a writing by Dowell Ighohwo Oba

With an air of a destination in mind, I faded into the night with my touch light handy for easy movement through the darkness; but the darkness itself was so thick that even my touch light met no match in making out a reflection from the night. The moon had not shown its face, and the darkness was so intense. So I moved like a sheep lost wandering, seeking greener pastures. At a time I panicked with the reality of being unable to locate my way forward nor backwards, but then a ray of hope lay in the belief that any native of Kwari finding me would know I was the only stranger in town, and would guide me through the night’s frustrating darkness. I had gotten used to having street lights, shop lights or trading merchants show some light at nightfall, helping with the black-out, but in no time had I witnessed the night pictured in its real state of thick darkness and horror, like tonight. Oh! I contemplated quietly to myself. Had I had known, I would have slept soundly like a dove and buried my eyes safely in my pillow. But then my quest for adventure even in the night time had brought me out from my safe fortress to the true picture of the night, previously modernized and painted like the day-time in modern day cities of the world. Wandering into the night, I must have lost focus of my destination and tonight’s mission, with the thought of actually being lost and wandering alone down the road. For at most times, I would find myself walking through grains of ground-nuts placed at the edge of the road by some farmers awaiting tomorrow’s market day, then I would realize almost immediately that I had walked away from the pathway.

Tonight I had stepped out from my house with an intention of meeting with Joe at his place. But then, a walking task I had considered no big deal had suddenly become a bigger deal. For in the brightness of daylight I would easily walk through some kilometers to Joe’s place, gazing admirably to natural sights and scenery. So now it’s beginning to dawn on me clearer. Maybe viewing nature’s natural presence in the day-time had guided me through these parts to-and-fro. Unconsciously, I gazed at the point in my right, in which I usually sighted the mountain, but then I could not picture its presence in the darkness. I knew Joe’s house was somewhere along the road, and so I journeyed through a path which I guessed might be it. I sighted something that looked like the figure of a young man, and walked straight towards him. He himself had sighted me from the close range and was waiting for me to draw near. “Have you seen Joe?”, I enquired sharply. “Just follow the sound of music over there, you’ll meet him at where it’s being played”, he replied. “Thank you very very much! I’m indeed grateful”. It was at that moment I realized a gyration song had been jamming at a little distance from where I was, somewhere along the main road. So I attuned my ears quickly, to get the exact location. I began moving very calmly, making good use of my sense of hearing in the darkness. It was almost as though I was being controlled by rhythm, and was moving uncontrollably to its wishes.

As I moved closer, the music soon became louder and clearer, making me realize I was getting closer to where its speakers were mounted and more so to the source of its echo. I finally came upon a joint where drinks and some other household items were sold. From its bright light came the music and as I walked through the open space where young men were dancing happily, I was quick to spot Joe seated in the company of a man at a bench close to the entrance. Henceforth, I walked towards him, at where he was seated. “Ah! My good friend, I was just thinking of how to come get you before you came”, Joe said, with a smile lit all over his face. “I need to charge my phone”, I informed. “Let me have it then”, he beckoned. He walked into the shop and came back afterwards, letting me know it was charging, and then we sat. As usual, he introduced me to the man as the visiting corper, and he in turn shared good pleasantries.

As I watched the dance floor where the boys were catching their flexible fun in wonderful dance steps, I could not help but conclude that everyone from this village was born with the invisible accompaniment of a talented dance tutor. These boys knew just how to twist their bodies to rhyme perfectly with the musical vibes blaring in from the speakers. It was indeed an open-square nightclub which I was made to understand by Joe. “We always hangout here at night”, he said. “They dance so well”, I followed. “You mean these boys?” “Yeah”. “Ah, they are always happy dancing away the stress of the day”. The DJ who happened to be the shop-keeper played some good Cameroonian Makosa jams, and these boys danced so perfectly to this non traditional dance step as though they had been shipped in from Cameroon themselves. The girls in Kwari were somewhat forbidden from dancing in such public places, so it was no surprise when only the boys were sighted dancing all over the floor of the flexible spinning. As they danced, young men entering the open-square would stop to offer me a handshake and an ensuing greeting. In such times, I was quick to notice that men from Kwari had hands that were roughly hard. I guess it was probably because they all grew up as hard-working farmers. It became so obvious to me because it intimidated my hands that were as soft as rubber.

In that moment of careful observation, the DJ quickly changed the music to a variety usually called Warri-based, where I come from, placing upon me a sense of belonging, as though I was in my Waffi ‘Area’, which was the popular name they called it. Then in previous like-manner of dance artistry, the young men danced in the exciting manner of this home-based trend of music, which I myself could never boast of being a skilled performer. Watching them dance was indeed a raw powerful entertainment, which could not be sought peacefully anywhere back home. And indeed it was so appealing seeing them twist and twirl, up and down, back and forth, and by so doing, giving the rhythm the representational perfection it solely deserved.


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