By Bulou Kosin
Associate Professor, Benedict Binebai, says Ex-Militant General, Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo kept his part of the Federal Government amnesty deal as true disciple of Egbesu, the Ijaw national god, adding that Ijaw must resort to its traditional religion, to achieve material development.
Binebai, Head, Department of Theatre Arts, Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State, noted this in a lecture titled “Religious Festivals and the Burden of Social Transformation: The Amaseikumor Classic of Gbaramatu Kingdom”, which he delivered at the just-concluded 2019 Amaseikumor Annual Festival at Oporoza, Warri South-West, Delta State.
“In fulfilment of the purpose of Egbesu, Government Ekpemupolo, has dedicated his post-amnesty years to broker peace in the Niger Delta. He has sacrificed and is still sacrificing every day of his life, denying himself comfort and spending millions of naira to stamp out piracy, kidnapping or hostage taking cases in the region for the political and economic prosperity of the Nigerian nation state”, Binebai stated.
“Tompolo has empowered many young men and changed their mindset from bad boys of the creeks and rivers to the good boys through his deliberate agenda of beatification of the area boy”, Binebai added.
“I commend the Ex-Militant General for that because it is a clear display of his bond and faith in the Amnesty deal entered into with the Federal Government (FG)”, Binebai asserted.
“Only a true disciple of Egbesu can continue to do this despite the persecution he is facing”, Binebai posited, in apparent reference to the FG’s ongoing search for Tompolo over alleged corruption charges he has denied.
The University Don, who said the commandments of the Supreme God, are largely same with the commands of Egbesu, decried the negative characterisation of Egbesu as deriving from lack of knowledge. He stressed that Egbesu is a manifestation of of the Supreme God and represents “light, spiritual purity and moral uprightness” qualities he said are themselves the ethical standards expected of Egbesu adherents.
“In high value gathering like this, it is imperative to state clearly once again that Egbesu, a superlative manifestation of God, the national God of the Ezon (Ijaw) race is neither a fallen angel nor a demon. Fallen angels are measured in size and length, Egbesu cannot be measured like a physical being and has not been measured by any human being–even by the world’s best scientists and spiritual masters. Egbesu exists at the service of humanity. It has no agenda to deceitfully control human beings like fallen angels”, Binebai clarified.
“While demons and fallen angels dislocate the cosmic and social order, Egbesu restores and balances both the cosmic and social orders”, Binebai insisted, stressing that Egbesu, who he held out as indestructible and undefeatable, has since encounter with humanity “stood on the path of justice, love, peace and progress”.
Arguing that Egbesu is diametrically opposed to evil, Binebai queried: “If Egbesu is the spiritual foundation for combating evil, how can it be considered as a fallen angel or demon? Do demons or fallen angels preserve the commandments of God? What they do essentially is to influence man to break those commands”.
Rather than evil, Binebai said “the purpose of Egbesu, in the life of the Ijaw nation, is to maintain a very strong, united and very prosperous Ijaw nation in Africa and the world”. That purpose, he said, explains why Egbesu provides military shield to the Ijaw territoriality, its wealth, prevents mass deaths and promotes brotherliness. It abhors betrayals of the Ijaw nation using the powers of Egbesu, ritual killing and other vices as crossing Ijaw moral red lines.
Binebai noted that the “Amaseikumor festival, resting on the high and holy pillars of Egbesu, places our nation on a solid rock”.
“Amaseikumor festival carries the burden of social transformation in Ijaw land. Its successful celebration with observance of its rites and rituals is very significant for progress in Ijaw land. It is a traditional religious festival which marks important social and cultural events in the lives of the Ijaw people climaxed in a succession of performances, entertainments, rites and rituals. It is a significant dynamo in the inculcation of traditional and spiritual education through literatures of the Egbesu Brotherhood, public lectures and publications by the Supreme Order of Woyein (SOW)”, he said.
The trinity of Gbaraun-Egbesu, Ibolomoboere and Amaseikumor pantheons, Binebai informed, have enabled “Ijaw walk across the subaltern line by attracting identity” just as it has “caused our successes in politics, in business, in academics and even in liberation struggles”.
Beyond educational attainment, Binebai said Ijaw must return to its traditional religion to fully actualise its aspirations.
“Education alone cannot be the instrument for communal development. There are some other agencies. Of particular interest to me is the spiritual angle to development of man and its society…. Ijaw nation, particularly its political leaders, should add as a matter of constant practice, religion and spiritual power, to its clamour for material development in Nigeria. Mahatma Ghandi practised Hindu religion to the fight for liberation of India”, the lecturer said.
For rapid transformation to glory, Binebai argued that “Ijaw must follow the tripartite principles of human existence namely Acknowledgement of a Supreme Being Egbesu/God, Illumination of our world with knowledge/wisdom and Love for multiplicity” all of which, he added, “are carried and symbolised in the Amaseikumor festival”.
Regretting the dearth and threat to Egbesu culture as tragedy for the Ijaw nation, Binebai said the challenge of its sustenance rests on the shoulders of the Egbesu Brotherhood.
“In some Ijaw communities, some spiritual secrets have gone with their keepers and operators. When a strong and good past is buried by the bolted mind of its custodian, the future hangs and dangles in perilous bleakness. This unprogressive practice of dying with secrets that could have advanced Ijaw nation in our traditional societies weakens and denies the present and future generations some form of strength and prosperity”, Binebai warned.
“Now that Amaseikumor festival vividly points to the direction of the worship and celebration of the Ijaw Woyein religion, it is my opinion that a Supreme Head of Egbesu religion, outside clans and kingdoms, should be installed and the culture of an Egbesu Annual Pilgrimage which has manifested in Gbaramatu Kingdom be formally instituted to keep Ijaw spiritually alert”, Binebai advised.