A FITTING FAREWELL (100TPC Caucus Meeting With Oribhabor)

As I sat adjacent the television, I had a clear view of everything that was going on around me and although I had Salamatu Sule in my sights, heard the words others spoke, my heart was pained in my chest. Over and over, the words rang in my head ‘I am leaving for Lagos’ like a distant church bell beckoning the parishioners to worship. Whew! The ANA chairman (Abuja chapter) Edwin Eriata Oribhabor was leaving thereby dropping the reins of leadership and his mantle of responsibility.
Nevertheless, we had a good time at the reading aptly tagged ‘100TPC caucus meeting’ since all those in attendance were performance poets featured at the One hundred Thousand Poets for Change and Societal Upliftment. We assembled in a garden-like setting, dispelling formality and ordered cold drinks to quench our thirst and oil our throats in reparation of the reading. I tapped my feet to the beat of the music from the speakers that surrounded us and sipped my chapman slowly. The tall glass regal with an umbrella and signature cucumber winked at me.
Never mind that I am light-skinned; the melanin in our skin cannot be hidden and Gladys W. Russel gave us her best in ‘Bronze Silhouette’ and even the cover attests to the fact that we are black-skinned people proud of our heritage. The words written from Russel’s thatch speak to the innermost feelings of our being as it is touching, reflective and searing hot in various places. Kenneth Azahan kicked off the reading with ‘Freedom- a gift divine’. With its power to make and unmake, freedom obligates us to love, help and share. Using ‘How can we?’ Damilola Olaniyi re-echoed Russel’s question touching the injustices so prevalent all around; from suffering to gunmen to nature. Yes indeed, how can we look on all these and smile away our tears? In truth how can we if we are not thick skinned?! Samuel Nze who has an aptitude for Naija language read ‘Let men aspire’, a poem that ends like a prayer.
In her soft, musical voice, Salamatu Sule read ‘I fear for the time’ in a sombre way because indeed the poem made us pay attention stating what may occur since fear and distrust is all that we hear and truly man is born to worry and fear. One needs to read this poem and allow it to sink in. A friend of the house who was driven by curiosity to see what we were about and who was an attendee at the 100TPC, Joyce Agbo read out ‘Last man standing’ to us from page 40. Make some noise as I call him read out ‘One brotherhood’ and using the poem, he pointed out that we are one universe, one body and soul. He smiled his signature gap-toothed grin as we all hooted make some noise. Did I forget already? His name is Kriston Kama.
Obinna Nwali directed our attention to ‘Soul and I’ on page 13 reading the lengthiest poem- four pages long. Towards the end it became a call and response and ended on this beautiful note one in all with all of the whole. I have come to find that Bash Amuneni has a love for poems that question and standing tall in his dark-coloured jacket he delivered ‘Be still’, and of course that poem ends with a question: is all of this a farce that we play Or is it just a game of cards? One of the organisers of that wonderful event that we all enjoyed, Wilson Okibe, was in attendance. He read out ‘Endless divining’ and at the end of it, we all intoned Peace is my lot, none can take it from me.
Given a chance to doddle on paper, I would easily pick Eriata Oribhabor as someone to dissect. I mean write about. If you wonder why that is so, you will have to schedule an appointment to see him to discover for yourself why I would make him a subject of my writings. He started ‘We stumble’ three times and of course he read it as if he wrote it. His throaty voice held me captive to the lines he read. DCP Emmanuel Ojukwu read ‘Who will be messiah’ like a high chief. The truth is no one wants to bell the cat for in the end, when the cards do fall in place, you find that you’re alone and so our country is left just as it is-in a deplorable state since we fail to take action. An actor and entertainer Zubairu Atta joined us briefly and with ‘Gender Tones’ he kept the pace of his day. But this politician left with this introduction before we could absorb his essence.
Louisa Ibhase must be over six feet and she intimidated me with her build (a little, I’m tall too). Opening at random, she stumbled on this beautiful piece ‘Like burnished bronze’ which made me think deep. It sounded so much like the typical Nigerian… nothing at all for you. I thought we were set to round up but then we welcomed yet another friend Raymond Tonton who made us all nod and listen intently as he rapped ‘The city’ telling us with those lines that with our hands, we breakdown our city. If the ruling class provide bullets, must we shoot guns?
After all was said and done, we reminisced about our poetry recitals and all the things we needed to work on. The floor was open for suggestions and comments. We were encouraged to do our bit for society through words. Scenic locations like Bwari Dam in Wushafa LGA was mentioned and although the dam provides water for FCT, it lacks water which is as ironical as the oil producing community in Bayelsa state ‘Oloibiri’ who has been raped and plundered only to be left empty and barren. We talked, encouraged one another, planned the next poetry meet and talked some more. The truth is a painting if well interpreted can overthrow the government. All in attendance enjoyed the ambience of the lounge and I remembered to finish my drink and munch the cucumber. We ended the evening on a fine note and concluded by snapping a lot of pictures. It was indeed a fitting farewell to Oribhabor, our Naija language promoter!

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