A tribute by Rowland Ekperi, Patron, Niger Delta Peace Initiative and Development (NDPID) United Kingdom, former President,
Ijaw People’s Association (IPA) of Great Britain and Ireland (2003-2009). Presented at the funeral service of Alexander Nelson Akari, at the Dr. Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre, Yenagoa on Saturday, 14 March 2020.
Alexander Nelson Akari
To the family of Mr. Alexander Nelson Akari; to the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, His Excellency, Senator Douye Diri; Executive Director, Bayelsa Council for Arts and Culture; Head of Bayelsa State Cultural Troupe and distinguished guests. It is a great honour to be given the opportunity to join you today, to celebrate a life unlike any other – the life of my brother and fallen patriot, Mr. Alexander Akari.
To the people of Amassoma, in particular, and Bayelsa State in general, I thank you for sharing Alexander Akari with the Ijaw Nation at home and abroad. He made us all proud and fired the Ijaw spirit in everyone that considered himself or herself, as a true and undiluted patriot of Ijawland.
Mr. Alexander Nelson Akari helped to reinforce the urgent need for Ijaw tradition and cultural renaissance, if Ijaw Nation, particularly, Bayelsa State is to truly take off and achieve the status of the,’Glory of All Lands’.
For Mr. Akari, Ijaw culture, traditions, value systems, arts and drama are essential pre-requisites for solid nation building. He demonstrated this important connect in his drama performance, to communicate messages about social change
It is very interesting that he was ahead of his time. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has started promoting the idea of “Creative industries” as a mode of development, actively encouraging traditional/cultural arts performances as important economic activities in several countries of the world.
Let us hope that the new government of His Excellency, Douye Diri in Bayelsa State, will recognise the above opportunities and invest in Ijaw culture/tradition, value and belief systems. The Government will make positive returns on its investment, provided professionals with vision, qualities, devoid of nepotism, divide-and-rule mentality, greed, power-drunkards are not appointed to manage the affairs of Bayelsa State Council for Arts and Culture and Bayelsa Cultural Troupe.
The Bayelsa State Government should take the above advice seriously and act accordingly. This will be a befitting legacy to the memory of Mr. Alexander Nelson Akari. He was a thorough bred professional and an epitome of excellence. Therefore, the Bayelsa Cultural Troupe should be under the direction and management of a true professional team, free from all political patronage and influence. Our culture, tradition and values must stand the test of time always. Godfatherism, Godmotherism, political patronage and nepotism are barriers to achieving excellence in any government or private institution. Alexander Nelson Akari stood like a colossus against such destructive vices. Bayelsa State and Ijaw Nation are crying out for such people.
I also knew that, like all true Ijaw patriots, Mr Alexander Nelson Akari stood for equity, justice and fairness on matters affecting any human being, including his colleagues. He would always give his potent voice to the claim of the oppressed. He also accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. This meant nothing to him. He was not afraid of those who could kill the physical body but, not the soul and spirit. His strength was the recognition that both the oppressor and oppressed are bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity that, we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others and caring for those around us – the true Ijaw culture, tradition and value system. This was his antidote against oppressors and people that are power-drunk. Alexander Akari was really an extraordinary Ijaw son, always with smiles to brighten lives.
Our culture and tradition require true Ijaw sons and daughters in positions of authority, power and influence, to mentor younger ones to achieve greatness to the Glory of God and Ijaw Nation. He also had this unique gift to recognise young talents and took personal interest in mentoring them. He exhibited this rare gift in his engagements with younger members of the Cultural Troupe, prior to and during their performances, at the Boro Day Events in London. He was not scared of being dethroned as a star performer by his mentees.
Though I am not a prophet, I do not think Bayelsa Cultural Troupe will ever produce another Alexander Nelson Akari for a very long time. People like Mr. Akari are special gifts from the creator. They come. They leave their irreplaceable marks, NEVER to return again. Adieu, my fallen brother and fellow patriot.
To Mr Alexander Nelson Akari’s colleagues from Bayelsa State Cultural Troupe, present here today, I have this to say:
Be inspired by his lifelong example and his call to all of us: do the right things always and walk away from nepotism, Godfatherism; Godmotherism; greed; favours; selfishness; divide-and-rule mentality; arrogance; gossips; bitterness and destructive cliques.
Let the Ijaw culture, tradition, value and belief system guide your interaction with one another. Your individual and collective successes and survival in life, are dependent on your embracing the true Ijaw virtues, which are deeply rooted in our culture and traditions. It is these, that will give everyone happiness, joy, fulfilment and of course, eternal life. Mr. Alexander Akari may be gone from this sinful world, he now enjoys eternal life with his creator – where there is no pain, fear, harassment, regrets, tribulations etc. He has conquered them all. Thus, Mr. Alexander Akari’s star will never stop shining. Oyin Embana!
This tribute would be incomplete without appreciating those that provided the platform, which Alexander Akari utilised, to explore his natural Ijaw talents and excelled to become, an icon of Ijaw culture, tradition, Arts, drama and performance.
First, I would like to thank His Excellency, late D.S.P Alamieyeseigha, the one and only, Governor General of Ijaw Nation, for creating the Bayelsa State Council for Arts and Culture – where the Bayelsa State Cultural Troupe was born. Mr. Alexander Akari developed and mastered his profession at the Council.
The former President of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan GCFR, GCON, deserves a thank you, also. He sustained D.S.P Alamieyeseigha’s vision and continued to invest in the Art Council and Cultural Troupe during his time as Governor of Bayelsa State. He sponsored the Cultural Troupe to several Overseas engagements.
His Excellency, Chief Timpre Sylva also played his part during his tenure as Governor of Bayelsa State. The Cultural Troupe was sponsored to participate at the 2011 Boro Day Event in London. It was one of the most memorable performances of the Troupe overseas. Timpre Sylva was there himself to witness the wonderful display of Ijaw culture and tradition in London.
We cannot forget the contributions made by Professor Barclays Ayakoroma, Chief Ineye Dudefa, Liz Benson, Ballard Bekeewuru, Jethro Koko, Ebi Zibor, Helen Lot, Trust Otuka, Ogili Charles, Gift Zibimira, Bibonimibo Wemi, Joy Benson, Jennifer Ebiegberi, Jonathan Abu, Amazige Justice, Stella Opurupelebo, John Tamaraemi, Wunughugbenie Charles, Ebinimi Richman, Kenekpoye Obudu, Margaret Otuogha, NenonOmieh, Maria Tekeme, Emmanuel Okutuale and others whose names I cannot remember at the time of writing this tribute. You all helped to create one of the greatest Ijaw Cultural icons that came out of Bayelsa State. We thank you all for being proud colleagues of Alexander Akari. Your support has helped to fuel the demand for the renaissance of Ijaw culture, traditions, values and belief system throughout Ijawland.
Finally, after Mr. Alexander Nelson Akari has been laid to rest today, and when we have returned to our homes and re-joined our daily routines, let us search for his strength and qualities. Let’s search for the Ijaw culture, tradition and values that made Mr Akari unique and great somewhere inside of ourselves and help build the Bayelsa State and Ijaw Nation of our dream. It is the only way to leave the type of legacy, which our departed brother,
Mr. Alexander Nelson Akari left in every one of us.
Thank you, Alexander Akari for your contributions towards the renaissance of Ijaw culture, tradition, value and belief systems.
Rest in Peace and Glory.