Igwe Nawfia’s lack of tradition morality
By Odimegwu Onwumere
A fool will do everything possible to flatter himself or herself instead of bemoaning his or her incongruous dim-witted action.
The bellicose Igwe Ferdy Chijioke Nwankwo of Nawfia, Anambra State, has diminished his stool when he loquaciously threw caution to the wind to justify his world-wide condemned sheepish, shamefaced and hangdog act of crowning Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Jr., Ikemba II, and still had the impudence to say that Emeka, not Debe, is the first son of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, because, according to his jaundiced knowledge of Igbo tradition and culture, Emeka’s mother, Njideka who’s from Nawfia, was properly married by the late Ojukwu.
Why it is important that Igbo traditionalists do not keep quiet and allow this man to sell his traditional abracadabra unconnected of the Igbo and make mockery of the tradition he has shown that he barely knows is because of posterity. One statement this Igwe Nawfia has refused to make is whether Debe is or not the late Ojukwu’s son. And if this Igwe agrees that Debe is Ojukwu’s son, can he tell the world where Debe should be placed in the Ojukwu’s family since he has told the world that Emeka is Ojukwu’s first son (because Emeka’s mother who comes from Nawfia) was duly married? Is Nwankwo not indirectly telling the world that Debe is a bastard, but the grandson of Nawfia, Emeka, is not? Do Ndigbo not say that a child whose father had outside wedlock will definitely look for his or her father when he or she is of age, let alone Debe that his father accepted as his son when he was alive and remarkably gave him his rightful place in the family as the first son?
It is quite disenchanting the obtuse this Igwe is making of the Igbo tradition and selling same to the unsuspecting public. The well meaning Igbo must disgorge this bitter pill of ‘Nwankwo’s tradition’ to swallow. Even in a case that a man had children from the wife of his late brother before getting married to his own wife, the children of that bond automatically become his children, except that he doesn’t want/need them, hence he denies them their rightful place in his house. And if the late brother had children before his death and the children are grown-ups and there are male children among them, during the sharing of their father’s property, they will tell their half-brothers that they are one mother but different fathers, so they should go and look for inheritance in their father’s abode. These ‘half-children’ will have no obligation than to return to their father with the aid of their kinsmen whether the man likes it or not. In this case, Ndigbo call the children, “Ogbara n’nne, agbaghi n’nna”.
Another case is where a man had children for his male friend or brother who was incapacitated to impregnate his wife, there is no how this randy fellow can claim the children of that bond, because in ala-Igbo a friend does not claim the children of a married couple. In this case, Ndigbo do say: “Enyi anaghi akpo n’nwa”. Conversely, who is Igwe Nwankwo to tell the Ojukwu enlarged family, and by extension, the people of Nnewi who is the first son of the late Ikemba whereas they unanimously accompanied Debe to the palace of Igwe Nnewi who traditionally informed the palace of his hometown, as the tradition demands, that his father has died? Where was Emeka and why was he not the one that the family accompanied to the palace?
Instead of accepting his mistake, this Igwe is making unexciting statement that he challenge any Igbo leader to show proof of any dowry paid on any other marriage before the late Njideka Ojukwu. What he was supposed to say is that any Igbo leader should show proof that Ojukwu had a son before Emeka or not, and Debe will be shown to him. It is worthy that this lupine Igwe is reminded that a man doesn’t necessarily need to pay the dowry of any woman who had a child for him to claim the child. All that is needed to do is for the man to go to the woman’s hometown with his kinsmen and take his child home with some traditional rites observed or not observed un-behalf of the child. In the case the man did not go to claim the child, the child can look for who his or her father is if the child likes when he or she of age. And where the child goes to the family of his or her father and tables his or her matter and perhaps the father is late, the elders of the family will make a drastic enquiry to ascertain the claim of the child, sometimes seer-spiritualists are involved, or DNA as it is the case in the recent times. If the family finally concludes that the returnee-child belongs to their late brother/son, they will give the child his or her place in the family of the deceased no matter who’s occupying the position. Does the elders need to go as far as the unwittingly and selfishly Igwe Nawfia, who is parading himself as a traditional ruler, to say that because the child mother’s dowry was not paid so the child doesn’t have a place in their family? No! Not at all!! This is why Ndigbo do say, “Anaghi aju n’nwa”, ma obukwa, “Isi n’nwa egbe anaghi ato n’mba”.
Debe is profuse with the above narration and has given a glimpse of it in one of his interviews in The Sun newspapers shortly after his father died where he said that he gave Emeka about 8yrs gap and if by tomorrow another male child comes up from the blues and said that he is Ojukwu’s son and the family later ascertained that he is Debe’s elder that him (Debe) will step down. What a prudent, archetypal and respectful son the late Dim Ojukwu had in Barrister Debe Sylvester Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, a son who is as exemplary as his father!
It is also worthy to remind this Igwe Nawfia that in Igbo tradition a woman has no right to chase out the wife of her husband from their matrimonial home whether the dowry has been paid or not. It is the responsibility of the man to do so. This is why Ndigbo do say, “Nwanyi anaghi achu nwanyi ibeya n’di”.
Does the Igwe Nawfia know that it is a breach of tradition morality to stay in Nawfia and dictate and conclude for the people of Nnewi who the late Ojukwu’s first son is or not with his impious Ikemba II, when the Nnewi people and the world generally are still mourning Agu Mba Ojukwu? This Igwe Nawfia has desecrated the dead – Dim Ojukwu – like Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo did shortly after the news of Ojukwu filtered into the air that he has died. The duo of Gowon and Obasanjo blamed Ojukwu for leading Biafra in the civil war in their evasive respective condolence messages to the Ojukwus.
It is the height of tradition amorality and Igwecraft that the Igwe Nwankwo is still masturbating his ignorance in crowning Emeka Jr., Ikemba II, even when there is no dynasty called Ikembaship in the traditional stratum in Nnewi or anywhere in ala-Igbo. And assuming that his Emeka Jr. must succeed Ojuwku, can Igwe Ferdy Chijioke Nwankwo of Nawfia, Anambra State also tell the world that it is traditionally upright that Emeka should go and take title while his father is lying in state? Do Ndigbo not mourn the dead again at least for six months (originally one year) before any son can then come out to talk and look into the things that his father left behind?
Traditionally speaking, it is fitting to remind the like of Igwe Nawfia that the Igbo do not recognize chieftaincy title holders and no one succeeds such, but the Igbo traditional title holders. An Igbo who is awarded a chieftaincy title should be called an awardee-title holder, but an Igbo traditional title holder who underwent series of initiations is well revered in the traditional Igbo villages and even by the Almighty Chukwu and the Igbo ancestors. Such Igbo traditional titles comprise the Ozo, Nze, Oji Ofo, Eze ji, Duru ji, inter alia. But it is surprising that the like of Igwe Nawfia have bastardized these revered Igbo traditional titles to an insignificant level where the Igwes/Ezes are busy chasing frivolities and are aided by the organized religionists to destroy the core Igbo traditions and cultures. If not, the gods and the land of Nawfia would have been haunting Igwe Nwankwo by now for despoiling the Igbo tradition and culture for hogwash.
Nonetheless, it is a substantiation that Igwe Nawfia has goofed, yet exhibiting overbearing to apologize. It is left for the kingmakers in Nawfia to decide whether he should escape this injustice he has done to Igbo tradition or not. It is also left for Governor Peter Obi to demand for this Igwe’s Staff of Office or not, since the Igwe/Eze thing in ala-Igbo has become a political affair than traditional affair known of the Igbo forebears. But Governor Obi Nigerians know is a man of few words but actions. Igwe Nawfia is just quoting the bible.
Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, Media/Writing Consultant and Motivator, is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV); and Founder, Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State