|By BETTY IDIALU|
The Itsekiri monarch yesterday succumbed to the wishes of his subjects not to renounce the title when tension heightened around his palace.
Atuwase II had allegedly planned to relinquish the traditional title of “Ogiame’’ for a yet to be disclosed title, but the decision did not go down well with the entire Itsekiri people.
The Olu of Warri, who claimed the title Ogiame is associated with “Sea goddess’’, said he had nothing to do with the deity.
The Itsekiri people began the protest on September 7 by besieging the Atuwase II’s palace to press home their demand that their monarch should rescind his decision.
A statement issued by 22 Palace Chiefs at the height of the protest, criticised the decision of the monarch to renounce the title of Ogiame.
The statement read by one of the Chiefs, Mrs. Rita Lori-Ogbebor, noted that Ogiame had nothing to do with the worship of any deity.
Meanwhile, the Itsekiri protest entered its third day, there was an unprecedented crowd around the Palace of the Olu of Warri and the Olu of Warri play ground at Ajamimogha in Delta State.
Yesterday, protesters came out as early as 7am dressed in red which they say was symbolic and to inform the King that there was danger looming in ’Iwere ‘land if the Monarch fails to rescind his decision of dropping the ‘Ogiame ‘Title.
Mr. Fredrick Omaghumi and Mr Ekens Gbubemi both Itsekiris while speaking with the NIGERIAN OBSERVER said what every Itsekiri is saying is that the title ‘Ogiame’ was handed over to them by their fore fathers and that no one can stop the King from practicing his Christian faith but that the Ogiame Title is sacrosanct to the Itsekiir people and Itsekiri tradition.
Speaking further, “this is about age long tradition, the first Olu of Warri to become a Christian was the 6th Olu who after his education brought the crown from Portugal and was never stopped from practicing his Christian religion, adding that the present Olu who holds a Master’s Degree in Law and has spent 26 years on the throne has been ruling them well and there has been no problems between the Monarch and his subjects. That he is the 10th Olu to be a Christian.
They however blamed some Chiefs in Itsekiri Kingdom who they said misinformed the King on the Ogiame Title.
According to them, when the Olu was enthroned he told us that he is a Christian and we accepted him and we are very loyal to him despite his faith. But there is no Ogiame without the Olu and no Olu without Ogiame. Itsekiri, according to them, was erroneously translated to mean king of water but rather, the first Olu of Warri, King Ginuwa who was a son to the Oba of Benin was sent to Warri to rule over the people across the water hence the title Ogiame, meaning the king across the water.