This piece is the exclusive opinion and views of the writer.
No doubt, the instructive biblical story of Joseph’s coat of many colours is known to many people both Christian believers and non-believers. But how many truly know the import of the story? One thing that is clear about the story though is the fact that it stresses the importance of contentment, originality, consistency and sure-footedness in the face of daunting challenges.
More, significant however, is the story’s similarity with the story of the Delta Democratic Peoples Party, DPP. The exciting story sits very well with the heart-warming legend of the DPP in Delta. It illustrates DPP’s very humble beginning as a fearless tiny group of Delta patriots to become, not just a household name in Delta, but a formidable gigantic platform for Delta progressives. This is no mean achievement if one considers the peculiar violent nature of politics in the region. The party had emerged against all odds to challenge the insidious status quo that celebrated and nurtured an unyielding and yet very powerful political dynasty.
The story of the coat of many colours is a very interesting one that has been told many times. But the story was made much more popular particularly to non-Christians by the legendary country singer, the delectable American Dolly Parton. The Dolly Parton’s version is more intriguing and pleasant given the singer’s unique sonorous and soothing voice as well as a wonderful singing ability that readily tickles emotions and .takes the listener on a very rewarding spiritual journey of some sort.
In the song, Dolly relates her story as a poor young girl growing up in the capitalist America. She was poverty-stricken and the story of her poor background will resonate with many people in today’s Nigeria. The song relates to her lowly life as a young innocent girl whose parents could not afford to buy a coat for her to wear in the deadly cold winter. But thanks to Dolly’s loving mum who sewed her a colourful coat made from a collection of rags that someone gave her. Dolly reveals how happy she was that her mother “made my coat of many colours that I was so proud of”.
“As she sewed, she told a story from the bible she had read about a coat of many colours Joseph wore and then said… perhaps this coat will bring you good luck and happiness. And I just couldn’t wait to wear it. My coat of many colours that momma made for me, made only from rags but I wore it proudly. Although we had no money, I was rich as I could be,” so the lyrics go.
The coat was not perfect, but Dolly wore it proudly to the school. There were patches on her britches and there were holes in the shoes, but the character still wore the coat to school and was very proud of it. At school, other students laughed at her and some even sympathised with her poor condition. But she paid no attention to the jokes from her detractors. Imbued with a can-do and revolutionary spirit, Dolly walked regally to school to meet other students who scoffed on seeing the coat of many colours.
She did not betray any sign of sadness. Instead, she held her head high because she considered herself luckier than her peers. She felt sorry for her bantering mates who didn’t have a loving mother to sew such colours. Dolly took the jokes with remarkable stoicism delighting instead in the motherly love that informed the making of the coat.
“Oh I couldn’t understand it (the mockery)for I felt I was rich and I told them of the love my momma sewed in every stitch and I told them all the story momma told me while she sewed and how my coat of many colours was worth more than all their clothes. But they didn’t understand it and I tried to make them see that one is only poor only if they choose to be. Now I know we had no money but I was rich as I could be in my coat of many colours my momma made for me … made just for me,” sings Dolly.
This song and the story of coat of many colours capture the essence of the DPP in Delta State. Though relatively small and not financially buoyant like the PDP and the newly registered APC, the DPP is a party whose emergence was informed by a deep love for the state. Right from the beginning, the party has managed to be self-sufficient and has picked as members, ordinary Deltans who seek the best for the state.
When Ogboru returned from exile in 2002, he had set for himself, the task of bringing progressive Deltans together on a common platform to find ways to change the politics of the state for good. He, together with concerned Deltans, formed an umbrella organisation, the South South Rainbow Coalition, SSRC, before eventually moving as a group to the Alliance for Democracy, AD. The group took part in the 2003 elections using the AD platform.
By 2007, however, the group had metamorphosed into DPP which like the AD was national. But the 2007 election was not to be as Uduaghan was fraudulently declared the winner of the bogus election. But eventually, Uduaghan was removed by the courts and a re-run election was held in January 2011. There was also the April general election that became as controversial as any other election the PDP has won in the state.
But events leading to 2015, have betrayed lack of good understanding of the party by some of its members, especially the new ones. While many have kept faith with the party, others have had to jump ship. Many too have accepted willy nilly the bogus claim by the party’s self-seeking detractors who want the world to believe that the DPP is too small to govern the state. Their idea of being big, obviously, is to have big financial strength, intimidating media power, and to be a past master in political thuggery. To them, APC or PDP represents the utopia that must of necessity consume every other political party in the country.
The reality today, however, is that the DPP is the proverbial coat of many colours in Delta State. It is the party of the people and it is the party to consume other parties. It has welcome into its fold , particularly since 2010, numerous people from the other parties. Who then says that DPP, in Delta, is not the coat of many colours.
*** Doyin Iyiola, media consultant, writes from London