– By Patrick Ochei
The Kingdom of Ugboba in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State, was on Wednesday, 21st September, 2022, agog as the 38 year old Monarch, HRM Obi Agbogidi Ezedinbu Emmanuel Nkebakwu 111, the Obi of Ugboba Kingdom celebrated his new yam festival in grandstyle.
The day was full of activities beginning with the gathering of the Ikpoho Ogbe (women) from 7am to carry out general cleaning of the Palace and residence of His Royal Majesty.
At 9am, the Ikpoho Ogbe were entertained by the Traditional Ruler and they sang and danced in the Majesty’s honour to his admiration and that of onlookers.
The activity that followed next at 10am was symbolic as there were gun shots inviting the Majesty’s kindred (Ndi Ogbe-Obi) for the proper eating of the new yam and their entertainment.
The second gun shots were fired at 12 noon inviting Ndi Ikpala (red cap chiefs) for their own entertainment with the new yam.
The third gun shots at 2pm actually invited every other guest, including in-laws, friends, well wishers, non indigene farming communities from the various quarters of Ugboba to celebrate with the King. The entertainment continued until 4pm with singing and dancing and as at this time, the Palace was already filled with people of diverse audiences.
The fourth gun shots invited the Ndi Ikpelime to usher out the traditional ruler for the traditional dance done with the Ozi drum. This is the climax and it was highly entertaining as the king performed greatly in the act of Ime Uje.
Obi Nkebakwu danced gracefully to pay homage to his Ancestors at the Ihu Agboh, then to Ihu Ojeokpa and finally to Ihu Nze before retiring into the Palace after greeting the people who were delighted to behold him.
Addressing newsmen, the London trained King made reverence to God Almighty and to his Ancestors for the grace to return home to his people to celebrate one of the intricate festivals of the community – Iwaji Obi.
According to him, “Yam (Ji) is highly revered in our community; it can’t just be eaten except it follows traditional process of Iwaji which is celebrated on Nkwo day. Traditionally, the Obi opens the Iwaji in Ugboba. This celebration is going to continue until tomorrow which is Eke Obo in our traditional days.
“I must appreciate my people for their unrivalled love towards my person. Our institution is father to son and that has never been truncated. When my father joined his ancestors, I was just a minor. And so, a Regency Council was set up by the Delta State Government to oversee the affairs of the community while I proceeded for my studies. I did a couple of studies here in Nigeria before proceeding to United Kingdom.
“I returned in 2016 when it was obvious my people needed me badly to come back and ascend the throne of my forefathers. Precisely on the 2nd of June, 2016, the staff of office was presented to me by the Delta State Government through the Deputy Governor, His Excellency Barr. Kingsley Burutu Otuaro. After that I went back to complete my studies and I am back to my lovely people to reciprocate all what they had been for me.
“Let me particularly thank the Regency Council, headed by Diokpa Chukwunweike Nwabuzor for their show of love, obligation and responsibility to Ugboba community. They effectively administered the Kingdom in waiting for my return, and I must say that the community had witnessed lots of progress in terms of peace and development just by their act of patriotism.
“Since 2016 that the symbol of authority was transfered to me, things have taken their shape and lots of development had taken place in the community. I can only ask God and our Ancestors to grant me more wisdom to continue to administer the Kingdom for more progress and prosperity”, Obi Nkebakwu posited.
Speaking further, he promised to replicate some of the experiences garnered in the UK by making some changes in the system.
He said that the English Monarchical System was one that united people and races to appreciate the dignity of life and quality of human existence, maintaining that no Kingdom can have peace and develop in the absence of justice.
He added that “My residency and experience in the UK had actually prepared me for the responsibility ahead. As an individual who is within the age bracket of the youth and also being a traditional ruler, I will look forward to a time when the traditional institution will engage the leadership of this country to tinker a way forward of greater constitutional role for the traditional rulers, as well initiatives that will launch us to greater heights of development.
Also speaking was a princess of the Kingdom, Princess Ebele Obukohwo who eulogized her younger brother for bringing respectability to the kingdom by the enormous development that has take place, including the return of the colourful and glamorous Iwaji Obi since his ascension to the throne of his forebears.
Princess Obukohwo affirmed that the Ugboba community now enjoys enormous peace more than ever before as a result of the visible development in road infrastructure, water, light and market projects.
She commended the people for their quantum of love and respect to his brother whom she said also respects them, adding that such symbiotic relationship is needed for the advancement of the Kingdom.
In the words of the President General of Ugboba Development Union (UDU), Mr. Iyke Nnabuife “The Iwaji Obi is a milestone for the people of Ugboba. This has further exhibited the peaceful coexistence of the people.
“The Iwaji Obi amongst other festivals of the community helps us to trace back to our origin which is historically Edo, and that is why we are known as Ugboba Na’ Do”, the PG explained.
He equally thanked the Delta State Government for the development that had taken place in Ugboba since Obi Nkebakwu 111 ascended the throne of his fathers, thereby urging his people to continue to support the government in place so as to attract more dividends of democracy to the community.
The 2022 Iwaji Obi Ugboba was one that the people can never forget in a hurry. It witnessed lots of aesthetic features that brought out the colour, as well as the personality of the young and dynamic British trained Monarch.
Earlier, the three quarters of the community – Ogbe-Obi, Umuagbeze and Akpoma had come out to pay homage to the king with their harvests and other substances, which they in turn received the King’s blessings.
Apart from the non indigene communities and friends that also paid homage to the Obi, the oldest man in Ugboba, Diokpa Ngwagi Abojei, children, including Mr. Patrick Nwaoba, Dr. Oluchukwu Kpomafa and others equally paid glowing homage to the king.