Uloakonwa… Tribute to a mother
Literally her name, Uloakonwa, translates to ‘there will always be a child in the home.’ This is the first name of the mother of this biographer, Callistus Chinedu Iwuozo. This book is the story of a widow and her faith in God, which guided her and her children through the storms of life. Iwuozo dedicates the book to her mother. He remembers her mother as the kindest and most generous spirit he ever knew. Iwuozo compares her to the biblical widow of Zarephat, who gave out her last hope, only to attract the favour and blessing of Jehovah in return.
This book is a panegyric of the author’s mother and his wife, Chinyere Julie, written while the author was in the Police Academy in Kano undergoing the 18-month police cadet course between February 2005 and August 2006. The forward to the book is written by Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Hillary Opara. In his assessment, DIG Opara urged the reader to unwind their stress and discover the beauty of African society as they read the book and pass it to their friends.
According to him, the Igbo nation was one homogenous group before the white man came with his culture, education and religion. The author believes that the white man brought partition, the divide-and-rule ideology to Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.
Uloakonwa chronicles the culture of the author’s homestead, Afikpo, the civil war and its consequences. The first five chapters of the book relate the story of Agbooda Uwandu. Born into the royal family of Uwandu Anyadike, Agbooda lived at the onset of colonialism. During her time, the family was the centre of communal government. The family head was the leader and individual family groups constituted hamlets, villages and kindred groups. Uwandu, the grand father of the author, was a warrant chief of the colonial administration of his time. As such, he became a prominent leader of his people. Agbooda, therefore, grew up as a princess of the royal house of Uwandu in Idem Ogwa.
At that time skills acquisition, folklore, handcrafts, sculpture, commerce, wood-carving, weaving, black smithery, pottery, herbal practice and agriculture were the mode of education. Agbooda embraced trading in salt as a teenager. She thus became popular in the town. Therefore, Agbooda’s popularity, industry and beauty attracted the attention of the brave and charming son of Ahaba Orodo, a soldier, who had enlisted in the service of the colonial regiment at the time. The marriage of Lolo Agbooda to Ahaba Orodo was highly celebrated and brought Ogwa and Orodo people together as kindred groups.
Indeed, this story has been embellished with oral tradition of the Igbo people and stories told by parents, which Iwuozo put together in order to make the biography of his mother alluring. The book’s setting, thinking, and nomenclature are African. Therefore, this is an authentic delineation of the Nigerian reality, coming as it is from a law enforcement officer. The concern of the author is that a woman who gave her all to the family must be celebrated. This is an essential reading for lovers of culture, members of Nigeria Nostalgia Group and the African Memory Initiative. This is a compelling rendering of African culture and tradition. It is a journal of the record of events during and after Nigeria’s colonial experience.