If you didn’t know that Chief Dumo O. B. Lulu-Briggs, the second son, of the late Kalabari-Ijaw High Chief is a multibillionaire in his own right. If you didn’t know that the late High Chief’s children are no paupers. If you didn’t know that the family is still engulfed in protracted litigation over the demise of their patriarch. If you didn’t know all of these, then you will think that High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs was kept in the morgue for over two years for the family to raise money, prepare and execute such a humongous and magnificent royal burial for the Iniikeiroari V of Kalabari Kingdom and the Paramount Head of the Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema.
The obsequies were slated for March 8-13, 2021 but activities that heralded the burial began more than a week earlier, in series of quintessential Kalabari traditional and cultural displays.
The youths of Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema staged a seven-day performance of the “Sipiri” masquerade. The four major compounds in Abonnema and the neighbouring town of Obonoma performed the “Igira Sira” – A Procession of drumming, dancing and signing of youth and women groups amidst eating and drinking. There were displays of traditional games called “Judi Siri” during which winners went away with prizes. Men who disguised as maidens “Oyibo Iriabo” danced in the Briggs Compound main square. On the eve of the beginning of the obsequies, there was a candle light procession in Abonnema.
The ancient city of Abonnema was decorated with flags, symbols and clolours of the various chieftaincy houses; the entire town was electrified and ecstatic. Kalabari land was engulfed in high expectations, Rivers people knew that a huge event was in the air as radio and TV stations blared obituary jingles. The entire country and beyond were all ears. The funeral of the century was about to begin – the type that has never been witnessed. In the end the burial ceremonies of High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs surpassed expectations and will linger in the memories of people for many years.