From Ben Dunno, Warri
The aura and authority of the new Olu of Warri, Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, Ogiame Atuwatse 111, was brought to bear at the weekend during his installation. His intimidating presence when he recalled memories of the 28 years his late father, Olu Atuwatse II reigned over the affairs of the kingdom.
His speech was not only captivating but also revealing. There were so many highlights in the monarch’s speech. But the very historic part of it was the aspect he reversed the age long curse placed on the land by his forefathers: “It is pertinent to recall the fact that following the great injustice melted out to Olu, Erejuwa II, he visited Oba Akenzuwa II of Benin and recounted his ordeal.
“In a reaction, a curse was placed on the land by both of them. It is not recorded that Olu Erejuwa II reversed the curse over the land. Neither is it recorded that Oba Akenzuwa II did the same. Most probably the issue was never re-visited.
“As a firm believer in the intricate-inter-connectedness between the spiritual and the manifestation in the physical, it is our firm belief that the matter needs to be addressed. Today, in our capacity as Olu, we hereby as the spiritual, cultural, political and traditional ruler of this land, I, Ogiame Atuwatse III, the 21st Olu of Warri, the first son of Olu Atuwatse II, the grandson and direct descendant of Olu Erejuwa II, who was offended on this throne, I hereby reverse the curse over this land.
“In its place, I release forgiveness and healing to the Federal Government of Nigeria whose might was used to propagate that offence and I decree unprecedented and uncommon peace, prosperity, progress, development on this land.”
A resounding “Amen” and “Iseee” followed the decrees he pronounced upon the land, just as he further declared that the throne, people and land belong to the Creator.
He expressed his commitment to the progress of Itsekiri, ensure the people remain united and lauded all true Itsekiri sons and daughters who stood tall when the foundation of the throne appeared shaken:
“God intervened this time and ensured the nation remains united. We’re not and never offended by everything that happened.
“This is a special day ordained by today. Today is the day of divine visitation heralding a divine habitation. It is God’s doing not mine.
“When the palace of the king is burnt down, it is because a better one is coming. We have introduced new gold and silver crowns. I call on all Itsekiri to come over in their capacity to build Iwereland.
“I call on our neighbours, Ijaw, Urhobo to join hands with us. We will be redefining the royal throne. We should renew our mind.”
Atuwatse III urged his fellow youths across the country to renew their minds: “We must direct our energy in the right direction for development devoid of partisan politics.
“We will build up our women. We will ensure our women are honoured and respected. You will no longer be invisible.” He announced that his mother should be henceforth addressed as Iya-Olu Atuwatse III and his wife, Olori Atuwatse III.
With that, the coronation was given pomp and pageantry as well as the touch of class. It would for a very long time remain a reference point Iwere Kingdom as the most colourful.
The date of the event was also significant in the sense that it was held on Saturday, August 21, 2021, to show that it was indeed the coronation of the 21st Olu of Warri in the presence of August visitors and guests who came from all walks of life, at home and the Diaspora to witness the epoch-making ceremony.
It was an event that afforded guests, especially foreigners the opportunity to experience the beauty of the rich cultural heritage of the Itsekiri people from the boat regatta along the Warri River to the royal traditional dance of the Itsekiri women who came out in their best traditional attires to add glamour to the day.
The royal entrance of Ogiame Atuwatse III to Ode-Itsekiri, otherwise known as “Big Warri,” the ancestral homeland of the Itsekiri people where the usual final traditional rites were performed before the coronation proper was done in the presence of a large audience was another scene that caught the attention of all and sundry at the venue.
The Olu had earlier devoted time to the praise and worship of Christian songs shortly after he was crowned the 21st Olu of Warri by Uwuangwe of Warri Kingdom at about 3:22pm. It was as an evident of his total submission to God as a higher divine authority.
The Olu, thereafter, acknowledged the nature and achievements of his immediate past predecessor, Ogiame Ikenwoli, who he described as a man of peace, committed to the development of Iwere land and wellbeing of the people.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who described the Atuwatse III as the new monarch of the time, noted that his sound educational background and exposure prepared him well to bring further peace and prosperity to his people. He was represented by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege: “Your ascension to the throne is ordained by God. As the youngest Olu of Warri, you are the monarch of this time.
“You’re well-educated and a successful entrepreneur with national and international work experience. Your royal majesty is blessed with vision and mission and fully equipped to look back and forge ahead with the people for the future.
“I am settled that you will continue the 500 years noble tradition, and your reign will witness improved peace, progress and development of your people and the nation.” In his capacity as Senator representing Delta Central, Omo-Agege, urged the new Olu to count on him for support.
The Ooni of Ile-Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, congratulated the youngest Olu of Warri in history and admonished the 37-year-old monarch to be a father to all Itsekiri: “We are happy from the throne of Oodua. A fantastic 21st Olu of Warri coincidence in the 21st century. We can feel the energy in the air.
“You’re loved by your people. I appeal to you as a father to be good to the good and the bad and the ugly. Embrace the entire kingdom. Extend a hand of fellowship to all. Extend a fatherly hand to all. We have a very charismatic, handsome and adorable king. God will guide you. We will work with you as co-chair of the traditional ruler in Nigeria.”
The Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba N’Edo Ewuare II, represented by some his chiefs, offered prayers for the wellbeing of both the new monarch and the Iwere kingdom. The prayer that was rendered in native Edo language was later interpreted in English.
The Oba stated that although the Itsekiri have seen quite a number of kings before now but expressed optimism that the reign of this new monarch would be the best in the history of the kingdom.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was represented by the Chief of Staff (CoS), Government House, Ovie Agas. He said: “I want to urged all Itsekiri sons and daughters to co-operate and work with the new Olu for the progress of the land and the people irrespective of political and religious, colouration.”
Not left out in the list of dignitaries that attended the thanksgiving church service at the Palace ground (Aghofen) on Sunday, a day after the coronation was former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He expressed gratitude to God for his and urged him to be more committed to the unity and development of his kingdom:
“I am one of the happiest on your installation because God has specially favoured me to see three Olus and I don’t pray to see a fourth one.
“I want to emphasise that the position you occupy today is given to you by God but with your own people surrounding you and you must always remember that.
“If God has given you a role to perform you will be offending God if you fail to perform that task.”
He said the title of Majesty carried along with it a lot of responsibilities, adding that he was convinced the monarch started well and would lead the Itsekiri people to a new dawn.
He urged the monarch not to shun the experience and the advice of elders: “Be very close to God in whatever situation you may find yourself and God will surely make a way for you.”