UNITY TO CELEBRATE URHOBO-ITSEKIRI'S
Smith Omonuwa, MD
Dear Peter [Ekeh] and Tosan [Ojime],
I think we are all in a mess and I am more confused than ever. Phrases jump through my head like "cultural tyranny" and "the tyranny of culture", where culture does not make room for inevitable natural growth. Why are we doing this? Is it for ethnic pride? Only a kid jumps in ecstasy feeling free while chanting "only my mother, the nanny goat, was bought from the market". Which one of us is free, when we are all held in bondage by our mutual disrespect, fears and hate? The God-given resources of our land are being plundered and our environment being degraded while we fight like crabs in a bucket over land we did not create. Poor corpses are staring at the rafters, instead of at the murderer.
Are we not all one? Can we not share what God has given us? Where is God in all this? What will it take for Urhobo people in general and the Warri Urhobo to accept and respect the title Olu of Warri? Tosan, though, confused me some when he talked of Itsekiri Kingdom. I have heard of Warri Kingdom. Itsekiri Kingdom is much larger than Warri, yet the Olu and my Itsekiri brethren prefer the title of Olu of Warri. I do not know if the Orodje of Okpe and his people would allow his title to be changed to the Orodje of Sapele, to protect Sapele or any part of Okpe land. This naturally detracts from the importance of other Itsekiri lands. The full potential of a town like Koko will never be realised in this kind of atmosphere. Call me naive, but I claim all of Delta State and Nigeria as my own and what you own also owns you. Ask your cat, your dog, your children, your spouse, your land, your anger, your fear, your disease, if you doubt this, but listen with your heart when you ask.
This is why we are not free. We are all "owned". Let us be owned by positive, progressive ideas, thoughts, emotions and deeds. The land is not going anywhere. It is naive to really own it. What we truly have is the privilege to use it for a time...
Democracy and the western legal systems in Nigeria are very young still. Our traditional institutions are not democratic. It is ludicrous from an unbiased point of view to try to use the legitimate to defend the illegitimate. When the courts are used this way, Justice rarely is served. This is one reason court judgements have not brought us peace. The greatest lesson has not yet been taught to our young democracy, and that is that the strong, the majority, has an obligation to protect the weak, the minority. Our socio-political life in Nigeria is still greatly characterised by the tyranny of the majority at all levels. We must be willing to give to all, what is good for ourselves and our children. Let us see the big picture. The people of the Niger Delta have bigger fishes to fry, if we stop fishing in our backyards. Leave the fight for the pure blooded Itsekiris and pure blooded Urhobos, and there will be no fight. It will be be rare to find two peoples with so much intercourse between them as between the Urhobos and Itsekiris, yet there is no harmony.
Our ancestors were wise in using marriage to secure peace. Let the children of these marriages of the two peoples solve this problem once and for all, by taking it out of the political and judicial domains. Let them come out and march in their hundreds of thousands from Warri to Ajagbodudu and end in Sapele, Itsekiris and Urhobos, young and old, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, in celebration of our common destiny, blessings and oneness. Let us form an association of such children and descendants for all ages and all times and make it a source of pride and vehicle for coherence and progress. Let us not visit the sins of the past on the present. Let us not use today's standards to judge yester-years' action, except only to rhetorically laugh at our own pettiness and appreciate our growth and development.
Let the Olu, who is the head of a people and not the head of a clan, be as his Majesty chooses to be called; I would prefer Olu of Itsekiri as that emphasizes his headship of a people and not just a clan or a town. It is history, value and principle, not just a game of numbers. If nothing else unites us, we are all suffering minorities in Nigeria. We must be sensitive enough to treat minorities amongst us better than we expect the majorities to treat us. Let us begin by acknowledging the facts above.
Peter, we must reserve the name, "Delta City" for that one City of my
and many others' dreams that is freer, out of the petty domain of any one
traditional ruler, richer, more beautiful, more central and much more truly
representative of all our peoples, with six suns, one for each of the peoples
in our state.
Dr. Smith T.M. Omonuwa of Agbon, a.k.a. Aghraghala.