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By Asiayei Enaibo

A soft breeze blows gently from the Ogulagha Sea to the shore bank, and the intriguing sonorous sound like a drum beat, invokes the presence of the benevolent spirit of Bini-Ebi Madinorbo in the land. The symbol of affection drops down to the deep rivers for a bond of love to the Queen of all Queens–those whose eyes are beyond to see the link, those whose eyes and mind are closed— made saddling observations. Yes, we must know our roots, the bond that made us who we are. Inspired by the unheard drum from the waters of Bini-Ebi, the clapping waves and the voices of humans at the riverbank for solemn prayers of a new beginning, we have come again oh Mother! Bless this multitude as their testimonies will increase their faithfulness to you.

The sounding drum’s crescendo and the praying voices echo around the sea, deep into both land and water. Then a man appears with white regalia! His attires a symbol of love crested in the middle of his white cloth, then a royal Bini-Ebi crowned cap with Feathers around it walking prayerfully from the bank of the river–lo, it was High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo aka, Tompolo, the High Priest of Bini-Ebi! However, a colony of worshipers and believers of the Traditional Heritage of the Ijaw people, kingdoms upon kingdoms all walking from the river bank as they offered offerings and prayers to the water goddess, Bini-Ebi Madinorbo.

Seven white masquerades with beautifully carved headpieces that look beyond the ordinary and infused with a spirit being, even my eyes find fear against pleasure at the head masquerade, to give salutations in a manner more sensational to Bini-Ebi deity than humans. But there is joy in the multitude among believers. I stood akimbo with rhetorical questions in my mind: who is Tompolo? How come he lives in both land and water? What mortal could he be?

An aged woman like a gatekeeper to the spiritual world that lives in between the spiritual and the physical world quizzically spoke into my ears, “It is a mystery. The benevolent Bini-Ebi and Tompolo are beyond the questions you ask and the answers you seek– you can’t get them. But on the last day of the festival, Bini-Ebi will walk from the sea to meet with Tompolo. Your eyes can’t see it, but when the lights at this temple go off, when all the earthly women go out of the sacred Temple when all the drums and songs are mute, then you will know that Tompolo is half human and half spirit. Humility and kindness have transfigured him; he is doing the will of the ancestors dedicated to what mere writers couldn’t figure out. You are permitted to write down this I have revealed to you but don’t go beyond this. Soon you shall speak to the master himself, for Tompolo shall speak to you one day, you will write down the book of Bini-Ebi Madinorbo Deity, titled; ‘The Unending Mysteries of Bini-Ebi and Tompolo,’ I shall reveal his code name TANTITA in the spirit realm; it is beyond human knowledge.” Eventually, I crane my neck to see the face of the aged woman where she fades into the air and tells me that pure hearts achieve more spiritual blessings.

I heard a voice of prayer, Bini-Ebi Madinorbo! Bini- Ebi Madinorbo! Bini- Ebi Madinorbo! Bowe! Accept this offering, we have come again to redeem our pledges and promises; for you have redeemed us wealth, protection, opportunities and others. Yes, last year all our requests you made manifest, brought Tantita Surveillance Contract. For many have benefited from it, and you have not disappointed us, and the Ijaw Nation. It’s our turn to adore and honour you. Bless Ijaw Nation, bless humanity. Anyone with evil intent against Tompolo let him not see water or land. For I have no evil plan against anyone who said Tantita, (a code of name from the water) is their problem, “mesebotorubobaye”

Iseee! (in chorus)

Foot sounds moved like warriors returning victoriously from a battle, happiness and fullness of joy engulfed the faces of worshipers, women, young men and old in their numbers dropping down their pledges to continue in the stream of wealth and blessings. Activities of purification, cleansing, offerings and thanksgiving for the sojourn of spiritual awakening become the clapping sounds of the traditional worship at the sacred temple.

Thus, joy banging at my state of being, in my deep reverie, High Priest Kariwei Omoh wrote a note in green colour as the water flowed to Bobougbene Creek. The drum sounds aloud beyond the great Aworowo drum of Ayakoromo to my ears. Opuozi of Izon-Ibe, the Talking Drum, Ogulagha kingdom to celebrate their 3-day annual festival, 2023 Bini-Ebi Madinorbo, it has come again, speak oh! The great scribe of the gods, you could telepathically infuse the realms of the gods of Ijaw land. Yes, Tompolo said and I say this to you, write as we are set this year to celebrate the Queen of Queens, the mother who owns the wealth of the waters and land, milk and honey flows from the sea to the land, yes, Biniperebou Izonyanbodeyee. Oil will continue to flow, peace and development to all Ijaw Nation.

BINI-EBI annual festival memorably 19th March 2023 Owuh dein koru, all men and women gather at the great Temple of Bini-Ebi. Main event 20th to 22nd and the 23rd a day of departure.

This moment of holy pilgrimage is to bring blessings upon humanity, women will have their blessings in abundance, their children will be blessed, let them come in their pure thought and submissiveness, and men will be blessed by Bini-Ebi Madinorbo. Let them come with humility and honesty, for those who seek the face of the gods in pure thought shall be blessed and those holiness pretenders’ shall be cleansed from the Tompolo’s pot of purification. For truth the gods bless us in our prayers, for truth and humility God increases our faith in what we believe, hold onto it as in Tompolo’s last words, he left.

The bell gongs three times and in my illusive-like reflections, I saw Tompolo walking into the sea while the worutuwawei, Chief Kestin Pondi waited in a solemnly praying mood with seven bottles of native drinks, native chalk, and other delicacies for the spiritual atonement, hours ago. Tompolo returns from the sea, the drum of Sibe draws him back to the munificent temple of Bini-Ebi Madinorbo, and then twenty-one high priests of Ijaw deities pour libations in the prayer of peace, unity, love, and wealth upon the Ijaw Nation and Nigeria at large, then Ziba-Opuoru, Ibolomobo-ere deity, the High Priestess in a mood of transfiguration pour libations to the ancestors and seal the prayers with Ziba oo, Ziba, the Queen of Queens to bless men and women.

Silence, as the drummer gave him his titles, em, yes Tompolo is the gods begotten son to bring back the lost heritage of the Ijaw people, Odokorikodo, the Lion, set the dining for the gods with different delicacies, the drumming sound fades away, and I woke up with smiles upon my face as a tape of hands upon my jaw. I open my eyes and behold my flood wife pointed at the Sunray at my window.

BINI-EBI MADINORBO, I will not want to miss this year’s Bini-Ebi annual festival in Ogulagha kingdom Burutu LGA of Delta State, those who participate in it, share their testimonies annually and their success increases, our culture is our heritage, our tradition is our gateway, our religion is our identity to harmonizing our pathway to the Divine Intelligence as Tompolo invites us all.

Asiayei Enaibo
The Talking Drum
Writes from GbaramatuVoice media organization
Written on the 9th March 2023.