrorist waterweeds, they journeyed away to Akparemogbene. In the course of the journey on the fordable creek when Akparemogbene became visible, Okowa and Otuaro lyrically appropriated the clothes of the Magi in T.S. Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’ and threw open the window to their hearts in ablutions of eventual relief thus:
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep, and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter’
The rugged journey of torrential rain that got Okowa and Otuaro bedraggled like JP Clark’s poetically cast ‘bats’ and ‘owls’ and the burden of a horribly shallow and fordable creek of ‘lakuwa’ weeds were forgotten when the Okowa-Otuaro canoe reached Akparemogbene. The first entertainment was a comic dramatic show led by Mrs. Timiebi Maika, followed by a kaleidoscope of cultural Owigiri, Weirei, Wabu, Egebu, Filete, Ongusei, Ekpedesei, Agene and Andasei dances. Captivated, Okowa and Otuaro clapped their hands unconsciously and effortlessly in helpless appreciation. Akparemogbene Oyei! Oyei! However, Governor Okowa’s visit was to commission two blocks of three classrooms each for Omotimipere primary school, Akparemogbene. While the primary school blocks were commissioned, he was embarrassed by the existing dilapidated old primary school buildings constructed during the rulership of His Excellency, Chief James Ibori. He promptly ordered renovation of the existing structures coupled with construction of a new Teachers Quarter. Hon. Dan Yingi, the member representing Burutu North Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly, was instantly detailed to see to the completion of the project through his legislative oversight function.
For Akparemogbene, and a sister community, Amasuomo, in Burutu Local Government Area geographically located opposite Akparemogbene community, it was indeed a transformational visit because they got more than what they anticipated developmentally from Okowa and Otuaro. It was an uproarious drama of prayerful wishes of safe journey for Okowa and Otuaro by Akparemogbene people when the two transformational visitors wound up and left.
Now that Governor Okowa, and his deputy Otuaro, the CEO/Chairman of HUMILITY AND LOYALTY INTER-GLOBAL SERVICES PLC, are back home from Akparemogbene, may they always be haunted by the irrepressible need to revisit the community and transform it; may Okowa and Otuaro feel like the magi who find pleasant discomfort in the old system when they come back from their visit to Jesus Christ; may Akparemogbene radiate their hearts and thoughts so much that they will be stunningly enveloped by transformational thoughts for Akparemogbene community; may the experience of Okowa and Otuaro become exactly like the magi in T.S Eliot’s poem, ‘Journey of the Magi’, so that they will developmentally become perpetual visitors of Akparemogbene community and consequently unburden their minds like the unburdened minds of T.S. Eliot’s magi captured here:
‘We returned to our places, these kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death!