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Travelling is the bridge to beneficial interaction,integration,
cross-cultural fertilisation of ideas and globalisation. The world feels bruised and embittered when travelling is banned. The world is peopled by travellers.A known traveller was recently garlanded academically. High Chief Dennis Brutu Otuaro is the known traveller.

Dennis Otuaro is a traveller whose journeys had taken him virtually to all corners of the world on a ‘Kuru’ canoe paddled dexterously. It was this traveller, this sailor, called High Chief Dennis Otuaro who had been away from home for years, waited for eagerly in the Gbaramatu home of Gbaramatus, that got academically laurelled at the University of Benin, Benin-City, Edo State on the 25th of November 2023 as the Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Politics and Development Studies.

Educationally grounded as his foundational pier for engagement of developmentally and ideologically hostile institutions in Nigeria and beyond, for Dennis Otuaro the era of systematic ‘mumufication’ and ‘zombification’ of oil-rich communities, the era of sitting ‘zigidi’ and manipulating them histrionically as bribable puppets and giving them derogatory epithets to justify the targeted unabated developmental ‘zigidification’ is over.

Beleaguered by teleologically explainable and excusable interruptions and disruptions, the sailor called Dennis Otuaro journeyed like the current-governed crests of waves on River Forcados to Ayakoromo Grammar School and Ogbe-Ijoh Grammar School for his secondary education between 1991 and 2007.However the dictate of the teleological distractions, his gargantuan thirst for secondary education was at last assuaged like the journey of the magi at ease when they saw Jesus ultimately and honoured him.This Kuru canoe journeys also took him to the Delta State University, Abraka where he had first degree in Political Science in 2005 and journeyed further to the University of Benin where he had two Master degrees in International Relations, and Public Administration respectively in 2008 and 2009. At the peak of his rigorous paddling journeys he was deservedly clothed in the academic regalia of a Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Politics and Development Studies at the University of Benin. In all his rigorous canoe journeys from the Gbaramatu Kingdom, Dennis Otuaro was fired and inepired by Aime Cesaire’s thought that: ‘No race has a monopoly on beauty, or intelligence, or strength, and there will be a place for all at the rendezvous of victory’.

Vis-a-vis Dennis Otuaro’s inspiration by Aime Cesaire’s thoughts, implicated here is that the predisposition to monopolization or hegemonisation of the common space of existence by the enemies of Niger Delta development, grounded in educational height and strength, could be curtailed or minimised with rigorous canoe journeys like Dennis Otuaro’s to different corners of the world because a gilded designated seat awaits one at the end of the journeys like the glorious world awaiting the good ones at the end of this age if we must speak eschatologically to dignify some biblical teachings set down dogmatically for ages.

Always around Dennis Otuaro are building blocks of vibrations of anti-establishment thoughts and quite early in his life as a member of the Presidential Council on Social Economic Development of the Coastal States of the Niger Delta at a meeting convened, he painstaking let loose his anti-establishment posture by asking President Olusegun Obasanjo salient questions on the Niger Delta.

Dennis Otuaro is an anti-establishment personality whose roots theoretically find grip or traction on the soil of Nietzsche’s recommended appropriation of ‘forgetfulness’ and ‘memory’ in a selective manner in the optimistic reconstruction of the future as some memories merit relegation while others merit retention.With a conviction in the theoretical appropriateness of Nietzsche’s theorised ‘forgetfulness’ and “memory’ and their applicability to the Niger Delta situation in terms of the historical injustices and inanities heaped on it, Dennis Otuaro occasionally creates spaces for governmental and private institutions to engage his resources and capabilities in specific areas.It is with this balanced theoretical conviction that he had over the years
accumulated stimulating working experiences from his solicited engagements with governmental institutions and professional bodies that did not pose a threat to his anti-establishment build at the specified period.With a professional membership of The United States Institute of Peace(USIP), Nigerian Political Science Association and fellowship of The Alternative to Dispute Resolution in Africa(ADR-Africa) and Chartered Institute of Public Management, Dennis Otuaro was appointed members of Delta Waterways Security Council, Delta State(2007-2015), Presidential Committee on Environment of the Niger Delta(2004-2005) and Presidential Council on Social Economic Development of the Coastal State of Niger Delta(2003-2004).

Experientially and professionally engaging and resourceful at any level whenever his services are engaged, Dr Dennis Otuaro is today appointively engaged as the Special Assistant on Special Duties to the MD/CEO of NDDC.

Dennis always feels temperamentally destabilised, uprooted, sickened and smothered by any indicator of injustices around his environment and he is a genius at discovering injustice no matter how it is disguised.He has tentacles adapted to injustice-discovery.He noises the injustice everywhere in oppositional language to be uprooted without wasting time.This is what inspires and underpins his anti-establishment posture precociously unveiled at a very young age.It was this anti-establishment posture that powered his canoe journeys to Ayakoromo,Ogbe-Ijoh, Abraka and Benin – a cumulative result of which is his internalisation of the theoretical thoughts of Ernst Bloch, Ka Mana and Bhabha Komi in their restructured, reconstructed and reconceptualised format applicable to the Niger Delta question. By his creative restructuring of Bloch’s ‘Marxist utopianism’, Ka Mana’s ‘Imaginaire’, and Komi’s ‘reconceptualisation’ of eurocentric discourse weighted to birth creative hybridisation, purely from political angle, Dennis has demonstrated the capacity of an academic doctor for independent intedisciplinary thinking and domestication of theories from other fields – an independent thinking bound to give him the edge to confront the challenges in his environment that necessitated his canoe journeys to the storehouse of knowledge at different levels of education.

Journeys anywhere are driven by superior reasons. For Dennis Otuaro, his rigorous canoe journeys were driven by his spirit of resistance to exploitation, oppression and objectification masterminded either by individuals or government – a reason he democratically sought the space of the presidency of the National Union of Izon-ebe Students when he was a student of the Delta State University and got it democratically. He had always faulted the exploitative attitude of government towards Niger Deltans at every level. A strong believer of the utopian theorist Ernst Bloch who is credited with initiation and development of Marxist utopianism, and the Congolese philosopher and theologian Ka Mana who created the theory of ‘Imaginaire’ as the ‘entire framework of beliefs, patterns of thinking and drives that motivates one’s social being’, capable of giving Africans clear direction and visibility in government in the wake of the colonial hangover, Dennis Otuaro would be adequately equipped to pulverise the oppressors and exploiters when educationally grounded to the peak. The philosophy of resistance to oppression is better pursued and executed when people are educationally equipped as they now have the power to view the past and recreate the future in line with present realities through historical reconstruction with a tincture of utopianism as the ideological aphrodisiac.

Educationally equipped, history can be drawn on to execute the war of resistance as it carries both the good and bad memories of the past. However, Dennis Otuaro intellectually questions too much infatuation with history as viewed by Nitzsche in his essay ‘The Use and Abuse of History’: history ‘mutilates and degrades lives’ ‘since it drains the vitality needed to build the future’ as critically held by Bill Ashcroft in his essay ‘Remembering the Future: Utopianism in African Literature’. For a socially healthful and balanced culture, individual or community, some memories got from history must be forgotten , others retained. This is the balance recommended by Nietzche and it is this balance that is anchored by Dennis Otuaro in his anti-establishment stands, even with all the education in the world.

Dennis Otuaro reasons post-colonially in his adoption and appropriation of Bhabha komi’s reconceptualisation as an integral component of his philosophy of resistance though only in a manner described as domesticated and naturalized within his own world of conceptualization. Komi desires reconceptualisation of ‘eurocentric representations of the location of culture'(Studying Literature 212) towards the production of a third space’ centred on interaction and integration without domineering tendencies displayed either by blacks or whites. It is a productive hybridization called into beings here for cohabitation between black people and white people. In a corresponding degree Dennis Otuaro holds that there should be progressive cohabitation between Niger Deltans and the oppressors now that Niger Deltas have been sufficiently educated. Education should produce the hybridised space conceptually breathed by Dennis Otuaro as a conceptual appropriation from Bhabha Komi.

High Chief Dennis Otuaro’s movement of the conceptual theories of Ka Mana’s Imaginaire, Bloch’s Marxist utopianism and Komi’s reconceptualisation of Eurocentric discourse from the literary field to his political field to anchor his anti-establishment stand is what I contextually term ‘theoretical naturalization’ or ‘theoretical engrafting’ because it echoes a movement from a terrain of familiarity to a terrain of unfamiliarity that demands theoretical adaptation and acclimatization.

Seemingly on wings of Bloch’s Marxist utopianism, Dr Dennis Otuaro and Gbaramatu Kingdom hold theoretically that with education, the injustices done against Niger Deltans in the past by the exploiters would be corrected for proliferationof productive branches from the tree of life, and Niger Deltans strategically positioned as the captains of their future. Seemingly Utopian, outlandish and antediluvian in outlook, yet totally meaningful and acceptable, Bill Ashcroft reveals that ‘without a coherent sense of utopianism, liberation is impossible’. It is a theoretical necessity that the liberation thoughts of Dr Dennis Otuaro and Gbaramatu Kingdom be fired by utopianism because utopianism is the sacred reservoir of visionary and revolutionary thoughts.

The decoration of High Chief Dennis Otuaro as an academic doctor who hails from Gbaramatu Kingdom, among many others, carries echoes of targeted Colonialism birthed by Gbaramatus in Gbaramatu Kingdom. Heaving into sight in endless stream from the canals of Gbaramatu River are canoes of doctoral degree holders.It seems the Gbaramatu Kingdom is on a ‘Colonialism’ mission.Historically, the colonialists that once colonised us pontificated that they were on a civilising mission and dismantled our cultures and perfected cultural superimposition thrown at us.As the contextual colonialists in the Niger Delta with an ‘educationing’ mission that would see the Gbaramatus acquire PhD in all fields of human endeavour, let us name the Gbaramatu Kingdom the benevolent colonialists whose well-intentioned posture is to occupy the pinnacle of education in every field and apply their acquired theoretical and practical skills in research to solve the problems confronting their terrain in particular and the Niger Delta in general.The mission of Gbaramatus as colonialists is different from the multi-faceted civilising mission of the white colonialists.

Before further journey into the world of Dr Dennis Otuaro and Gbaramatu Kingdom, something historically important must be injected here: though ‘Gbaramatued” in Warri South-West Council of Delta State, it cannot be denied and deleted that Dennis Otuaro aboriginally carries the DNA of Burutu Local Government Area because a part of his biological roots are buried in Obotebe town.Therefore, Obotebe Kingdom in Burutu Local Government Area has as much biological and historical claim on High Chief Dennis Otuaro as Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Council.

Undaunted by waiting accusations of walking on my own repeated lines and thoughts, I dare voice again that with the doctoral decoration of Dennis Otuaro and many others from Gbaramatu Kingdom, they have metamorphosed into benevolent colonialists. With tendentiously crafted Eurocentric discourses the colonialists once controlled and dominated the colonised and superimposed the Western culture on them. Theoretically strengthened by thoughts of Ernst Bloch and Ka Mana, the Gbaramatus appear determined to hegemonise the intellectual space with degrees in all fields from first degree level to the doctoral level. In few years doctoral spaces in every field will be so filled by them that there will be no space for others to occupy. By this the Gbaramatus must have become the benevolent colonialists in the Niger Delta whose colonialism would be limited to the educational space with a potential to win global recognition on behalf of the Niger Delta region on the educational space.

For Chief Dennis Otuaro driven by Ernst Bloch’s Marxist utopianism and Ka Mana’s Imaginaire to journey rigorously through a network of rivulets, rivers and oceans on a Kuru canoe, now laurelled a Doctor of philosophy in Comparative Politics and Development Studies, it is with pride and ‘Biritorutoru’ you are applauded home as the Ozidi of education by Niger Deltans. Proudly hailed also are the Gbaramatus, the benevolent colonialists of Niger delta region – whose theoretically based utopian thoughts have admirably become the springboard of doctoral degree holders in the Nigger Delta. May utopianism forever stick to Gbaramatu Kingdom as the tree of educational life so that their benevolent colonialism can perpetually resist the aggression of decolonization and bring global recognition to us in the Niger Delta

By: Ekanpou Enewaridideke

Writes from Akparemogbene,Delta State.