My Itsekiri Heroine!
Someone asked if I have international heroines? I said, not really, maybe it is because I am a proper local girl.
To give a brief description of me is to say, I am a woman of colour, exotic, intriguing, and strong. I think of my Chief Rita Lori when in this such an elemental state.
Butter pecan brown, purely refined chocolate as Chief Alele William. Such a beauty with a great intellect.
As dark as the night and as bright as the dawn like my grandmothers, Victoria Erikowa who enjoyed the charcoaled ‘Ukolu’ to fry special groundnuts for her grandchildren and Gloria Otuedon, who enjoyed the trading skill of periwinkles and fishes.
I think of the robust, finely shaped built body frame used to tie elegant wrappers like beautiful flowers in a garden.
Now let me tell you about my heroines.
I’d enjoy the company of Madam Wulu, who made Itsekiri dancers proud by winning a dancing competition held in Ibadan in 1956 when Queen Elizabeth first came to Nigeria. Today I’d seek an invitation to see the Queen and have a cup of tea on the matters of the monarchy.
Won’t I rather be from Aja Igba? I hear women from there are powerful like Princess Igba and Chief Rita Lori Ogbebor.
Why won’t I be like the first Otshowode of Warri Kingdom, Chief Doherty who was installed in 1959? I can imagine the prestige to be the first female chief….what do we call them in Itsekiri?
To have a famous Numa Maternity, that the whole Warri can testify to, I give kudos to Chief Madam F.E. Rewane, the Ejumatan of Warri.
If I wanted to let how to sew or be a proper ‘fine’ Itsekiri lady, I would travel to Lagos and stay with the then Iyeyeolomete of the Warri Kingdom, Chief Madam C.V. Duncan. I heard Lagosians really enjoyed her company.
Let me thank Chief (Dr.) Mrs. P.E. Uku, the Ere-Oluyon of the Warri Kingdom for breaking the female barriers to be the 1st female Itsekiri Permanent Secretary in the then Bendel State Ministry of Social Development, Youth, Sports, and Culture. Nobody can live as an Itsekiri and not talk about Ugbogbo Ebebe, the Olujimi of Warri Kingdom. She is one dancer to reckon with in Itsekiri.
I cannot over emphasise the need for a girl child education in Itsekiri because I already have my Chief Grace Alele Williams to help me preach that. To think she was once a Vice Chancellor, oops! Excuse me, I mean, the first female VC in Nigeria in the renowned University of Benin. Oya, let me duff my hat for my Itsekiri Mama, it is not a small something.
Did I tell you that Mrs. G. Ogbemi (nee Edukugho) was the first female lawyer in the whole defunct Midwestern State of Nigeria then? I heard she is an inspiration for many Itsekiri people to become lawyers. If you don’t know Julie Coker, you are on a long thing. At 19, that young age, she became one of the broadcasters of Nigerian Television. Do you think it is easy to be the 45th ICAN President, abeg clap for Chief Mrs. Elizabeth Omaresan Adegbite. Don’t let be forget to eulogise my Iya Oluremi Tinubu. She is the first lady of the one and only Jagaban we have in Nigeria.
Kpamkpam oya drum rolls for Chief Olivia Agbajor, the 1st female Itsekiri to be appointed Commissioner of Culture in Delta State. The story of my dearest Ete Harriman Ayida, she is a beautiful woman, you need to check out her latest Itsekiri project. I tell my father that is she is my Oyibo Pepper Itsekiri. Who knew that in 1988, someone like Omasan Tokubor Buka had represented us in Miss Universe, Miss Intercontinental and Miss World?
Perhaps I should be a fan of football like Aunt Alero Otuedon, but my Mama Florence Omagbemi has done us proud in the football world. I cannot forget the philanthropists in the Kingdom who promote sustainable development like my Mamas Dr. Omawumi Urhobo, Mrs. Patricia Otudeon Arawore. Please clear road for them, I am coming behind them in the development matter.
I have my diaspora mamas like Roseline Oneyor Jesimighomi and Roli Karen Clarke. They make Ugbarajo Itsekiri UK, a gathering to reckon with. Oh no! I cannot exclude our Mama Jocelyn Eroro Edun-Tite, she is amazing, forget one day I will yarn their stories for you.
I cannot do without telling you about my darling Eregwa, Mrs. Oritsebemigho Juliet Erikowa (nee Tonwe), hmmm! She is well known for her wonders in Chevron Nigeria Limited. She is called a lioness, but I’d say a soft one for now. She’s got amazing sisters who took care of me, so they are my mothers too. I salute them!
If you want to learn about culture and tradition and the wonderment of fabrics, I mean clothes we tie to do yanga, I will direct you to my one and only loveable Mrs. Christy Erebor Orighoye (Nee Oneyor). She is a great teacher!
If I need a support system I have My Lady Timeyin Jane, the comedienne.
I cannot help but end with my favourite musician Omawumi Megbele!
These are my heroines and there’s more….So let me celebrate the Itsekiri woman, she is worth more than rubies!
Happy Itsekiri Women’s Day, 2017