Mercy Johnson’s ‘Legend of Inikpi’, An Uncommon Panacea for Ethnic Integration

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In a world of continued rivalry, and infusion of ethnic discord through exaggerated stories, the society should not only appreciate those that take the painstaking efforts to retell legendary stories, but also celebrate and eulogize them for taking the pains of setting the record straight and projecting the state high.

Accomplished trial attorney, Kilroy J. Oldster was right when he reflected that, “telling stories that depict the weal of life shapes and reflects human consciousness… An infusion of storytelling lifeblood into the vein of time provides a means to stitch a common thread of conjoined understanding through the collective consciousness of our generation.”

Mercy Johnson Okojie’s “Legend of Inikpi” came to be the uncommon panacea for ethnic integration, and of course, a bridge that will unveil Kogi to the outside world. The legendary movie will remind the Igalas of their trajectory and the ultimate prize that gave birth to the present generation; then remind the Benin of their journey with the Igala nation; and would not only provide the ground for a knitted integration and remind them where their path had crossed, but also provide a common ground for Kogi unity.

Suffice to say that it will be the uncommon panacea for the age-long quest for ethnic integration in Kogi State, and project Kogi to the global world.

The former Senior Special Assistant on Entertainment, Arts and Culture to Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello should be commended for thinking far outside the box; and be celebrated for following the unconventional path of storytelling with so much thread to bind our dangling discord. Kogi will be heard not only in the nooks and crannies of Nigeria but beyond the shores of African continent. Kogi should be grateful to Mercy.

Mercy Johnson Okojie, an Ebira extraction of Kogi State in her creative approach, came up with  ‘The Legend of Inikpi’, a story of Igala nation’s trajectory with the Benin Kingdom that gave birth to the present generation of their tribes; a story of brave love, courage, sacrifice and altruism.

The jigsaw puzzle is, why did Mercy choose the story of Inikpi, the legendary story of Igala as her first project with such an international standard for the world to gasp and talk about? Why did Mercy not go for the legendary story of Obege, Iyegbe, Obaje or the legendary story of Onono Idogido that are from her Ebira tribe?

The answer to the jigsaw puzzle may not be far fetched. Mercy’s primary objective was not just to tell legendary stories through the camera, she was poised to leave a mark that will integrate her tribe Ebiras and the Igalas, reconnect the Igalas and Benin Kingdom and unveil Kogi to the global world, all in one shot.

At the crux of the production, she was hit from left, right and center. Her Ebira tribal men floored her on the media space for her refusal to project her tribe, while some Igalas attacked her for projecting their story being an Ebira, their rival tribe in the state. To our own surprise, the Nollywood goddess was undeterred, she was determined to be the answer to Kogi tribal rivalry, and even more focused at becoming the reason for Igala and Benin coming together again. Mercy is still poised to unveiling Kogi to the outside World. The Nollywod goddess became the golden fish and her name would be boldly written on the stand of time when the movie hits cinema on January 24, 2020.

As Mary Parker Follett holds, “unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety. Differences must be integrated, not annihilated, not absorbed.” Mercy Johnson Okojie has done her part in integrating our world above all odds, this uncommon panacea must be celebrated.

Kogi will be heard and seen across the globe,  Kogi should be grateful for the sacrifice and ingenuity of Mercy that gave birth to this.

– Isah Bala writes from Kogi state.

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