Uba Uba Aboyo, Matriarch of Manatu

Mount Aboyo, Irukandji

Uba Uba, mother of Irukandji

Irukandji Ministry of Heritage and Culture, stories and legends

Following the massacre of the Tiamo peoples in 1260, the region was settled by the Aboyan tribes from the east. Nearly 600 years later, in 1853, the first Europeans arrived.

The British annexed Aboyo and all the tribal nations to the north in an effort to stem further French influence in the Pacific. The island chain was proclaimed a colony and named Irukandji.

Deemed a minor colony, it was placed under the command of a retired career politician and Lord of the Realm, Sir Ernest Recreant.

Note: if you are trying to visit the current Irukandji world, the landing sim is Arius on the DigiWorldz grid. The region is hypergrid enabled for easy teleportation from other Open Simulator virtual worlds. If you have the Firestorm viewer, use this link to teleport to Arius.

Uba Uba and Sir Ernest

Favouring the islands of Aboyo, he set up his base on East Pearl Island, and established a garrison on the nearby atoll, Old Fort Island, the southernmost point of the new colony.

Journals of the time record Sir Ernest as a fair man, but in the modern day, ample evidence suggests that he has much to answer for; notably, his predisposition for very young girls, and of arguably greater concern, suggestions that he may have profited from the sugar slave trade which eventually wiped out many Irukandji villages.

In 1853, Sir Ernest, aged 68, was already in his waning years. He arrived in the islands with his juvenile ward, Ariadne, an orphaned great-niece whom he had raised from infancy. It had always been his stated intent to marry her once she came of legal age. Upon Ariadne’s twelfth birthday in 1860, Sir Ernest, although six times her age, married her.

She conceived immediately, but nine months later, died while giving birth to their child, a girl whom Sir Ernest named Ophelia. The child lived until age ten then contracted a tropical fever, and she too passed away.

Freed of obligations, Sir Ernest sought a native girl to marry, symbolically to strengthen ties with the Aboyans. His eye fell on Uba Uba, the fifteen-year-old daughter and heir of the Aboyan chief.

Sir Ernest could not have realised at the time, that his predilection for young girls would cost his empire dearly. In marrying the girl, Uba Uba, he would unwittingly set the Irukandji nation on the path to independence.

Lady Uba Uba Recreant on her wedding day, 1871, age 15
Uba Uba Aboyo on her wedding day, 1871, age 15

From Princess to Queen

Uba Uba, now a lady of the empire, bore Sir Ernest six children during their five years of wedlock before his death at Savage Bay in 1877.

Largely believed to be complicit in her husband’s murder, Lady Uba Uba never confirmed or denied claims about her involvement. Notably, given her high status in the colony, coupled with her remarkable beauty and the general unpopularity of Sir Ernest, no attempts were made by the crown to investigate said claims.

headstone Sir Ernest Recreant 1788-1877

She wasted no time in mourning, for she had her children to care for.

A handful of months passed and then her own father died as well. As his first-born, she was now elder of the Aboyans, their queen. Henceforth, the welfare of her tribe was her responsibility as well.

Blessed with a generous inheritance from Sir Ernest’s estate in Wales, Uba Uba was now a woman of considerable means. She invested much of her wealth in Tamita Island, Irukandji’s capital and commercial hub. There, she established Irukandji’s first lending house, the Bank of Tamita, the profits of which she used to improve the lives of her subjects.

It was during her frequent excursions to Tamita Island that she met the new Lieutenant-Governor, the Australian-born Archibald Quintessa. He instantly fell besotted with the remarkable island beauty who had achieved so much during her tender 23 years of life.

The love of her life

Quintessa courted her and they married in 1879. She moved into his mansion on Tamita island. So began a deep pure love affair that would dominate the rest of their lives.

During the late 1890s, freed slaves began returning to East Pearl, now named Manatu Island, from indentured servitude in the cane fields of Fiji and Australia.

Manatu Island, Second Life 2009

Incensed by tales of their hardships, and armed with the titles and rights which she had inherited as a Lady of the empire, Uba Uba took personal charge of locating survivors, wherever they might be, to help them find their way back to the Irukandji islands.

This became her primary mission in life. Alongside her husband who was well respected despite being a colonial, the couple made an effective team and Irukandji enjoyed a new wave of progress and prosperity.

In 1915, however, after 36 years of marriage, her world fell apart. Archibald Quintessa, now a Captain, was sent to France where he died the following year in the Battle of Fromelles.

Uba Uba, shattered with grief, returned to her ancestral home, Manatu Island. With her immense brood of children and grandchildren by two fathers, and the steady return of Manatu’s displaced natives from faraway lands, the island began to repopulate.

She devoted herself to affairs of state and vowed never to marry again. Her beloved Archibald was beside her and she knew he would never leave.

The revolutionary

On Manatu Island, her descendents, given their mixed Aboyan-British heritage, and despite Uba Uba’s station as elder of the Aboyans, regarded themselves as a separate tribe to their cousins in the east. This balancing act of loyalties as the elder of two separate tribes, would prove to be a lifelong trial. Yet somehow, she succeeded, taking every challenge in her stride.

World War 1 ended and life went on. Now in her 60s and still a fine figure of womanhood, her myriad successes placed her highly amongst her peers. She was a central figure in affairs of the islands, both native and colonial. Her opinions were revered well beyond her own tribal jurisdictions.

Uba Uba found herself frequently in counsel with new Governors and diplomats, and the elders of other tribes. She listened to them, she learned from them, and she advised them. Amongst their number was the great Pinjarra who had returned to Irukandji full of hatred for the British after two decades toiling in the Queensland plantations.

Rah Pinjarra
Rah Pinjarra, a prince of Irukandji and great grandson of Kebo Kebo, 2009

From Pinjarra’s vitriolic rantings, Uba Uba gained his thirst for independence, and from his eventual death in a hangman’s noose, she learned that the colonials were terrified of revolt. With patience and cunning, she devoted herself to the independence movement for the rest of her life.

In 1943, her journey finally ended when the Japanese invaded Irukandji at the height of the war in the Pacific. As a British citizen of rank, 88 year old Uba Uba was interned in a POW camp where she died of tuberculosis.

Pupil against pupil

Even in death, Uba Uba found victory, for after the war, when Britain’s strength was at its weakest, the seeds of independence she had sown in the hearts of her followers, began to bloom. The real war was about to begin.

In 1975, Irukandji finally became an independent nation, with its first king, Daniel of Weta, elected by his fellow elders. Upon Daniel’s death four years later, civil war erupted, and the Manatuans found themselves in an untenable situation.

Kebo Pinjarra, the grandson of old Pinjarra himself, and elder of the Pinjarra clan, wished control of the kingdom. The Manatuans were torn. They shared ancestral ties with the Pinjarrans, but feared the powerful Tamita elder, Savu de Tamita, who raised an army to oppose the threatened coup.

Prince Savu de Tamita as a youth pre-independence
postcard of Prince Savu de Tamita age 17, pre-independence 1946

The Manatuans opted for neutrality. They could not take sides, for they had interests with, and loyalties to, both men. To complicate matters even more, both Savu and Kebo served as devoted pupils of Uba Uba in their youth.

In Savu’s eyes however, the Manatuans’ stance made them cowards and untrustworthy. His fight was on behalf of the entire kingdom, not just one tribe. Every other clan throughout the islands had taken part in defending the democratic freedom of their nation, but not Manatu.

When Savu finally defeated Kebo, he made his disgust with the Manatuans clear. He declared Manatu a non-state, a conquered territory just like Pinjarra. As such, Manatu was denied a place on the Council of Princes or any say in the kingdom’s future.

Uba Uba’s legacy

While Manatu’s status as a non-state remains to the present day, the animosity towards its people has thinned somewhat. One of Sir Ernest’s direct descendants, Lemuel Recreant, now serves as Irukandji Police Commissioner.

Uba Uba’s lineage by her second marriage continues through her heir and great-great-grandson Jay Quintessa. Perhaps with the passage of sufficient time, he might become the first Manatu elder to serve as a Prince of Irukandji.

It is comforting though that despite the tribal disputes of recent decades, none of that stigma has attached itself to her. Uba Uba is remembered both fondly and heroically as the Matriarch of Manatu and mother of the revolution.

Irukandji’s flagship submarine bears the name HMIS Uba Uba in her honour.

The Irukandji Navy submarine, HMIS Lady Uba Uba, at berth in Arius.
Irukandji Navy submarine, HMIS Lady Uba Uba, at berth in Arius, beside her permanent monument. Dec 2022

Lady Uba Uba is buried on Manatu Island beside her children. An empty space lies reserved beside her for Archibald when he returns. His body was never recovered from the war-torn fields of France.

Throughout the 38 years she spent alone since his death, Uba Uba refused to acknowledge aloud that he was gone. Thus, she erected no memorial.

All that remains to show their eternal love is the mansion on Tamita Island where they shared their lives together. Now a museum, it is a time capsule of their lives. All of Archibald’s effects remain exactly the same as the day he left for war.

Andrew Thompson a.k.a. Xay Tomsen

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