As the Saturday rain poured down on the crowd of excited guests packed in a barge heading towards Ode-Itsekiri, in Warri, an elderly man, drenched by the downpour, raised both hands skyward in quiet supplication to the elements to save the day from rain.
A few hours later, his prayers were answered. The sky had taken a clear, bright hue, and hundreds of people had converged on Ode-Itsekiri, an island off the Warri river, brimming with collective anticipation as they awaited the emergence of their new king from the Aghofen (palace).
In another rite, he was blindfolded and led to an array of ceremonial swords, each representing the names of the 20 monarchs before him and one new one bearing his name. While still being blindfolded, he picked one of the swords and the title was proclaimed, for the first time, immediately after his coronation.
After he emerged from the palace, the king-designate, accompanied by his chiefs, undertook a ceremonial walk around the island before making his way to the venue of the coronation.
At exactly 3.30 p.m., Gabriel Awala, the Uwangue of Warri Kingdom, lowered the crown on Tsola Emiko as the 21st Olu of Warri.