Eze Mourns The Demise Of HSM King (Prof) T.J.T Princewill, JP, CFR, (Amachree XI), Amayanabo Of Kalabari Kingdom
By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
My encounter with King Prof. T.J.T Princewill, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari (May His Soul Rest In Peace) stemmed immediately the Action Congress Presidential Campaign Committee was disbanded. The then National Secretary of Turaki Vanguard, Hon. Lanre Fayemi, visited Port Harcourt to monitor how the governorship Campaign Team of Prince Tonye Princewill, the party’s guber candidate in Rivers state then, was being managed. Few days after, Fayemi intimated the Prince that his Campaign team was not doing enough. There and then, he suggested a re-jigging that would introduce some seasoned chieftains with a mastery of the political terrain who would deploy their wealth of experience towards practical application of sound strategies to achieve goals.
The party scribe told the Prince that Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze was the only Nigerian that would step into Port Harcourt and turn the heat on the PDP.
The next day, Prince Tonye Princewill flew into Abuja to meet with Atiku Abubakar then Vice President of Nigeria and the Presidential Candidate of the Action Congress on the issue of releasing “one Chief Eze” to him. Atiku laughed and asked him if he had handled fire before because according to him, the man he was requesting for was a raging inferno. Princewill assured and reassured him that he would do his best. After this, Atiku sent for me at his Aso Rock residence and asked me to move to Port Harcourt. That was in 2007.
When I finally arrived Port Harcourt, His Serene Majesty, King Prof TJT PRINCEWIL, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom came to attend one of the meetings of Rivers State Traditional Ruler’s Council and used the opportunity to visit his son, Prince Tonye PRINCEWIL in Port Harcourt and in the process I was introduced to him as the fellow that was sent by the former Vice President of Nigeria, the Waziri Adamawa, Atiku Abubakar GCON to assist his son in his aspiration to become the next Governor of Rivers State and it was in that meeting that the King not only accepted me as a son but pleaded with me to handle my kid-brother the Prince the best way I can.
History is there to tell whether or not I did a great job based on my assignment from the King and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
On the various occasions I visited the King at Buguma, the capital of the Kalabari Kingdom, he accorded all the respect due to a son and my relationship with this exceptional royal father is not only documented but also a public knowledge to most great sons of the Kalabari Kingdom and Rivers State at large.
When God decided to call him back to Himself, my kid-brother, Prince Tonye PRINCEWIL accorded me the respect by alerting me that our father has been called home.
I am happy based on my relationship with the King, I am a respected authority in the history and culture of the Kalabari Kingdom and have joined the Kalabaris and the Ijaws at large on the auspicious days of their ceremonies and festivities including the birthdays of the King whom I referred to as an Icon, a legend, custodian and keeper of the conscience of his people.
The fact remains that HSM King (Prof) T.J.T Princewill, JP, CFR, (Amachree XI), Amayanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, has a specially Devine Favour peculiar to him – sharing the same birthday of 4th January with his son and the Scion of the Kalabari Kingdom, Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill.
I am saddened that instead of writing about the King’s birthday next year, as has been my custom to pen down messages of birthday felicitations to the King who was born on 4th January, 1930; his son born on January 4, I am instead writing to mourn a great father who ensured that my stay in Rivers State was not only eventful but most enjoyable.
The birth of these renowned personalities and special breed is one of the cosmic wonders and uniqueness of a father sharing the same birthday with his so, a divine coincidence orchestrated to impact positively on Niger Delta area and Nigeria at large.
Some of my works on the King and his Kingdom of Kalabari include – “Kalabari Kingdom- Celebrating a unique culture” plus “BUGUMA CITY: KALABARI COUNCIL OF CHIEFS COMMEMORATE 11 YEARS OF THE GOLDEN REIGN OF THE AMANYANABO OF KALABARI KING (PROF) TJT PRINCEWIL, JP, CFR, AMACHREE XI” , ” plus “GOV. ROTIMI CHIBUIKE AMAECHI’S APPOINTMENT OF KING (PROF) T.J.T PRINCEWILL AS CHAIRMAN, RIVERS STATE TRADITIONAL RULERS COUNCIL IS THE BEST 8OTH BIRTHDAY GIFT TO THIS ELDER STATESMAN” plus “KING PROF TJT PRINCEWIL, AMAECHREE XI CELEBRATES TEN YEARS OF DIVINE REIGN – HONOURS 68 ILLUSTRIOUS SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE KINGDOM amongst numerous other publications.
Prof. Princewill was born into the royal family of King and Queen Jacob Tom Princewill, Amachree the VII on 4th January, 1930 in Buguma City.
He attained his professorship in 1984 at the University of Port Harcourt where he was the first Head of Department of Microbiology, the first Professor of Microbiology and the first black Professor to be Dean, Faculty of Sciences, Rivers State University of Science and Technology.
He was installed King Amachree XI on 23rd March, 2002, thus making him the first Professor to become King of the Kalabari Kingdom and by extension Rivers State.
Prof. Princewill was appointed Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers on the 1st of January, 2010 by His Excellency Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, thus becoming the first Professor King to be Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers as well as the first King of Kalabari extraction to be Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers.
Amachree XI, Prof. T.J.T Princewill was an embodiment of peace, a vision carrier, an unassuming and exemplary leader, a custodian per excellence, whose humility was infectious and whose prowess and administrative acumen brought direction and purposeful development to the Kalabari kingdom and her people.
His Serene Majesty, King T.J.T Princewill, JP, CFR, was an academic Professor of great repute who ascended the throne of his forebears as the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom on 23rd March, 2002 and was recognized as a First Class Traditional Ruler by the Rivers State Government same year he was crowned king.
King Prof. T.J.T Princewill started his academic pursuit at the famous Baptist School, Buguma in 1934 at the tender age of 4 and was adjudged the youngest ever to be enrolled to school. He graduated in 1946. After series of passage through various other schools, he ended up in University of Leeds, England from where he obtained his Ph.D. Degree in Microbiology in 1975. He has to his credit, over 30 publications published in scientific Journals from 1965 till date.
He served as Head of Department, Microbiology, University of Port Harcourt from 1982-1984. Dean of Students’ Affairs of University of Port Harcourt from 1985-1986, Dean, School of Graduate Studies, University of Port Harcourt, 1987-1990; Dean, Faculty of Science, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, (now Rivers State University), Port Harcourt from 1991-2000. During this time he also distinguished himself as a Lecturer, Visiting Lecturer and External Examiner to various Universities in Nigeria.
Furthermore, as an internationally acclaimed scholar, he was a fellow of several academic bodies including, the Society for General Microbiology (UK), Society for Applied Bacteriology (UK), British Spore Group, Nigerian Society for Immunology, Nigerian Society for Animal Production and countless other societies of local, regional, and international jurisdiction.
This great King of Kalabari Kingdom was the first Professor to be made King in Rivers State and the first King from Rivers State to be decorated with a national honour – Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR), by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. T.J.T Princewill, an academic cum traditional ruler was also the first Kalabari King to Chair the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and the First King of the Kalabari Kingdom to be appointed a Pro-Chancellor of a University.
He had the singular honour to teach most of the great leaders in Nigeria including former President of Nigeria, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck and the most successful Rivers State born politician, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, erstwhile Governor of Rivers State and Nigeria ever best Minister amongst many other great leaders.
Prior to the installation of King (Prof) Princewill, insecurity (occasioned by militancy) was the hallmark of the kingdom. Life was almost “brutish, nasty and short” as though it was a pre-governmet society as posited by Oliver Holmes. Properties were destroyed and the respect to the sanctity of human life was thrown to the dogs. Succinctly put, this period was the years of ‘darkness, backwardness and Annihilation’, when militia groups kidnap, maim and struggle for territorial control with government forces, but to the credit of this man of Peace and thoughtful leader, peace, orderliness and sanity returned to the kingdom.
During his lifetime, I had once suggested in an article that with the great feats achieved by this legend, the need for the government of Rivers State to declare every January 4 a work-free day, to allow citizens and diplomats cling glasses in commemoration of the birth of a father and a son who are beloved and pleasant in the sight of Rivers people and Niger Deltans, was necessary.
King and Prince Princewill played key role in my politics and stay in Rivers State and I pray God to grant the gentle soul of His Royal Majesty eternal rest and the grant us the fortitude to bear his departure.
Eze quoted Princewill as disclosing that the Kalabari Kingdom of Rivers state has fixed November 29 & 30 as the official date for the commencement of activities for the burial of the longest reigning monarch in the State, His Serene Majesty, King Prof. T.J.T Princewill, Amachree the XI and Amanyanabo of the Kalabari Kingdom and that the date which signals the commencement of 21 days of ceremonies was agreed upon following consultations with various levels of Chiefs in the royal family, as well as titled Chiefs in Buguma and Kalabari land.
According to him, other stakeholders like Amanyanabo of Abonemma, King Disrael Bob Manuel, King Alfred Diete Spiff, the Amanyanabo of Twon Brass, other Kalabari leaders and key non Kalabari stakeholders were consulted in arriving at the date.
Saturday 25th November 2023 by 11am: Kalabari Nation Unity Lecture at King Amachree Memorial Hall Buguma by Prof.Wabinte Wariboko
4.00PM: Novelty Football Match between old students of KNC and KGHS Buguma at the KNC sports field Buguma.
Sunday 26th November 2023: All churches in kalabari Nation centrally holds INTERDENOMINATIONAL Candle Night/Carol Service at Abalama Community.
MONDAY 27th November 2023 by 4:00 am Seven Canon shots to begin the final burial week activities.
5am: EGBELE-EREME and Native women singing groups sing round Buguma and all other Kalabari communities.
5am to 6pm: Various Igira gyration groups perform in all Kalabari Communities
4.00pm: Service of songs and Night of tributes at Obiwali Centre Portharcourt.
Tuesday 28th November 2023: 5am Igira continues and hoisting of flags in all Kalabari Communities
8.00pm: Country Classics and Jazz bands perform at Town Square in Buguma
WEDNESDAY 29TH NOVEMBER 2023: 5AM: All communities War and ceremonial regatta boats assembly at Orupoku and OWUSARA in Buguma for display and proceed to Port Harcourt to receive the corpse of the late King
10am: Brief stop over for lying in state at the Rivers State Council of traditional rulers Chambers in Port Harcourt
11am: Body of the late Monarch leaves Port Harcourt to ELEM-KALABARI
5.00pm: Body of the late King arrives Buguma City with 7 CANON SHOTS to be received by the REGENT, Kings of all the communities, Clergymen, Chiefs,Elders, The kalabari Ekine Sekiapu, Sons and Daughters of the Kalabari Nation and escorted to his paternal home and later to king Abbi and King Amachree Memorial Halls for lying in state
THURSDAY 30th November 2023: Dignitaries pay last respect, Commendation Service and the KIRIKIRIMINE rites shall be performed
5:00 pm Interment at the Royal Cemetery:
Adieu my Great Father and rest as we join you formally in order not to leave the presence of each other anymore.
Price Tonye Princewill, the entire Kalabari Kingdom and every great son of Rivers State, Ijaw and Nigeria, who contributed in making the burial of the late King a success are deserving of commendation and I thank you all.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt & can be reached either through 08022049770 or email@example.com