On this day; Queen Ikuma Basha of Omya dynasty, My unsung Heroine!
By Pentecosta C. Erum
March 7, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — After the demise of her husband – King Ayiru Mosingo, Ikuma, a Princess from the Maya dynasty (of Ohoronyo) sat on the royal chair of the Omya dynasty seated at Ibonni Centre of Lopa County, owing to the fact that she was married to the king by monyomiji, then ruling generation (Iboyo I: 1868-1890) as “bwangani.” Why my unsung heroine on this International Women Day?
The control of the sale of ivory and her institution as “Basha/Kabaka”
The sale of ivory to Habash in exchange for guns was ripe even during the reigns of King Ayiru. The guns (supplied through the route running from Maji in Ethiopia by way of Toposa’s Obawok, North Lopa then to Ibonni Centre) were needed for the dynasty’s ‘belongings’’ protection. So, Queen Ikuma could also wait not. And participated in the same, so much so that, the news made rounds all over the Omya region. For example in Ohutok, former nemesis, the news was turned upside down, because Ohuli descendants didn’t want to hear of the Kingship at Ibonni Centre.
All they wanted was to make theirs (kingship) rent the air. Thus, went around sowing seeds of propaganda to then British who were trying to stop the sale of ivory (after 1890 – before 1927) presumed to be immature through Toposa to Habash. In point of fact, they insinuated that the Queen was hiding ivory at Ibonni Centre. And rudely instructed them to go there and throw her out, and if possible, kill her (Queen Ikuma) and smash Ibonni Centre to ashes!
Veritably, the British came through Ibele, and before they could reach Ibonni Centre (HQs of the dynasty), they sent a message to the Queen that they were coming ~ to destroy every bit of Ibonni Centre. Instead of shying away, Ikuma ordered them to come through the person of Hojole (heju) who in turn returned saying “Ojyo isija, arwek, arwek to mean they say alright alright,” a move that sparked fear amongst some Ibonni such that they went into hiding (at Mt. Okiara).
Nonetheless, she (Queen Ikuma) advised them to return. And instead instructed them to slaughter chickens, goats and prepare food, local beer, after which they should dress in the traditional attire. Done, and at the top of the hour, they marched (with her fronting) to Itulok from Mura-hang to receive the ‘heavily-armed’ British soldiers. To their amazement, it was a different story altogether as Ibonni were oppositely dancing, and ululating on top of their voices. Then showcased to them the local eats/drinks and other edibles!
Then they (British) asked themselves, “Are these the people we are coming to destroy?” “It couldn’t be. See how they are relishing themselves!” “Simply put, they are innocent and peaceful!!” roared the “obongi” (white-men.” Then, asked for the person responsible for the area. Queen Ikuma uniquely dressed in traditional costumes was pointed at. They marched and greeted her with smiles, as her beauty was through and through made of extra materials. Then, declared, “Rumors have it that you are involved in the sale of “immature” (female) ivory to Ethiopia in exchange for guns and ammunitions, not to mention you hiding them up here,” to which she replied, “Contrary to, I am the one who is controlling the sale, and truly, some of them are under my custody (pointing towards Itele River). If you need, I will hand them over to you.”The dudes laughed! And advised her, “Hand them over to us.” She then guided her messengers (Hojole not an exception) who swiftly ran and brought them (the ivory), and forwarded to them.
They were thrilled upon witnessing this. Then, confirmed that the Queen and the entire Ibonni were innocent as opposed to the rumor milled. As an outcome, they titled Ikuma as “Basha/Kabaka” (an Ottoman Turkish honorary title lighting governor, general, dignitary, etc,) and immediately dressed her royally (English) not to mention the Gold Medal (Madal) awarded to her. Then, pronounced her as “Paramount Chief” with her picture taken, and rested in Khartoum and London Museums.
Her incumbency at then British Government Administrative Centre No. 4: Hiye (Idali)
After installing her (Queen Ikuma) as the Paramount Chief, they, the British, brought her (early 20th Century) to newly-formed Administrative Centre No. 4 Hiye in Idali (Western part of Lopa County) of then Torit District. And established her office there since this is the hub of the region (present-day Lopa and Torit Counties).
Daily she was ferried by then ‘monyomiji dressed in traditional attire’ on her chair right until Hiye from Ibonni Centre. Her role here was to rightly lead/handle the British Government in the whole region featuring Pari, Lopit and Otuho ethnicities in line with then British codes of conduct; in line with then Southern Sudan strategic policies targeted at a separate South Sudan and other. Her role also included hearing then court cases and pronouncing judgments on them and above all, to keep law and order in the region, which she (Ikuma Basha pronounced by them as Chief Ukuma Bazin/Bazia) fully accomplished, her little or no academic education, howbeit! However, after resignation, several figures succeeded her.
Her attending The 1947 Juba Conference
Indeed, Ikuma Basha attended the 1947 historic and national Conference in the then capital of Southern Sudan – Juba. And was the only woman delegate amongst the 13 Paramount Chiefs invited by the British Government. The Conference which started at 9:30Am (of 12-13th of June) was organized by Great Britain in order to combine Northern and Southern Sudan into one political entity. Off course, up until this time, the two precincts/stratums were essentially treated by the British as two separate colonies, owing to the ethnic, religious and cultural differences!
And on the first day (Thursday) of the Conference, she asked then British (at the round table), “What are the guarantees for the safeguard of our customs; if the population of the South were to re-unite with the people of Muslim Arabs of the North as one people?” On the surface, Chief Ikuma Basha refused the re-unification, and was already mirroring a separate state or at least federal status where they govern their own affairs within the Sudan and develop their region, the British Government turn of deaf ears, notwithstanding! Doesn’t this really warrant a world-wide and/ or national recognition? It does!
After returning from Juba, she witnessed the establishment of Ibonni as the Centre of the Catholic faithful (one of its kind) within the present-day Lopa – 1948, and in 1949 she also supervised the first of its kind opening of Ibonni Bush School (turned St Mary’s Mixed Primary School in the soil run by the Ibonni Parish and the Catholic Diocese of Torit) at the Palace where the incumbent Queen Hohoro II (of Ifwotu-based dynasty) currently resides.
The Seasoned columnist (0954851950) is one of the descendants of the Omya dynasty. And is writing a book entitled; The Rise of Omya dynasty. And soon it will be on the Book stores across South Sudan States. Stay tuned!