Elemi Rewane and Merrick Lori
Last Friday our column, this column, ended with the following words: “Our country is not the country that we used to know. May Nigeria and its true destiny experience Restoration with the sensibility of certainty Now and Now that is heralding new dawn and dusk that must be because it has been so ordered and ordained.
“Blessed be. Peace Profound.”
When I wrote these words with reference to this country our country I did not picture the idea in my mind that I would re-visit them so soon again. But somehow they have darted into my mind to show love and reverence to announce and underline my token of marvellous sensibility to two great persons of my homeland of the Warri Kingdom of treasurable treasure.
Elemi Rewane and Merrick Lori died not long ago and at different times. The burial ceremonies of the first-named, a princess of Warri with whom I shared the same direct blue-blood lineage, terminated on Sunday, September 6, 2021, in her dear, dear Warri City, our city of cities. The burial events of the second personage also of the royal blood of a different lineage of long ago terminated on Sunday, October 3, 2021, in also his dear and dear city of Warri that was never known and never ever will be known as yeye city or “wado” city – no matter how hard some wayo people try to picture or paint or draw it to be. The magnificent city of cities can never and will never be shipped to the non-existent port of “wado” or wayo city. Never, never and never! Stealers of peace in our Niger Delta and our city of love that is love will fail and fail and fail and will forever fail. We will forever preach peace but not to the point of infatuation but to the point of blessed peace and peace profound.
Our two subjects were\are two of a kind – kind of – as a nurse and a medical doctor respectively, of British background and experience. Until they took or inhaled their last earthly air they belonged to the profession of health care. Elemi Rewane as a titled chief (Ejumotan of Warri) was a “Florence Nightingale” figure in Warri and environs as the lamp of hearts and the founder of the first maternity in our part of the world. The Numa Maternity which she named after one of her Royal forebears was where many babies of Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, Benin, Yoruba, Igbo, Ndokwa, Esan, Kukuruku (Etsako), Hausa, etc. parents were born in the then years and decades of our Masterpiece of inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic magnetism. She was a well-weathered mother of our environment and of womankind and of human-kind who will forever remain high and tall in our consciousness – and who as well we will always remember as a woman of compassion ever ripe for eternity.
Elemi Rewane was a noble person who had the force of purposeful patriotism and nationalism as a worthy member and treasurer of the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought (ILOT), a super-perfect intellectual, socio-cultural, forthright and legitimate group of Itsekiri people of staunch valour politically or un-politically and otherwise committed to Itsekiri condition and well-being all the time without nursing the sensitivity and sensibility to hurt others deliberately. Her full-blooded paternal and uterine brothers, two super-human Itsekiri nationalists and patriots, the Rewane brothers, staunch Awoists, helped to found the famous and accomplished organisation of immense worth as well as the famously high-flying Hussey College, Warri. To our dear mother, grand-mother, cousin and aunt, I was OPC, which she christened me on account of my rightly very radical views on issues. I am not a member of the exquisite group – although I sometimes partook in some of the group’s events. Her carriage or demeanour at such events justifies my portrait of her here. My imagination is excited up to now by her pattern of thought and emotion which her lamp of kindness and compassion which this generation and generations to come should etch in their behaviour.
As a sportsperson and lover of sports, she is also unforgettable in my excited imagination. She had the foresight (when no woman had it) to found the first female football club in our part of the world – if not in our country. Her Warri Ladies Football Club took Mid-West and Western Region by storm in the nineteen sixties. Her cherished female football club and Chief Edebiri’s (the current Esogban of Benin’s) The Hawks of Benin played the final of the first female football tournament in Nigeria won by the Warri Ladies in 1966. This magnificent sports amazon and proprietress died yet our Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) chaired by an Itsekiri son did not deem it auspicious to do for her the rightful that she gloriously deserved, that the great dreamer of reality richly deserved. What a man manning our football federation!
The other distinguished figure, Dr. Merrick Lori, the merry lover of his people, interested me enough to read a narrative about him on his Iyke-wake. Let me quote from my treatise:
With the recent demise of Dr. Merrick Afodemije Lori, the Itsekiri nation has lost an illustrious son and personage who certainly belonged to the special class of several of our ethnic nationality’s significant achievers – and a very quiet and noiseless one at that – who nevertheless sparkled in his noiselessness. He was a thoroughbred lover of his family members and of our Itsekiri people and culture. And his personal Itsekiri anaesthesia and consciousness all the time he was outside the shores of this country and our Itsekiri homeland was a kind of trail-blazing patriotic bread-fruit he turned into a meaningful cultural instrument for his cultural self-retrieval which his blood sister Chief (Mrs.) Rita Lori-Ogbebor was perfectly loved and digested.
It is thus not a surprise that she is championing now the establishment of a cultural centre worthy of its name and very befitting to the everlasting memory of Dr. Merrick Lori. This is very good and sentimentally desirable and uplifting: The conscious and conscientious heart of the devoted creator and establisher of the Dr. Merrick Lori Cultural Centre…. The fragrance and sweetness of Itsekiri-beingness which Dr. Merrick Lori cherished till his last breath must be inhaled and tasted from generation to generation.
Now I should end this eulogium by asserting that these personages of different generations have/had something in common: greatness not derived from the standards of politics and of political values but from the passion of their humanity and of the culture that gave it fragrance – to be genuinely inhaled from generation to generation. Their impulse was the impulse of the eclectic person in love with the beauty of everything beautiful about our humanity. Politics is not the be-all of our existence on this earth-plane.
Blessed be. Peace profound.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.