If you spend time in Igbo land, you might run into somebody who will say something like “Amadioha kugbo gi there!” What that means is, “may Amadioha kill you with lightning where you stand.” But who is this Amadioha, and why should he be killing people with lightning.
I have seen a lot of Igbo leaders on facebook bring attention to Amadioha recently by posting things like:
AMADIOHA the ever knowing master of all.The great ỌMA of Ndịgbo.
It leads me to think of Amadiọha as an all-knowing, righteous judge of the people. Perhaps that is why he strikes with lightening. However, why is it only lightning that he uses to judge? Is he only concerned with punishment? Is he ignoring those he do good? Do they get no reward? Or is the reward somebody else’s role?
They say that we humans are gods in the flesh. In a way, we judge with lightning. The bang of the judge’s gavel in the courtroom is the thunder. Lightning both shines a light in a dark, stormy night. It illuminates the darkness to give witnesses a moment of clarity to see the view of the environment in the chaos for a brief moment. But it is not a pleasant experience for he whom the lightning should strike.
When one among us suffers, either the punishment of authority figures or falling into poverty or sickness; it gives those who observe it a moment of clarity about what is important in life. A person who is thrown in jail is reminded of the laws of the land, and the threat of punishment for crimes committed. They remember that they are expected to behave in a certain way, they remember who and what they will face if they go outside of the boundaries of comfort. Just like the flash of light shows you the blowing trees and pouring rain to remind you what is out there and what you are risking by leaving your comfort zone.
So, the lightning is a punishment, but it is also an act of mercy. But where is the reward? A judge does not only punish, does he? When a judge settles a dispute in court, often part of the judgement is that something is taken from an criminal and given to the one to whom the crime was committed. So, a thief may be asked to repay all he took to the one he stole from. A company may be asked to pay $1 million to a family for the injuries they suffered as a result of the company’s malpractice.
Mercy is not considered a reward for good behavior, but a grace extended from the benevolence of the merciful. So, I think the picture of Amadiọha is incomplete. I don’t think any of us judges without deciding who will be rewarded. That is why justice holds a scale. The scale must remain balanced by shifting weights from one side to the other. Mercy is not removing something pleasant, or adding something unpleasant to your side. I see now reward in lightning, only mercy and punishment.
So, perhaps Amadiọha is an object lesson about mercy and punishment. I don’t know, because I don’t fully understand the objective of ọdịnanị Igbo. I would not like to believe that this is all to the Amadiọha story, because that only teaches that the world is a scary place, because without LOVE, yes; the world is a VERY scary place. We all need a dose of lightning and love every now and then.