News Feature: HRM KING DUKU II @ 70

By Sunny Awhefeada

Human experience as embedded in philosophy is similar everywhere. How life is lived, values and culture may differ from race to race and age to age, but there are some verities that hold for all of humanity in the way our world is viewed and lived. Human values and their measures remain the same hence what is considered good is good and bad is bad irrespective of colour, clime and time. In literature as in philosophy, humanity has had to be confronted with truths that point to the oneness of us all.

It has been reported somewhere that a Russian girl who read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart decades ago did recognize it as the story of her grandfather! Many character traits, concepts and insinuations in Shakespeare’s writings read as if they are African. I can locate Shakespeare’s characters and their nuances among my Urhobo people. I hear English proverbs given vibes and meaning in Urhobo. When in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night we are told that “some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them” it wasn’t a phenomenon locked in England. We do have such a reality beyond the shores of England. The Urhobo will pop up were a roll call, of those so born, to be made.

Johnson Enemuadia Duku who ascended the throne of the ancient Effurun-Otor Kingdom of Delta State in 2015 and became His Royal Majesty King Duku II, the Orovworere of Effurun-Otor fits into Shakespeare’s reiteration of the character of greatness. King Duku II is kingly in every sense of the word. As tall as Saul, as courageous as David and as wise as Solomon, King Duku II is endowed with a rare intellect and cosmopolitan disposition. He easily fits the bill of the character of the modern monarch anywhere in the world. Here is one African monarch who could hold a conversation with any monarch in Europe or elsewhere and interrogate Plato and take Aristotle to task. Born into greatness in 1952, his father King Duku I, was not just the Orovworere of Effurun-Otor, but a renowned merchant-monarch who held substantial shares in John Holt Company and also sat as President of the Customary Court of Appeal in Ughelli and Oleh.

The young Johnson didn’t get cocooned in affluence for long as his father “travelled” when he was only three years old. He had to relocate to live with an uncle who was a policeman. Living and leaving with his uncle, the young Johnson lived in different places like Sapele, Ughelli and Warri and since he was living in the barracks he imbibed the attributes of a “barrack boy”: rough, tough and intrepid. Despite the tendency for the barrack environment to distract young minds, the young Johnson paid more than a significant attention to his studies and read widely and independently beyond what the classrooms offered. His academic diligence paid off and shown in a sparkling way when he passed the West African School Certificate Examination in Division One from Baptist High School, Eku in 1972. He proceeded to Government College, Ughelli where he obtained the Higher School Certificate (HSC) again in flying colours in 1974.
Armed with such brilliant results and nascent, but formidable intellect, he proceeded to the University of Ibadan where he studied Political Science. His Ibadan years were moments of great intellectual ferment which positively impacted on his disposition.

Being the decade embedding the dual contradictions of military rule and return to a democratic order, those years featured debates and incidents that that threw Nigeria into a vortex and the University of Ibadan where he studied was the cauldron from which the events and the ideas shaping them were incubated. Ibadan reconfigured and shaped his sensibilities and helped to further sharpen his apprehension and evaluation of things as a scholar.

When he obtained the Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 1977, he did so in the Second Class Upper division category thus giving validation to his remarkable brilliance. His scholarly bent nudged him to proceed to the University of Lagos to obtain a Master of Science degree in Political Science.

After his Ibadan years and the mandatory one year National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) programme, he settled down to work as an office manager with Emuch and Co. Limited in 1978. Highly resourceful and creative, he was offered the post of senior marketing officer at Ibru Sea Foods in Lagos in 1981. In view of his sterling qualities and go-getting character he was seconded to become the personal assistant to the marketing manager.

Between this time and 1984, he was at the University of Aston, Birmingham in the United Kingdom for a Master of Business Administration degree during which he offered a wide range of courses which sharpened his academic, social and business acumen. On his return from the United Kingdom he was upwardly mobile serving as marketing manager at W. F. Clarke Nigeria Limited and later at Superbru Nigeria Limited before becoming the Chief Executive Officer of John Life Limited.

Having had his day in the corporate sector, he started his own business aptly named Johnson Duku and Company Limited. It was while tending and nurturing his business that his people looked in his direction and beckoned on him to come and mount the throne as their worthy monarch. The people of Effurun-Otor were right to have made him king. Since becoming His Royal Majesty in 2015, King Duku II has not only brought panache to the throne, but has attracted attention and development to Effurun-Otor. An apt symbol of monarchical dignity and grandeur, King Duku II walks his talk and points at the way Effurun-Otor should go.

A King mindful of the essence and gains of modernization, he rejigged his council of chiefs, extended a hand of friendship to as many progressive minded people as possible to help rethink and galvanize Effurun-Otor on the path of greatness. That the Effurun-Otor bridge was completed and put to use is a pointer to King Duku’s progressive credentials. He did envision a modular refinery for the Kingdom and as at today a national institute for transportation is unfolding. As King he has had to spend time, energy and resources to organize seminars and fund projects that enhance youth and women empowerment. He organized an economic summit aimed at jumpstarting the economy of Effurun-Otor. A World Bank financed water project is also in the kitty. He loves his people and he is doing a lot to advance their interest. He is presently the Secretary of Traditional Rulers of Oil Mining and Producing Communities of Nigeria. He is also a member of the Delta State Traditional Rulers Council.

An unmistakable character of King Duku II is his strong intellectual bent. This he has brought to bear on his many engagements. Sometime in 2018, he was chairman of the Urhobo Historical Society (UHS) annual conference and he held the audience spellbound when he spoke on the theme. His intellectual side also enabled him to write books and today he is the author of about half a dozen books. Orovworere (his title which means he who owns the community) thinks profoundly, speaks eloquently and writes lucidly. He is in the league of philosopher-kings, majestic and sagely.

Happily married with children and grandchildren, King Duku II came to the throne of Effurun-Otor at a time when the system of monarchy in Nigeria was undergoing transition from the largely primordial to a modern if not hybrid entity in tandem with contemporary realities. King Duku II is at home with tradition as he is with the drivers of globalization. As he turns three score and ten, we all owe him prayers of good health, longevity, wisdom, peace and prosperity for the kingdom and people of Effurun-Otor.

Ogbimi, Ogbimi, Ogbimi, wosun tooo!!!

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