-Royal Figure: I want to be Governor of my State-
Kadimo Oqua, first son of the Grand Patriarch of the Qua Nation and Paramount Ruler of Calabar Municipality, HRH late Ndidem (Dr.) Thomas Ika Ika Oqua III, has stated that he wants to be Governor of his state, rather than a successor to his father’s royal stool. He stated this during the week, in an exclusive interview with LinCornellah’s blog. The interview is a continuation of this blog’s publication on him yesterday where he spoke about circumstances that surrounded his birth, his battles with sickle cell anemia and other challenges.
While answering a question on the possibility of his eventual emergence as King since he is heir apparent, Kadimo said, “That is what they have been saying. But I don’t think I am cut out for that. My younger brother can take the Kingship. I don’t want it. I want to be Governor of my state.” He also spoke about how he met and got married to his wife, Edith, his understanding of the original owners of Calabar, capital of Cross River State and other edifying issues.
How did you meet your wife?
After I made my unsuccessful attempts at suicide, I was trying to do everything that normal people do. Like I said earlier, I was Director of Socials in the Students’ Union Government of University of Calabar (UNICAL). I was a student politician on a wider platform than departmental or faculty politics. These are the things that gave me joy and drive. Ironically, this drive sometimes took a toll on me. Do you know that I fainted when I was Director of Socials? I had a blackout in Malabor (residential area for undergraduate students) and later found myself in UNICAL’s Medical Center.
After waking up, one woman, Dr. Ukpong, asked me if I am a ‘sickler’. I told her that I am not. She brought my file and showed me all results that indicated that I am a ‘sickler’. But I still told her that ‘madam, I am not a sickler’. The Doctor said that in the first instance, I shouldn’t be studying a course as rigorous as Theatre Arts, not to talk of getting involved in campus politics. But I told her that I am not a ‘sickler’. I told her this because I didn’t want anyone to stop me from doing what I had found joy in doing.
This drive also led me to join a club I had always admired. I joined that club, despite all tough challenges. It was in my Club’s House located then at number 51 IBB Way Calabar, that I saw my wife. That was in 1998. She went there to watch a football match involving Nigeria’s Super Eagles. I was curious about her and asked the bar attendant if he knew her. The attendant told me that she came to look for a member of the club, Rex Ulaeto, now in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. I thought he was her boyfriend, but later discovered that he wasn’t. So, I said they should give her moi moi and drinks.
After eating and drinking, she thanked me and sat down with me. That was on March 3rd, 1998. I started asking her about her Valentine which had just passed and teasingly told her that her boyfriend must have disappointed her on that day. She admitted this and asked how I knew. I told her that ‘men are not good o! I am the only good man. Even me, I am not good but I pretend to be good’. We chatted for some time and she enjoyed my company and my jokes, as if we had known each other before. When I wanted to go, she told me that my manner of attempting to leave before her suggests that I am not a gentleman. I accepted and told her that she has to manage me, because although I may look gentle, I am not a gentleman. That is how the friendship started.
I used to tell myself that if if I date a girl up to two years, then she is good enough to marry me. As destiny would have it, I traveled to Abuja to execute a contract and this young, beautiful lady called me one day from Calabar and told me that she was pregnant. After some days, I called her back and asked what her plans were. I told her that I want to have all my children from one woman. I asked her ‘you go marry me? Do you like me enough for marriage?’ That is how she accepted and this is the 17th year of our marriage. We have been blessed with two lovely girls, Odo and Okod-Asi.
You were pioneer Chairman of Cross River State’s chapter of Actors Guild of Nigeria. How did your tenure in that office promote the Nollywood industry in this state?
In my time as Chairman, Jetta Amata and I directed ‘Mutanda’. It was a movie on the slave trade and it gained global attention. Also, we both brought all Nollywood stakeholders in Nigeria to Calabar. Donald Duke who was Governor at that time, gave the Tinapa studio to them. It was at that time that Nollywood was beginning to reform and I made my inputs in that reformation.
Is there any likelihood that you would inherit your Dad’s royal stool?
That is what they have been saying. But I don’t think I am cut out for that. My younger brother can take the Kingship. I don’t want it. I want to be Governor of my state.
How true is it that when royal figures die in traditional settings such as Qua land, people are killed to accompany their dead bodies?
Yes, it was like that in those days. When we were growing up in my grandfather’s house in Big Qua, they used to teach us certain things. Old women used to come around every evening to teach us traditional rites, including songs and dance steps. As part of the royal home, we were obliged to know traditional values. If you go to number 1 Royal Square, Big Qua where my grandfather lived, there is a hall where all the grandchildren always gathered to learn traditional values. I was nearly a victim of the kind of killing you have asked about, when one Obong of Calabar died.
When I was studying Theatre Arts during my undergraduate years in UNICAL, we had a production and I came back late. I took a bush track and met somebody who was obviously out on a mission to take lives. But because I know these traditional things, I had to give a signal that made him know that my life cannot be taken in that regard. The truth is that in those days, such killings were common. They must have done it when my grandfather died. They used to chop off people’s heads to bury with Kings to go and act as servants or slaves of the Kings in the other world. But that tradition does not exist anymore.
Who are the original owners of Calabar?
When I was young, I was taught by my elders that the real owners of Calabar are the Quas because we came here first. The Efiks were living in Creek Town. Before the Quas arrived here, Efik Kingdom was in Creek Town. We the Quas, migrated from Western Cameroon. Parts of Akamkpa, Ikom, Etung and Ogoja, speak Ejagham language. Ejagham is also spoken in Western Cameroon, where we came from. They were two brothers from a royal family who migrated from Cameroon, because of salt lake. What we called Mba Akang. The Senior brother left the town and moved with his people to Etung.
From Etung, he moved to Ikom. He still kept moving southwards with them and settled in Mkpani. Something terrible happened in Mkpkani that made the Quas to feel very bad. So they quarelled with Mkpani people and moved southwards again and settled in Odukpani. That is where Odukpani’s name comes from. It was originally, ‘odu Mkpani’. There was a bush track then and when they see people coming, they would say ‘odu Mkpani’ It means ‘are you from Mkpani?’ Somehow, they moved again from Odukpani and came to that Hope Waddell axis in Calabar. But because they didn’t know the terrain, they were falling over the cliff and dying. So they decided to shift inwards, to avoid further falls down the cliff.
The real name of Big Qua is Mgbogi Mgbor. It means ‘let me not fall down and die’. In other words, let me not fall backwards and die. But when the white men came, the Quas gave them the entire Hope Waddell axis up to Governors office, Museum and Stadium parts of Calabar, to settle. Although the boundary of Big Qua is now at Eleven Eleven, it was at Garden Street in those days. The name Garden, derived from the fact that Colonialists planted mainly flowers in that area known as Garden. It was like a garden.
You would recall that I told you that two brothers were quarreling in Cameroon before one of them moved with his people to the present Qua land. The senior of those brothers settled and formed Big Qua while his younger brother who felt lonely in Cameroon, decided to come through the other axis of Cameroon through Bakassi. Since there was no road, he crossed the river and came to Ikang. When they asked him ‘how did you come?’ he said ‘MbaKasi’, meaning, road does not get there. That is how Bakassi’s name emerged. Bakassi is part of Qua settlement. If you know Akim Qua and Big Qua, those are the two brothers that came from Cameroon. Big Qua is senior. The younger one called Ikang Etta is the one who came through Bakassi axis. That is how this entire axis of Calabar up to Ikang, is Qua.
The Efik people were in Creek Town, at the time those two brothers moved to these places. Again, two royal brothers in Creek Town had problems between them in their struggle for kingship, after their father died. Such struggle for Kingship didn’t start today. That is how the younger one got angry and moved to that place around Hawkins part of Calabar, that beach side. He was there until the Etubom met him and exclaimed ‘ah, people are here o!’ That is how they sent some people to meet the King of the Quas.
At that time, the title of ‘Ndidem’ was not in existence. Rather, the King of the Quas was known as ‘Ntoe’. Those visitors told the Ntoe the problem that warranted them to leave Creek Town to that area around the beach. That is how the Ntoe said ‘okay, you people should stay that side, this is the boundary’. That axis around Garden street down the beach is Efik land, as given to them by the Ntoe. That axis is Henshaw Town, also called Nsidung. The area near Calabar road up to Edibe Edibe, is somehow coastal. That side that faces the coast is Efik land. From Calabar road again to the end of the water around Goldie, UNICAL and Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) parts, is occupied by the Efuts. So, there are three tribes and three traditional rulers in Calabar.
That boy, the younger brother who left Creek Town, declared himself King for his Efik people here, while his elder brother whom he left behind in Creek Town after their quarrel, was King in Creek Town. Everything went on like that until much later when Louis Edet, the first Inspector General of Police in Nigeria, told them to have one King, like the Quas. He came and called the elder Efik King in Creek Town and told him ‘you cannot be King there and your brother, King here’. He told him ‘come and be King in Calabar, where the seat of government is located’.
In those days, the title of Obong was ‘Obong of Calabar and traditional ruler of the Efiks, Obong of Calabar and traditional Ruler of the Quas, Obong of Calabar and Traditional Ruler of the Efuts.’ I have documents that indicate that there was an agreement that the title of Obong of Calabar should be rotational among the traditional rulers in Calabar. However, as time went on, the Efiks didn’t want it anymore. That is why we have the title of Ndidem of the Quas and the Efuts have Muri as their King’s title. None of the Kings in Calabar is superior to the other. Even the title of ‘Etubom’ as used by the Efiks, is an Efut name. The Efuts had their language. Unfortunately, they have lost that language. Many Efuts now claim that they are Efik.
Why are the younger generation of Efuts and Quas seemingly claiming to be Efik, contrary to their ancestral roots?
It is because they don’t know. When people say ‘Calabar’ and some people think it is Efik, it is because they don’t know. Calabar is not Efik. Calabar is a town that has three tribes, Qua, Efut and Efik. You cannot say an Annang man is an Ibibio man. You cannot see an Oron man and refer to him as an Ibibio man. Those are distinct tribes. Similarly, a Qua man or woman is not an Efik man or woman.
How did the Efiks gain prominence in Calabar to the extent that their language is the most popular language in this city?
When the Efiks started settling in the coasts of Calabar and engaging in trade with white men that were coming through the coasts, the White men made them Christians and made them to publish the Holy Bible in Efik language. In almost all of Cross River State in those days, the lingua franca was Efik. The Efik language was used in schools. That is why even some people from northern parts of Cross River state spoke Efik in those days. The white man wanted one local language for communication and commerce. That is how the Efik language gained popularity. The first Bible in the local language was written in Efik.
Why did you choose “It is Not All Black” as the title of your forthcoming book?
It is because life is not all gloomy and dark. See what I have become now. Since I was born, nobody gave me a chance to live. But God has brought me this far. It is only my late grandfather that offered positive prayers for me and said that I would be great. Also, Late Dr Nya E Nya, John Nya’s father, diagnosed my ailment and said that I can live a normal life, if it is managed well. My father had a feeling that I was going to die before him. He was a ruler of the Quas. But he was just managing me.
Even when I was living with him when he was a King, I remember that there was a certain time when he went for an occasion and when he came back, I teasingly told him ‘ah, Daddy, you are very fine. Stand here and let me take a photograph of you, so that when you die, I would use the photograph in your burial’s program.’ My Dad replied. ‘Me and you, who would die first?’ But I still took that photograph and he has died. That photograph was fine and I still used it for the purpose I told him I would use it. So, everybody in my house was always expecting that I would die at anytime.
I chose that title for my book because no matter what happens,
no matter what people say, God’s say is the ultimate.
Although life may seem dark,
there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
There is always a part of life that gives joy and happiness.
Remember that when I was born, I came out looking black,
unlike other new born babies who come out, looking light skinned.
I was black because of all the concoctions my mother took to abort me,
but I survived. So, it is not all black!
- Cornelius Ellah
Please See Related Post:
Royal Figure: How my Mother Attempted to Abort Me