The Principles & Practice Of Ibu Ozu Nwa Ada In Nnewi
The Ibu Ozu Nwada happened as appointed on the 24th of November 2018, the last day of my mother’s funeral ceremonies when almost all the daughters, both married and unmarried, of my mother’s clan of Ezeike na Umezugha of Ezeọbọ Ọkpụnyo Nnewichi Nnewi, arrived my father’s compound which was the funeral venue earlier than their brothers.
They needed to perform a ritual which would precede ibu ozu nwa ada or taking their sister’s corpse back to their paternal home. The sisters also known as ụmụ ọkpụ or ụmụ ada, must be appeased in cash and gifts by the children of their deceased sister.
My mother’s sisters were clear, reasonable and straight forward in their demands. They would have been more difficult or tasking if my siblings and I, their ụmụdiana, didn’t take good care of their sister. But we were very prepared to meet all their demands by ike nkwụcha.
Satisfied by our generous attention to their requirements, my mother’s sisters demanded to see the last child of their late sister referred to as Eghuchi, Ichinwa or Ọdụdụnwa or Obelenwa.
And I was singled out.
I thought they would waive this rite for me but my mother’s sisters wouldn’t want to be haunted by their ancestors; they insisted on going the whole hog.
I was required to crawl like a baby from a distance of about 10 metres from where they were seated towards where all the gifts they had received from me and my siblings were stacked. I was told to use my mouth, as a baby would, to pick any of the gifts from the pool.
But I noticed that these Nnewichi sisters kept the cash too far and on a table too high for a crawling me to reach. I guess they suspected that I would go for the cash in the envelopes because, according to the tradition, whatever I picked would be mine.
As I crawled, my mother’s sisters would be clapping as mothers would when urging or encouraging a baby learning how to walk. They were singing “obele nwa gbelu igbe bịaaba, obele nwa welu ọnụ kpụlụ ife…” meaning “little baby keep crawling, use your mouth to pick something…” as I crawled on my kneels as a real baby.
That was how a management staff of a bank, a prince of Nnewi and Ikenga Ezenwegbu was made to crawl like a baby. This kind of child abuse is culturally important.
Whatever I picked is not the issue here but the significance of the ritual.
In making me to crawl like a baby, my mum’s sisters renacted mother’s love and sisters special treatment in the whole of Nnewi of the last child. The rite is also meant to remind me that no matter my attainment in life, that I must always remember that I’m their baby and they are my Nneochie.
One of my naughty friends was to jokingly say that I was abused by my mother’s sisters. If only he knew how many times at midnight, when children were fast asleep, I had crawled before my wife to beg her to forgive and to forget just to appease the real Ikenga Ezenwegbu that had refused to sleep.
To be continued
About the writer :
Chief Anayo Nwosu, Ikenga Ezenwegbu is from Okpuno Otolo Nnewi. He is a Corporate & Investment Banker based in Lagos.