With the current economic situation and crisis among several others occurring in the nation, most people must have forgotten that Nigeria has a heart. Even before these present situations, not every citizen as well as the world at large, took note of the fact that Nigeria indeed has a big heart, which beats every second every time that something good or bad happens to the country. What heart? You may ask but I will start this way, despite the fact that there is an uproar as to how Nigeria and Nigerians will survive in this hard time, its heart still holds hope so high that I myself believe things will get better.
Originally Delta born, this last Christmas holiday I travelled to Delta state whose slogan is known as ‘The Big Heart’ and boy-o-boy was it filled with life – a life that gave me faith in the land of the nation. I randomly selected a hometown for my case study to represent the whole of Delta State and the hometown is Abbi, I have been to other towns in the state but this town particularly interests me. In this place, I sat down to have a conversation with Commander Ishiekwenu – a vigilante of the town, to learn more about Nigeria’s big heart and how it is surviving during this turbulent time Nigeria is faced with.
Abbi is located in Ndowka local government of Delta state and is divided into three quarters namely: Eloghei, Mmiyiah and Okere. The founder of this town called ‘Amacha’ is a lover of strangers and its people. Therefore, the town does not like corruption or discrimination, it accepts anyone no matter what the origin of the person. The spoken language is Ukuwani and it is not so complicated for anyone to learn but the most important words needed to communicate among the people are ajesir and otofe, which are greetings for the men and women. The special things that can be found in Abbi are Yam and Garri. Also, Abbi is made up of the people, the song and the places; they are loving people and are passionate about business as they love to involve themselves in trading. The song among several other features is what stands this town out from all others because the whole make-up of its music is local or traditional including its lyrics; it is also a rhythm that can send anyone grooving plus it is very enjoyable. Like the modern clubs we have in the urban setting, Abbi has its own, which it refers to as a ‘bar and restaurant’, where business men or members of the town gather at night to drink, dance, talk and just get together, it is the people’s way of entertaining themselves.
The festive period is also an avenue for the people to celebrate. There are different kinds of festive period celebrated in this town such as Ikenga (War festival), Ukwu–ata and Christmas known as Omirimo in the language and just as the common believe is, it is a day the people celebrate the life of Jesus Christ. Apart from Christmas, the other festival that is celebrated is the Ukwu-ata festival, which takes place in February every year. This is not exclusive to only the people of the town, inclusive are strangers from each end of the world.
During festive periods, families travel from far and near to spend such a period together under one roof; masquerades also come out early morning to dance, celebrate and display their skills so as to make money. The market place is another lively place that is very colourful, attractive with a lot of affordable things that can be bought to be used in enjoying the celebration.
Apart from families coming together, it is an opportunity for children to go from house to house to visit people and collect the gift offered to them (which is most times in form of money). This activity is similar to what is commonly known as trick-a-treat.
I learned a lot of life lessons from just this one travel and the experience(s), people and the lifestyle is very intriguing as well as normal.
Furthermore, my interactions with the people made me question how people with so little can be content and full of life. This Big Heart is together, free, business-oriented, beautiful, exciting and most of all an interesting place that anyone from anywhere in the world can fit into. So when people are complaining or grumbling about the faults and lacks of Nigeria, just let them know that the nation has a big and rich heart known as ‘Delta State’.
Written by: Bibiana Ossai.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: Bibiana Ossai.