I returned to varsity when I became monarch at 18 – Aidenojie II, Ojuromi of Uromi – Punch Newspapers
The Ojuromi of Uromi, Anselm Aidenojie II, speaks with ADEYINKA ADEDIPE, about his journey to the throne and the rich culture of the town located in the Esan North-East Local Government Area of Edo State
Can you tell us about your kingdom?
My Kingdom, Uromi, is the second biggest kingdom in Edo State, after Benin, with a population of over 180,000 people. From history, we came from Benin and we are presently part of Esan land. And I can say Uromi is as old as Esan land itself.
What was the most memorable event at your coronation?
I had my coronation on November 16, 1991, and by next year (2021) I will be 30 years on the throne. Many things actually happened during my coronation which I will never forget. Our tradition was strictly adhered to during my coronation. Processes were followed leading to the final coronation, which was the presentation of staff of office by the state government to me. During the process leading to my coronation, all the traditional rites were carried out. All the festivities were done and they eventually led to my installation by the kingmakers, after which I was presented with the staff office by the state government. My case is peculiar because I became the king at the age of 18. I was a young boy in the University of Benin, studying Sociology and Anthropology. I was also very young when my father joined his ancestors and when I turned 18, my people insisted that I should formally take over the throne of my ancestors, which I agreed to.
How has your education helped you superintend over your kingdom?
My education and my exposure have helped me a lot in managing the affairs of my kingdom. I am a very liberal leader. I give people their dues and I don’t impose things on them. I allow democracy in my kingdom. When there are issues that affect my people, I allow everyone to make contributions through a special system. My people are hard-working and they don’t entirely depend on the government. They work hard to contribute their quota to the development of the town, the state and the nation.
How was it like growing up?
Traditionally, the first son, the heir apparent is not allowed to live in the palace. I lived in my grandmother’s house before going to Hussey College, Warri, Delta State, and stayed in the boarding house. You can only go to leave in the palace after your father joins his ancestors. While he is still alive, you can only come to visit your father and greet your siblings but you are not even allowed to sleep over for one night in the palace. My childhood was eventful and I was in the college when my father joined his ancestors.
Did becoming a royal father as affect your youth?
After my coronation in 1991, I went back to UNIBEN to complete my education. It didn’t affect me much because as humans, we must be disciplined. One has to be moderate in whatever he is doing. I knew that the fact that I am a royal father, I had to be disciplined, faithful and stay away from things that would bring disrespect to me and the institution I represent. So, I must say I enjoyed my youth and I am still enjoying myself.
How did your peers view you when you went back to school after your coronation?
The relationship between me and my peers was still very cordial when I went back to school after my coronation. They knew I had ascended the throne of my fathers and gave me that respect but I didn’t allow that to get into my head or affect my performance academically. I didn’t allow my status to affect my relationship with my friends. We were still relating the way we were but with some level of mutual respect. We carried on like that until we graduated from school.
You look like someone who is full of life. How do you spend your vacation, if you observe any?
For me, I travel outside the country during my vacation. I have travelled to different parts of the world but where I feel more at home is the United Kingdom, though I also like to visit the United States of America. At these locations, I quietly enjoy my holiday and I connect with my people who celebrate me and host me. I am happy because I enjoy myself during my vacation. There is nothing special about a royal vacation. As a man, when you travel, you have your own programme, which you adhere to, and enjoy myself. I take time out to rest and reflect on so many things and I come back when it is time for me to and resume as the king.
Are there some taboos people who wish to visit your kingdom should know?
With the present day situation, we try to play down on some of these traditions that some people consider not so good. Usually when you are married to a woman from our kingdom, you are not expected to use a broom on her. When you visit Uromi, we expect that you follow our ways of life. We have traditional ways of disciplining ourselves and settling issues if people go against the tradition of our land.
What is the most important festival in your kingdom and how is it celebrated?
We have many Festivals. But the major one is the annual Ojuromi Ihuan festival, which we celebrate every December. It is usually celebrated to round off all the festivals in the kingdom for the year. Once this festival is done, we start looking forward to the following year. The festival is more of a new yam festival. All our people, both home and abroad, join me in the celebration. That is the time I begin to eat the new yam. It is a big ceremony where every community in the kingdom comes to pay homage to me with their chiefs. They bring yams to me and in return, I entertain them.
What is the religious culture of the people of Uromi like?
In my kingdom, we have Christians, Muslims and people of traditional beliefs. We have a way of managing everybody and I have a chief who is Hausa and he takes care of things concerning his people before it is brought to me. I have an Igbo chief who also looks after the affairs of the (Igbo) people. So when there is a problem in their tribes, I send those chiefs to go and resolve it and only invite them to the palace if they are unable to find a solution. We have checks and balances and we are living well among ourselves.
You talked about Uromi originating from Benin. What is your relationship with the Oba of Benin?
My relationship with the Benin Kingdom is cordial. We see ourselves as brothers and people from one heritage. So, we accord ourselves that respect. We are now Esan and they are Benins. So, we see ourselves as brothers who relate with one another with mutual respect.
There have been concerns over insecurity in the country. What is the situation like in Uromi?
We have experienced issues of kidnapping but the security agencies are doing their best to curb the menace while our vigilante groups are also up and doing in checking the activities of hoodlums, kidnappers and bandits.
With the growing tension across the country, what is your advice to Nigerians?
My advice to people is to avoid things that will bring problems to them. They should live within their means. The idea of getting rich quick without working for it is not a good one. When you amass all the wealth, what are you going to do with it? People should create happiness and live quiet lives. There is no reason for pursuing these material things as if it is a do-or-die affair. That is what is leading to insecurity in the country. Everybody wants to make money and live above their means, which is something we should all condemn.
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