OKAFOR, THE IBUSA MAN THAT TOOK ANIOMA’S FLUTE TO OLYMPIC GAMES By Emeka Esogbue


OKAFOR, THE IBUSA MAN THAT TOOK ANIOMA’S FLUTE TO OLYMPIC GAMES

Anioma is known to be a land of great human resources. Thus the Anioma nation continues to do the Nigerian nation proud. From Anioma, we have the first human to travel through the Sahara Desert; from Anioma, we have the first ordained Catholic Priest in Africa. From Anioma, we have the man that lowered the Union Jack and hoisted the Nigerian flag. From Anioma, we have the shortest military Head of State in history etc but this very one is unique.

In 1968, Mr B. U. I. Okafor, the great flutist from Isieke, Umuekea in Ibusa, Delta State, a member of the Nigerian Cultural Troupe performed in front of a mammoth Olympic audience in Mexican City.

It was the 1968 World Olympic Games and his ingenuity in Anioma people’s talking flute natively called “Akpele” attracted the government of Nigeria so he was chosen among the contingent that also included the Late Prof Zulu Sofola, the then lecturer of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, a scholar of Anioma extraction.

Mr Okafor so performed brilliantly that for a moment, the world was enthralled, captivated and channeled all attention towards him. It was a day the world danced to Anioma’s Akpele. Shortly afterwards, he was nicknamed “Okafor Mexico”, a name he consequently bore till death.

The Anioma Akpele is a small woodwind instrument of a wood tube. It has a hole in the middle and often spoke the wishes of the flutist thus it is called the talking flute. The flutist is natively called “Onye Akpele” and it is used for entertainment, music performance and performance of rites.

Prior to the time, Okafor Mexico was the leader of Otu Oganihu Dancing Group of Ibusa, founded in the 1960s. An entire practice and rehearsals of the cultural group preparatory to cultural display constantly held in his home. Other members of that cultural group included Prof Louis Chelunor Nwaoboshi, the now Obuzo of Ibusa.

The Ibusa community was renowned for her musical prowess thus nicknamed “Igbuzo Congo”. Mr. Okafor was the first known Anioma man to perform with a native flute at the Olympic.

Okafor was the father of Femi Okafor, a social crusade from Ibusa.

Picture: Taken at OFAAC’s Anioma Festival in Asaba

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