Ose Oji, also known as alligator pepper or as mbongo spice or hepper pepper, is a symbolic item used in Igbo land, as well as across communities in West Africa. The scientific name of ose oji is Aframomum danielli, Aframomum citratum or Aframomum exscapum. It is believed to come from a sacred fruit and has spiritual benefits that can bring favor, happiness, prosperity, and protection from harm to those who know how to apply its properties.
In Igbo spirituality, Ose Oji is considered as a spirit, and it is treated with such respect and reverence as are given to spirits. Before opening a pod of ose oji for the first time, it has to be taken behind the back of the body as a sign of reverence. It is also believed that by that action whatever is posed to inflict the pepperish sting of evil on the holder will move from the front and go behind them where such evil manifestations will not come to fruition. This sort of practice in Odinani demonstrates that Ose Oji is not just a physical item but a spiritual one with abstract significance in Igbo culture.
We have highlighted seven major uses within the context of Igbo spirituality below, to help
provide some insight and knowledge for those interested;
- Ose Oji is used for cleansing and purification exercises, to ward off negative energy or evil. There are a couple of ways its seeds are applied in contact with the body and disposed attentively to avoid disarming the exercise in effect.
- Ose Oji is used for affirmation and declaration exercises, to enhance the power of the spoken word as well as manifestation prowess. Usually done by applying a number of seeds in the mouth before making one’s affirmations or declarations.
- Ose Oji is used as a protection tool. When people embark on journeys they do not feel secure about or any form of travel, they can keep some of its seed in their pockets or bags and it is believed to ward off danger or evil intentions which help keep its carrier safe. On return from such journeys the seeds are attentively discarded.
- Ose Oji is used as an enhancing tool for spiritual fortification or for recharging personal energies by applying into water or hot drinks and dedicating to the energies in question, with intention.
- Ose Oji can be used as a symbol of hospitality for both humans and spirits, in the same way Oji Igbo which refers to Kola nut is used.
- Ose Oji can be used as an abstract binder to bind people who come into oral contracts or commitments in agreement, in the same way Oji Igbo (Kola nut) can be used for such purposes.
- Ose Oji can also be applied in herbal remedies to treat various ailments by indigenous doctors who are trained and understand the mechanics of its application in such cases.
We can see from practices still present in Igbo culture that Ose Oji is a significant item in Igbo
spirituality, and it is used for various purposes, including rituals and ceremonies, controlling
spirits, promoting unity and peace. In addition to its spiritual benefits, Ose Oji is also used for its
health benefits. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial
properties. It is very symbolic within Igbo culture and tradition, and it is treated with respect and