Ukara cloth

Ukara cloth
Ukara cloth detail, Etara community, Cross River State, Nigeria

Ntufam Bob Oku — literature, music and drawings

Ntufam Bob Oku (in front), dances during an Mgbè (Ékpè) celebration at Agbokim Waterfalls, January 2015 (I. Miller photo).

Bob Oku is the artistic name for Ntufam Ojong Oku Njok, who hails from Agbokim Waterfalls in Etung L.G.A., Cross River State, Nigeria, a part of the Éjághám-speaking civilization of the Cross River region that extends into Cameroon. Ntufam Bob Oku is a creative artist whose works include short stories, novels, dramatic plays, poetry, musical compositions, and paintings.

Bob Oku is an Ntufam ‘village head’ of Agbokim Waterfalls, indicating that he descends from a royal lineage that founded this community centuries ago. He is a passionate leader of the Mgbè (Ékpè) institution who has been promoting traditional values through his artistic work.

In 2008, Bob Oku founded the Abhon Arim ‘young spirits’ cultural troupe, that has been passionately expressing Éjághám dance and song culture in festivals throughout the region. To our knowledge, this is the only such troupe existing in Éjághámland, and therefore merits support to enable their participation in international productions and festivals.

Bob Oku has been aiding Dr. Miller in research into Mgbè culture, particularly in Éjághám regions of Nigeria and Cameroon. Significantly, Bob Oku has been able to identify three basic Éjághám rhythms expressed in Cuban Abakuá music. This is a breakthrough in understanding the complex transmission of African culture into the Caribbean, that can only be fully revealed through cooperative research with African cultural experts like Bob Oku.

The three rhythms are identified as Mgbè (Ékpè), that is, the deep ritual music of the initiation society for men; Kokoma (Merengue), a festive dance open to the entire community (young and old, male and female), and Agaba (Ekombi), typically a dance for young maidens who are celebrating the completion of their training for womanhood. These insights confirm the deep relationship between African founders and Caribbean culture that remain dimly understood. The case of Bob Oku provides evidence that much can be learned through cultural exchanges between ‘organic intellectuals’ and scholarly researchers in Africa and the Caribbean.

Bob Oku’s drawings depict the cultural displays, life-ways and myths of his Éjághám-speaking community.
Obasinjom masquerade with its music.
This masquerade performs in order to identify and drive out evil from a community.
"Emanyamkpe." An Ekpe (Nymakpe) display.
From left to right: musicians, Mmonyo 'plumed staff', a traditional jester with crooked stick, and the Nyamkpe masquerade.
"Mmoninkim." Dance of the maiden under the moonlight.
The musicians hold rattles, a metal gong, and a doubled bass and long drum.
"Abumbum." A stilt dancer common to the Cross River region.
"The Day is Over." A village scene in the evening time.
The villagers return from their farms with produce, firewood, and palm wine from the felled palm tree to the right.
"An artist's mind-view of a typical December scene on the Manyu 'John Holt Beach', Mamfe." Locals are fishing, swimming, washing and playing in Mamfe, Southwest Cameroon.

"Okumi Ka Njim'i Njok," 'sitting at the back of an elephant'. A young man plucks fruits and leaves from a tree from the back of an elephant. 

Bob Oku’s literature is based upon his life experience, and intends to give insight into African traditional cultural values. The following books all are self-published:

Take These Verses (poems)
Orock the Devil
The Bamboo Priest
Adventures of Enobhe
The Slave Girl
Brain Upliftment
One Bad Turn Deserves Many Others

Contact Bob Oku: (234)-0705-333-4560