As the cloud of sorrow besieged ancient Grand Bonny Kingdom over the demise of its celebrated amazon, Alabota Joan Opunne Willie-Pepple, preparations for funeral obsequies are already in motion.

Alabota Willie-Pepple boarded the eternal flight on Friday, September 29, 2023, which incidentally was the Feast Day of St. Michael and All Angels, at the age of 84 years.

Late Dame Alabota Joan Opunne Willie-Pepple, aka Madam Palm Garden

A Knight of the Sacred Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary (KBVM), Jerusalem Pilgrim (JP), and Amaopuorubo of Grand Bonny Kingdom, was married to the demised Chief and Head of the Willie-Pepple Chieftaincy House, late Se-Alabo Lawrence Sodienye Willie-Pepple, MBE, (1973-1997).

Popularly known as Madam Palm Garden, a sobriquet accorded with regards to entrepreneurial dexterity bequeathed on her husband’s business, the now defunct Palm Garden Hotel, which started before the Nigerian civil war in Ogbor Hill, Aba in Abia State and later set up in Bonny, Rivers State.

She worked with her husband to scale up the now defunct Palm Garden Hotels grew into a thriving hospitality business that served the people of Aba until the outbreak of the civil war; and later the Bonny Island post-civil war.

Late Dame Alabota Joan Opunne Willie-Pepple

In her very eventful lifetime, she served as Vice President, Bonny Women Patriotic Movement and was a one-time member of the Bonny Kingdom Development Committee (BKDC).

Close associates told Kristina Reports that the late Alabota Willie-Pepple was an avid ambassador for the preservation of the Ibani culture, a stickler for proper Ibani dressing and did not hesitate to correct defaulters whenever she noticed a departure from the Ibani dressing style.

A statement from her family disclosed that “In recognition of her immense contributions to Bonny Kingdom, she was graciously conferred with the title of Amaopuorubo of Grand Bonny Kingdom by His Majesty, King Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III, CON, DSSRS, JP, Edward I, Perekule XI, Amanyanabo and Natural Ruler of Ancient Grand Bonny Kingdom on the occasion of his 10th Anniversary on the throne in the year 2006”.

As part of her active roles in the Anglican Communion, she was also a member of the Women’s Guild, a delegate to Synod, Diocesan Board, member of several committees of the church, patroness of the Girls Guild and the Boys Brigade, now Anglican Communion Brigade.

The statement said she will be interred at the Commonwealth Cemetery, Bonny after a funeral service in her honour at the St. Stephen’s Cathedral Church, Bonny on Saturday, November 25, 2023.

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