During the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Adha, the Otaru of Auchi, Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III, honoured prominent sons of the kingdom who have excelled on the home front, writes Adibe Emenyonu
Auchi is a town in Nigeria on the northern part of Edo State. It is a commercial town with several thriving businesses owned by indigenes and non indigenes alike. The town, which is the administrative headquarters of Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State, was the administrative headquarters of all Afemai District from 1920 to 1963 and now the commercial nerve centre of all Afemailand.
The area falls within the Guinea Savannah belt with a location that is hilly with pockets of valleys and flat plains.
There are two versions to the origin of the name Auchi. One version has it that Auchi is an adulteration of Aya Uchi meaning Uchi’s people. While another version says Auchi is an adulteration of Ebvho Uchi, meaning Uchi’s town.
Whichever way it is looked at, both versions reinforce the fact that Auchi was founded by Uchi, a man who according to oral tradition, migrated from Udo, a town near Benin City about 14th Century A.D. because of the wars, acts of brutality, intimidation and dehumanisation which then was found unacceptable.
The town is made up of five grand quarters which are Utsogun, Akpekpe, Aibotse, Igbhei and lyekhei. Utsogun is the royal Quarter from which the Otaru (king) of Auchi is chosen and enthroned. Within each of the grand Quarters, there are small Quarters and kindreds with clearly demarcated lineages.
The people of Auchi speak yekhei/Etsako version of the Afemai language. It is essentially a Muslim town as the indigenes are predominantly Muslims as a result of their early interaction with the Nupe Fulanis. Being a cosmopolitan town, most other religions like Christianity and Polytheism are also being practiced in the town.
Most festivals in Auchi have their roots in Islam like the Eid celebrations (Eid Fitr, Eid Kabir and Eid Molud). Recently, the people celebrated Eid-ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), an important occasion celebrated by Muslims globally to honour the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience.
Among the activities that added colour to the just concluded Eid-ul-Adha celebration in the kingdom was the turbanning of 12 prominent sons of the area, including four princes among whom is Alhaji Usman Dagash Abudah as the Dania of Auchi Kingdom; by His Royal Highness, Alhaji H.A. Momoh, the Otaru of Auchi Kingdom.
The ceremony took place at the palace of the Otaru of Auchi.
The new Dania who was full of joy, thanked God for using the Otaru to elevate him to such a revered position of the Dania, and pledged to justify the confidence reposed in him.
According to him, the title of Dania in Auchi Kingdom is next in hierarchy to the Daudus. The bearer of such title is one who is dear and close to the Otaru. The Dania is thus an office reserved for the Otaru’s confidant, who has the intelligence, the wit and the guts to dispense justice without fear or favour.
Dagash as he is fondly called by his admirers is from the Abudah wing of the Ikelebe ruling house of Auchi. One striking thing about the turbaning which usually goes with a title is that there is no price tag on it. If it was so, persons like Dagash will not be qualified because where on earth will a veteran journalist, retired civil servant and cultural promoter get the money to pay. Though it is free, it is not entirely so because it is meant for those who have made immense contributions to the kingdom.
Abudah was once the correspondent of Punch newspaper, where he worked with personalities like Uncle Sam Amuka Pemu, publisher of the Vanguard Titles; Joe Igbokwe, husband to late songstress, Christiana Essien Igbokwe, and now Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State.
He is a man of gentle mien, unassuming in spite of his priesthood. A promoter of culture, especially the preservation of the Afemai culturally heritage, which the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka in 2010 unveiled. All these and more may have been the motives behind the recognition bestowed on him and others by the Auchi monarch
Little wonder in his address during the turban ceremony, the Otaru of Auchi, HRH Alhaji Aliru Momoh Ikelebe III, said all his actions are divine directives towards general upliftment of the sacred kingdom of Auchi.
The move according to him, is a clarion call for those found worthy to continue to uphold upright behaviour to the expectations of the Ikekebe ruling dynasty established centuries back.
Strikingly, the Auchi monarch also disclosed that he does not turban on price tags, but on individual merit, adding that to other recipients, it was based on their immense upright behaviour and tidy contributions to the development of the kingdom.
His words: “All my actions are divine directives towards the spiritual and general upliftment of the sacred Kingdom of Auchi. To you the princes, it is a clarion call to hold in upright behaviour to the expectations of the Ikelebe ruling dynasty as established by our forebears.
“I don’t turban on price tags, but on individual merit. To the other recipients, it is your immense upright behaviour and tidy contributions to the development of our great kingdom based on justice and equity as Almighty Allah passed to humanity.”
Also speaking, the Yerima and former Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh, urged the recipients to maintain their uprightness and service to humanity especially people of the kingdom which remained the major reason why they were turbaned.
Momoh who is also a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, therefore urged believers irrespective of their faith and denominational background to thrive more harder and seek the face of God in anything they do.
There was also cultural display such as masquerades dances and reception for guests during and after the ceremony. The occasion also afforded the people the opportunity to launch a security fund raising for the area.
In his address, Alhaji Sule Yesufu, chairman of the fund raising ceremony, said the essence is for them to internally contribute to security situation in the area which occasionally had experienced robbery, kidnapping and other social vices.
The ceremony was graced by dignitaries from all walks of life including the Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Senator Francis Alimikhena, representing Edo North; member representing Owan Federal Constituency and Deputy Majority Whip, Pally Iriase; Edo State governor-elect and his deputy, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and Phillip Shaibu respectively.