ON December 12, 2019 will witness the 4th year coronation anniversary of his majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, the 20th Olu of Warri’s ascension to the pristine throne of Warri Kingdom.
It was only like yesterday, how times flies and so it is with nostalgic memories I recall the event of December 12, 2015 when his majesty then the Olu-designate upon completion of the Ona-Eghare rite, waded through the crowd back to the open ground in front of Ogwa-Ogbowuru where he performed his last chores of hewing firewood, fetching water and paddling canoe.
This is one of the cultural heritage of the Itsekiri people in the crowning of a new king.
Reminiscing further, the ritual of picking his sword of authority and title (SCEPTRE) was unique, colourful and something to behold.
He, Omoba was blind-folded by Chief T.Y. Pessu, the Ojomo of Warri Kingdom, to pick his sword of authority from specimen swords of nineteen previous Olus who had reigned from about 1480-2015. The practice is that one and nameless sword is usually placed amongst the others, arranged on the ground in no particular order.
Whichever he picks becomes the sword and title he bears throughout his reign.
Interestingly, Omoba picked a new sword without a previous title which necessitated him being the first with the new title named after him.
By this he is meant to be called Ikenwoli 1. But not so in Itsekiri tradition hence, the first is silent. This done, Omoba now metamorphosed to His Majesty, Ogiame, Ikenwoli, the Olu of Warri closely followed was the administration of oath on the Olu-designate as he was then.
The taking of oath rites was performed by a group of some Itsekiri men weirdly dressed in white skirts with leaves adorning the upper parts of their bodies. Thus, you, Omoba Ikenwoli Godfrey Emiko, you are going to become the Olu of Warri and rule over the Itsekiri people. You will be expected to rule over the Itsekiri people with fairness, without prejudice of any kind. Your reign will also be expected to usher in peace and prosperity to the Itsekiri nation.
You shall not betray, nor trade Itsekiri interest for personal gains etc.
Should you ever do anything contrary to the overall best interest of Itsekiri nation, the deities – Ibrikimo, Otuekine, Olorugbo etc shall hold you responsible”.
Responding, thereafter, Omoba took his turn to pray for the Itsekiri nation in like manner thus: “Yes, I omoba Ikenwoli Godfrey Emiko accepts to become Olu and reign over the Istekiri people. In so doing, I pledge to rule with an open mind, in peace, fairness and prosperity etc. But in the process of so doing, if the Itsekiri people or any component thereof betrays me by way of wrong advice, sabotage etc, the same deities Ibrikimo, Otuekine, Olorugbo etc, shall hold them responsible”, to which there was a rapturous, rousing and thunderous ovation.
After this epoch-making acclamation, Chief T.Y. Pessu, the Ojomo of Warri Kingdom in his capacity as the most senior chief in the kingdom at the time, officially announced the title of the new Olu as Ögiame, Ikenwoli, the Olu of Warri”.
Afterwhich, the Olu presented his inaugural and maiden address to the Itsekiri nation extempore, wherein, he thanked and appreciated all who graced the occasion, espousing the need for peace, brotherliness and development within Itsekiri nation and building bridges of love between Itsekiri and her neighbours etc.
December 12, 2015 marked a turning point in the Itsekiri annals of history as significant and relevant, a day that still resonates in the minds of sons and daughters of Iwere land. The installation of a king, or Oba or Emir etc could tear kingdoms apart if notable care is not exercised, with so many ruling houses jostling for the kingship.
And so, for the Itsekiris, it was a new beginning, a new dimension, orientation and a profound excitement that greeted the atmosphere.
The Itsekiris are a people who are desirous and resolute in sustaining their monarchical institution and heritage. Moreso, a people who are optimistically looking forward to the birth of Iwere kingdom’s glorious past, a new epoch that is meant to usher in tangible development, peace and prosperity to the Itsekiri people.
His Majesty, the Olu of Warri, Ikenwoli Godfrey Emiko is the fifth child and third son of his father, Ogiame, Erejuwa II, the Olu of Warri (1951-1987). He is the twentieth Olu of Warri to ascend the prestigious, pristine and ancient throne of his ancestors.
And so, the narrative of this fourth coronation anniversary of the Olu of Warri, His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli is a time to take stock of the royal journey thus far.
God, in His infinite mercy, has been magnanimous on our Olu. He is a willing tool in the hands of Almighty God.
On this auspicious occasion, we thank his majesty for the relative peace and prosperity that exists amongst the people of Warri irrespective of tribe or religion. For, without peace and security, there will be no meaningful development.
Ogiame has continued to build bridges, secure significant alignments thereby positioning the kingdom in its proper position amongst the comity of ancient kingdoms and empires.
Evidently, Ikenwoli’s reign has brought in, apart from the needed peace, also, unity, infrastructural and human capital development to the oil-rich Warri kingdom.
Your exemplary style of rulership and candour, in the throne of our forebears and ancestral stool of royalty has inevitably endeared you to the citizenry.
It is often said that, “God’s presence in a man’s life is an expression of its grace and not our worthiness.” My prayer heretofor, is to see grace and more grace multiply in your life.
Our all-knowing and all-sufficient God chose you for us as our Olu. He alone knows the end from the beginning. He calls forth those things that be as though they be not.
And so, God will direct your steps in consonance with Proverbs 16:9 which says, Ä man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps”.
May I, your majesty, admonish you that since you have started well on a high pedestal, continue the tempo and even more. Don’t ever forget your creator, God, who made it possible for you to be chosen out of the Lot.
In the book of Proverbs 3:5-6, the bible tells us that, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths”.
Therefore, on this peculiar and significant occasion of the 4th coronation anniversary of his majesty, Ogiame, Ikenwoli, it is my fervent wish to state that gait, excellence and elegance have dotted each and every step of yours since you ascended the pristine throne of the Olu of Warri kingship and that your reign thus far has opened an era of inclusiveness while your loving disposition has inevitably placed Iwere land in an enviable pride of place in Nigeria.
The good Lord would endue you with wisdom, understanding and divine strengthen to see you through many more coronation anniversary.
By Kenny Oheworitse Okotie,
Founder/Chairman, Abadingo Abadango Foundation (AAF)