Reflecting  on Enaibo’s  15 years of  Research   into Ijaw Tradition and Spirituality, 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 captures 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 to 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 thorough bred journalist with great insight in 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 extra ordinary sacrifice and response to a call for 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 laced with unwavering commitment to this spiritual call for the past 15years, 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 postures 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 hang 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 as been. 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 traveled on 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 commands 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 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 Niger Delta region and the nation in general.
However, even as this feat is celebrated, it will on the other hand elicits the questions; first and very important, what got Enaibo fixated in this area of communication? Why 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 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 to their true identity-such as their heritage, belief, and values to their true origin and practical belief to commune with the gods of their forefathers.
He said; as a cultural journalist, I feel awakened to the core value of our own people. It is the root pride of people who actually believe their own 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 protest  the land in time of war, justice, 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 a derogatory  mental  brain watch.   And the gods elude from us, but now with Tompolo, there is a new paradigm shift of root consciousness  to our Spirituality.
‘Tompolo who I often referred as god’s, begotten son of Ijawland who communicate  to the gods in the language  of metaphysics  and gods change it story and that has been  with our forefathers.  There is no new formation, but what has been . Morality and sincerity, there is no mistake in the story of the gods, there is no deception,  once you hand twist the wish of the land the gods dare you with death or you made urgent confession  and please  for forgiveness  at the sacred Temple  of Egbesu or any other  power you have offended’.
‘And it is a few journalist  in Ijaw land like myself as part of this entity  that the gods reveal  their potential to. To me, any temple I visits, 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 has 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 extra-ordinary per­sonalities.
Enaibo’s regular intervention in Ijaw culture and worship has blown fresh wind to the discourse in ways that accelerates the process of 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 has the capacity to engineer disruptive as well as construc­tive ideas that will help shatter set pat­terns of thinking, threaten the status quo or at the very least raises peoples concern to further question time-hon­oured historical accounts.
Definitely, a circle of learning and empowerment has been created by Enaibo’s 15years of unbroken  commentary that  allows the peo­ple of Ijaw nation to see things that others cannot see.
Another reason why Enaibo’s deep dive in 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, 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  account that have invaded so many literary works currently at the public domain if not because of Enaibo’s correctional

Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

 

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