By Olorogun Onoriode Esobito-Ineh
This year marks 73 years since the passing of the great Urhobo Icon, CHIEF MUKORO MOWOE, it was important to list some unique qualities that made him an exceptional leader. In the early 1900s when inter-ethnic coexistence and survival were dicey, Urhobo elites needed to come together in a “brotherly” fashion. Together they pushed for an “Urhobo Agenda” to guard against growing concern for misinformation and misrepresentation of the ethnic nation. They were faced then with what Professor Obaro Ikime called the “pains of marginalization” from development and progress. To be unified and “included”, Chief Mowoe together with other notable Urhobo sons felt the need to foster a strong front against the British and other ethnic groups in the region.
Through persistence and disciplined leadership, Chief Mowoe was able to fight for benefits that were supposed to come to the Urhobo Nation. During his tenure as UPU President-General, his friendship trail cut across ethnic lines. He socialized freely with leaders from diverse ethnic extractions because he knew more can be accomplished by talking to our neighbours. He was friends with everyone and exchanged ideas freely without losing focus. For instance, he was a close associate of the then Olu of Warri, which also included other Itsekiri Chiefs, and Ijaw leaders respectively. Despite his position as an Urhobo leader, he also saw relevance in looking for “outbox” solutions to the numerous challenges. He was able to turn the UPU into an “active service” organization that produced results for individuals and communities that needed it.
As a mediator, he was always called upon to add a voice to disputes that involved people and communities in and around Urhobo land. However, he never exempted himself from being reconciled when the need arose. For example, the Tabiowo / Mowoe feud mediated by Chief Salubi and friends is a testament to his open heart to reconciliations. Exceptional leadership quality is rarely seen nowadays. Also as a negotiator, he was instrumental in dealing with the native British political council and other ethnic groups to make sure economic benefits are properly channelled to Urhobo land. He was a true leader that understood the importance of peace as a building block and gateway to collective development. He fought and negotiated, together with other leaders for a separate administrative structure for the Urhobos.
During his lifetime, Chief Mowoe was not just a leader who talked, but he also walked the walk. He was very generous with his time and money. As a leader, he was a listener that helped a lot of people overcome their financial predicaments. He loaned money to people who wrote to him for help, some of which were never paid back. People saw him as a leader with a heart of gold. According to his family members’ account, he opened his home to friends and strangers who needed shelter or food for days non-stop. He was a leader that opened his heart and pocket so that people around can enjoy life in a less stressful way. He freely gave his time when called upon on issues concerning Urhobo that brought growth and progress to Urhobo land.
In conclusion, one must agree that the selfless instrumental leadership of Chief Mowoe and other notable Urhobo sons and daughters is responsible for the unified Urhobo Nation presently enjoyed. The distinct qualities that he showcased during his lifetime are nothing short of the same true Urhobo spirit that is present in and around every village, town and community. Like Chief Mukoro Mowoe exemplified, the Urhobo Nation is a generous, peace-loving ethnic group that loves its neighbours despite the difference in options and also open its arms to strangers notwithstanding their ethnic extraction.
May his soul continue to rest in the bosom of the Lord Jesus Christ , Amen
Long Live the Great Urhobo Nation!