Abu Ndu: The Songs of Life

by Ogonna Agu

Selected from The Book of Dawn & Invocations

Ndu bu ahia
Ndi ahia ebiliela ije,
Ha everela fam fam onu ututu guba ukpa ha onu
Ihe a na-anuzi bu nzookpa ndi mmuo;
Onyeodu ana-eje, ya na chi ya -
Onyeodu ana-eje, ya na onyinjo ya
Onye puta n’ututu o buru ogbe anwu ya n’ubu ya
Onye puta ula ututu o si kpakpando bia bere ya n’ihu

Life is a marketplace
Traders have all set out for the great journey,
They have started counting the luck in their baskets
in the little dawn of light
The noise we hear is the footprints of spirits;
Each one goes, each with his chi -
Each one goes, each with his shadow;
Each one awakens in the morning
carrying a beam of sunlight on his shoulder -
Each one awakens, each awakens
telling the stars to come and perch on his brow

Uzo okpa ndi ahia ejula m nti
Ndi ije esila na mmuo puta mmadu
Ufu okpa ndi ahia dizi ka nke nedi-agha
Onu ahia adila ka ihu ogu
Ndi ga-ebe ana-eje n’ogbo udele
Ndi ga-anuri agbahari n’ogbo egwu

The countless feet of traders marching to distant markets have filled my ears
Traders have arrived in the land of the living from the land of spirits
The footprints of traders now look like that of men of battle
The market now looks like a battlefront – those that will cry have started facing the square where vultures hold their conferences
Those that will rejoice run around the festival ground

Ndu bu ahia -
Onye zuchaa, o buru ibu ahia ya laa;
O lakwuru uchichi, o lakwuru itiri mmuo

Anyanwu awaala n’owuwa
Anyanwu esorala chi ofufo hogolie elu ugwu ka
mna-elejere anyanwu ka m na-ahu Chi kere uwa,
Chukwu ewerela ugofu ya dika ihe were huo m aka n’isi
Mu bu mmadu esila n’uchichi puta ihe n’onu ama ndu ebe ahia na-azu

Life is a marketplace
Whoever finishes buying, carries his goods and goes home;
He goes to meet the night, he goes to meet the darkness of death

The sun has ascended in the east,
The sun has ascended over the hills without the morning ligh
As I look towards the sun, so I see the great deity, creator of all the universe,
Chukwu has stroked my head with the rays of his light -
I one, I have emerged from night into light
At the frontage of life where traders buy and sell

Olu okike ebuka
Anyanwu iwa n’igwe na olu okike aburu
Ubosi anyanwu wara n’igwe
ka Chukwu kezuru uwa niile
Etuakwu ka owuwa anyanwu na okike ihe ya siri buru ofu

The work of Creation is too great;
The rising of the sun in the sky
and the work of creation has become one -
The day the sun shone in the sky
is the day Chukwu created all over the world.
This is how the ascension of the sun in the sky
became one with the act of creation.

Eke bu nwoke mbu, o sila n’igwe ridalu ala -
Nwoke mbu bu ukpa bia ahia n’ubosi eke ka o bu
Oye esila n’igwe ridaluo ala -
Nwoke bu ukpa bia ahia n’ubosi oye ka o bu;
Afo esila n’igwe ridaluo ala -
Nwoke bu ukpa bia ahia n’ubosi afo;
Nkwo esila n’igwe ridaluo ala -
Nwoke bu ukpa bia ahia n’ubosi nkwo ka bu

Eke is the fist man, he descended from the sky down to the earth
The first man that entered the market with his long basket
Oye has descended into the work from the sky -
The man that came into the market on Oye day carrying a long basket
Afor has descended into the world from the sky
The man that entered the market on Afor day carrying a long basket
Nkwo descended into the world from the sky on Nkwo day
The man that c+ame into the market from the sky
On Nkwo day is he, carrying his long basket

Anya mu bu mmadu e kere-eke esorola anyanwu kebe
Anya olupio m m ji elejere ihe di na mmuo-
Ahazuola m uwa nille;
Ahula’m ihe di n’anwuru di na mbara igw na-erughari n’oteaka
Ahula’m ihe di na nha-nha mmiri na-ezo n’igwe-
Ahula’m ka mmiri na-ehu ehu si esi na mkpume agbaputa
Ahula’m ka ihe e kere n’otu ngwugwu siri buru mmirir n’aloghachi n’ikuku
Ahula’m ka umu anu-ohia na-awughari n’okeagu -
Ahula’m ka azu bi na mmiri si ebi n’otu oke obodo
Ahula’m ka umu anunu na-efeghari na mbara igwe

Man like me, my eyes have begun to emit the light of the sun -
A tiny opening through which I behold that which is in the land of the spirits
I have seen all that is in this universe;
I have seen all that is gathering in the clouds in the distant sky
I have seen what is in the rain falling from the place above,
I have seen water break from the rocks as spring in the valleys
I have seen something wrapped in cocoyam leaves, returning with water in the wind
I have seen little animals running around in the great forests;
I have seen little fishes swimming in the waters, as if they belong to one large city
And I have seen little birds flying about in the sky

Chukwu bu nwoke mbu,
Nwoke mbu bi n’elu na uwa awa;
Chukwu bu nwaanyi mbu, nwaanyi mbu si na mmuo puta mmadu
Ya bu nwoke mbu burukwa nwaanyi mbu jezuru uwa niile

Chuwku is the first man,
The first man living in the sky when the earth appeared;
Chukwu is the first woman, the first woman who appeared from the land of the spirits to the land of the living
He is the first man and the first woman to walk round the whole world.

Eke bu otu nwoke na otu nwaanyi niime ndi mbu
Oye bu otu nowke na otu nwaanyi niime ndi mbu
Afo bu otu nowke na otu nwaanyi niime ndi mbu
Nkwo bu otu nowke na otu nwaanyi niime ndi mbu
Ha mmadu ino mbu si be chukwu muta oku so na ndi nwaanyi mbu
Ha biawara buru ukpa ahia ha bata n’Igbo na mgbe gboo
n’ututu nta
Ha ndi mbu nu uzo zuo ahaia n’ebe mmuo na mmadu na ezuko
ubosi ino na abali ano

Eke is one man and one woman among the first people
Oye is one man and one woman among the first people
Afor is one man and one woman among the first people
Nkwo is one man and one woman among the first people
These first four who brough fire from the abode of Chukwu are among the first women
They came carrying their long baskets to the land of the Igbo in very ancient ties
in the little dawns of light
These first men and women first traded their wares
in the meeting ground of spirits and men
In four days and four markets

Ma mu onwe’m abu’m mmadu gboo-
Otu akuku’m bu ihe, otu akuku anysi
Otu akuku’m bu nwoke, otu akuku’m nyaanyi
Mmadu gboo si n’uchichi puta chi
Mmadu gboo si na ihe muta oku;
Ka o di na mbu ka o di taata were ga-adigide
Mu si n’odu hara onu were puta were bido ije
Site na mu bu uzuzu ka a hazuru uwa niile
Site na abu mma-ndi ka a huru Osebuluwa
Chukwu-Okike

Abu’m otu onye na-eje ije ndudugandu
Mu si na ogbu toro ogbu were eje,
Mu bu Ogochukwu nwa Uzonwa
Ada Ezennaerika n’Oka-etiti
Mu Ogonna nnwa nna’m Anaagudo Agu
nnwa Agu Olukoo o gbue
Mu bu Ogochukwu, nwoke Isi udughuudu

And I one, I am an ancient man
One side of me is light, one side of me is night
One side of me is man, one side of me woman
An ancient man who emerged from darkness into light
An ancient man who drew fire from light
As it was in the beginning so it is now and so will it continue to be
I am he who emerged from the sound of a trumpet and started off on a journey
From the dust of the earth I am made, and from the dust of which I am made
the whole universe is seen
From the song of the beauty of life behold the great and might Spirit Osebuluuwa
Chukwu-Okike

I am one man who is continuually undergoing the journey of the generations
I Ogochukwu, child of my mother Uzonnwa
Daughter of Ezeaerika at Oka-etiti
I Ogochukwu, child of my father Aagudo, child of Olukoo O gbue
I Ogochukwu, man with the bushy hair

Echi di ime, one ma ihe o ga-amu?
Uwa di ka nwaanyi di ime bu ite n’isi
O nwgh onye ma mgbe ime ga-awado ya
O nweghikwanu one ma mgbe o ga-amu nyabu nnwa

Tomorrow is pregnant, no one knows what she will bring froth
The world is like a pregnant woman carrying her pot of water
No one knows when her labor wil begin
No one knows also when she will deliver that child

Echi di ime,
Ite ogwu ya riri nta na imo-
O bu onwa buru ma kpakpando
O bu ochichiri na ihe anyaanwu
O bu anwuru na-apu oku
O bu mmiri juputara uwa niile

Tomorrow is pregnant,
Its pot of medicine has taken in everything and all things
It has take the moon and the stars
It has taken the sun and the darkness,
It has taken rain-clouds carrying firebrands
It has taken water which fills all over the world

Nwaanyi mmuo ana-eje, na-asu ude nwaanyi di ime-
O bu uwa ya niile n’okuku ite ogwu ya,
Etua ka o siri buru na nwaanyi di ime bu ibu,
Nwaany mmuo na ibu ya ana-eme
Echi di ime, o nwegh onye ma ihe o ga-amu
Echi di ime, o nwegh oney ma mgbe o ga-exeda ibu

The spirit woman keeps going, heaving
like a pregnant woman
She is carrying all her world
Inside her medicine pot

Nwaanyi ime na ite gi awuru
Ndu akpoola igugu n’uzo ama gi, i were nye n’akwu
Nnwa a muru ohuru asaala chi
O narala oke chi ya were puta ihe
I muola ozuzu eke muo ozuzu oye
Anaanuw awagidela gi na oma ihu,
Anuri ejula gi obi

Behold, pregnant woman, your pot has broken
Life has flowered before your gate,
You have given to the nest what belongs to her
The newly born child has awakened
from darkness into the light of a new world
She has received her share of divine light
and so has come into the light of being
You have borne both male and female children
The sun has shone on you straight on the brow,
Your heart is filled with joy.

Ihe Chukwu ekezuola uwa niile
O werela ugofu ya chunaga anyaasi
Chi-ta amutala agu-ukwu na agu nta
O mutala ohimiri na mmirianyim
O mutala ilulo na oke osisi
O mutala anu-ohia na anu-ulo
O mutala anunu na-efe efe
O mutala elu na ala
O mutakwuola mmuo na mmadu

The light of Chukwu has shone in all the world
So that with his rays, he has chased away the darkness of night
This day has given birth to mighty forests and savannahs
It has given birth to mighty seas and oceans
It has given birth to green herbs and wooded lands
It has given birth to beasts of the forests and the creatures of home
It has given birth to the birds that fly
It has given birth to the sky and the earth
It has given birth to both spirits and humanity

Taata bu nkwo
Mmuo na mmadu ana-aga
Ndi bu odu, ma ndi bu oji
Mumuibiriachi, na ndi chiri ekwe,
Umuagbogho ndi ji jalijali oso
agbajekwulu Nkwo okwu

This Nkwo day
Spirits and men keep moving about
Those carrying ivory horns, and those carrying their sacred iron spears
Local women and those who have taken the ekwe title
Young maidens who with light and swift feet
Run to meet their beloved Nkwo

Nkwo oma ana-aga, nkwo oma ana-aga n’ilo
Ma mmuo ma mmadu, ha ana-akpaghari
Ma ndi na-ere ukpa, ma ndi na-ere mmanya ngwo
Ana-ha akpaghari
Bu ndi bu ukpa ahia ha
Ebe ha kwadogoro na taata bu nkwo
Na ahia ga-azu n’odu ndi ukwu

Beautiful Nkwo walks the streets, beautiful Nkwo walks along the streets
with men and spirits, they mill around
Those selling ukpa, and those selling upwine
They mill around carrying their long baskets
Since they are prepared that on this very Nkwo day
The fair will be at the stalls of the mighty

Ahia ewee buru otu ebe nnukwute mmuta
Ebe a na-eyie mma fuo ya onu;
Onye e yielu mma o na-ebe,
Onye o baara o kpowa so kekeke
Uwa ewere gwu m ike
Uwa ewere buru so otu oke mmuta
N’ahia nkwo
Ebe anyi jere iketakwa oke Chi ruru anyi
N’ubosi ahu ahia zuru n’ahia udele

The market then became one great place of knowledge
The market then become one very great place of learning
Here where hands cut deep into skins and blow cool air over them
Whoever is cut starts to cry
Whoever it profits starts to be crisp with laughter and I just became tired with the world
The world just became one great place of learning
At Nkwo marketplace
Where we went to get our shares of Chi
On that very day when a fair took place
At the market of vultures

Anyi ewere lawa,
lagide lagide lagide ije ebi-ebi
Lajekwute otu oke uchichi na oke oshimiri
Isi ewere buo anyi ka enyi
ka anyaasi dawasara anyi
Ka anyi siri diga
Ndi gba duu
Ma ndi ihu gbansim
Ma ndi ihu oma
Ma ndi oke ozu ha
Anyi niile n’ije any di iche iche
n’otu oke ozra ahu bu ndu
N’ije dnu a any na-eje

And we began going
Going and going and going on an everlasting journey
Came and met one great darkness and a mighty sea
And my head swelled like that of an elephant
As night befell us
As we went our different ways
As different as our Chi spirits
Those that were silent
And those who were quiet and indifferent
And those with the good face
And the really wealthy ones
All of us in our different journeys
In this great wilderness of life
In this journey of life which we are undertaking

Ula ka anyi niile na-alazi
M laruo ulo ka m zituo ibu m bu n’ukpa ahia m;
Ugolooma esorola chi na ubosi alaa
anyi sokwu chi na ubosi alaa
Anyaanwu adakpuola n’oshimiri
Ogonna nwoke isi udughuudu esorokwuola anyaanwu la ura
N’ogbu toro ogbu

Departing, departing, that s what we are now doing
On getting home I will lay down my long basket with which I went to the market
The eagle has gone with the light of day
As we also depart wit hthe day and the night;
The sun has fallen into the sea
Ogonna, man with the bushy haiir
has also accompanied the sun
into the depth of depths

R.I.P Ogonna Anaagudo-Agu

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One thought on “Abu Ndu: The Songs of Life

  1. Nwa Anaagudo-Agu, the destined brilliance of any soul is potentially infinite. It is my utmost conviction that when next you return, more strengthened in your elements, you will bring for us, the promised ancient gifts of ”Eke Bu Ukpa Agwu”. Until then, we await you in due reverence. Uwa ndu gi, Uwa gi asaa! Uwa Agwu chi gi, Uwa gi asato!

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