THE forest is the comfiest home of biodiversity where there has been no invasion of the ecological composition of that biological world. But where no croaking, screeching, hooting, chirping, flapping of wings of birds suddenly caught bedraggled in the ‘JPClarked’ night rain, where there is no hissing, or no crackling of leaves sending fears into squirrels known for their frightful noise-making and running from trees to trees to tell stories they know little or nothing about, the forest ominously sends fears into foresters.
Foresters then turn into temporary prophets in their imaginative journeys trying to figure out the cause of the pervading silence. That is the danger of silence anywhere it chooses to sojourn and only appears when there is ecological disharmony or dislocation. Could this be the silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State? No authority has come to fault the age-long admission of sages that silence is golden where the forces at war with silence are coconut-brained, disgustingly coated and gaudily garnished with thoughts and expressions inexorably drawing the world to the abyss.
Silence becomes questionable when silence silences aspects of life that would awaken man towards thorough knowledge of his entire being, the sociological and anthropological compositions of his society, and the values imbibed which can throw the world open to transformational ideas blended with untainted historical facts. A man truly awakened to the true ideals, values and the history behind those ideals and values is armed with the moral, cultural and historical compass to negotiate any bend and navigate safely to any envisioned destination.
Society becomes endangered by historical lacuna occasioned by deliberate silence. This is why many view the silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom over the years as a misnomer because it threatens the required peaceful co-existence where the moral, cultural, philosophical, sociological, anthropological, ecological and intellectual symmetry of brothers and sisters bound by historical ties of consanguinity would be broken ignorantly, leading the way to eruption of baseless altercation among brothers. I hold the strong view that the silence of Akugbene-Mein kingdom should be broken by anyone blessed with the power to defy and defile their age-long silence. Whether or not the kingdom likes my daring intervention, I have unstoppably decided to break the silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom and tell the world that treasured historical truth kept away from this generation by them for many years like the Holy Grail in Dan Brown’s novel named Da Vinci Code.
The Akugbene-Mein Kingdom in Bomadi Local Government Area currently ruled by His Royal Majesty Pere S.P. Luke-Kalanama VIII, born July 8, 1966, a product of the prestigious Akugbene Grammar School from 1978-1983 – that grammar school that produced great men like Chief E. K. Clark, Chief Senator J. E. Manager, Chief Tubodei Joseph Penawou and other notable personalities, a graduate of Applied Biology from the River State University of Science and Technology in 1995, one-time National Secretary Traditional Rulers of Oil Producing Communities of Nigeria; one-time Secretary Delta State Ijaw Traditional Rulers Forum, one-time representative on the Board of WAEC (2004-2006), one-time member of the Federal Government Amnesty Programme (2010-2011), member of Task Force on Movement of Cattle and Cattle Rearers in Delta State (2014-2015), member of the Delta State Boundary Adjustment Committee, the 2nd Vice-Chairman Delta State Council of Traditional Rulers with a Master of Science, M.Sc. degree in Corporate Governance from the prestigious Leeds Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, known now as Leeds Beckett University (2014), the only chairman and Traditional Ruler in the Bomadi Local Government Area with a functionally harmonious reign over twelve communities satisfactorily welded to his style of governance and administration in the kingdom who has Queen Tina Febrade Luke and Queen Gloria Kuroakegha Luke as his endearing two wives blessed with ebullient and vibrant children.
Crowned in 1997 as Kalanama VIII after the death of His Royal Majesty Pigha Okubo, a great lover of sports, he has carved a solid reputational space for himself for being a strong voice in the agitation for upward review in the budgetary allocation to NDDC and an activist demand for repayment of the unreleased accumulated N500 billion to NDDC. And as a lover of education, over 50 persons have benefitted from his ongoing scholarship scheme created in his kingdom with tentacles magnanimously spread beyond his kingdom. By firmly established historical evidence His Royal Majesty Kalanama I traditionally got his Pereship from Benin in the 16th Century, but that Akugbene-Mein Kingdom animated by her historic but questionable besottedness with silence over beneficial historical facts, is, sadly, not even prepared to awaken the world to these indelible historical realities. Is the silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom historically a curse or a blessing to this generation? His Royal Majesty, Pere S.P. Luke Kalanama VIII being a grassroots man who is an advocate of community transformation, he is known to have influenced and attracted development projects to his kingdom through a functional collaboration and partnership with Rt. Hon. Nicholas Mutu, the developmental enigma descriptively cast as the unbeatable apostle or bishop of developmental arrogance in the Niger Delta.
Even after all these deafening vibratory developmental echoes, His Royal Majesty Pere S.P. Luke Kalanama VIII is still vehement in his refusal to end his pact with silence to promote silence in every dimension of his achievements in life. I would have suffered historical dislocation and distortion if my father’s 90-year-old brother, Mr George, had embraced silence on historical matters like Akugbene-Mein Kingdom. My roots of historical origination from the Sokoh Family of Ovwian in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State has been authenticated historically. Mr Onoriosuoghwu is the founding father of the Sokoh Family in Ovwian from whom all the branches of the Sokoh Family came. A marital dance between Mr. Sokoh and Uduvweyara produced Muakere and Munuphior who were all females. My great grandfather Izon of Ayakoromo, Akparemogbene, Oyangbene and Ekameta towns married Muakere from the Sokoh Family of Ovwian and gave birth to messrs Ogiren, Ekanpou, Ododo and Ekregbainmo. Prince Besibe is the surviving son of Munuphior the sister of Muakere.
Ekanpou is a son from the marriage between Izon in Burutu Local Government Area and Muakere of the Sokoh Family in Ovwian. Historically, Ekanpou is both an Urhobo man from the Sokoh Family of Ovwian, and an Ijaw man from the Gogi Family, Ezaigba Family and Izon Family of Ayakoromo. Our roots of origination from Ovwian would have been distorted and wiped out but for Mr George Ekanpou who unveiled the history and led us to the Sokoh Family for historical reconnection and reunion. This deliberate digression is designed to fault the silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom when they should be everywhere parroting their endearing ancient roots of origination.
Then could this pact of silence be likened to that pact of Dr. Faustus in Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus for fullness of the pact? From every angle though the pact of Dr. Faustus is an objectionable one because it carries diabolical, demonic and Mephistophelian echoes of destruction. Questionable as the silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom is, its comparison with that pact of Dr. Faustus is purely metaphorical because the Akugbene-Mein Kingdom’s silence does not carry Mephistophelian echoes though the silence irks and saddens this generation beyond the power of words.
Bound by undiluted historical symmetry, Akugbene-Mein Kingdom is the oldest kingdom in Mein Ijaw Western Division as Kalanama I was even the first to settle in River Forcados among the grandchildren of Mein. From Pere Kalanama I (the founder) (1485-1561), Pere Buleduo Kpeki Kalanama II (1561-1608), Pere Okirizi Kalanama III (1638-1718), Pere Buro Tubodei Kalanama IV (1744 – 1805), Pere Ogu Buro Kalanama V (1832 – 1932), Pere Francis Bekewuru Ogu Kalanama VI (1934 – 1965), Pere Pigha (1974-1995) to Pere S.P. Luke Kalanama VIII (1997 till date), Akugbene-Mein Kingdom has had eight kings.
It was from Benin Kalanama I got his Pereship in the 16th Century and became the first king in the entire Western Ijaw Division with the unquestioned lordship over other kingdoms which gradually got their independence and went their different ways though without an abuse of the historical linkage to the ancient Akugbene-Mein Kingdom.
By excavated historical evidence Pere Kalanama was authoritatively pronounced the sole Pere of the whole Mein Kingdom headquartered at Akugbene at that time, but the questionable historical silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom would not allow this generation know this. Does Akugbene-Mein Kingdom’s silence carry historical benefits relevant to the advancement of this our generation always hunting for relevant historical information for corresponding proper historical realignment? Because the Akugbene-Mein kingdom does not want to desecrate their pact of silence with silence, they would not let us know historically that Akugbene was once the first headquarters of Mein Kingdom from which other Ijaw kingdoms emerged historically.
How happy is the Akugbene-Mein Kingdom that this important historical fact is hidden by deliberate silence from us, some of whom may be interested in archaeological exploration of Akugbene for knowledge-enrichment and advancement? Akugbene-Mein Kingdom’s questionable silence kills archaeological thought and interest which may burgeon from historical reawakening like this. Is the corporate silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom targeted to cause a loss, death and burial of our historical roots beyond excavation? If the above revelations that seemingly strike correspondence with the revelation from Wole Soyinka’s ‘Telephone Conversation’ were the only centre-piece of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom’s silence, thoughts of pardon would have been haboured for her. There are far greater things they have kept away from us. Akugbene which deserves a yearly pilgrimage from Ijaw people is silenced by pact of silence and kept away from this generation.
In phenomenal dance of obeisance to that questionable pact of silence, Akugbene-Mein kingdom refused to tell us that Ogboloma is the father of Mein and that Mein is the father of Kor who gave birth to Oge, Kalanama, Ngbile, Ogbolu, Akan, Eze, Eke, Owubrowei and Ogide. Historically hidden from us by the Akugbene-Mein Kingdom, Aboh was the first settlement of Mein before he later left there for Odoni on the Nun River because of warfare that erupted there between him and the Aboh people, and finally came to Ogobiri where he was said to have died. Kalanama left Ogobiri and founded Akugbene on the Forcados River, and he was followed by his brothers. Oge the eldest son of Kor, and his two younger brothers, Owubrowei and Ogide, settled in Ogobiri. With population growth and dispersal, Mr. Bataregha (Oge’s eldest son), Arigbe (Owubrowei’s son) and Piekiri (Ogide’s son) migrated north-westwards away from Ogobiri and founded towns.
Bataregha, Arigbe and Piekiri founded Okoloba, Esanma and Ogbeinama while Ngbile, Ogbolu, Aka, Eze and Ogide founded Kiagbodo, Ogbodobiri, Bomadi, Azebiri and Ogodobiri. A wonderful historical brotherhood exists among the various kingdoms in Mein Kingdom.
As historically traced, one truism is that the Ijaws in Mein Kingdom are too biologically connected to practice endogamy. The ideal path for us would have been exogamy in terms of marriage but we have broken our biological links too long ago via marriage to retrace our steps and maintain our blood ties traditionally bound to abolish endogamy, and so endogamy can no longer be stamped out by virtue of this historical excavation. Possibly, we may have maintained the blood ties beyond the practice of endogamy but for the historical lacuna caused by the questionable historical silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom.
Though spiked by the questionable silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom which should have traditionally claimed the fatherly role and megaphone everywhere our biological inseparability, now that we have been awakened to the historical status of Akugbene in the history of the Ijaws in the Western Division, let us begin to see Akugbene as a land worthy of annual pilgrimage hosted annually by His Royal Majesty S.P. Luke Kalanama VIII because history is precious; and for an excavated history it should be archived both from visible and invisible angles.
The invisible archival aspect has to do with conscious internalization of this history followed by pragmatic deployment of the history at every turn when the need arises. The visible archival aspect borders on getting the history documented and preserved for the next generations born and unborn. For His Royal Majesty S.P. Luke Kalanama VIII who rules his kingdom with intelligence, wisdom, equity and peace, it seems contradictory and anti-progress that you do not trumpet your notable achievements capable of giving inspiration to this generation. Is it that you do not want your achievements to inspire people to greater heights and become a river flowing with endless achievements? Trumpeting your achievements is not arrogance but rather it inspires.
Where Hon. Nicholas Mutu becomes the apostle of developmental arrogance, you can as well become the apostle of achievement-communication arrogance so that the hitherto questionable silence of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom could be pardoned, and a fresh historical page opened for the entire Mein Kingdom with the emphasis placed on consistent annual pilgrimage to Akugbene which is historically the cradle of the Mein Kingdom in the Western Ijaw Division in Nigeria – as such annual pilgrimage would become the platform for yearly revalidation, renewal and reconsolidation of our ancient roots of origination. Is His Royal Majesty Pere S.P. Luke Kalanama VIII prepared for this annual pilgrimage which will form the only basis to pardon the Akugbene-Mein Kingdom’s questionable silence on historical facts required for historical reconnection and reconstruction of our ancient roots?
Ekanpou Enewaridideke is a literary scholar, an Ijaw from Ayakoromo in Ngbilebiri Mein Kingdom, Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, he writes this piece from his community, Akparemo-Gbene.
This piece is culled from The Vanguard Newspaper.