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Chief Oduah’s eulogy also considerably expands the Onitsha king’s domain beyond its traditional range of the Onitsha community and contiguous farmlands, proclaiming him the king of all Igboland (a title which — as we would eventually recognize from our research — is historically more appropriately associated with the Eze Nri of the eastern hinterlands).No leaders or representatives of the nearby hinterlands (at least none that are published in either local newspaper), and they would no doubt have rejected Chief Oduah’s expansionist representation of Okosi II’s powers.Having established relatively stable relations with the Inland Town, in the early 1960s they were consistently called “Riverine people” ( Note especially Chief Oduah’s singling out of the “industrious Ibo traders and businessmen”, expressly calling on them to “rally round” and participate in the mourning process.While they are placed last in this (perhaps hierarchical) ordering of the world, they are also — if somewhat condescendingly — flattered.The March 18 Spokesman provides a schedule of the “official events” of the funeral: “Saturday evening: there will be a tolling of church bells; Sunday morning: there will be religious services in all the churches; Sunday afternoon: the N. Second, a prominent position is given not only to major actors among the Onitsha people but also to “groups from neighboring towns.” The traditional conclusion of the formal announcements includes a series of ritual procedures not described in the newspapers, but which constitute the beginning of the burial process.According to Onitsha tradition, the night before the drums, a pair of sacred wooden gongs that are played every morning during his lifetime to assert the coming of the dawn, were now played in fading twilight, calling out in rhythm the names of ancestral Onitsha kings to notify them of the event.I call on all the Ogbarus and their graceful dancers to show their last respect to the traditional ruler of the ever hospitable and accommodating Onitsha.I call on all the Nupes, the Igaras, the Hausas, Yorubas to gather to pay the last homage to the king of the land that has given us shelter and food for years undisturbed.
In Nigeria he found a leader of the African race, and in Africa, he saw a towering force in the solution of international problems.
Although his magnetic frame we will see no more, but the link he made between Onitsha and other Ibos will remain unbroken.
Let the Lordly Niger hold its billows and flow silently in last respect to the great departed king.
The sarcastic reference introduces a note of intolerance into these generally expansive utterances, suggesting that such love cannot be indiscriminately extended — some do not deserve it.
The published eulogy nearest to a “traditional statement” is presented by John Oduah, the Igwe of Akili (a set of towns on the Niger floodplain near Onitsha), who after saluting the Obi with several of his traditional titles then says: “The king that ruled with a smile and kindness has gone to rest with the Lord for ever and ever.