The coronation of a new Atta is a chain of events; characterised by plethora of rituals, most of which are singly spiritual and symbolic.
As the coronation draws closer, I will take time to pick some significant rituals in the procedure and attempt to give explanation to what they imply.
Today therefore, I want to comment on the significance of setting ablaze of the Ugwolawo hut.
The coronation of Atta starts in Ugwolawo where the would-be Atta will spend several nights.
A little hut, made of thatch is the epicenter of the Ugwolawo event. The hut is called Unyi Adokanya, which means, the house of the would-be Atta.
Atta will sleep in the hut and on the last day of the Ugwolawo event, Atta will move his few cloths out of the hut and it will be set on fire. Atta will then trek for about 27 kilometers to Idah.
Why burn the hut?
There are many things an Atta is not expected to. While the stool comes with so much privileges, it also comes with deprivations. One of such deprivations is that an Atta is prohibited from owning a house.
Atta is expected to dispose off all his houses before taking the final oath. The Ugwolawo hut is symbolically the last known house of Atta and it is burnt down to signify that he owns no house again. It also signifies that he will live and die only in the palace and no other house.
The rule prohibiting Atta from owning houses has been a very strict one until recently. For instance, even though Ali Obaje as Atta of Igala did not go through this particular ritual, he never made the mistake of owning a house throughout his 56 years reign. However, few of his wives had houses and some persons have alleged that one of those houses belonged to him.
Meanwhile, Ali Obaje’s case was a radical departure from that of Idakwo Oboni who built an estate that can pass for a private palace during his 7 years reign, an act that many have applauded, just as many have condemned.
Will Mathew Opaluwa erode tradition by owning houses when eventually he becomes Atta? Time alone can tell.
PS: the attached pictures show the Ugwolawo hut where Idakwo Oboni lived before he became Atta.