Dennis Nona Goba II 2009
Etching on Lenox paper Image 1700 mm x 1180 mm, Paper 2290 mm x 1835 mm
Goba was a dishonest and greedy man who prospered by exchanging goods between Badu’s two largest villages: Argan and Wakid. Argan is close to reefs that provide a plentiful supply of fish and turtles. Wakid adjoins estuaries and mangrove swamps that abound in mud crabs and shellfish. At Argan, Goba caught turtles which he traded with the Wakid people for bui sama (a turtle-meat cooking ingredient).
The process for preparing bui sama was a secret of the Wakid people. It began by placing buid (mangrove pods) into an abituli (basket) and soaking them in sarrka (a freshwater creek) for about a week. When the pods become soft they were placed on a wak (grass mat) to dry in the sun. Finally the dried mangrove pods were minced. When mixed with turtle meat, bui sama breaks down the meat’s fat and enhances its flavour.
The Wakid people became suspicious of Goba because the turtles he was exchanging were often missing the delectable liver and fat. Goba made unlikely excuses for his sub-standard produce, which heightened the Wakid people’s suspicions. The kuiku mabaig (chief) of the kwod (clan leaders) instructed two villagers to spy on Goba. They soon discovered him resting under a tree at Kainply, near the centre of Badu, eating the fat and other prized parts of the turtle. On hearing about Goba’s duplicity, the kwod ordered that Goba be stoned and buried alive.
In this image, Goba is shown within a turtle-shell that rests on a tupmul (stingray), one of the Argan clan’s totems. He is wearing a buk (mask with feathers) and zazz (grass skirt with strings of shells), and his hands and feet flow into the flippers of the turtle. The long, thin elements on Goba’s torso are buid (mangrove pods) and he is also wearing a dibadib (warrior pendant) incised with the tupmaul augadal (stingray totem). The figure at the top of the print is the kuiku mabaig (chief) of the kwod (clan leaders). In his right hand the chief holds a bu (trumpet shell), which he blows to summon the kwod. In the circular element of his other hand is a umai (dog), another important Badu totem. The two figures clinging to the stingray’s tail are the two villagers the kwod sent to spy on Goba. The remaining six figures hold the rocks used to stone Goba to death. At the top of the stingray’s tail is the abatuli (large basket) that Goba used to carry the bui sama (cooking ingredient) he traded with the Argan people.