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Abisua war dance troupe without its Apana leader


Abisua war dancers during rehearsal

Abisua war dancers during rehearsal

Varied traditional troupes have formational guidelines that depict their specifics generally: in Etsako land, troupes like the Aimi masquerade, Eluemosi female troupe and the Isiko (hunters) troupe all do have guiding levels which constitute their membership, ranging from age to other definitions.

These troupes also promote their locations to prominence. In Apana village, Etsako West Local Government Area, Edo State, the Abisua War Dancers Troupe has for over 50 years placed it on a recollective format because of its guidelines solely on age limit wherein membership can’t be less than 60 years of age bracket.

Its costume of woven calico, wooden carved cutlasses and harmless spears coupled with frightening lyrics of songs, define its main role as an army of protectors of Apana.

The leader (commander) exhibits a formation of harmless warriors as he dishes out instructions coupled with a perfect foot matching effect, which corresponds like a battalion of trained army soldiers falling out to set out on an invasion mission.

The Abisua War Dancers demonstrated this feat on March 12, 2010 during the inauguration of Afenmai Heritage and Cultural Studies centre before our very own Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka at the open pavilion of Auchi Polytechnic under this writer’s directorship.

The passage of Pa Johnson Aigbona, at 83, who was the leader of the troupe in addition to being the most elderly man of Ivbifa quarters in Apana, has certainly created a vacuum in the community: but this wouldn’t fade out the existence of the elderly troupe as a leader would emerge after the mourning period.

In most Nigerian communities wherein the pursuit of materialism is becoming the order of the day, this writer is on the watch out to see if Abisua Troupe’s current membership would be allowed to fade out.

Apart from the production of various elites like Prof. Eddie Eraigbe of the University of Benin, Chief Lucky James, Hon. Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs amongst others, the Apana community owes itself the responsibility to ensure the continuity of this versatile troupe by encouraging various age groups to standby and make this creative aspect of Apana’s existence on the map of artistic themes as late Pa Aigbona has done his absolute contribution in his calling while on mother earth.

Businessmen and other professionals never bring fame to their communities more than the creative disciples as their achievements have always been evaluated on personal scores, unlike the creative disciple whose performance unveils the unknown location of their various communities.

• Abudah, a journalist and documentalist, wrote in from Benin City, Edo State.

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