By Ahmodu Ochai
Prince Okokiko activates centripetal and centrifugal forces of Igala land as he appears before Igala
The 12th day of a full moon was heralded with cosmic motion of forces in Igala land as one of the Princes of Igala Kingdom, Prince Opaluwa Okoliko visited the holy grave of Inikpi and Omodoko to invoke and request for approval of his quest to be Atta Igala Kingdom.
Prince Opaluwa Okoliko from Aju Ameacho Ruling Dynasty is the son of HRH Adebo Opaluwa who is the son of HRH Opaluwa Oguche, the son of HRM Atta Oguche Akpa, the son of HRM Atta Okoliko Onuche, the son of Onuche, the son of HRM Ameacho and the son of Akumabi, Atta Akumabi is the son of HRM Atta Ayegba and Ayegba is the son of Atta Idoko.Thus, the Prince stood on such filial generation and made an oral request to the two Princess of Igala Kingdom for blessings and endorsement on his voyage to the stool of Atta Igala. Eye witness at the procession said the young Prince walked bare footed to the Inikpi shrine and to Omodoko stature then to Inachalo river before submitting his nomination and endorsement to Achadu Oko Atta and Etemahi Igalamela. The significance of such procession is to invoke the gods of the land, water and soil to guide and support his quest. It made the Princess who was sacrificed alive to be the first reciepents of his application.
It will be recalled that Prince Opaluwa Oguche in 1956 was robbed of the stool of Atta after he had completed all the rituals of becoming the Atta Igala, this same injustice occurred again in 2012 where the rotation circle of the four ruling Houses of Ata Igala Kingdom was altered the second time denying HRH Adebo Opaluwa of Aju Ameacho clan to favour HRM Idakwo Ameh of Aju Ocholi. This brought unbalanced Geneology of the Ata Kingship, as it stands; Ameacho has produced four Attas, while Aju Akwu produced six, Aju Akogu clan produced five while Aju Ocholi produced six with Idakwo Ameh who transceded this year. It is therefore a public opinion in Igala land today that Aju Ameacho clan who has gone longer without producing an Atta (101 years) be favoured this time around with a young and experience person to be Atta Igala. To know the significance of such procession, it is good to know a little about Princes Omodoko, Inachalo and Princes Inikpi.
Princess Inikpi was the only beloved daughter of Ayegbu Oma Idoko, the then Atta of Igala kingdom. The Igala people call her Inikpi oma’fedo baba, meaning “Inikpi, the father’s beloved.”The Princess was buried alive to ensure her people were saved and today, a statue of her stands in a market square in Idah. The story of Princess Inikpi is one of bravery and heroism. The legend of Princess Inikpi is morbid but empowering. She is remembered among the Igala people as a very beautiful and intelligent princess, whose selfless commitment and sacrifice helped rescue and keep the survival of the Igala nation.Though some parts of the historical recount differ depending on who is telling the story, there are many parts that are clear. A brooding war between Benin and the Igala people caused the land to become unsafe — farmlands being taken over by enemies and the streams poisoned. The Igalas feared imminent death from starvation and lack of water. When the Atta consulted the oracle, it proclaimed that to ensure safety of the kingdom and victory in the war, the king had to bury his most beloved child alive — the only daughter of the king, Princess Inikpi. Surely, the king was distraught and heartbroken. For days, he didn’t eat or drink and he wished for an alternative solution.
The princess who noticed how downcasted her father was and asked to know the reason behind his sadness. Instead of opening up, he held off telling her the reason for seven days, but on the eighth, he relented and told her the words of the Oracle.The princess, who loved her father and her people as much as they loved her, could not bear the thought of holding off on the solution that would save Igala land.
Therefore, she agreed to be sacrificed and set off voluntarily to the bank of River Niger at Idah (some say market square), where she was buried along with 9 slaves who would help her in the journey to the afterlife.
Legend has it that when the enemies approached Igala Kingdom, what they saw was a town in flames and so they turned back with the assumption that the town Idah was already under attack. However, it was the influence of the sacrifice.For this, the Igala people are forever deeply grateful to Princess Inikpi for her sacrifice and act of heroism. A statue of the princess stands at “Ega” in Idah, which is considered the Igala traditional headquarters and many Igala people bear the name “Inikpi” to honour her. Omodoko is another Princess from Idah who is believed to have sacrificed her life for the safety of her people.This is a story about a brave Princess, a river and some uneatable breeds of fishes.
Many of the accounts of historical events in Nigeria are told orally and passed down through generations. For this reason, there are many versions of the story and parts of the stories are usually missing.This is the case of the Igala people. In Idah Kingdom, there are many natural and tourist attractions, which include the Inachalo river and statues of two ancient princesses.
While it is known that Princess Inikpi sacrificed herself for the safety of her people in the Igala-Benin war, Princess Oma-Odoko was buried alive during the time of the Igala-Jukun war. Her death and the war are also closely linked to the cursed Inachalo river whose bank is home to the Oma Odoko shrine.
You can find Omodoko’s statue near her shrine to commemorate the Princess’ braveness and her role in the preservation of the Igala people and culture.
WHAT IS THE LEGEND OF PRINCESS ?
As the legend goes, Princess Omodoko asked to be buried alive alongside some slaves, just like Inikpi.According to Tom Miachi in The Incarnate Being Phenomenon in African Culture, “The Inachalo river was poisoned by Igala or Igala aided medicine men, leading to untold death of the invading Jukun forces.”
It is also said that Hausa mallams from Bebeji in present day Kano state, had helped Igala by poisoning the river, ultimately leading to many Jukun casualties and leading to Igala people to have the upper hand.As for the fishes in the river, the inhabitants of the area believe any fish caught from Inachalo can never be cooked, no matter how long it is boiled or cooked — Inachalo fish will always be raw. However, a source says, the fish is not the regular tilapia or catfish, but a breed of terrible-looking, deformed fish. People in the area do not catch or eat of them. Legend also goes to say that the supernatural fish is as a result of the Jukuns escaping via the Inachalo river by transforming into fishes and swimming away.
Princess Inikpi, Princess Omodoko (Oma Idoko) and Inachalo rivers are part of the Centrifugal and Centripetal forces of Igala Kingdom.