By Zealinjo Zealuwa
Come Friday, April 30, 2021, the people of Ibuzor and Anioma Nation will be celebrating a unique royalty and an icon of the traditional environment in Ibusa, Delta state.
They will be gathering in a confluence of culture and modernity to celebrate the golden jubilee birthday and 10 years on the throne of the Ikwele of Ibusa, His Royal Eminence, Engr Celestine Okeibunor Olisanekwunkegaemeni Okafor.
It is a high-profile event that will attract guests and friends of the celebrant from all over the country and from US, UK, Germany, Ireland, South Africa, Canada and many other countries across the globe.
The Ikwele is the custodian of the totem of heroism and peace epitomized by the deity known as Ikenga, believed to possess the powers to cleanse the community and protect the indigenes of this town known as Ibuzor/Igbuzor to natives ( but Ibusa officially ) from satanic influences. And he performs the Igba Ine and Ichu Ekwensu rites and festivals to achieve this envisioned peace and serenity in Ibuzor.
Indeed, the Ikwele title had been the only known royalty in Ibuzor in recent memory, the only traditional title that is domiciled in one family known as the Ikwele family in Ezukwu Quarters, Ibusa.
This was long before the government-backed creation of the traditional institution that is captured in the phrase ” Prescribed Authority “, that legally birthed the Obuzor of Ibuzor institution in 1995 by the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and created by the legal notices of 1-6 , Edict No.1 of 1996 that officially recognised the Obuzor as King of Ibusa both at state and federal government levels.
READ ALSO: Insecurity: Aregbesola seeks amendment of Police Trust Fund, wants paramilitary agencies’ inclusion
The Obuzor of Ibuzor, His Royal Majesty, Obi , Prof Louis Chelunor Nwoboshi thus sits as the Obuzor of Ibusa, the primal traditional ruler and King of the town.
Today, the Ikwele stands second in hierarchy next only to the Obuzor, apart from the Diokpa Ibusa who is the oldest man in the village and recognized by the White Paper that created the Obuzor institution and given the role of Ichi nzu, a local ritual of powdering persons poised to be conferred with traditional titles.
Until 10 years ago, however, the Ikwele title suffered bruising setbacks and was subjected to outrageous infamy that tainted its reverence due essentially to the brawl and enmity between the late Ikwele, Chief Sunday Emordi, and the traditional leaders in Ibusa, a situation that left him ostracised till his sad demise.
Indeed, the gulf that separated him from the developments in the traditional arena created a cosy atmosphere for a silent but abhorrent coup that placed the Ikwele at the ebb of Ibuzor’s traditional hierarchy, below the Iyase, Odogwu and Uwolo. It was an insidious and repulsive action that icons of Ibuzor culture and scholars of her history viewed as a taboo and condemned in its entirety.
But the emergence of a youthful, confident and dynamic Ikwele, an incisive thinker endowed with the wisdom of the ancient, changed the picture. Engr Celestine Okeibunor Okafor, is swift and swank.
Having been crowned the Ikwele and the Ikenga in his custody, he moved quickly to restore the honour and dignity of his heritage.
He rejoined the Obuzor-in- Council pronto and instantly took his place as the next traditional leader after the Obuzor by first taking his seat on the immediate right of the king and after the ritual of breaking the traditional kola-nut and libation for prayers to signify the formal opening of meetings, the Ikwele picks his share of the kola nut after the king, HRM, Obi L.C Nwoboshi, a Professor of Forestry Research turned traditional ruler. In Ibusa, the kola-nut is shared in order of hierarchy or seniority in age.
The Ikwele, a buoyant spirit, bouncy and charismatic would change the mood of the traditional setting .
His arrival for meetings was greeted with two traditional gunshots known as Nlulu-ani or from a dane gun. He brought flamboyant but tasteful style and glamour to bear on the hitherto conservative traditional bloc.
He would perform the Igba Ine and Ichu Ekwensu festivals, an enactment of the rites and rituals that delineate the core essence of his crown as an emblem of peace and heroics.
In the social circle, he continues to make occasional appearances, illuminating the scenes with his gaily smiles and creative dance moves that underscore his youth.
As the Ikwele turns 50 and having occupied the throne of his forebears for 10 years, he says he had made a spiritual pilgrimage to commune with his ancestors. ” I have had extensive chat with them,” he said.
“All I got from my ancestors is endorsement and encouragement. They said that I have carried the Ikenga well and that their light and those of Olisebuluwa, the creator of heaven and earth are shinning on me.
Finally, they instructed me to add Oke Mmor which is Ikenga to my title. That was how the ‘Oke Mmor the First’ was added to my title. It is the strengthening of everything I represent. It is simply massive and I am just excited about it “, he concluded.
The celebration according to Oke Mmor, will be a gathering of the core of Ibuzor elites , technocrats, the political class and people from all walks of life.
On this special grand occasion of his golden jubilee and a decade on the throne celebration, therefore, we say, Happy birthday to Oke Mmor the First, the Ikwele of Ibusa. Long may you reign!