List Of Past, Present Obongs Of The Efik Kingdom, Facts About Obong Of Calabar
In this article Brainnews will list the past and present Obongs of the Efik Kingdom and facts about the Obong of Calabar.
The Obong of Calabar is the traditional ruler and custodian of the culture of the Efik people of Western Africa. The Obong is referred to as a natural ruler (because his kingdom predates the Nigerian state), treaty King (because he signed sovereign treaties with other world powers), grand patriarch of the Efik Kingdom and later bestowed with the additional title of defender of the Christian faith by a British monarch owing to the Obong’s documented efforts in helping the spread of christianity in his domain. The Efik people are dispersed and settled in many parts of south eastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroun but are mostly Centred in Calabar, capital of Cross River State. Calabar which was named by the Portuguese was locally known as Ata Akpa in local Efik language.
In modern times the Obong of Calabar is crowned twice, first traditionally at a sacred lodge known as efe asabo where different branches of Efik royal houses perform their esoteric roles during coronation and then in line with the Christian faith at the Duke Town Presbyterian church. The Obong’s title defender of the Christian faith was given by previous kings of the Europeans during the colonial era. The crown, sword, orb and bible used during coronation are said to be gifts from Queen Victoria after a correspondence with a previous Obong, Previous Obong’s had close relationships with the British colonial monarchy resulting at one time an Obong offered to marry Queen Victoria as one of his wives in order for both of them to rule over the black and white people. Their correspondence can be seen at the National Museum in Calabar.
The current Obong of Calabar is Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, He is the 78th monarch of the Efik people and has held the title since 2008. The Obong of Calabar is the current chancellor of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB).
The throne of the Obong of Calabar has been the subject of many succession battles over time. With the advent of colonial administration and subsequent federal government, there have been various commissions of injuries setup by government to resolve such tussles where they arise. The latest was in 2008 where one of the contenders was dissatisfied by the selection process and took the matter to court. In January 2023, after 15 years of legal tussle, the Supreme Court passed a judgement on the case between the current Obong of Calabar, His Eminence Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V who has been on the throne since 2008, and his challenger, Etubom Anthony Ani. In the judgment written by Justice Amina Augie and read by Justice Akomaye Agim, the court upheld the judgment of the Appeal Court, Calabar, which found Anthony Ani unqualified and ineligible to participate in the obongship selection dismissed the appeal brought by Etubom Ani for lack of merit and ordered for a fresh selection exercise. The current Obong was specifically mentioned as being qualified to contest and this will be the fourth time he had to step down for re-selection exercise based on court orders.
Soon after the ruling by the Supreme Court, The Obong, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, was re-elected and proclaimed the Obong of Calabar by the Etubom Conclaves of kingmakers.
This was contained in a statement signed by 13 members of the Etubom Conclave (The kingmakers) and announced to the general public by the chairman, His Royal Majesty, Etubom Ntiero Efiwwat, at the palace of the Obong.
List of Obongs of the Efik Kingdom
1. Eyamba V (1834-1847)
2. Archibong I (1849-1852)
3. Edem-Odo Edem Ekpo (1854-1858)
4. Orok Edem-Odo (1880-1896)
5. Bassey Eyo Ephraim Adam III (1882-1886)
6. Adam Ephraim Adam I (1901-1906)
7. Boco Ene Nkpang Cobham (1989-2001)
8. Nta Elijah Henshaw (2001-2008)
9. Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V (2008-till date)