Opinion

Uzagighir is cool

Uzagighir dancer in action.

By Michael Ushahemba Utagher

Recently, there has been a new trend around the Benue trough. Though meant to be funny, there are way too many funny people around these days who mistake their comic lifestyles for seriousness. It is about the ‘uzagighir’ written pejoratively as ‘uzagir.’ This is intended to refer to middle-aged women. Though, I have not been briefed by the young men who flaunt this, I believe this is what they actually mean.

The trend started off on a young lady’s wall when she made a post referring to herself as an uzagir. Hembadoon Nyikyaa Wan Mbachohon, is a young lady by all standards. Nigerians have a way of having fun. It is tagged catching cruise. Undoubtedly, she intended to ‘catch cruise’ except I am wrong. I don’t socialize much since, I deliberately keep a slim circle of friends. This ensures, the vicious cycle is easily completed and issues are addressed with more efficiency. Just as I have said before, I haven’t built a theatre thus, I am not really good at entertaining drama. But, this one got me.

As young people, normal ways of socializing with the locals used to be during festivities. Funerals and the Christmas period for instance. Also, there was a thing name ‘Ijuaan.’ Literally, it meant the meeting. People would invite others from different places to come and congregate at the host’s place (residence) for entertainment. Booze will go round in an abundance and males with impressive wooing skills would as well have access to boobs in addition to the booze. Everything was intended to be in excess. The feeling was orgiastic. Unfortunately or rather fortunately, we were too young to witness all events.

At this occasion, pledges of donations were made. People donated to the host who was said to ‘Mir Ijuaan.’ The term loosely means to wet a meeting. This was so termed because, fermentation of booze in Tiv grammar is translated as wetting alcohol. Msorom or (shin) tashi u mirin. During celebrations, the importance of liquor can never be overestimated. Hence, it is never underestimated. It is under the influence of msorom that people are emboldened to show off and pledge hefty donations which they must redeem to prove their worth.

Dances would be paraded to entertain people. One of such famous dances was the uzagir dance. Women of age would form a circle. The drummers would be at the centre. It is interesting to note, the dance never commenced early or as soon as the events for the occasion would start. It seemed to be the best and was rightly reserved for last. When time has gone past our kid’s eyes, sleep would takeover. Children refusing to sleep will either be lured or coerced. If I found myself in the village as well as my mother, there was no chance to watch uzagir. In the country home with my paternal grandma, I never missed uzagir dance. I wasn’t the sleepy type as a child and she would have me by the side proudly showcasing me as her sharp grandson.

Uzagir women who formed the dancers were skilled in traditional affairs. They will feed the children and the younger wives. Put them to bed then hit the stage. Wrappers these women tied were patterned uniquely. There was one called kperegh [wing]. The edge of the wrapper [tsombo abeda] was tilted to elongate slightly than the other side fastened inside. At the waistline, it was loosely knotted then held in place by a smaller piece of clothing named gile or yet another smaller piece or wrapper. At this instance, be sure to see the best of the uzagir.

Singing was done in a melodious way. Drumming would be soothingly rhythmic. Some times, there would be a trumpeter or flutist [or gida and/or or-imiaa]. It wasn’t a rush-rush dance. Just slow and steady with the flow. Songs were of the erotica genre. People of fantasy would be referenced. Men who were husbands to these women could never be jealous. They had no reason to be.

Most of the uzagir had seen life in different colours. Their emotions had faded. They interpreted life situations practically. As pragmatists, they admitted their failings in nursing the sexual urge of their men. By that, they wooed and married young wives for their husbands. Note, while they would be out dancing, their husbands would either be in the cuddled arms of these young wives or, they will be out drinking without much desire for the uzagir. Men notable for dancing with the uzagir were considered cynics. They were seen as churlish or lousy men (agbenger aior or, ubee mbaiorov).

Such men weren’t to be taken seriously. But guess what, women don’t fancy seriousness that much. These sort of men at times would strike their luck while dancing uzagir and take one member of the uzagir to the corner. Don’t think too much. Exactly what you might be thinking would happen at the instance. Uzagir dancers displayed greater dancing spirit when the drumming and trumpeting replaced singing. Best of the dance moves were unveiled at that time. Touching ensued, cooing and moaning which concealed as dance hype took over.

Two ladies particularly have caught attention with their bold claims to the uzagir status. Hembadoon Nyikyaa Wan Mbachohon and Patra Uchir. While the first episode of the trending series was set into motion by Hembadoon, Patra joined in with the loud claim. How they fancy this status is quite interesting but truth remains, they are not uzagir.

Clearly, it will be seen, this duo aren’t of age to rate as such. Women who had married and were almost through with childbearing formed the uzagir crew. Also, uzagir squad acknowledged their limitations in handling the affairs of their husbands during the night. They went to the extent of marrying younger wives for their husbands. Hembadoon and Patra don’t look like people who will either share their man with any other lady. It is not a thing to even contemplate. They will drop you cold at the attempt.

Patra and Hembadoon are still ones who command attraction from even less emotive people like me. Uzagir were ignored and they sort fun. Fun is still running after these ladies (Patra and Hembadoon). There aren’t uzagirs today. Do not be deceived. The women that should pass as uzagir have legitimate responsibilities of looking after their children and husband along with works of any kind as permitted by the modern society. Reason is, most did not marry as early as the women of back in the days. Their ages might edge close to uzagir but, they have children directly theirs who still require tending. They can’t afford to let the children be at the expense of soothing your emotions.

Our hysteria about the benefits of uzagir has been borne out of imagined care of they not complaining and maybe, financial gains. We have to laugh at this ignorance. Uzagir have issues far beyond the scope of the young. When they have an issue that requires consulting the gods, the lover might be called to find a way out. Asides that, the women erroneously rated as uzagir today aren’t. Obviously, jogobi is what most of the young men have mistaken for uzagir. Jogobi in the real sense, a cooking pot is made of aluminum. The utensil can endure harsh cooking conditions.

Jogobi is produced by melting and moulding alumuniun into a cast. It has three studs in the form of spikes at its base. These spikes reduce its direct contact with the fire during heating. Most importantly, since the pot has a round base, the spikes become the supporting appendages upon which the pot stands. Just as jogobi the pot has been brutalized and only finds support from its trinity of legs, the jogobi class of women also have their experience. Women in this category are too exposed to settle for a man. They have three desires; themselves, wealth and power. By virtue of their smartness, jogobi secures looks, power and even amasses wealth. Then, nature plays a smart one.

We all have the desire to enjoy the company of others. We crave to be loved privately. Coupled with the fact hormones respect no one, these women also have the desire to be touched. Their fame works against them. Most of the young men they cherish avoid them. So, the jogobis will lure, woo and have a desired younger male fellow to themselves. They own these ones as chattels. Jogobi would see to the needs of such young people (boys) and in turn, derive her benefits from the bed. Sugar mummy shouldn’t be mistaken for this. Gigolo also is at variance with the operations of jogobi. Jogobi women don’t seek to secure the young men’s future but to satisfy their desires.

Not long ago, I was at a hut resting where palm-wine was making rounds across the table. I heard a song from which I borrowed sense. Nigerians consider every situation that adds to one’s experience in life as one to borrow sense from. Between them and the situation, there is no lender but only borrower. We borrow sense everyday. I did on the day too.

In Tiv, the song went: “U ker jogobi ya kwagh doo jogobi. U yav a jogobi ya kwagh doo jogobi. U pav a jogobi sha mfena ga, wan zenden yôôn we u ngu kpenen o.” Translated as: You befriend jobgobi, she is happy. You sleep with jogobi, she is happy. You break up with jogobi without her consent, son just go about announcing you are going to die.” Outrightly, jogobi is a brute not to be messed with. The advantage you might see yourself gaining from them is actually a disaster in disguise. As you keep digging your jogobi thinking you are about to strike gold, the mines might collapse over you burying you underneath.

With no intention to scare anyone, young men should know the difference between uzagir and jogobi before they set out for the expedition. As good as uzagir is, they are rare to find in a world taken over by the jogobis. The younger ladies vilified since the trend started are getting gored for no fault of theirs. Your favourite uzagirs pass as life coaches to these innocent girls you describe as slay queens or urgent 2k. They take instructions from uzagir and experiment with you. Better still, it is good for you that this happens. Such will prepare you for your responsibility as husband. Pray not to fall into the hands of one (young girl) who is under the wings of jogobi.

Uchir Patra and Nyikyaa Hembadoon have promoted a trend which, makes them unique. I know Patra. She is a friend and a nice person. Hembadoon is way too expressive to be mean. I haven’t met her but, the way she freely creates humour, I strongly believe she is a nice person as well. One thing these two can’t feign is the claim to being uzagir. I repeat, they are not. You can’t have any of them and still freely have other women. These are friends we take seriously. Younger men getting carried away shouldn’t ‘tamper.’ We are the ones that should be deserving of their (uzagir) friendship. How it goes remains our business with them.

Summarily, Tivta Samuel Aondohemba, Tsambe Enoch TMan Timothy Iortyer and the rest of the younger men around getting excited about the uzagirs, must leave these people for us. We know how to dance the uzagir. We understand the sound of their flute and trumpet better. If you insist, our uzagirs are not disloyal. They are loyal people. We will ask them to ‘run you street.’ Definitely, they shall obey. ‘Wotowoto’ is what you will collect. Now, you can see the danger.

Utagher is Secretary, PDP, Guma Local Government Area.

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