New Telegraph

Celebration As Disabled Man Emerges Monarch Of Abia Community

Background

In some communities or cultures, deformity or impairment of any kind, but particularly physical can deny someone some rights and privileges.

However, the exception was the case in Umuawa Alaocha Autonomous Community when it recently crowned one of its own and a royal, Anthony Anyiam Ohaeri, who is physically challenged, with auditory impairment (Deaf), its king and traditional ruler.

He was bestowed the title of Awa Ukwu II of Umuawa Alaocha. It was an historic event and the people did not hold back in the celebration and crowning of their new Eze, who took over from his late father, HRH Eze Anyiam G. U. Ohaaeri.

The crowning of Eze Anthony Ohaeri as the traditional ruler or king of the community, would go down in history as the first deaf person to be crowned as king of the community. The new Eze, who is US- based is the oldest son of the 15 sons of his late father and former ruler of the community. His late grandfather too was a traditional ruler of the community.

For the newly crowned king, who had lived with this condition since birth, perhaps ascending the throne of his forefathers was not one of his life-long ambition, knowing fully his station in life and the conditions attached to kingship.

Despite his impairment, Eze Ohaeri never gave on life as he had other dreams of making it big in life and becoming useful to himself, his family and community as well as the larger society.

To this end, he took to education early in life, overcoming every difficult that his situation posed to attain the lofty height of a graduate, as Computer Engineer.With his, Ohaeri carved a new life for himself and soldiered on to establish himself in his chosen path.

Colourful coronation

However, his people had different plan and pathway for him when on January 27, 2024 the community gathered to honour and crown him as their new Eze, a position that was once occupied by his late father, who had gone to join his ancestors.

It was an epoch making day for the people who rolled out the drums and red carpet, all adorned in their best attires and radiating joy, to celebrate and hold a feast to mark the coronation of Eze Ohaeri.

Excitement and colours pervaded their as the occasion assumed that of carnival, with music, dancing and singing renditions by the people taking over the turbo charged atmosphere.

The ceremony was at- tended by people from all works of life including traditional rulers, captains of industries and government officials. And of course, one of the most noticeable sights was the presence of People Living With Disabilities (PLWDs), the constituency of the Eze, who came to celebrate and rejoice with one of their own.

For most of them, their joy knew no bounds as it was not only a historic one but also a testimony to the height that anyone that is physically challenged can achieved once the person applies himself or herself appropriate and has the right support base as the new Eze, whose journey in life has en- joyed tremendous support from his family members and community as well.

Pledge to deliver

Aware of the burden of his history and the responsibility that his new position, a position of grandeur and royalty, has placed on him, Eze Ohaeri, in his remark pledged is commitment to the development of the community and the wellbeing of his people.

He vowed not to disappoint them and make their issues and interests paramount, noting that he will rule with the fear of God and be guided by the norms of the community as well as engender inclusivity in the affairs of the palace and community.

Eze Ohaeri commended his kinsmen for the trust and confidence they placed on him to lead them. He assured them that he would faithfully and diligently discharge his duties and ensure that development and government amenities would not elude the community.

He said, “As l take up the mantle of leadership entrusted upon me by the people of Umuawa Alaocha Autonomous Community, I am conscious of the enormous responsibility that comes with it and I assure you that I will live up to expectation.

“Under my watch, I will ensure that Umuawa Alaocha Autonomous Community records growth and prosperity through evolving and implementing programmes that would protect the interest of my people, improve their well- being and give them a sense of belonging.

“I am an enthusiast of building progressive communities and systems that would stimulate rural economy, this is because I believe when there is prosperity in the rural communities, it positively impacts on the socio-economic growth of the state and makes the job of the state government easier.”

He assured that he would focus on creating platforms that would encourage the members of the community to explore their potentials and contribute to the growth of the society, adding that this would help in reducing crime rate to the barest minimum and increase productivity as well as ensuring that prosperity is recorded.

Otti commended

He also lauded the Governor of the State, Alex Otti and the State Executive Council, for the support and finding him fit and proper to be selected as the traditional ruler of his community despite his disability. “I am willing to work with all well-meaning individuals and the State government for sus-tained socio-economic growth in the community,” he said.

The royal father while com- mending Otti, for being an education and health-friendly governor, who has allocated 20 per cent and 15 per cent of the State’s 2024 Budget to education and health sectors respectively, appealed to the governor to retrofit the Umuawa Alaocha Community Primary School and Primary Healthcare Centre.

He said, “This would enable members of the community to have access to quality education in a conducive environment as well as access to quality health- care services. “I appeal to you to establish a water scheme in the community to enable the people of Umuawa Alaocha Autonomous Community enjoy enhanced access to potable water.

“Also, the present admin- istration has shown that it is desirous to transform the state through human capital and infrastructural development, I therefore appeal to the governor to consider building skills acquisition centre in the community.

“Skills acquisition centre where people from this community and neighbouring communities can come and acquire vocational and technological skills to meet the human capital development goal of the state government, which is to build an educational ecosystem that produces a highly skilled work- force that can meet the demands of the 21st century. “This would help the state to have people with the right skills set and expertise to become self-reliant and employers of labour.”

Traditional ruler charges community

While in his remark, the Chairman of Umuahia North Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Eze Innocent Nwaigwe called on the people of Umuawa Alaocha Autonomous Community to give their new monarch all the support needed to succeed on the throne.

He pointed out that the monarch had the ability to discharge all the functions of a traditional ruler despite his challenges. Also speaking at the event, a community leader and retired Director of Sports, popularly called Mr Football, Mr Ejikeme Ikwunze, said the coronation of Eze Ohaeri was a great milestone achieved by the community, adding that his selection process was free and fair.

“I’m happy that we have landed a milestone today. The selection process was peacefully done without any form of rancour and I think with the support of his cabinet he will be able to discharge his functions creditably well and I believe he will be able to change the narrative.

“He has been interacting with the people and since he has an interpreter, communication with his people will not be a problem.”

Gratitude to God

Speaking on behalf of the traditional ruler’s family, Eze Ohaeri’s elder sister, Chief Mrs Roseline Nnenna Anuchie (PhD), expressed gratitude to God for the success of the coronation ceremony.

This is also as he thanked the community for finding his younger brother fit and proper, despite his challenge, to occupy the throne of his forebears. She said the elevation of her brother as the monarch was a sign that anyone with any form of disability, can manage life and become the best they can be in life.

Anuchie declared the full support of the family for the new Eze, noting that her family was solidly behind her brother’s accession to the throne of his fathers because they believed in his leadership qualities and his plans to move the community forward.

While the brother of the traditional ruler, Elder Augustine Ohaeri, said that their grandfather and father served as traditional rulers of their community until their demise, expressing delight that his brother had followed in the same path as their father, while the wife of the traditional ruler, Ugoeze Ihuoma Ohaeri, promised to give him her full support to enable him succeed.

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