Lamentation for Dekina

A primary school class in Dekina town
A primary school class in Dekina town. PHOTO CREDIT-ProjectIGALA

Its Monday 26th of June 2017…the much-talked about day of all days is here – and with great excitement and gleeful anticipation, I packed my bags and breezed in to Anyigba, the acclaimed centre of Igalaland for the 2017 Igala Cultural Festival.

The entire gamut of Anyigba was agog and in colourful celebratory mood such that a
stranger will surely know that something was up in the sleepy yet bustling university
town.

Like a bride coming out for groom on the day of marriage, Anyigba was bedecked in sweet-smelling ornaments of gladness and excitement with rapturous joy so palpable in the air!

After checking into my hotel room and with time to spare, i decided to pay a short visit to Dekina the Local Government headquarter. The ancient and history-laced town which also happens to be my mother’s birthplace has become a ghost of itself.

The old ever busy Anyigba – Dekina road that used to take forever has now become a long
jump that you can ply with okada and in 10 minutes you’re there.

I had nostalgic and sweet childhood memories of this beautiful and laid back town where a child is loved, fed and welcomed by everyone in the community.

The market days was a treat i looked forward to on my visits as I get to see peoples of different tribes, dress fashion, fulanis, the bassa nkomos with their perculiar way of carrying loads. And my favourite of all – the unique persona called Jenebu who would always ride down on her bycicle, park in front of our house to greet and share some hilarious jokes with my grandma who will sell snuff and kolanut to her while I stand afar and stare, bemused by a woman wearing a man’s otogbo with a gorgeous fully plaited “all back” hairstyle and takes snuff. lol!

Dekina, the evergreen town of my childhood where you can run to any house and knock on
their door for assistance any time of the day or night and you get it. That Dekina of my memory from those visits to my maternal grandmother in the early 80s is long gone just like my grandmother and the people I could remember from that generation.

The first inkling of the huge disappointment that await me was the state of the old motorpark.

As i stepped off the taxi with my head turning 360 to get my bearing, i felt a pang of pain
remembering how boisterous and overwhelming this motorpark used to be in those days especially on a market day.

For the pang of pain to subside and feel the town upclose, i decided to walk down the familiar old path that runs straight to GSSD.

Everything has shrunk, become old like the relic of a forgotten film location, it took me time to recognise the old landmarks where we used to play and runaround. The Anglican Church, Messrs Egbunu Willing and Abu John Ali houses, my grandma house which is adjacent to the junction to the famous Iteme river.

I felt like one in a time travel!

Dekina oh Dekina,
Time has stood still for you
the people and the infrastructures – even your schools are not left out

Dekina oh Dekina
when will you come forth to the 21st century
thats already going down?

Dekina oh Dekina
when will you taste of the rapid urbanization
that has overtaken towns with less historical and traditional essence
as you?

Dekina oh Dekina
Your children have moved on
But thou remaineth like a cake unturned

The Dekina of my childhood will forever remain what it is – a memory of a distant past
and the Dekina I saw in June 2017 will forever be to me a huge disappointment.

With a heavy heart and regret for even coming to visit this beautiful but abandoned town, I retraced my step back to the University stadium where i tried to drown my sorrow in the raphsodic drumming from the energetic ogba dance groups, the glee of running from pursuing benevolent ancestral spirits who had come to grace the cultural festival and my favourite all time snack of the century okkpulu and igbalaji sugar!

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