Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Protests in Warri as Olu of Warri abolishes ancient cultural practices


There have been protests and serious tension in Warri, Delta state for some days for now after the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwase II, announced the abolition of some of the ancient Itshekiri cultural practices. The Olu of Warri who is a born again Christian with a Foursquare Worship Centre in his palace, had last Wednesday September 4th declared in a document titled, “The New Order of Iwere Kingdom,” that the “Ogiame” title which had been in existence for over 500 years would no longer exist because it is purportedly associated to a river goddess. He now only wants to serve one God.

The Olu of Warri in the document, said:

“I also repent for the name and title of “Ogiame” that my ancestors and I have borne, as it connotes our allegiance to Umalokun (goddess of the river) and other deities of the sea, all of which are false gods. Today, I renounce our allegiance to Umalokun and other gods of the sea, land and sky. On behalf of the royal bloodline, the throne, the people of Iwere land, I publicly enter into a new covenant with God.”

Not only did the King renounce his traditional title of Ogiame, he also dissociated himself from some of the kingdom’s age-long traditional practices, which he described as paganism. This seeming born again position by the King has been seen to be an insult to the traditional history of the Itsekiris.

There are also indications that the King did not consult the Itsekiri Traditional Council of Chiefs and Ruling Houses before he took the decision. Now the people of Warri are asking him to either withdraw his statement or abdicate the throne.

Several people, including members of the royal family have tried to convince the Olu of Warri to change his mind on the matter, but the King has so far said there's no going back on his decision.

On Sunday 8th Sept, angry Itsekiri youths took to the streets in Warri to register their displeasure on the Olu's new belief. The protest could have turned bloody but for for the timely intervention of Governor Uduaghan, who is also an itsekiri. He appealed to the youths to stay calm, promising that the issue would be addressed.

No fewer than 5000 women are expected to embark on a protest today in Warri against the monarch.