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The Making Of A King Maker 

By Azore Opio

He could have come like a mighty volcanic fire with the powers of the ancestors in his flame, but he came like an evening breeze; quiet and soft and slow.

Sang’a Mboka receiving ‘power’ staff from Chief Sakwe III

Escorted by the Ekpe guild, 70-year-old James Mbebe Obase ambled, as he nodded to the claps of Oroko tom-toms on March 26, on his way to become the sixth Sang’a Mboka (Cup Bearer) of the Oroko clan in the modern time chiefdom of Ekombi Mbonji, a ten-minute drive from Kumba in the Southwest Region.

Mbebe Obase took over the cup (calabash) and staff from Mathias Ngoe Motale, who passed on, on August 28, 2010. In a ceremony that featured libation, kola nut breaking and divination, punctuated by the metrical drumbeats variously pounded out by elegantly accoutred, masked and painted Ekpe, Male, Dingola, Dinyangi and Joki traditional dancers, Mbebe Obase was blessed by the Nyanga Mboka, the oldest woman of the village, before the Ekpe took him away to make him up as tradition permits.

Mbebe finally became the Sang’a Mboka of Ekombi Mbonji at about 4 pm when Chief Martin Sakwe III handed him the chief priest’s staff.

“He is now the father of the village. He is the custodian of our tradition; he is the link between the living dead and the living; he is dignified, responsible and has an excellent mastery of our traditional rites,” Chief Sakwe told his hilarious subjects. As custom demands, the ceremony culminated in free flowing wine and the typical Oroko plat du jour; berembi (pounded cocoyam leaves and stock fish (mokanjo) in palm oil.

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