Obong of Calabar Plays the Perfect Host
The traditional hospitality of the Efik Kingdom was on display recently, when the Obong of Calabar bestowed the highest award in the kingdom on Prince of Kent, Prince Michael George Charles Franklin and Frenchman environmentalist, Mr. Jean-Yves Ollivier. Bassey Inyang who covered the event, reports
It was pomp and pageantry at the palace of the Obong of Calabar, and Grand Patriarch of the Efikstate, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V, one of the most outstanding traditional rulers in Nigeria, when he performed a regular feat for which the palace is famed: the conferment of traditional titles to deserving personalities in the society.
On many occasions different traditional titles have been conferred on deserving personalities, from Cross River State where the Obong’s sovereignty is immediately felt among his subjects, and far flung places where his territorial influence straddles across many communities up to Cameroon in Central Africa.
In this context, history was made on March 6, this year, as Abasi-Otu V , played host to, and honoured two Europeans, Prince of Kent, Prince Michael George Charles Franklin; and Frenchman environmentalist, Mr. Jean-Yves Ollivier, Chairman and trustee of the Brazzaville Foundation for Peace and Conservation, with the highest title in Efik kingdom, the Adahidaha ke Efik Eburutu.
The significance of the title of Adahidaha ke Efik Eburutu is that any person so honoured with it automatically becomes a chief in the Efik Kngdom, and one of the chief advisers of the Obong and promoters of the traditions and culture.
The event was a gathering of a galaxy of stars of sons and daughters of the Efik kingdom, especially those at home, an indication that the honouring of the two-some was a serious matter.
Among them were the former governor of the state, Mr. Donald Duke; former Adviser to the President on National Assembly, Mrs. Florence Ita-Giwa; former commissioner representing the state on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Professor Eyo Etim Nyong, former chairman of the NDDC, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw; High Chief Asuquo Ekpenyong, Etinyen Architect Bassey Ndem and one of Nigeria’s Ambassador designates, Dr. Nya Eyoma Asuquo.
The guests and all those who graced the event were treated to various Efik cultural displays and dances both young maidens, and masquerades, including the Ekpe masquerade. Of course, there was enough to eat and drink as those gathered were deservedly entertained with the various Efik delicacies, and assorted drinks.
In his remarks at the occasion, Chairman of Obong of Calabar Executive Forum, Chief Asuquo Ekpenyong, said: “The event is significant. It is not too common to confer an Efik title on foreigners. It is a re-enactment of the relationship between the Efik, Britain and France. What we have seen is going to bring to the Efik kingdom and its people a positive relationship. We have by this shown that we still recall the past.”
Addressing the august gathering, Duke, in flowery language eulogised the recipients of the foremost traditional title in Efik kingdom, for their innate qualities, describing them as men who have contributed immensely to the development of humanity.
Duke who said the Prince of Kent, Prince Michael George Charles Franklin, has been his personal friend for decades said that the Prince occasionally represents the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, at some functions in Commonwealth realms outside the United Kingdom.
The former governor emphasised that his mere presence at the Palace of the Obong of Calabar has rekindle the bond that exists between the British royal family and the Palace of the Obong of Calabar.
Going down the historical lane, Duke said it was home coming for the Prince, who is a paternal first cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, for obvious reasons, one of which he recounted.
“Prince of Kent in 1956 planted a tree in the Hope Waddell Secondary School, and this year, 2017, he returned to the same school as part of the commemoration of its 122nd anniversary of the foremost institution to plant another tree,” Duke said.
Duke, who incidentally led the recipients to the palace, described Ollivier as a global Peace Ambassador who has traversed the world, more so, in his official capacity as Chairman of the Brazzaville Foundation for Peace and Conservation.
“He is one who has been involved in conflict resolutions round the world including conflicts in Congo and Southern Africa. He has a double honour of merit in promotion of peace from both the Apartheid government era, and the post-Apartheid governments of South Africa. He is credited as one of those whose peace promotion works led to the release of the late Nelson Mandela,” Duke said.
After Duke had done the needful by preparing the grounds for the initiation of the duo into the traditional institution of the Efiks, it was the turn of the Obong of Calabar to cap the rites by formerly performing the traditional induction of both men into the palace as advisers of the monarch.
As customary with such occasions, the Obong had some words for the recipients and the people of his kingdom.
Using Efik, the traditional language of the palace, the monarch said he was delighted in hosting them as his guest from overseas.
The Obong said for the Prince of Kent, the Adahidaha ke Efik Eburutu, which was being bestowed on him amounted to decorating him with additional traditional feathers as he was already a member of the royalty from the Queen’s Palace.
He said the visit of the Prince and the award given to him by the people would further cement the bond of relationship between British royal house and the Efik kingdom.
Speaking in similar terms about Jean-Yves Ollivier, Abasi-Out V noted that the Frenchman’s record of service for global peace and conflict resolution stands him out as a personality that merits the honour conferred on him.
The monarch offered his fatherly advice to both men, saying they should not relent in their services to humanity, and should be free to relate with the Efik monarchy as they have been inducted as advisers in the king’s court.
The Efik monarch, as a symbolic gesture handed over certificates and commemorative caps to both men.
The Obong gave specific charge to Prince Franklin, demanding that the latter should show what he has been imprinted with to the Queen of England.