A guest video post via The Medicine Shell:
A guest video post via The Medicine Shell:
“Ka ekere ụwa, agwụ nọ!” (As the world was created, Agwu was there) − Igbo Axiomatic Dictum of the Agwụ Cult
Now, on Agwụ! Not very long ago, the rite of Ịrụ Agwụ in Igbo society and in Ọdịnala generally, was still very well known and understood as a rite for the ritualistic brewing and refinement of intelligence. Parents generally performed the Agwụ rite for their children at quite a young age, so as to ensure smooth psychological transition into full productive adulthood and civil progressive efficiency. The ancients, quite succinctly held that raw intelligence (Ọnatalụ-Chi/Agwụ-Onye-Ụwa) like every other component of creation, underwent a series of process called Ọnụnụ na Nshikọ, to reach an optimized favorable state of function called Elele Ọma Agwụ/Irite Ọma Agwụ. In the specific case of intelligence, this unique process was called Ọnụnụ na Nshikọ Akọnache (Brewing and Refinement of Intelligence) or as it came to be called. Ịlụ Agwụ/Ịru Agwụ lit. the marriage of the two poles of intelligence. In the human faculty of the genome with its nearly inexhuastible sequence of DNA and RNA coding which Ndị Igbo has properly called Akpụkpa Oke na Nne, along with yet another faculty of the cognitive system called the pineal gland or pituitaries (Akpa Uche in Igbo bio-cosmology), these two faculties were held by ancients to be under the bio-psychic influence of Ụmụ Agbara Agwụ – an elder race of comic entities or spirits, far more advanced than humans in both capacity and longevity. The ancient observation and principle was simply put thus: by the primordial causation factor of natural affinity, specific genetic types of creatures of certain genetic qualities. This natural affinity is then enshrined in communal memory and made symbolically manifest in those special Emume (rite and ceremonies) which highlight Ogbụgba-Ndụ-Ndi-Mbụ-na-Aja-Ana lit. the cultural foundation principle of totemism or the ritual-enabled life-force bonding procedures of the first ancestors. Emume Agwụ and Ịru Agwụ set of rituals, properly so, constitutes once of such early totemic situations of Ndị Igbo.
The ancients held that two cosmic pillars of intelligence were channeled by all cosmic beings as Akọ Nne na Akọ Nna (Intuition and Intellect; the disharmonized perception mode of which is called Ose Ọbala). It was discovered that, naturally at birth, human beings came with four basic generic type of features, two of which were more of ‘default’ and feminine in character, while the other two features which were ‘emulated’ – had a masculine character to them. These dual poles of intelligence within human beings were micro-cosmologically localized as genome (Akpụkpa) and instincts (Akọ). The default features, it was learnt, primarily defined one’s nature or speciation, while the emulated features presented an initial maneuverable take-off pad for one’s unique response and optimal interaction levels with the environment. Often these two poles clashed at points of traumatic events in the life of a human being, thereby causing fundamental distortions in the psychological field of such persons. This distorted perception resulting from the two clashing poles of the psyche is called Agbara Agwụ. But whenever the two poles were properly fused into one ritually (Ọlụlụ Agwụ lit harmonious fusion/marriage of the dual psychological force poles of intelligence), then undistorted clairvoyant perception and advanced instinctive flow of interaction with cosmic nature becomes possible for a human being. For as the harmonized instincts henceforth generated flow in synchronicity with the Ụmụ Agwụ-ritually operated, healed, or ‘attuned’ genetics of the initiate, only then dose higher interaction with nature open up for an individual. As earlier pointed out, Agwụ spirits and their various incarnations and avatars throughout the cosmos, were recognized by the ancients as a specific race of wise beings or elder cosmic entities, who, archetypally are the custodians of this cosmic instituted power called intelligence, whose unified cosmic station is called Aka Ose (Uche). These were the Agwụ race of beings, pantheonised as a cosmic extension of the Igbo communal kinship model of Nne + Nna + Nwa, where we now have Nne Agwụ + Oke Agwụ + Nwa Agwụ. Within this non-human order of spirit called Ọra Agwụ, the Nne Agwụ spirit caliber of this race are primordially designated as the governess of the Agwụ cosmic institution and his power. To be sure, the Ụmụ Agbala Agwụ constitutes an entirely sub-pantheon of tutelary beings in the greater pantheon of Igbo deities (i.e. ancestral cosmic elder entities or ancestral cosmic guardians). As Ndị Mbụ, they belong in the highest Igbo pantheon of ancestral entities and through their earlier primeval direct interactions with the later Igbo superhuman ancestors (Ndị Egede), they tutored humanity adeptly and assisted in ushering the very first templates of what we now call Omenala i.e. a grand cult of civilization = culture. This rank of entities are divinely obligated to observe the manifest cosmos through the capacity of specific celestial bodies known as stars (Kpakpando = Kpakpankpa Ndụ) and report back to Chi-Ukwu the Supreme spirit via the Aka Ose Uche cosmic station. At the same time, the Nne Agwụ simultaneously communicates with those members of the Agwụ race of beings and all affiliated with them, through specially dedicated set of instincts called Kpakpankpa Agwụ. The Oke Agwụ entities, on the other hand – are primordially designated with the status of stational tutelaries, facilitating and overseeing the quantum telematic bridging of dimensions, procurement of new information and serving as protective guarding entities of certain hidden knowledge not meant for certain time era of the universal seasons. We are to bear in mind that the ancient Igbo people also hold that the universe itself possesses a soul, which soul they aptly title and ritually channell as Olisa-Chi-Ukwu lit. the consumer of seven or the infinity defying one. The Igbo also say that Amụma si na Olisa abịa lit. all inspirations, past, present and future, have their source in Olisa the one great universal soul of Chi-Ukwu. The Nwa Agwụ or Ụmụ Inyom na Okoro Agwụ spirit are, in this light, the true messengers and the ones whose duty it is to incarnate in specifically designated terrestrial types at the beginning of each universal season for the divine purpose of prompting the characteristic inspirations that will trend or drive the terrestrial creatures of the universe into the cosmic character programmed for each cosmic season. All together, this trinity of entities in a family or sub-pantheon of spirit speciation called Ọra Agwụ are responsible for guarding and transmitting the actual undying spiritual light (Anwụ) of revelations, true knowing, original vision and wisdom.
In very ancient times, the Agwụ divine trinity stood for the sacred triad principle of knowledge, devoted and wisdom. These were called the three psychic forces whose soul-borne internal crystallization is known to birth the true spiritual light of illumination or enlightenment. These triad of entities were portrayed as seen in powerful trance-delivered visions by powerful Dibịa lineage of our planet’s first Ụga Chi world age, through which means we received some of the earliest imageries of what these subtle beings who operated the great cosmic intelligence networks – looked like. While some of the imageries were directly ‘filtered’ from the ultraviolet light frequency curtains of the ritually modified subtle space or astral portal, used for communing with these entities. One may also observe the stunning ancient global uniformity of style in depicting Ụmụ Agbara Agwụ beings. The classic Igbo quantum telematics configurations that go into the setting up, consecration and personalized synchronization of Okwu Agwụ shrine portals and its varied types – will have to be addressed at another time. So also the bio-psychic installation or initiation (lit. Ịru Agwụ Dibịa) of the true Dibịa, whose ultimate spiritual descent is traced to the Nwa Agwụ cosmic spirit rank of the greater Ụmụ Agbara Agwụ trinity, giving birth to the very ancients observation that Dibịa wụ Agbara. This is also the origin of the Eze Agwụ official ritual titular of Ndi Dibịa in ancient Igbo land, which expressed the fact that the properly initiated Dibịa was installed into the spiritual position and responsibility of an archetypal human avatar, leader and human custodian of the Agwụ Cult. Again, generally, the existence of Ụmụ Agbara beings can be better described as been in the cosmic status of immortality and superhuman prowess. With the cosmos itself infinitely needing its cumulative sentience emanated or converted into the existential state called creation, so will Agwụ beings always be needed and present to attend to and guard the processes of intelligence. To put this into a more terrestrial context, just as bees (Ańụ/Anwụ) were designed to attend to and guard the processes of fertility here within the terrestrial life network or eco-system of our planet, so do Agwụ beings dutifully attend to the processes of intelligence throughout the grand cosmic intelligence network.
Classically, Emume Agwụ rites were originally designed as easily memorisable spiritual procedures for psychically accessing one’s ancestral genius pool, establishing a personalized genius management system for such unique genetic contents and rectifying connections with the appropriate rank of Ụmụ Agbara Agwụ beings linked with one’s unique ancestral genetic signatures or genetic genius loci within the greater cosmic intelligence network order. When this ritual alignment or synchronization of intelligence is not carried out and properly installed bio-psychically into an individual’s consciousness, the ancients propounded that unending fleets of psychological distortions will rid the intelligence process of such individuals. The Ịrụ Agwụ rite therefore – was a four-ritual staged process which commenced with the quantum telematics simulation of the dual pillars of intelligence, preceding ritual interface. This is accomplished using Okpesị Agwụ Oke na Nne properly carved from Ogirishi wood (new bouldia). The two poles (Akpụkpa na Akọ) symbolically erected (psychically mirrored) and consecrated i.e telematically configured and activated – were expected to be become fused and fine tuned in operation within the initiated. The fusion was expected to produce a synthesis of the dual force in the initiate’s consciousness (Aka Nta/Aka Ijite), which expressed itself in the form of a new, original awareness perceptive harmony (Akọ si na Akpụkpa Nne + Akọ si na Akpụkpa Nna) and the truly ease-characterized primordial flow with nature called Amara Chi i.e grace of the nature state, which makes one to seem to be operating with an economy of force. In effect, by virtue of cosmic providence, as the Akọ Nne unit of intelligence controls the RNA thus Agwụ influence the DNA through this mode to produce ever-unique responses to nature’s ever-changing states of energy and events – in the initiate. The universal symbols or sign (Arịma) carved into the Okpesi Ụmụ Agwụ are classic Igbo spirit signatures or sigils (Ọwa Mmụọ/Ọwa Agbala/Mkpa Mmụọ), primordially sourced from Nkwọ-Agbara-Ọkpụ the chief spirit gate keeper of our universe’s astral dimensional gates – for purpose of spirit invocation. These universally potent sigils that are made on the Okpesị ritual devices or totems, identifies them as inter-dimensional communication device and like the electric current circuit grids carved into the electronic circuitry boards of today’s contemporary tech. devices – to basically enable a transmission of kinetic energy to “arouse” the “dormant” potential energy of the device into interface activity – the Okpesị Ụmụ Agbala and its varied set of plug-ins or components once activated, granted one the privilege of having a compact, customized multi-channel-capacity and multitasking quantum intelligence “wisdom” into cosmos.
These carved sigils are in-laid with the shredded powder of Nzu and Edo, which are primordially indentified natural smart essences (solar and lunar plasmic substance) capable of vibrating at very high, subtle energy sensitivity levels for at least four days and four nights, upon exposure into the atmosphere. In effect, these ancients Igbo people whose harmonious perception of the cosmos is unmatched till this day – discovered that the energy behavior or interaction of these two smart materials with the environment were exceptional and very benefits for humans, for these two substance charged the atmosphere of ritual spaces to a certain desirable frequency or energy pitch which was highly attractive to those caliber of pure spirits as are found in the Igbo divinity pantheons, the Ụmụ Agbara Agwụ included. This was done to elicit the beneficial attention of the Ụmụ Agbara Agwụ in this subtle realm, as these mythical substances have been primordially honored by these beings as a worthy form of spiritual permit or invitation into higher cosmic realms. Thus said, the second ritual stage of the Ịrụ Agwụ rite was the entity-specific “incantational channeling” and wormhole-ushering” (Ịlọ Agbala/Ịlọ Mmụọ/Ịkpọtu Agbala) of the Ọha Agwụ non-human spirit beings cosmologically affiliated with one’s ancestral genetic genius type – to be seated (Ịnye Ọnọdụ) into this 3rd dimensional zone of the cosmos in the state of Agbara Lọrọ Ụwa i.e a pure spirit being whom has ritually possessed a totemic space, creature or consecrated device, as its sacred vehicle of materialized incarnation. The Ịlọ Agbala Agwụ Ụwa ritual goal is achieved with the offering – among other things – of Okeọkpa, Nneukwu, Abụke Na Uriom Ọkụkọ Igbo, (native Igbo cock, hen, cockerel and chick) at varied stages of the Ịlọ Agbala Agwụ Ụwa incarnation ritual stage.
Foundationally in Ọdịnala, ritual signifies series of sacred actions in sacred time or a sacred moment in time. Therefore, the sacred ritual moment of blood offering in what it says: a key ritual act in series of ritual actions comprising a comprehensive Ọdịnala rite. In the simple act possessing a knowledge which made it possible that, synchronizing specific types of animal blood from ritual sacrifices with other smart mystic substances in specific modes moods, intentions based on eco-specific characters and well observed reactions in cosmic nature – the resulting meta-substance conducted or conjured-up a strong etheric force field into place which could power a temporary or constant tortus vertex for enabling interdimesional streaming of information, hyper-translocation of beings and objects between realms, among other things – this daring application of observed reality to the needs of spirituality and well-being at such an early time in the story of humanity as observed in the compressed mystic kernels of primordial knowledge (Abịa) preserved and transmitted via the core of many Igbo ritual procedures, simply gives away the glaring fact that the ancients where obviously experiencing and expounding a very subtle, unfiled system of spiritual epistemology, a glaring synthesis of scientific technique and ritual arts, now variously known as mysticism, magic, the primordial technique, the sacred arts and sciences, the ancients way, the way of the elders etc. the Okwu Agwụ where these rite were executed were really varied calibers of miniaturized quantum activity enabling stations, where the ancients employed these subtle natural agents and resources scientifically (viz. Abịa ọgwụ ka dibịa jiri bụrụ eze agwụ. Ọ afa ka e bolụ ifenine ọgwụ na eri sị ya gbabalụ ụwa. Ire ka ana achọ na ọgwụ. Ọgwụ di ire, o tuo dibịa gwọlụ ya ugo) and in very artful ritual sequences (viz. Nka ka eji agbado mmụọ. Nka ka eji agọ mmụọ. Nka ka eji eme mmọnwụ) to accomplish higher cosmological purpose, task or needs. In direct procession, the third ritual stage in the Ịrụ Agwụ comprehensive rite is called the Orịkọ Ụmụ Agwụ which sees the Agwụ initiate, Dibịa or non-Dibịa as the case may be—proceed with a ritually shared communion of seven elements presented before the naturally very flighty Ụmụ Agbara Agwụ now etherically domesticated in the Okpesị Ụmụ Agwụ. Effectively, these ritual communion elements end up in the hands of the initiate transmuted by the now very subtle etherically-vibrant energy presence of the Agwụ beings in the enshrined space. The consummated elements were ritually designed to infuse the psychic field of the initiate with vibrations of well-beings preceding the major dream-state delivered nocturnal pscyhogeetic optimization operation of the Ụmụ Abanị Agwụ nocturnal speciation type of Agwụ beings. Also, this commune marks the end of the third ritual sequence as well as the first half of the comprehensive rite.
The fourth stage in the sequence is the ritual Anya, which is carried out on the next Eke or Nkwọ day, at the Igbo cosmological diurnal time beacon called Amani Aka Egbe Anyanwụ i.e. Midday or high-noon hourly moment (Amani) when the sun is set to shoot off its bitting arrows of heat into space. In this rite, the initiate having had their Akpa Agwụ operated by the Ụmụ Abanị Agwụ spirit beings the previous night, now has Akpa Uche (pineal gland and pituituary bodies) operated upon by the Dibịa by orally administrating a mild psychedelic portion brewed from dried Ogirishi Leafs, Ọjị Igbo (Igbo Kolanut) and Nkwụ Kwere Izu (4-days fermented palmwine). This is followed by the administering of a second, third and fourth set of portion jointly called Ọgwụ Nshikọ Akọ na Uche. These are properly mixed with blood of a pure white native cock (Egbenu/Okeọkpa Igbo) and administered eyes and nose using fresh Ogirishi leave to funnel the liquid. Some are then cut as incisions into the palm, wrists, ankle and shoulder blades, if the initiate were on the path of initiation towards officiating as a Dibịa. Lastly, some of the portions are administered into ears of the initiated employing a white feather from the offered fowl, soaked in Ogirishi-infused water or alcoholic schnapps. This is called the ritual act of Ịtụwa Ntị and opens up the initiate to vistas of previously inaudible sounds surrounding them, as well as distant ones from other realms. Upon completing these psychotherapeutic administration, the Dibịa merely exist the stage as the fifth stage (Isemalụse Agwụ) where Agwụ becomes manifest to the initiate dawns upon them, as the now perceptually sound and heightened new consciousness of the initiate launched them into full-spectrum, cosmic intelligence interface, knowing and seeing beyond space and time, seeing through the subtle frequency curtain or dimensional veils of the cosmos, which prevents Ofeke and other kinds of being from seeing or interacting with the beings of such subtle realms.
Thus, the ancient Ịlụ Agwụ/Iru Agwụ rite was classically designed as a rite for the transmutational optimization of the human perceptual power system called intelligence, the spontaneous fruit of a wild, primordial, infinitely active two headed serpents called Oke na Nne Agwụ. When genuinely executed, this rite is intended to unlash upon one’s awareness a unified expansive vision of life and ever increasing higher vistas of knowledge. Through the ritual perfection of the perception powers in a human being i.e. Ọnụnụ na Nshikọ (Brewing and refinement of Intelligence), the initiate directly realizes Elele-Ọma-Agwụ state of perceptive blissfulness which comes from the calm, inner knowing of the harmonious mind; a fair rarity in our time. A rarity which is however said to be immortally enjoyed by Ụmụ Agbala in their essential nature. This authentic bare perception of reality as it is – is called the truth principle, and this force of authenticity called truth acquired through undistorted exploration of cosmic nature holds within it, the real the power of intelligence. The wizened Ogirishi trees and its ritual complementing tree known as Okwe Ụmụ Agwụ both stood as the primordial totemic Igbo trees of wisdom and knowledge respectively, since the dawn of Igbo culture; enshrining the essence of the two cosmic pillars of Intelligence, Akọ Nne na Akọ Nna (Intuition + Intellect). As primordially, the grand principles of intelligence as an independent cosmic power is proven to rest on two pillars, the ancients Igbo people sought to leave their footprint in the sands of times, by their effort to preserve the very answers they discovered on the mystery of intelligence by encoding them into the same rituals designed to respectively “brew” and “refine” the intelligence processes of a human being. By ritually classifying the Ogirishi trees as Ogirishi-Ụmụ-Agwụ and scientifically denoting it as Osisi-Akọnauche-Ndị-Mbụ, among other feats – the ancients were ritually engrooving and mnemonically patenting their discoveries for easy access to future descendants, making some of the very earliest classic Igbo ritual procedures bearers of intangible time capsules, designed to infuse our wary minds of today’s lesser world with ancient memories of hope, truth and other cherished qualities, preserved as an auspicious vision of what the earlier harmonious eras of human advancement and prosperity in times far gone looked like, as well as what it could potentially always be.
Nze Chukwukadibịa E. Nwafọr (Omenigbo Nwa Anwụ Ushi Odirimatachi) is a native of Ụmụnze in Agụata Clan of Orumba South LGA, Anambra State. He is a writer, philanthropist, technologist, artist, Dibịa and advocate of indigenous African knowledge systems and spiritual heritage. A lifelong-learner and advanced practitioner of Igbo medicine and sacred teachings, he is also a fully-investitured culture bearer and spiritual lineage holder (Eze Aka Ji Ọfọ Ọdịnala) of Ụrụrọ-Ụmụnze descent. His dedicated efforts towards the total awakening of Igbo contemporary humanity have propelled him to introduce and teach the first comprehensive cyber course on Igbo Cosmology on the Udemy Universal Courses Digital Platform. His general publications on the cosmological knowledge and extensive wisdom heritage of Igbo culture are widely read. His first book, Leopards of the Magical Dawn: Science and the Cosmological Foundations of Igbo Culture was published in the United States in 2014 and is available in bookstores worldwide. He lives and works in Nigeria.
Why is it important to explore traditional Igbo concepts that are considered to be Taboo?
There are many reasons including:
Just to keep things short I will discuss two of these benefits:
Self confidence through identity and freedom from fear and shame
Imagine a world where Africa stops fearing, demonizing, fetishizing it’s past, and begins to look at it with eyes wide open; freely taking elements of it’s past and laughing about it, crying about it, chatting about it…putting it on their key chains, and bumper stickers and backpacks.
Did the Salem witch trials stop Americans from creating the show “Sabrina the Teenage witch?”What progressive culture do you know that has ever been so terrified of their past that they pretend it didn’t happen…I’ll wait. The answer is none!
Even America, no matter how much they say slavery and racism does not exist, they still acknowledge it was their past and are making conscious decisions about how to deal with it and even incorporate it into their framework. Why? Because doing so is part of their identity, and feeling shame about any part of your human identity denigrates your humanity and diminishes your self confidence.
Acceptance is key to the psychology of recovery, because it re-establishes a sense of accountability in the individual, and empowers them to take responsibility of their own actions.
So, accepting our heritage wholesale without attaching excessive emotional bias to it one way or another, will give you a sense of empowerment that will be exponentially beneficial to your sense of self.
Fear kills relationships, opportunities, morale and chronic fear destroys your quality of life.
Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self, withdrawal motivations, and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness.
The two emotions exist solely in the mind, and are linked to many addictions and other mental illnesses.
Science teaches us that fear and shame can be changed by changing the association.
Psychology Today has a great article online called 5 Ways to Silence Shame. Some things listed include:
Changing the association of what you fear and are ashamed of, can be very instrumental to accepting Africa’s past. If you stop associating Africa’s indigenous symbols with something to be ashamed of, like witch craft and devil worship, and start associating with them something like a curiosity or scientific discovery, you will find a greater sense of pride in your heritage.
Much of Western scientific symbols and language comes from occultic symbols. Using symbols to pay homage to the past are not the same as engaging in worship of those symbols.
It is all about reframing your mind. So, looking your ancestors square in the eyes through education and reframing your beliefs about who they are and what that says about you is key to empowerment.
When we run away from concepts such as Odinani, Osu, Ogbanje, Amadioha and so on, we are effectively refusing to deal with their implications and shying away from using our thinking faculty as human beings. All progressive societies advanced through transforming their understanding of the world around them through education and reasoning. Let us begin to ask questions about these symbols from our past and use them to design our future.
The next book we will be reading for the Odinani Book club will be the recently released “Daughters of Nri” by Reni K Amayo. Its the first in the “Return of the Earth Mother” series. Summary is as follows:
“A gruesome war results in the old gods’ departure from earth. The only remnants of their existence lie in two girls. Twins, separated at birth. Goddesses who grow up believing that they are human. Daughters Of Nri explores their epic journey of self-discovery as they embark on a path back to one another.
Strong-willed Naala grows up seeking adventure in her quiet and small village. While the more reserved Sinai resides in the cold and political palace of Nri. Though miles apart, both girls share an indestructible bond: they share the same blood, the same face, and possess the same unspoken magic, thought to have vanished with the lost gods.
The twin girls were separated at birth, a price paid to ensure their survival from Eze Ochichiri, the man who rules the Kingdom of Nri. Both girls are tested in ways that awaken a mystical, formidable power deep within themselves. Eventually, their paths both lead back to the mighty Eze.
But can they defeat the man who brought the gods themselves to their knees?”
Efuru by Flora Nwapa is not only the first choice of the Odinani book club, it also happens to be the first novel by an African woman to be published in English. Born in Oguta, Nigeria, Flora Nwapa published Efuru in 1966 at the age of 30. It follows the life and struggles of the title character who struggles to find her place in colonial era Nigeria.
The very first thing that I noticed in the novel are the names of the characters, which are no longer common as first names. It’s unfortunate that due to colonization, alot of Igbo names that were widespread in the past have either been forgotten or only survive as surnames, being replaced with English ones or Christianized Igbo ones.
The next thing I noticed was the terminology used for certain practices and places. For example, the term “take a bath” is used for female circumcision, which is done to Efuru after she gets married as a young woman. The name given for the Niger River was “The Great River” (or Oshimiri in Igbo).
Next, even though the story was set during the colonial era, the day to day lives of the characters do not seem much different than that or their forefathers and foremothers that lived before British rule. They worked in the farms, did trade up and down the river, went to the market, lived by the traditional calendar, etc.
But I think the biggest takeaway I got for the book was an increased empathy for Igbo women. Despite the characters being fictional, I felt like I could have been reading the experiences of any of my female ancestors. It’s simply amazing that a story of an Igbo woman’s struggles as a wife, daughter and mother could be as captivating as any Male centered, action packed epic. Overall, I’d recommend Efuru as a worthy addition to any library and look forward to exploring other works by Mrs. Nwapa.
For the very first selection for the brand new Odinani Book Club, we have selected none other than “Efufu” by Flora Nwapa. Published in 1966, it was the first novel written by a Nigerian woman to be published. Feel free to purchase the book below, or rent it from the library. We will be creating platforms to discuss the book and the themes it deals with. In the meantime, please comment about it below.
Summary: Efuru is a beautiful,superior woman,who cannot marry or have children successfully. Her neighbors acknowledge her distinctions,are grateful for her generosity, but cannot intervene in or comprehend her tragedy. A sage diagnoses that a river goddess has in fact chosen Efuru as her honored worshipper. So far as earthly companions are concerned she must remain alone…
The origin of Ikeji Festival in Arochukwu is as old as the history of the Kingdom. The festival marks the end of the farming season, arrival of harvest, and beginning of a new season. The Ikeji Calendar is determined by the Arochukwu traditional council (OKPANKPO Aro) under the leadership of his Majesty the Eze Aro. Celebrated in the gregorian month of September every year,it is usually a 17 days event.
The Ikeji month is a special period when Aros are expected to observe strict adherence to norms, ethics, customs and tradition. During the period, neither burials nor mourning gatherings are permitted. All forms of violence are not tolerated, civil disobedience; public protests are strictly prohibited throughout the Kingdom. Death of any Aro within the period is largely viewed as a bad omen and therefore treated quietly with indignity. The period is devoted more rectitude, thanksgiving, entertainment, charity, philanthropy and recreation.
Ikeji presents a unique opportunity to celebrate Arochukwu tradition and culture in its pure and original form. It is also a platform for infinite entertainment, tourism and reunion with cultural delegations from affiliate Aro settlements spread in over 350 communities in Igbo land and beyond. The festival features seminars and lectures on Aro cultures, visits and homage to historic cultural sites, pouring of libation, exchange of kola-nuts and good will, paying of homage to Aro traditional institutions, masquerades, traditional dances, diverse cultural displays and so much more.
It is also a period to commune with the ancestors, reconciliation, peace building, conflict resolutions and self-help development projects. The era therefore witnesses influx of visitors and tourists into Arochukwu. Sons and daughters from all parts of the world return home to the Kingdom to be part of diverse cultural displays, merry making, exchange of visits, marriages etc. The Ikeji Festival is also a time for expansion of boundaries of business and friendship. It is another time to come close to nature, renew faith in Aro culture, connect with kith and kin and watch the original culture and tradition come alive.
On this day, members of the Otusi (clan) of Amaja, a historical kith and kin in Aro mobilise to sweep Awada Aro. This event holds in Ugwuakuma village in Arochukwu. The Okpo family from Agbagwu has a leading role in the assignment with the support of Otusi Clan. During the brief ceremony, Awada Aro is opened; the environment kept quite clean, decorated and put in real festive mood. This event marks the beginning of Ikeji.
The stage of the Festival features members of the Otusi (clan) of the Amuze. The clan mobilises eligible sons to sweep Awada Aro. The ceremony brings together Otusis from other Aro Kindreds including Okennachi, Eze Agwu, Umu Nna Okwara Agwu, Bianko to participate in the ceremony. The attendants arrive at the ceremony wearing bells on their waist and carrying gongs, both instruments producing resonant sounds. It is usually a prestigious movement that carries the weight of royalty, honour and glamour.
Nwa Ekpe, a symbolic representation of the royal ancestors is led home. This is an all day ceremony that keeps the town in real festive mood. All the nine Otusis (clans) in Aro go to Ugwuakuma, to offer sacrifice and pour libation to the ancestors in appreciation for a good harvest period. Each delegation wearing bells around their waists while carrying gongs on hands dancing to the admiration of all and sundry already soaked in Ikeji festival mood. The ceremony ends at night and the various delegations return with dances to their respective villages.
Later the same night the talking drums (uvie) are brought down. The drum (Uvie) left hanging on a particular spot since the last Ikeji celebrations are gracefully brought down, rolled out and played loudly. The loud talking drums are welcomed with loud ovation, excitement and jubilation by all, far and near. In the ancient days, the uvie (big talking drum) can only be sounded only in the compounds of great and outstanding men of each village. Uvie is a drum used to celebrate success, honour, achievements and bravery. Only the wealthy and influential in those days were in a position to host Uvie (the talking drum). This is because the ceremony itself attracts cost for entertainment and relevant materials for sacrifice. The sounding of the uvie put all and sundry on notice that Ikeji celebration has fully commenced.
Nkwo Nku is a day when women are expected to fetch firewood for their husband’s mother, their mistresses or close friends. The wood is meant for cooking while the Ikeji season lasts. It is indeed a friendly gesture of love and respect for elders. Nkwo Nku is intended among other to highlight the role of women in the family. It is also to promote the virtues of motherhood and cordial daughter in-law and mother-in-law’s relationship in line with respect of Aro culture.
This is a day set aside for Aro Aristocrats from Amuze, a particular kith and kin in Aro kingdom to step out in grand style to offer sacrifice. The day is marked with loud festivities that bring out the best of Amuze peculiar culture and pride.
It is a day set aside to offer the sacrificial animals such as goats a special meal. The significance of this has been open to many interpretations and debate. While some claim that the exercise is to offer the animals their “last supper” for possible slaughter in Ikeji, others argue that it is to appreciate the importance of domestic animals like goat in Aro tradition. Orie Awa also features another round of fetching of fire wood to support the kitchen. This is an activity set out for young girls looking for suitors, the newly wed and young mothers. The road to nearby forests and farms to fetch the fire wood creates avenues for “toasting”, courtship by young boys in search of lifepartners.
Afor Awa is the expected deadline for all Aro sons and daughters, in-laws, friends and well-wishers travelling to the Kingdom from other Aro settlements and communities all over Igbo land to arrive in Aro. By Afor Awa, all cleaning up activities and preparations for Ikeji should have been concluded. The arrangements made by families and the community to receive Ikeji visitors and invitees should equally be concluded on or by Afor Awa day. The arrangements on ground by Afor Awa put everyone in full Ikeji vacation and festive mood. By Afor Awa, visits to the Farm for any hard work are restricted. Women especially young girls looking for suitors spend more time in body painting (ide uri and ide – nkasi ani). There is also special attention to coral beads andcowries which are usually won to complement the dressing. Afor Awa in Ikeji calendar is also a period that witnesses pressure on families to prepare their children and household for special Ikeji look like no other.
Nkwo Nzukoro in Ikeji Calendar represents special market day set aside for Ikeji Shopping. On this day, Aros are expected to do the last marketing and shopping for the season. Although Ikeji is a yam festival, the eating of rice (eresi) has been introduced in recent times. Nkwo Nzukoro therefore also known as also known as Nkwo Eresi. In Aro traditional calendar that day also marks the end of the year. The midnight activities of nkwo nzukoro or nkwo eresi can be compared to activities at midnight of Christmas – New Year eve of 31st December; when Christians send – off an old year and usher in the New Year.
In the olden days, after dinner on Nkwo Nzukoro, Aro villages and kindreds usually keep vigil until midnight to usher in the New Year. For instance within the three villages that make up Umunna Okwara Agwunamely (Ugbo, Ugwuavor and Amoba) tough night masquerades called “Achikwu” take over the night. Achikwu masquerade strictly open to only male members who are initiated dance throughout the night of Nkwo Nzukoro to usher in Eke Odu. In some other villages and clans, it is Obono society that is used by men to mark the night vigil. In those days, the night of Nkwo Nzukoro is a night when women are neitherheard nor seen because of presence of night masquarades and other male dominated cultural dances.
When the New Year is born in the early hours of Eke Odu, there are spontaneous shouts of afo laoooo! afo laooooo! (Goodbye old year, goodbye old year). This is followed by lighted; smoking firebrands that run long distances to the backyard, waved above the head and thrown headlong along gutters, behind compounds to drive away the evils of the passing year. At the end of Nkwo Nzukoro, the Aro main market, Ncheghe, and the Eke Ukwu market, go on recess. On Tuesday 20th September, this ceremony was held as part of this year’s Ikeji festival.
This is the day of the new yam. It features Ekpo Masquarade dances at Obinkita, variety of dances by the Ezeagwu & Umunna Okwara Agwu tomark the new yam. Eke Odu is the day Arocukwu eats the eat new yam.
This is the day the elders drawn from villages, kindred’s and clans commune with the ancestors through pouring of libation, killing of fouls, goats, cows and other sacrificial animals to appease the land. It is a day Aros make sacrifices to sue for peace, unity and love in celebration of harvest. The type of sacrifice is determined by capacity, affluence and need. This is the time when succulent plants known as OKPOTO is placed at the entrance of each onu ezi (compound). The eldest of the compound offers a sacrifice before the arrival of dawn.
Thereafter, about 7.00 a.m., every family offers sacrifice to its ancestors at Inyamavia located at Ulo nta (a small house but an ancestral assembly hall) where the family staff of office -Inyama Avia- is reposed. People are expected to ensure that their domestic animals are prevented from tasting the ofor left at the ulo nta. Any animal found tasting the ofor would be killed instantly. In the evening of Oriegbubgu, families begin to cook an Ikeji delicacy called osu. This delicacy is only prepared by women of proven purity and decency in character, birth and ancestory. The aboriginal status of women who can be involved in cooking and carrying Osu must not be in question. The end of the cooking is heralded with gun shots, each gunshot representing each goat used for the meal. The more goats killed the more gun shots into the air to celebrate success.
The osu meal prepared the previous day is now presented to friends and well-wishers on the Afor osu morning by women. Visitors are also entertained with the delicacy. Members of each family are summoned to the osu meal by the exclamation AFOR OSU OKO-O! The word Okoo is an exclamation used by the Aro to signal an emergency. The sharing of Osu from one household, family to another are usually carried out by young girls who are searching for suitors. It is an amazing day for special Ekpo masquerade performances at the highest level all over the kingdom especially at Obinkita. The journey from one family to the other provides huge opportunities for young bachelors to ask questions seek and fine. Ofor Osu in Aro calendar is a day of caring, sharing, exchange of gifts, pleasantries and good will.
Nkwo Ibom Issi holds in Ibom square. On this day, Ikeji activities are centred in and on the Ibom village. All the villages that make up Ibom Isii assemble in Ibom to participate fully in the day’s activities other Aros attend as guests of Ibom Isii. Cultural displays and wrestling matches staged to entertain people from other villages of Aro. It is usually and avenue to market and celebrate talents, bravery, creativity and innovation in skills, dancing and wrestling. Many agile young men smile home with brand new love relationships that they never bargained for. This is Nkwo Ekpe Ibom Isii is also a special opportunity for girls to show their beauty apparently in search of partners. The various cultural displays feature good cultural displays. Respective villages drawn from Ibom Isii dance in style and excitement to the admiration before the Eze Aro and his cabinet sitting in majestic appraisal in Ibom square.
This is the climax of the Ikeji Festival. On the Eke Ekpe Day, Aros at home and in the Diaspora put on their best traditional attire, assemble in the ceremonial arena, Amaikpe to either participateor watch amazing diverse Aro cultures on display by the various communities. It is also a day set aside for delegations from Aro settlements drawn from communities across Igbo land to showcase Aro culture from the perspective of their host communities. These include dances and masquerades of all shapes and sizes and side attractions that speak eloquently of Aro heritage. Girls who have gone through puberty rituals in preparation for marriage are let out on this day to dance in the arena, from where they are expected to join their bridegrooms.
Eke Ekpe Day offers the Eze Aro another opportunity to address the kingdom, unveil new programs and set new agenda for Aros at home and in the diaspora. It is equally a chance for Nzuko Arochukwu to mobilise resources and opportunities for self help development projects. The Eke Ekpe is usually attended by dignitaries from the academia, politics, economy, private and public sectors including high ranking national and state government officials.
The event marks the beginning of the end of Ikeji. The process of winding down Ikeji commences with the ovor (family ancestral staff of office – Inyamavia ) earlier brought down for Ikeji festivities on Orie Egbugbu day in the ulo nta is then returned to original position until the next Ikeji. The Ceremony is restricted to only whom it may concern.
During this day, Nwa Ekpe is ‘led back’ to Awada Aro. The ceremony on its own speaks volumes of the place of Nwa ekpe in Arochukwu customs and tradition.
The day invites all aristocrats of Amuze and Ibom Isii to assemble at the house of Eze Ibom Isii who is head of Ibom Isii Kindred of the Aro Kingdom. The day also known as Nkwo Nzupu Avia (Nkwo market day) marks the re-opening of business of Ncheghe market. By this development, business activities earlier suspended to pave way for Ikeji resumes fully.
This last day of the event invites all the aristocrats” of Ibom Isii to meet those of Amuze and jointly move into the palace of the Eze Aro at Oror village. At the Palace, the final drinking; libation is poured in all ulo nta in Amuze. This ceremony brings the Ikeji Festival for that year to an end.
In conclusion, Arochukwu remains on ancient Kingdom in Igbo land, South East Nigeria where the culture, customs and tradition reign supreme. The Ikeji Arochukwu is one of such legacies that all generations of Aros hold sacred.
Reprinted (with edits) from AroNewsOnline