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OPINION: MKPETI ITAM, MY VILLAGE

THEWILL APP ADS 2

A narrative in nostalgia.

The memory of this my village always evokes reverberated nostalgic feelings in me. The village is predominantly populated by folks of the same ancestral lineage. Their occupation ranges from palm wine tapping, raffia mat and bamboo furniture making, oil palm fruit harvesting, subsistence farming and fishing.

Regrettably, the recent wind of women econo-socio-political empowerment is yet to blow through this village. The most the female gender of this village does is go on a daily-paid job and palm fruits processing, to complement the meagre feeding money their thrifty husbands seldom give to them, grudgingly.

While we were children, the first to wake up at dawn usually signalled the break of the day to others through the peculiar chanting of the song : “EDI IKA IDIM – O” (meaning, come let’s go to stream). Myriad children and adults, each with earthen pots of various sizes, jerking on their heads or dangling in their hands, emerge from their houses shouting, ” DA MBED – O” ( wait for me o o) and join the procession. Some of us, who were musically inclined, provided the instrumental accomplishment to this song through forceful and intermittent covering and opening of our pots’ inlet with our then, feeble hands. It was usually extempore, but we orchestrated.

In the afternoon, the village was always very serene except the melodious chirping of the domesticated and wild birds, bleating of goats and the cries of the children, whose mothers had left under the care of their young ones and/or grandparents in their routine fending in the farms and markets, as well as the competitive and rhythmic sound of children cracking palm nuts at the backyards.

Evenings were a time of returning home from farms and markets. The peculiar rhythms of this period were the sound of the traditional pounding with mortar and pestle intermingling with the sonorous voices of quarrelling women  and sometimes, men, signalling nightfall. In due season, it was only the eerie nasal voices of grotesque and revered masquerades (Ekpo), that fumed the air, as quarrelling this time was, absolutely, forbidden.

Nights were for moonlight plays and “Ekong Nke” (story telling session). Oh! Gone are the days of old in my evergreen slippery-hilly locale of Mkpeti Itam, in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, in the South-South geo-political zone of Nigeria.

Now, a high level of glorified immorality has taken over my village. The radical youths now perambulate my village in pairs in very embarrassing romantic ecstasies, smoking cigarettes and very intoxicated with hard drugs and illicit  drinks (popularly called, “combine”). Violence and vulgarity have now become the youths’ preoccupation.

Parents are now the fetchers of firewood and water. They are the cooks, stewards and washers of plates only to be rewarded with torrential and heart-bleeding abuses from their indolent children and wards. Pre-marital promiscuity has over-blown the population of Mkpeti Itam village and who knows the extent of damage sexually transmitted diseases have done there.

Oh! The slippery-hilly land of my birth. My most cherished  village, though now denuded of your serenity, purity and masquerades, which were picturesque of our rich cultural ethos, I still  treasure your old picture in my mind’s eye.

From a just found  manuscript in my archive

*** Ebony Okon,  NPOM