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Okhumoya Iyekhor… enduring value of multitalented artist



IVERSATILE creative disciples are found in many Nigerian communities; as entertainers, they are judged on different levels, but for late Okhumoya Iyekhor, he was an all rounder: his diction in singing was captivating and inciting, making his listeners to wish that they were gifted with his dexterous footsteps when he dances and when he decides to tell a story built around a particular subject, from human beings to animals. Even his real name Okhumoya (humiliation cleansed off me by my creator and his surname – Iyekhor – I never live badly).

    People in various callings in life bring fame to their places of origin as remote as they could be naturally. For instance, Governor Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole recalled openly at his village called Iyamho in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State during the burial of his late wife, Clara that both on the physical and political maps of Nigeria his village Iyamho can’t be found on the maps, but the ceremony has attracted all levels of personalities to the unknown village, including President Jonathan to the soil of Iyamho to condole him on the passage of his late wife.

    So also, Ayogwiri, a bigger community cannot be found on the said maps, but has produced personalities known all over the place.  Ayogwiri has produced a well-known State Permanent Secretary – now retired Chief James Illuebey who once acted as Head of Service and Secretary to Government, in the business sector, there is Mr. J. O. K. Idonijie, a successful Lagos based businessman, Sir Oyase Ivowi, a retired Director of Administration at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) and Comrade Pius Ede, a former National Vice President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) South South, just to mention a few.

    In the creative aspect, Ayogwiri has also produced a popular female artiste, late Madam Agbaobesi Ikhenebomeh, whose name rings a bell in the entire Edo State and beyond amongst Afenmai people even in the diaspora.

    Her style of deliverance was a spectacular feat in addition to her dancing and vocals, coupled with her compositions which were acidic and soothing, depending on the subject matter.

    Late Okhumoya worked and retired from the cattery department of the University of Benin. He was the leader of the Efa Folk Troupe of Ayogwiri but based in Benin City. He was an easy going and gentle person. Looking rather as unexposed person, but when he engages one in a discussion, one would discover his many creative qualities as he would always back up his submissions with parables of life linked up with the wise folktales of various animals.

  Okhumoya could make one hold on to one’s two rips of the body so as not to burst them from laughter when he decides to role out stanzas of humour. When he takes to dancing coupled with rendering of songs tallying with the backing of instrumentation, a genius is evidently unfolded.

    There is this vacuum in the documentation of Etsako creative works in the form of disc production in which many artistes fall victims to some record dealers: in some cases, this writer had gone to the extreme of asking questions on their behalf and I had to withdraw in order not to be called names.

    Okhumoya and His Troupe periodically perform on invitations and at communal events to honour their people.  Certainly his passage has created a vacuum within the Troupe as no other Okhumoya is in the making. Also, none of his children is even

thinking of carrying on on his behalf. He of course has paid his dues as an outstanding and all rounder that has put Ayogwiri on the map of the creative scene in Afenmai land.

• Abudah, journalist and documentarist is founder of Afenmai Heritage & Cultural Studies

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