It is a new dawn now for the Chief Mac-Pepple War Canoe House in Opobo Town following the installation of a new Chief to head the royal house in Opobo Town, recently.
The 8th day of November 2009 would be evergreen in the hearts of the members of the house, when they rolled out their ancient Xylophones, War-Canoe drums to celebrate their new Chief or ‘Alabo’.
For one week, it was fanfare of festivities and ancient rites to usher in the new Chief, Prince Charles Douglas Mac-Pepple Jaja a scion of the legendary King Mac-Pepple Jaja, the third occupant of the King Jaja Stool.
Prince Mac-People was last year unanimously presented before the Alapu Council in Opobo town foreplace the late Chief Eugene Mac-Pepple.
The presentation marks the first level of installation rites since it represents the willingness of the war-canoe house to have a new head.
And just within a space of one year plans commenced in earnest to install him. First, there were activities to finally end the mourning of the late Chief Mac-Pepple, after which full installation rites would begin.
The rites begins with a memorial service of the late ‘Alabo’, after which several ancient masquerades would be displayed including a boat regatta which would be conducted to prepare ground for the real installation rites to be handled by the Amayanabo himself.
So it was not surprising that when all these activities are carried out, the new Alabo Mac-Pepple amid tumultuous crowd of indigenes and elated youths was again brought before the Alapu Council for final induction.
During the installation and administration of oath by the Amayanabo, King Dandeson Jaja V, the King admonished prince Mac-Pepple to be humble and diligent in his activities.
The Opobo Monarch noted that traditional rulers are meant to be servants of their people hence they are supposed not to be eratic in their decisions.
King Jaja V called on the new Chief to uphold justice and fairness in his dealings with the people, stressing that the Holy Bible on which the Prince swore abhors all acts of bribery and mischief.
In the king’s words, “there are a lot of temptations and provocations but you must stand firm in doing what is right. Speak the truth no matter the temptation.”
In his new position, king Jaja V, urged Alabo Mac-Pepple not to be sectional in his activities, adding that he is now the leader of all people in his domain.
Following challenges ahead of him, the monarch prayed God to guide Alabo Mac-Pepple in his activities and solicited for unremitted support from both Senibos and youths of the house to their new head.
Taking the oath of office, Alabo Mac-Pepple pledged to uphold the culture and traditions of the Opobo people, abide by the customs guiding the Alapu Council and to ensure that members of his house are given necessary lendership to move them forward.
Born 50 years ago in the royal house of Mac-Pepple Jaja, Chief Charles Mac-Pepple was the second son of late king Douglas Mac-Pepple Jaja.
As a blue blood his was bred in line with aristocratic leanings under the tutelage of his Christian father, late Eman M.T. Epelle.
Unlike other children of aristocratic background that would lose focus and tread the pleasure path, Alabo Mac-Pepple took education serious. Strangely he took technical education as opposed to the Grammar schools that most Princes would have chosen.
By 1976 he proceeded to the government technical College Abak, where he studied Electrical installation technology of the WAEC (London City and guilds.
He was at the Rivers State School of basic Studies, Port Harcourt in 1979 for a remedial course programme and obtained Diploma in Business Administration from the Sondore Institute of Management.
He went further to acquire academic knowledge when he got admission to read Public Administration and Political Science in the University of Port Harcourt in 1991.
Currently he is running a Post-Graduate Study in law at the Rivers State University of Science and technology and a fellow of the Nigerian Chartered Institute of Public Administrators.
President of International Federation of Public Administrators Academy (NCIPA), Prof Hensely Kirby said of him, “an accomplished public administrator to occupy this reverent ancient stool at this time which we are optimistic that your advent in the rulership of the historic chief Mac-Pepple War Canoe House will witness a new horizon.”
Indeed he would bring to bear his management qualities with which he had managed his father’s business, Messrs P.S. Mandrides Plc, Kano, a company where the late king Douglas Jaja served on the board over a period of time.
Congratulating him for the installation, Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Hon. Dakuku Peterside remarked, “My dear Alabo, given your pedigree and antecedents in service to humanity, I have no doubt that this installation is a clarion call to redouble your efforts in the service of your people and Opobo kingdom”.
Secretary of Chief Mac-Pepple House, Senibo Chris Pepple wished their new head, “an eventful reign”, adding that, your ascension and installation as Head and Alabo of your grand-father’s stool” would bring good tidings and blessing to the people.
For Chairman of the Likeminds Board of Trustees, Sir Dinne Adafe Jaja, Alabo Mac-Pepple “has been a source of pride for many of us.”
The Adafe family Union Chairman expressed the hope that the War Canoe House would be lifted beyond the expectation of the people.
A similar view was held by the President of Mina-Ogbo Ikina Cultural Society, a club which the new Chief has remained glued to despite his tight schedules.
President of Mina-Ogbo Ikina, Senibo Bond Accra-Jaja said the new Chief, “has been captured young, and we are entirely convinced that your wealth of experience, generosity and leadership style will contribute to the advancement of your house and indeed Opobo Kingdom.”
Describing her fondness to her husband, Princess Boiya Jaja called him, “Old boy”, saying, “Now you are called Alabo meaning my father or my Chief … your entire relationship with people signified the dignity in fatherhood.”
Known for his diligence and commitment to anything he sets his mind at, Alabo Charles more than anything else, values development of human capital to paltry handouts to the less economically endowed.