By Julius Oweh

Aboh, the headquarters of Ndokwa East local government area of  Delta state, the historic town that majestically sits on the bank of River Niger is rich both in culture and fauna because of its unique location. The cultural milieu of the people is fuelled by their aquatic nature and this was brought to the fore on 20thApril, 2019 when the first Aboh United Cultural dance groups carnival held on the field of Aboh Grammar School, Aboh. As early as 10am, the field was filled with men and women, boys and girls who were eagerly waiting to savour the unique dance steps of the people, the popular   ‘Egwu Amala‘.

According to the president general of Aboh Development Union, Engineer John Ajie Ogwu, the first president of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe   was very enthralled with the dance that ‘to the extent   that our great Zik of Africa adopted the dance and took them to many of his official engagements in the 1950s and 1960s‘. Thus what happened that day in Aboh was the promotion and preservation of the people culture through dance. And it was collaborative efforts between Joseph Amechi Ugbomah and Engineer Ajie Ogwu.

Azikiwe , aboh
Late Dr. Nnamdi-Azikiwe

The dance steps of ‘Egwu Amala‘ was a sight to behold. The dance was not only energetic; it was regal and queenly in form and style. The audience was always craving for more as the lady blowing the elephant tusk was dictating the flow of music and dance steps. It was rich cultural outing depicting the tradition and customs of the Aboh people. There was also Ugo   Amaka dance group of young boys a group and the ‘Otu-Ugo‘ dance group   of Akarai Obodo. There were two tall masquerades with bells drab on their bodies and whose tone of voice is a reminder of a catholic priest saying mass in Latin. The masquerades attracted the attention of the audience and really stole the show. This revival of the people culture through dance is a step in the right direction.

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Speaking on the revival of the culture, the mother of day, Chief Patricia Ossai thanked all those behind the event, praying that it should be annual festival. She said that reviving the culture has nothing to do with fetish worship and blame children inability to speak the language on their parents. She therefore called on all fathers and mothers in Aboh kingdom to encourage their children to speak the local language so as to preserve their culture. She also called on all sons and daughters to support the revival of the culture through dance in cash and kind.

Ogwu, the President General of Aboh Development Union in his speech traced the history of the unique dance steps of the Aboh people saying the carnival was meant to revive the culture of the people.

“This our carnival today is only complimentary to Aboh original seasonal and annual festivals of Ojeh and Alishi Ugbor where Ojeh of various quarters, Alishi of various shapes dance at various times, the   Ezeowu, Olikpo, Ochuu, Ogenen nmo perform to complete the festivities.

“Today we are celebrating the first Aboh dance groups cultural carnival as a cardinal step calculated at rejuvenating, encouraging and show casing our various cultural music, dances and masquerade some of which are uniquely Aboh.

“The Egwu Amala dance troupe depicts   the entire cultural and occupational life of Aboh people, their philosophies of life, beliefs, morality and administration and pre-occupation with a sense of beauty and dignity acceptable to the people,” said Ogwu.

Also speaking, Mr. Amechi Ugbomah, the chief co-ordinator Aboh United Cultural Group made a passionate appeal to all wealthy sons and daughters of Aboh to support the initiative of his group as a deliberate effort to revive their culture.

Ugbomah appealed: “Our clarion call is to appeal to all Aboh sons and daughters, friends and well-wishers and admirers of Egwu Amala Aboh to come to our aid by doing every and anything possible to encourage the promotion and preservation of Egwu Amala Aboh which is our unique culture that signposts our identity. For them, Egwu Amala in Aboh is uniquely theirs and no other community, across the length and breadth of Nigeria can compete with them in that queenly performance. We can do this by encouraging the younger generation of our indigenous artistes, dances, musicians to be creative and original in cultural expressions so that we continue to produce great legends.”

As I leave the Aboh Grammar School playground that day, the music and dance steps continue to resonate in my brain and that this unique dance steps that Zik of Africa patronized should not be allowed to be consigned into the ashes of history. The efforts of Ogwu and Ugbomah should be supported.

 

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