Ayakoromo community celebrates Waibode cultural festival, reflects on 2010 military invasion

Ayakoromo community celebrates Waibode cultural festival, reflects on 2010 military invasion

By Enaibo Asiayei

The people of Ayakoromo community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta state, Nigeria, on Friday, January 13, 2023, gathered at the community square to celebrate one of their newly founded cultural fiestas tagged ‘Ayakoromo Waibode Masquerade’.

GbaramatuVoice reliably gathered that the Ayakoromo Waibode Masquerade is a significant cultural celebration set aside to commemorate the military onslaught against John Togo, a prominent indigene of the community, on the 1st of December, 2010, which resulted in the death of scores of people within the community and wanton destruction of property.

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Leader of the Osuokere Masquerade group, MD Okpe, while in a chat with GbramatuVoice further explained that the sad incident which is today referred to, by the community and public affairs commentators as ‘John Togo Saga’, was reportedly declared by the Federal Government, an illicit act on the part of the Nigerian Military Joint Task Force (JTF). In view of that declaration, the military authority was ordered by the Federal Government to rebuild the Ayakoromo community which they destroyed.

Continuing, he stressed that in compliance with the above directive, the men of the Nigerian Military built sets of uniformed houses for the people of Ayakoromo community.

To immortalize this development, Osuokere masquerade group, a cultural group in the community, decided to make a remarkable headpiece that depicts the uniform houses built by the military.

According to him, Tonye Amadiwei’ is the name of the young man that carved the masquerade that is today known and celebrated as Ayakoromo waibode, meaning ‘’Ayakoromo has returned to its original status’’.

Another member of the community, Miens Brialade, told GbaramatuVoice that the inherent beauty associated with this particular masquerade is that Ayakoromo has about five (5) masquerade groups and all come from different forest by virtue of their hierarchy.

But for this particular one that is being celebrated today, instead of coming out from the forest, it will starts from the beginning of the town and move with its display and end at the ending of the town. The symbolic meaning of that action is that it tells the world that Ayakoromo has returned from the beginning of how it started to where it is now.

This is a very significant cultural aspect of the Ayakoromo Waibode Festival. It shows that the Ijaw and the Ayakoromo people in particular have their own tradition that has been preserved despite the ugly incident that befell the people, he concluded.

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