By Assin Godstime
(Co-Author, ‘Effurun-Otor People of the Niger-Delta’)
I first met the late king Duku of Effurun-Otor Kingdom in 2015. He had just been crowned the Orovworere (he who owns the town or land) of Effurun-Otor Kingdom. Our first meeting was at the palace of the Ovie (King) of Ughelli Kingdom. The Ovie of Ughelli had lost one of his precious wives and, as expected Delta State traditional rulers visited on a condolence visit. I was instructed to take the attendance and prepare a report on the Kings’ visitation in the long run.
HRM DUKU II was one of the kings who attended. He was clad in a well flowing red outfit and wore a red flashy shoe on his legs. Above his head was a simple crown made in red beads. He sat between the Ivie of Ozoro and Oghara Kingdoms. He was calm and delightfully handsome. He would occasionally give a polite smile where there was need to. At the time he entered the Ovie of Ughelli had not entered the large sitting-room. When the Ovie of Ughelli eventually arrived the atmosphere took another dimension. This time the man who had lost his precious wife had begun to shake hands with his colleagues. After the brief feasting, Duku and others took their seats excitedly but mournfully.
Not long I heard King Duku call me by my name. I turned to catch a glimpse of whom the caller was. He signalled me with the wave of his right hand. He was holding his mace. Humbly, I walked to him. He spoke a few words to my right ear and I smiled. After that encounter our relationship blossomed.
King Duku and I reconnected closely when he was six years on the throne. He had wanted a professional writer to handle a comprehensive history of his kingdom, people and their culture. He solicited my service to do justice to it. He insisted on my choice, according to him, due to my consistency and thoroughness in Urhobo affairs. He scheduled a date and we met to deliberate on the possibility. After our meeting, he awarded the project to me and I delivered overwhelmingly. He was amazed in the end to the extent that he had to reward me gigantically after the official launch despite the fact that he had earlier paid me for the project.
Truly, Duku’s reign was remarkable and rewarding to humanity. He was the first monarchy of Urhobo extraction to assemble mammoth to launch three books, two of which he authored himself and one he co-authored with this writer. Duku also established six communities within his seven years reign over Effurun-Otor. It was during his reign that the Effurun-Otor-Olomu bridge was completed after about 35 years of its comatose state.
King Duku’s reign attracted investors, because he had placed a ban on illegal taxation, that is, ‘deve’. His approach to eliminate imposition of taxes on investors made Effurun-Otor a fast rising kingdom in Urhoboland. He was futuristic, smart, pragmatic and above all a go-getter. He lobbied for the development of his people. He never liked oppression. Duku embraced peace at all times. But like every human, he surely had his flaws. Little, like this writer must be told about the dead. I do not expect everyone to submit that he was a good man.
For the Duku’s family, I encourage you to be ceremonious. Duku did not die. He has transited to rest in a much more comfortable abode. For his children, please be strong, hale and hearty. His children should be proud that indeed a man whom everyone applauded during his lifetime was their father. For his wives, peace and strength are my prayers for you. To Effurun-Otor, he came, saw and conquered and therefore, we should celebrate as we bid farewell to one of our beloved fathers.
Tode Ajuwe! Akpokedefa!