Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dec. 30, 2009: Francis Ogwu becomes the Odogwu of Owerre-Olubor

A Word from the Odogwu

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this memorable occasion.  As we all know, our gathering here today is to rejoice with the newly crowned Odogwu of Owerre-Olubor.

It is noteworthy that this important title, which has a lot to do in the administration of our great town, had remained vacant for three decades and the Afam Family to which I belong ought to have filled the vacancy long before today.  After carefully studying what has been happening in our town’s administration, I came to the conclusion that the vacant Odogwu stool had contributed to the administrative problems, as no war can be effectively fought without a commander – which is the Odogwu’s position in Owerre-Olubor government.

One day I said to myself, “How can I say I love my town so much when my family left a position that will do a lot in the town’s administration vacant for decades?  Is it that I am not qualified to occupy the post or is it Christianity that is making me to sit back and allow my family to be a setback to the administration of the town?”  Yes, of a truth, many Christians believe that traditional chiefs are idol worshippers and as such true followers of Christ should not accept traditional chieftaincy titles.

But some of the questions still unanswered by these Christians are: Is traditional chieftaincy meant to destroy the town? Is it possible for the king of a town to function well without traditional chiefs? Is there any town without traditional rulers? Is it against Christ if a Christian (who has ideas as to how to move his town forward) accepts an honorary or a traditional chieftaincy?

As the above questions remain unanswered in the sense of dissuading me, I said to myself, “it is time to stop my family being a setback to Umu Olubor in this crucial chieftaincy matter.” Then I braced up and thrust myself forward to accept to be the Odogwu.

My purpose and motivation of accepting to present myself to serve my people in the Odogwu capacity is the desire to foster enduring unity in Owerre-Olubor and to exploit identified diversities for the benefit of Umu Olubor.  For too long we have allowed cracks in the proverbial wall to provide habitation for reptiles of all shades and colours.  The time is now for us to close ranks and join hands to rebuild the Owerre-Olubor nation into a new, virile and formidable entity that will be the pride of all and the envy of others.

It is time for us to rekindle, reinvent and re-ventilate the affinity, enthusiasm and the unity of purpose displayed by our forefathers towards the liberation of our ancestral lineage, even though the liberation was not total as they did not retain and sustain the autonomous kingdom we all now look forward to.

This is time for every son and daughter of Olubor to stop negative confessions concerning our great town and come out in full to join hands, no matter where you reside, and contribute money, ideas and exert the energy that will help us to where we will love to belong.  Let me warn that if this generation that knows a bit about our culture failed to put Olubor’s name on the map of Delta State, our children who have no knowledge of our culture will never forgive us because they will not find it easy to come home and stay comfortably. Please let everyone of us think what to do for Olubor rather than what Olubor will do for us.

The Toast of Odogwu Lozie Ogwu
-- by Frank Monye

His Highness Onwuse, the Ogwude of Owerre-Olubor;
Chief Okwudi, the honorary courtier of the Ogwude;
Chief Clement Okoh, the Iyase of Owerre-Olubor; High Priest Ale, the Ohenle Edofi of Owerre-Olubor; Diokpa Smart Monye, the Chief Host; Chief Edwin Ehinze, the Isama of Owerre-Olubor; Ndi Chi Ogbe Owerre-Olubor; the Guests at the High Table; Distinguished ladies and gentlemen:
The man we are celebrating today is the rightful prospect of the chieftaincy being invested in him, i.e. the Odogwu of Owerre-Olubor.  You may be starry-eyed or dumbfounded on hearing this seemingly exaggerated description!  No, it is no exaggeration. It is not misappropriation of honour. Let me open a secret to bolster my assertion.
The name of the man of the day – “Ogwu,” you will notice, rhymes with the title, “Odogwu” and even His Highness’s title, “Ogwude”.  In the former, it is the suffix whilst in the latter it is the prefix.  Besides, this chieftaincy had waited for three decades – perhaps to enable the man of the day, Lozie Ogwu, attain the providential age of sitting on the stool.  You can now see why I am saying that Chukwuelozie Francis Ogwu is the “rightful prospect.”
The Odogwu, Chukwuelozie Ogwu, has got all the pre-requisites for the Odogwu chieftaincy.  As you will see from the note (on pages 12 to 14 of the programme pamphlet) of his formal presentation to Ebon Afam on 30th October 2009, Odogwu Ogwu is foresighted, forthright, brave, sincere and educated; he is an ex-soldier, a benefactor of indigent students as well as the jobless. These are some of his commendable attributes.
Odogwu Ogwu’s foresight in concert with other Ikpulus’ informed the formation of Umu-Ikpulu Progressive Union in Lagos in November 1978. Thus Umu-Ikpulu became the first Ogbe in Owerre-Olubor to form a satellite union. It is now on record that the four other Ogbes followed this fine example of Umu-Ikpulu in Lagos.
As for being brave, a case in point will illustrate this.  During the unauthorized felling of timbre trees in the primeval forest, Lozie Ogwu rose to the occasion and challenged the lumberjacks frontally.  He was threatened with a curse.  He was accused of being overweening, of over-reaching himself and plotting the dethronement of Ogwude Benson Anizor.  They threatened to move the town’s okpukpu (an emblem of Ogwude’s regnant authority) to Lozie Ogwu’s residence just for daring to rebuke some of the town’s chieftains who had connived at the unlawful logging in Edofi Forest.  All these threats did not stop Lozie Ogwu from pressing his charges against those lumberjacks at the Olubor Summit where they were penalized with fines.
Odogwu Lozie Ogwu’s pedigree is enviable by the standard of Owerre-Olubor.  His father, John Ogwu Monye, was the first educated man in Umu-Ikpulu.  He was, during his lifetime, the chronicler and demographer of Umu-Ikpulu.  Pa John took great interest in recording the dates of births and names of children born to Umu-Ikpulu fathers.  Besides, Pa John took records of major events and could even tell you the number of Ikpulus off-hand.  Pa John Ogwu was sired by Monye of the great Afam lineage.  Our Odogwu’s mother, Mary (nee Obuseh) would have passed for a princess in some other climes.  Her father, Obuseh, was the Isama of Owerre-Olubor in his day. The name Obuseh sounds like melodious music to the people of Olubor, the reason being that Obuseh was a forthright chieftain in the order of the great Iyase Iyadi.
Honourable guests, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, kith and kin, I have the great honour and I am so very pleased to present to you our man of the day – Odogwu Chukwuelozie Francis Ogwu; to wish him good health and longevity like his predecessors; to wish him a distinguished tenure – the sort of which fairy tales are told by the townsfolk; and above all, to say “may God the Almighty bless the Odogwu and his household.”

 Vote of Thanks
 By Councilor Chiedu Anwuzie

His Highness, Ogwude Onwuse;
The Odogwu;
Ndi Oli Nzele;
Ndi Chi Ogbe;
The High Priest Ale;
Ebon Afam;
The Chairman, Chief Sam Ojogbo;
Distinguished Guests:

In getting up to vote the thanks on this historic occasion, I feel highly honoured and elated.  I cannot remember any time I was given such opportunity as afforded by today’s event.

You all have listened to the tributes, greetings, reminiscences and encomiums given by the kindred and friends of the Odogwu.  You would have read also the tributes appearing in the programme pamphlet, if you have a copy – which I advise you to keep as the souvenir or memento collected at the investiture ceremony of the Odogwu of Owerre-Olubor.  What more can I say by way of tribute?  I think nothing more.
I therefore proceed to thank the Chairman of this occasion, Chief Sam Ojogbo, for anchoring today’s event to a safe and happy ending.  I thank the Ogwude’s representative, Chief Okwudi; the Chief Host – Diokpa Smart Monye and Ebon Afam for giving us a man of the people as Odogwu and for the preparation that has made this occasion the success that it has become; and, lest I forget, our amiable and jocular Master of Ceremony, Mr ………………………..

I cannot forget to thank all the chiefs present here.  I must also thank all the guests who have travelled from distant places and who have spared the time to be present here today.  Even though you might not have been served food and drinks to your satisfaction, I pray that God Almighty – who protected you in your inward journeys – may also grant you journey mercies back to your various destinations.

Finally, I say a “big thank you” to the media men who have come to cover this occasion, because through them history has begun to be written about our homeland – Owerre-Olubor.  Let me seize this opportunity to plead with some of our guests who have the knack for history to begin to take notes, for the history of Owerre-Olubor is already in the making.

Thank, you.  Odimma Obodo ….

Hon. Chiedu Anwuzie
At the investiture ceremony of Chukwuelozie Francis Ogwu as
The Odogwu of Owerre-Olubor on Wed. 30th December 2009.