Idim Atai,

Bowering Mother Earth,

Life Source,

ever flowing spring,

that nurtures Ekpene Ukim

people, young and old,

 their strangers, neighbours and all.

It was gladness to meet you again

after many years of poetic absence.

I am impressed by your resilience,

still coursing despite the many years

of environmental cursing

orchestrated by mindless multinational

capitalists in mining garbs.

I sing to your noble service to a race;

seeing you brings back memories,

memories of childhood and how

I sucked from your life-giving breasts as a boy;

your pure water washed my sweaty and slippery trunk

After a hard day’s play at school.

Long before the metal snake started

spitting out its tasteless liquid,

your living water consoled my thirst when

I ran to you in the heat

of the dry season’s afternoon.  

Oh what a joy it was to bathe

 in your calm and cool interior,

Locked in your cold embrace,

we were in watery paradise!

 We were boys and girls

 and we were happy

to play, safe and protected, in your watery court

all sorts of boyish and girlish games.

Your steep hills taught my infant heart

the art of endurance and perseverance,

if I slipped and fell,

your caring foot would support me

when I rolled down your steep incline;

still it was your water that would re-wash

my dirt, cleanse and balm my scalded knees.

Idim Atai,

Like a loving mother, you raised me,

Like a caring father, you disciplined me.

I owe my manhood to your upbringing.

For helping with my laundry those years,

I have come to show you appreciation;

to immortalise you in my art,

sing of your kind deeds to the world,

praise your enduring spirit and grit.

Though contracted by time,

you still serve with love and care.

But let me ask you, Idim Atai,

why do you forbid women from visiting you on Ederebo?

But they must flee and take refuge in Idim Ukpong

Or live to bear the consequences of seeing your sacred face,

The face of Afia Anwan,

regaled in a royal attire,

 admiring her beauty with a flashing mirror.

Why are women who birthed twins

 never allowed into your watery sanctuary?

Does your contracted body mean that you are dying?

Are you ill or burdened by age?

Maybe you just need a gentle dredging nudge

in order to bloom and blossom again.

I always wonder, amazing stream,

where your source comes from

and where you are going when

you reach Ikot Inyang in Ituk Mbang.

Or do you empty yourself into Akwa Akpa?

If you ever pass by Idu to Ifiayong Beach,

greet Surveyor Iniobong Ekpenyong,

the gentle and youthful leader

of Uruan Inyang Atakpor,

and if your tributaries and arteries run through

Northern rocks,

kindly hail Senator Aniekan Bassey,

a leader-activist beloved by the people,

and who harbours humanity in his heart.

Keep your flowing march and live

again, our ever mobile Amazon.

Live again, dear stream, and flourish,

For your existence is a mark of timelessness.

You have witnessed many epochs in the life of the people:

The wars of the market square,

The bravery of Essien Akpa Ino,

The migration of Ekpene Ukim

people from Imaan,

the boundary wars between Ekpene Ukim and Ikot Edong,

the grand Chiefdom of Obong Etetok Udo Abe,

the heroism of Etubom Udo Iyaya,

the sea exploits of Attat,

the justice which proceeded

from the Court of Obong Umoh Eyo

the humility and hard work of

Chief Asuquo Etim Effiong,

the kindness of Obong Kufre-Abasi Etuk,

and the generosity of Pastor Michael Bush.

Live large again, sweet stream,

and continue your noble duties

of nurturing and raising

many sons and daughters

of Ekpene Ukim,

Who will soon return

from different parts of the earth

to pay homage to your

motherly attributes and ageless grace.

My Visit to Idim Atai

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