My visit to the famous Haba shrine of Agulu ~ by Valentine Obienyem
The famous Haba shrine of Agulu is one of the sites that attract tourists not just to Agulu, but to my village. A lot of mystical stories are associated with the shrine. I am sure if pursued, UNESCO will name it among the world’s heritage sites.
PHOTOS: What a beautiful grove!
When I got married newly, one of the things I did was to take my wife to the location of the shrine, simply for sight-seeing. She did not know where we were going, because if I had told her, she would have raised objection as if a visit to such a place was a visit to the hottest or darkest part of hell as described by Dante.
Such places draw us closer to nature as one beholds the small houses built for diverse gods, rare species, groves, ceremonial “nzu” amusing, riotous hills and plenty of “udara nwa enwe. “ It houses rivulets that used to quench the queasy thirst of the people before boreholes started to spring up. Because of scarcity of water in the town, many from neighbouring villages used to fetch from the stream as early as 4am in those days, “mgbe ezi di na ukwu ukwa.”
Ironically, we accompained Mr. Peter Obi to Arondizogu for a religious function – the enthronement of Bishop Henry Okeke, the former Bishop of Mbamili Diocese (Anglican Communion), as the Bishop of Ideato Diocese.
Who has been in contact with Bishop Okeke and would not like to attend his enthronement? His smile is infectious and his person magnetic. He is one of the few men of God that can be found only on the pages of the Lives of Saints.
As I usually do, I took a few minutes to explore the environment and I observed the flora and fauna. I saw a cool pathway that looked as if it led to a stream. I followed it and came face to face with a beautiful grove housing some deities. It reminded me of Haba grove which I started with.
In love with such sights, I stayed some minutes admiring it with the gaze of one that had come face to face with some mysteries. It looked like the grove where the “Dibias” of Arondizuogu almost killed Odumeje through various metaphysical means, including strangling him in effigy. The thoughts provoked by the sight aroused in me some reverberation of that primordial delight which quiet places inspire.
Cool and quiet, it looked like other groves everywhere. Lend your ears to any true Izuogu son, I am pretty sure some awe-inspiring tales will surround it just like our own Haba. For my people, Haba’s sojourn at Agulu was as a result of many years of Homeric wandering that made her vomit at specific, known places before its final abode.
There is hardly any absurdity of the past that cannot be found flourishing somewhere in the present. Underneath all civilizations, ancient or modern, Haba or groves of Izogu one hears superstitions and what looks like fairy tales. It is one of the mysteries of history about which we can write tomes, romanticize but cannot know.
While celebrating my discovery, I think of what madam will say on reading this. She will certainly question my leaving the ambience of a church to look for groves. She will describe my adventure as at best a brave stupidity. “Instead of praying in the Church, you were busy discovering Alusi.” Would you possibly agree with her?