Orukoro Dancer

 “Child, weep not

Mother will be fine”


Still Tonye’s voice went out

Surpassingthe rolling drums

To win mother’s attention,

Her hands stretched forth

Forcing body through dense crowd

To mar mother’s drunken steps,

She, solitary Lass, soaked with her tears,

Weaved a cry:

“Mother! Mother!

What have they done to you mother!?

It’s me your daughter!

Come!Come homeward!”

But all were health tips for pigs.


Dancer, canoe to the unseen paddler

Dancer, slave to the spiritual native banter

Feet, chalk-patterned by her painter

Body, clad with white and red George-wrapper,

Dancedforward, danced backward,

Danced drummers-ward, danced viewers-ward,

Danced, Shell to her marine partner

Dancedshe, beats after beats,songs after songs,

Swung,palm leaves at wind’s gate.

Ah! Severalfresh eggs went lost to her belly.

Then I replaced the soil on my soles with another

Weaving pity in my heart

Pity for viewers, lostin spirit’s huddle

Spirits who seek for more canoes to paddle.


By Fubaraibi Anari Benstowe





Orukoro dancers are women who dance to certain drumbeats under the influence of a marine spirit, at these times, songs and drums are played by members of their Orukoro society. Viewers usually come out in their numbers to witness the dance-steps.The word Orukoro means the coming down of a deity, In this case it is usually the marine deity that possesses a person.

The Orukoro societiesare worshippers of marine deities in many Ijaw communities in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States of Nigeria.





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