By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – Arguably the world’s oldest monarch, the Obobanyi of Ohionwa (Uka) Clan in Ihima, Okehi Local Government Area of Kogi state, Chief Jeremiah Aka’ava JP has passed on at the age of 115.
Born in 1903, Chief Aka’ava was the 12th occupant of the over 300 year old ancient stool and ruled for about 36 years.
The traditional ruler who passed on late Friday night was buried shortly after midnight on Saturday according to Christian rites. Before his transition, there were efforts by his people to get him recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest reigning monarch.
At the funeral, Parish Priest of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church Oboroke, Ihima where the late chief was an elder, Ven. James Ajayi JP urged Nigerians especially men to put their houses in order before their demise, praising the late monarch for ensuring the peace of his community and his immediate family.
He recalled of how they had embarked on the Christian pilgrimage to Israel some years ago. “Baba was an inspiration to all of us during the pilgrimage as he performed all the rites including the ones that were physically demanding at a time that many of us were gradually getting exhausted”.
At the graveside, a retired Anglican Priest and long time confidant of the deceased, Ven. Emmanuel Ajayi said the occasion was one of celebration for a life well spent in the cause of advancing humanity’s best interests.
He urged the community to respect the last wishes of the Obobanyi who had instructed that he be buried as a Christian, saying anything to the contrary would be a violation of his wishes.
In his tribute, Member, representing Okehi/Adavi Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Hon. Muhammad Kabir Ajanah, described the late Obobanyi as “a humble man to the core, well principled and naturally blessed to lead as evidenced in his leadership traits and characteristics during his period of reign as a traditional ruler”.
On his part, Member representing Okehi Constituency in the State Assembly, Hon. Kekere Sanni said; ” Ihima and indeed, Ebira land have lost a rare royal gem of unparalleled wisdom,peace and diligence. It is a monumental loss though worthy of celebration considering his well-spent time on the throne which was entirely committed to promoting peace, unity and development”.
Chief Aka’ava was born into the family of Opara Aka’ava of Ehi lineage of Aisina sub-clan of Ohionwa. Akaava’s mother, Mama Ameri was from Avi clan in Obangede.
Historian, YJ Itopa in a written tribute said as a young boy, Aka’ava began his life farming for his parents and uncles as custom required before starting his personal farm work at Akunnu-Akoko in present day Ondo State where he also sold jute bags, Ebira handwoven clothes and associated wears.
A two term Councillor in the early 1960’s, Aka’ava was a member of the Olujumu of Ijumu’s cabinet as Ohinoyi Anebira in Ijumu local government of then Kwara state before he was invited home to wear the crown of his great ancestral fathers, Obobanyi of Ohionwa – so named after the first clan head who performed the feat of killing the very rare white Buffalo.
Ohionwa is one of the three aboriginal clans in Ihima whose traditional stools bear Obobanyi (great hunter), the others being Emani and Ohueta clans.