|Urhobo Historical Society
THE first sight
guests arriving the Mariere Hall, venue of the annual Atamu Day
The day witnessed
commissioning of the statue of the first chancellor of
The event brought together eminent Urhobo and non Urhobo personalities including General David Ejoor (rtd) (who in the military tradition of punctuality arrived the venue early), Engr. Moses Kragha, Senator (Chief) Fred Brume, Mr. Matthew Eshalomi (former gubernatorial aspirant), Brig-Gen Oviemo Ovadje, Olorogun & Chief (Mrs.) O’tega Emerhor, Mr. & Mrs. Joe Idudu, Olorogun Gregory Arueya (chairman, NULEC Industries), Air Commodore S.O. Okiti and Mr. Roland Bosomo. Other eminent guests were Chief Johnson Barovbe (past president, Urhobo Social Club and Tosogbe of Badagry), Prof. S.O. Sofola (deputy vice-chancellor, University of Lagos), Chief (Arch.) Charles Majoroh, Mrs. C.F. Olumide (Registrar, Unilag), Prof Jide Olowokudejo (Dean, Student Affairs, Unilag), Mr. Walter Funsho (representaive of Brig. Gen Buba Marwa (rtd.), Mr. & Mrs. Austin Enajemo-Isire (MD, Standard Life), Chief Kenneth Gbagi, Chief Vincent Ahwi, Mr. Emmanuel Evue (1st vice president, Urhobo Social Club), Barrister Chris Akiri and Mrs. Sakpoba (perm-sec, Delta State liaison office, Lagos).
Chairman of the
world-acclaimed medical scientist and inventor, Brig-Gen. (Dr.) Oviemo
described the day as one “set aside to commemorate and honour a man of
achievement. I believe that the good Lord has a purpose for the
attached to this day because, not many of the organizers know that His
Excellency, late Chief Jereton “Orodjereton” Mariere, the first
governor of the
The military doctor
that networking is a social cobweb, which must be arranged or formed to
the interest of all and sundry. “To achieve the gains of networking
we should employ methods and tools devoid of sentimentalities
the use of words such as marginalisation to draw attention to
The inventor urged Urhobo nation to strive to cultivate good
networked during the creation of the old
In his own address,
Francis Daniel-Okumagba said the honour to Mariere is evidence that
Mariere was accomplished in the critical areas of life. “Indeed, his
transcended his immediate and catchment environments hence this
holding in the
The general manager, Oceanic Bank said the unveiling of Chief Mariere’s statue by Atamu Social Club is a further testimony of the socio-cultural club’s commitment to the promotion of Urhobo ideals anywhere at anytime, and urged the support of all in order to continue. “Often, as individuals, we exceed breaking points to record these feats but we are consoled by the fact that our modest contributions are being appreciated at home and beyond,” Daniel-Okumagba said.
The president thanked students, staff and management of Unilag for “providing us the opportunity to render this little service to the Urhobo nation and humanity as a whole.” He also thanked Urhobo students in Unilag “who two years ago approached us with this lofty idea of erecting Mariere statue in front of Mariere Hall. They are patriots and their unique contribution in this venture can never go unmentioned.” He also showed gratitude to Atamu patrons “whose material and psychological support has remained inestimable and part of the essential tonic that has propelled us this far.”
Daniel-Okumagba used the medium to propose unity and Urhobo brotherhood, and urged both established and rising stars in Urhobo to appreciate the strategic strength in networking, “that way we will be able to create our own galaxy in this federation of galaxies and subsequently stand up for recognition even at the centre.” The Urhobo brotherhood, he proposed, should be one that will recognize the place of youths in the continuum called life and consequently equip them with capacities to take over leadership tomorrow.”
An important feature of the celebration was a lecture by Dr.Igho Ogbera, associate director and head of research, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, titled: Networking as a strategic success factor in the social-economic and political development of the Urhobo nation.”
In the lecture, Dr.
said Urhobo nation is the “breadfruit of
Ogbera decried the neglect of Urhobo by successive regimes in terms of development, turning it to a “war theatre with rapid decay of infrastructure, high unemployment, poverty, insecurity, and low level of industrialization. He proffered that networking is one possible way for Urhobo people to actualize their dreams and visions in the face of massive neglect by the Federal Government. “Networking will help us as a group to accomplish those things we cannot accomplish alone—complex development problems and issues that seem overwhelming.. Provide the critical mass needed for local and national advocacy and lobbying; open opportunities, strength and sustain capacities.”
The guest lecturer advised Urhobo people especially privileged ones, not to undermine the collective interests of the Urhobo nation to advance their selfish interest. “Unity, cooperation and solidarity constitute the key building blocks of network, their absence remains a threat to the group’s vision and aspirations,” Ogbera stated. He called on all Urhobo sons and daughters to play key role in ensuring the socio-economic and political transformation of the Urhobo nation, “not only through bonding among ourselves but through strategic alliances and building bridges across our cultural boundaries with other ethnic nationalities. This requires the elimination of conflicts and crisis in our land, fostering team work, unity and cooperation and articulating a marshal plan for the rapid development of the Urhobo nation.”
The occasion also
display of Urhobo music and culture. Emma Ovis and his musical group
the audience, and a cultural dance group led by Abilogu Godwin
presented the Ema
Royal Dance as well as Urhobo and Ijaw traditional dance steps. Igbeni
masquerade (originated from Okpe/Uvwie) also displayed to the joy and
of all. The masters of ceremonies, Godspower Efiahware (number one
The peak of the
the commissioning of the statue of Mariere in front of Mariere Hall.
commissioning was performed by the special guest of honour, Chief James
Brume, while commending Atamu for the initiative, called on the various Urhobo clubs to get together and find a way of working together “even within a wider context of unity, beyond UPU as it stands today…”
For Engr. Moses
Kragha, it is
a very great initiative. “Atamu Social Club should be highly commended,
are shinning examples of how to bring Urhobo together and promote
positively. It is very rare to see Urhobo these days recognising not to
promoting one of their own, so the initiative and effort is very highly
commendable.” Asked what challenges this has brought on elderly Urhobo,
stated: “I don’t know if the older ones are sensitive anymore, so to
challenge to them based on experience, will appear like pouring water
The younger ones are taking the bulls by the horn, and the few older
are still young at heart should support and patronize the younger ones
treading the right path.” The chief host, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe, vice
chancellor, Unilag, who was visibly impressed submitted that “this is
time in my own knowledge in this country that somebody is being
such a unique way by very young people, and I am really very
vice chancellor said Atamu’s gesture is a lesson to
Also, Engr. Solomon
Scott), the senior manger distribution of NEPA, Oshodi District, said
effort by Atamu is very applauding. “They have done what a lot of
Urhobo clubs have
not been able to do for a long time, and with the type of vibrant young
men in Atamu,
the club will surely go to high places, and they should continue their
work in projecting Urhobo nation in a better light. Jesse-born Engr.
Oke also extolled
the leadership qualities of Francis Daniel-Okumagba, Atamu
saying he has done very well, “under his leadership the club could
a feat as not only unveiling Mariere statue in front of Mariere Hall,
but actually painted and renovated the hall building, the common room
reading room. It is a show of unique leadership by Okumagba to
and resources to achieve this no mean feat. May God give Atamu more
all Urhobo in
An Evwreni indigene and group head of administration, Standard Alliance Group, Deacon Uba Mrohwobor eulogized the occasion as very beautiful. “It enabled Urhobo people to come together again as one to champion the cause of Urhobo as a nation, it is nice and encouraging.” Deacon Uba said Urhobo should rally round Atamu to ensure that the club is encouraged to continue the cause of championing Urhobo, which they have chosen. To Evwreni people, Uba said Atamu’s gesture is a challenge to the community to go back to the archives, review the past deeds and activities of fallen heroes and make it known to the world.
To cultural activist and artistic director of Abilogu Arts Production, Abilogu Godwin “Atamu remains the greatest when you talk of groups and people that are propagating Urhobo culture. Atamu as far as I am concerned remains number one, UPU has not done much in propagating Urhobo culture.” Abilogu, whose cultural group performed at the event, said he is proud to be Urhobo, adding that “God so blessed Urhobo, and apart from the natural resources in our land, talent-wise we are very blessed.” He urged Urhobo people to go back to the basics, back to our culture, really from our culture we will be able to recover ourselves again. Imagine, what Atamu has done, now imagine what it will be like if other Urhobo clubs start to do the same thing,” Abilogu said.
But for Atamu, is this the end of the projection of Urhobo to the world?
The president of the club said, “this is just the beginning, no matter the frustration, no matter the intimidation we will not change from being Urhobo. We will stand firm as a club to project this noble nation (Urhobo nation).” Daniel-Okumagba expressed happiness at the outcome of the celebration. “I feel elated, even with all the obstacles that we had at the beginning, everything came out successfully. We have made a statement to Urhoboland, everybody that is here today knows that Urhobo are in this campus and it gives me great joy seeing what I planned being actualized,” he told The Urhobo Voice. The youthful banker reiterated that Atamu would not be sidetracked or distracted from projecting Urhobo, “this is just the beginning, we are going to do a lot more things in Urhobo.” He called on youths to endeavour to flaunt their Urhoboness anytime and anywhere, according to him, doing so doesn’t change one from being what one is.
Dr. Ese Okobia,
secretary of Atamu also commented on the event, saying it was
successful beyond our imagination, as you can see the entire university
community and officials were here,” Okobia, a university don said,
succeeded in reminding the
Another member, Sam Egube, who is chief business officer, Lagos, New Nigerian Bank (NNB), said “it is hightime Urhobo nation began to network across the nation and built bridges of alliance to stimulate, not only national growth but also to bring focus into the Urhobo nation. I think that is one strong point for the event.” Egube informed that one of the motivations for Atamu’s erection of Mariere statue is “to develop a recognition within ourselves of our illustrious indigenes who have left landmarks in the society and the nation at large. It also stands as rallying point amongst everyone in the Urhobo nation to further our interest locally, nationally and internationally. Mariere was a distinguished personality of the Urhobo nation, and it is deserving that we used him at this point in time as a rallying point to those ideals he stood for,” Sam Egube stated.
member also emphasised that Atamu is determined to put Urhobo people in
of the world, adding that several projects are on line towards this
who said he learnt to speak Urhobo in the streets of Lagos, called on
parents to cultivate the habit of speaking Urhobo as a first language
children at home “because this is one way of imparting Urhobo
into them at the early stage. Language is culture, so parents should
inculcate the Urhobo language into their children.” On Mariere, he said
cannot undermine the image and personality of the late Urhobo leader as
the Urhobo nation and
March 20, 2004 saw a vivid resurrection of Mariere, it featured celebration of life, a celebration of service to the cause of a group, the Urhobo nation, and as Christopher Ichege (immediate past president of National Union of Urhobo Students, Unilag chapter) who claimed to have been the one to have mooted initially the idea of the Mariere statue in Unilag to Atamu summed up the occasion: “We thank God today that it all went through successfully.” And to show its approval of the event, a sort of proclamation that the vision and effort by Atamu has got divine approval, the heavens, minutes after official commissioning of the statue, poured forth its blessings. It rained heavily, rhythmically and soothingly.
Other guests at the event include Mr. Richard Obire (executive director, Platinum Bank); Mr. Godwin Iyalla (Head, Image Mgt. & Protocol, Standard Alliance Group); Mr. Albert Okumagba (MD/CEO BGL); Mr. Ese Onosode (who represented Deacon Gamaliel Onosode); Mr. Okey Nwosu (MD, First Atlantic bank); Mr. Robert Ahwefada (deputy director, FRCN); Prince Oghene Emma Egoh, Mr. Simeon Ohwofa, Mr. Bode Akinboye (MD, Standard Allinace); Mr. Oboden Ibru (chief operating officer, Oceanic Bank) amongst others.