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|I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by victor4ekele(m): 5:48am On Aug 29, 2017
His Royal Majesty, Dr . Michael Idakwo Ameh Oboni , the Attah Igala , tells GBENGA ODOGUN about his life as the traditional ruler of the Igala
As father of the Igalas , what are some of the social and sacred duties you perform?
The Attah , in the first place , is a ‘ Priest King ’ . He is first and foremost , a priest and also a king . So he has this dual role as the Attah Igala . He owns the land from the extreme south of the kingdom to the extreme north of the kingdom ; the same thing from the bank of the River Niger here to the eastern boundary towards the east . Apart from that , the Attah wields authority over the chiefs and the land resources therein . Attah is like any other king , he has so many dos and don ’ ts .
Can you mention some of them sir?
The Attah is not expected to eat or dance in the public . He is not expected to shake hands with any woman . The Attah is not expected to behold an infant except he is over three months . The Attah does not enter a canoe . He is not expected to see a dead body . The Attah by his position is expected to protect the originality of the people through governance on the throne . A blessing from the Attah is considered as the blessing from the highest priest of the land .
Is it true that the Attah must not place a curse on anybody ?
What happens is that if the Attah wishes anybody well , behold the person shall prosper. But when he wishes a man evil, it will go with him . So the Attah is considered as powerful as any priest in the land who administers curses or blessings on anybody .
Is the throne hereditary ?
Yes it is . There are four ruling houses – Ocholi dynasty , Aju Akwu dynasty , Aju Amacho and Aju Akogwu . After one family rules , the others take their turn. My predecessor is from another family but all from Ayegba root . So , his own time has come and gone and after my reign , another family will follow before it comes back again to our turn.
Is the oracle consulted to determine the person that would become the king from a dynasty ?
Even the woman frying akara on the road knows the family that will produce the next Attah .
After the ruling family has selected the Attah , being the next family in line, they would be asked to come and meet a chief called Etemayi and announce that their family has already zeroed in on one person as the next Attah . Then the Etemayi will go to the Achadu ( the next person to the Attah ) and tell him that a successor has been found . Then he would examine him to see if he is physically fit and without deformity. He will also check if he is a stammerer. A stammerer cannot be the Attah . You must be of average height and you must be athletic in appearance . Without all these qualities, Achadu can disqualify the candidate and tell the family to produce another candidate . If the deformity is obvious, the Achadu will disqualify the candidate because traditionally, the Attah - to - be is going to be the wife of the Achadu so he must have good qualities and everything must be working in his body . After that, the Attah -elect must have to proceed to Ugwolawo , about 16miles away from Idah on the way to Anyigba , where he will pass the night. He will start the journey of 16 miles back to Idah by foot before coronation is started. When the coronation ceremony starts properly in Idah , they will go to the burial ground and carry nine Ifa priests in the night, and all the priests would stay and do their divination to see how the Attah ’ s reign would be and whether he would be so harsh on the kingdom that would cause them to go to war or whether he would be the one that would bring about peace . If finally they agree the Attah would be crowned , he would be crowned the following morning.
Can you tell us a bit about your early childhood?
I never grew up with my parents; I grew up in the Catholic mission. That was where I did my primary and secondary school.
Did you ever have any premonition of becoming the Attah Igala?
Never. I was taken by surprise . Though it was our family’ s turn to produce the next Attah , politicians and people who never meant well deployed all sorts of unknown rules to the process . It became a free for all fight. I stayed and waited for them to call me. I was qualified by all standards and I went and contested with about five or six persons and I won .
How did you feel when you won ?
I felt happy and my gratitude is to God Almighty for the might to contest with people who had money and support and yet I excelled. Everyone had his own concept of the Attah . I personally thought the Attah would be a fierce looking person but when I look into the mirror , I would be wondering if my face could be that of the Attah . Each morning , I would get to the bathroom and I would spend up to 40minutes without water touching my body . I would just be looking at myself in the mirror . Sometimes, I would try to frown to see if that was how the Attah should look like. I didn ’ t know I was just deceiving myself. I felt elated to see myself on the throne . My house became a sort of Mecca .
What were you doing before you ascended the throne?
I was a retired estate officer from the Federal Capital Development Authority ( FCDA ) . I retired as a deputy acting director before I settled in Lokoja where I had built my house to wait upon God ’ s time .
What were some of the things you were doing before that you no longer do ?
If I mention them , you may not believe but I have left all of that behind me , I am born again . I am a new man otherwise I would not be on this seat for two weeks. I have left them behind, I am a new creature with a new agenda , with a new direction and a new slate for good writing .
As a socialite , I used to socialise with my friends . We used to go to any beer parlour , have our beer, eat and relax . I cannot do that now . I am banned from shaking a woman’ s hand , I cannot shake my sister , and I cannot shake hands with my aunt. In those days, I shake those whom I know . Now I have nine masquerades and how do I perform the festival for them if I don ’ t keep myself cleansed as prescribed by tradition ? I don’ t even walk on the streets because I would be attracted to so many people . These are some of the things I cannot do again . I know how to ride motorcycle and bicycle but I cannot just ride again because that would be like lowering my personality. It has made life to change for me overnight .
How do you relate with your subjects?
We talk to them . We have traditional court sessions every morning, they bring their cases and I solve them . The ones I cannot solve , we fix another date for them . I have councillors covering the entire length and breadth of the empire . They would report to me what is happening in our place at the riverside and the same thing for the other people who are at the hinterland .
What role does your wife play in the palace ?
Well, there is no defined role for the wife of the Attah . What she is supposed to do is to take care of the less privileged in the society . She takes care of the orphans and she gives them food.
Can an Attah choose to have one wife?
I have chosen to stay with one wife because one wife is even too many . I am the first Attah in history to stay with one wife and I am comfortable with that.
So many people may not know how large Igala Kingdom is , would you mind telling us?
Igala kingdom was reduced by the British administration and further reduced by our own internal administration. That is why we have Igala race in five states . To show the extent of the size of the Igala race , we have Igala in Benue , Enugu, we also have Igala people from Ichi in Anambra. We have Igala community in Delta State and we have Igalas in Edo State .
Apart from all the places you have mentioned within the country, do we have them outside Nigeria?
We don’ t have them outside Nigeria because we are right at the centre of the country. Even within Kogi State , we have sizeable Igala population in Kogi central . We have them in Adogo, and Ajaokuta.
Are they united as one people ?
The unity is the language we speak , I can call the chief in Anambra State and we would communicate in Igala . I have demonstrated it by putting a call through to a chief in that state and it was in Igala that we communicated because Igala language is spoken in all these places.
Do you really take time to visit your people in these states ?
I have not really done that but I am in constant communication with them .
They come here to pay homage before celebrating their festivals there . We are preparing to start celebrating our festivals and when we commence, they will also come . During my coronation , all the chiefs from all the states I talked about were represented here .
Would you mind telling us the origin of the Igala people ?
Talking about the origin of the Igala people , a sizeable group migrated from Wukari in Taraba State from where they came to Benue along the River Benue and continued very close to the confluence at a place called Amagede by River Benue and slightly down from Amagede downwards to Idah and they settled there . And there , they met a sizeable population of the Yorubas and the Benins and to some extent , some Igbo . So the migrant population from Wukari merged with them and produced a language called Igala as a people .
What do the Igala people do in terms of occupation ?
The occupation is very obvious , we have the land and there is enough rainfall . The land is fertile. We are predominantly farmers . We are also hunters and fishermen.
In terms of customs and culture what are the major festivals ?
We have so many annual festivals . We celebrate when there is good harvest , we mourn when we have losses and that is how every other community in Africa behaves and we cannot be an exception . But we have our native calendar and all of them go along with our festival . When there is harvest , we have the celebration of yam festival . A small seed was put in the ground and it grew big and would be used to feed so many families. It is a way of offering prayers to God , we have this feast, and we call it Iyalo Igala .
In 1963, some of our traditions were proscribed. We have one of the best masquerades in West Africa . Attah as a priest /king has nine masquerades and all of them perform some functions in our tradition. So we have all year round festivities. But in 1964 they stopped them .
Who stopped them?
The people that inherited our leadership from the British . Those who were in the house of chiefs said it was too fetish or it was dominated by too much of African religion. So by 1964 we were young boys then and so , those before us took the decision . But we are trying to revive it because we cannot stay without culture as culture is life. We must restore it.
Which areas are you ready to revive if the ban is lifted today ?
It depends on our own calendar of the year . If the ban on it is lifted today , we will check to know the festival to celebrate immediately and our nine masquerades will come out. It is a way of praying to God , thanking God for all His blessings . Those who are not initiated into the system will think that we are worshipping a stone god. But we use this to express our gratitude to the Almighty for His benevolence on us .
Who will lift the ban ?
The onus rests on the State House of Assembly so that we can be celebrating . Nobody can put a very heavy chain on our necks. Every other community in Nigeria celebrates their festival so why not us ? They have to restore it. It is what brings us together; it is the source of our unity .
Have you approached state assembly on this?
Yes, it has been mentioned twice and we are waiting for the final one .
Do you have taboos in your kingdom ?
You cannot go out of your way to take another person ’ s wife . You cannot go and steal in the market, if you do that you will be lynched. It is like it is everywhere, ours is not peculiar .
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by haryorbarmie83(m): 5:49am On Aug 29, 2017
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by victor4ekele(m): 5:49am On Aug 29, 2017
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by sarrki(m): 5:51am On Aug 29, 2017
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by ajepako(f): 5:52am On Aug 29, 2017
Good one, your highness..
However, how many side chicks?
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by Larryfest(m): 6:06am On Aug 29, 2017
So Big deal
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by decatalyst(m): 6:27am On Aug 29, 2017
What an achievement...
It helps to improve the quality of life of your subjects and make the basic infrastructure available.
The statement is a testament to the fact that 94% of our leaders see it has doing US a Favour by not engaging in something that is not meaningful or beneficial to all. They forgot it is their duty to live by example and deliver on their promises.
We have a very long way to go!
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by FemiEddy(m): 6:35am On Aug 29, 2017
A bottle of vodka for the man please
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by uboma(m): 9:31am On Aug 29, 2017
So this is an achievement!
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by odigbosky(m): 7:25am On Aug 31, 2017
Have always admired the Kingdom of Idah....its just that idah itself is so undeveloped. 2 years agi we had barely 5 banks in Idah and imagine the stress we had to go through when one wants to withdraw money during a festive period like sallah or xmas. The roads arent good and the people there are very superstitious. Ajaka is worse...Ugwolao is a bit far....if HRM really trek dat tin for coronation i give am hand. Anyways much love and respect....
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by XAUBulls: 9:51pm On Jun 21, 2023
|Re: I'm The First Attah Igala In History To Have Only One Wife- HRM Ameh Oboni by nobaga: 2:34pm On Jun 23, 2023
By whose culture ma'am?
Ime prick dey pain am. Bottomline, the poor have children the rich have moni.
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