Government certified Igwes/Ezes without ancestral Ofors are not traditional rulers, says Ezeigwe Chibe Uzzimba
The Ideato people are predominantly businessmen and women. The farmers are known for massive palm oil plantation and production. Yam and cassava are also found in abundance in the place.
His Holy Majesty, Ezeigwe Professor Chibe Uzzimba is a traditional ruler in Ideato. He abandoned his flourishing medical practice in Lagos for the throne on November 15th 1990.
“The oldest man then in my community, Nzenaoozo Ezennadirinwa, who died on June 1, 2012, handed to me the “Ofor,” the symbol of authority of traditional institutions in Igbo land,” he told The Guardian.
He explained that any traditional ruler in the Southeast that has no “Ofor” to show as symbol of his ancestral authority is nothing but government certified, which is not recognised in the true sense of Igbo custom and tradition.
Most traditional rulers in the Southeast bear the title, His Royal Highness or Majesty. Why is your title different?
I am neither a Christian nor a Muslim. I am also not a priest. I am a traditional ruler and simply an African traditionalist. Our ancestors and people that held this sacred title before me were neither Christians nor Muslims. People who occupy these positions are never known to serve foreign gods. We have our own traditional ways of worship. It is only adherents of our traditional religion that occupy these positions. Modernity does not affect what we practise or do with regard to our customs and traditions here.
You were the proprietor and Chief Medical Consultant at a private hospital. Do you feel more fulfilled occupying this throne?
I must confess that I was not at all ready to occupy this throne, because my father was never a king. But the process of selecting a traditional ruler in this part of the country has stringent rules and methods. People don’t just wake up because they have money or influence and decide to usurp the throne here. Before any person is chosen and accepted to be a traditional ruler in Ideato North or South, the Seer will first be consulted, who in turn consult our ancestors. Whosoever the ancestors pick goes ahead to occupy the position. This was how I found myself here.
If you must know, before you become a traditional ruler that occupies this throne, you will be initiated as a Venerable
Custodian of the sacred Ofor Alandiichie Uzii, which is the most ancient Ofor in Ideato land. You must also be a 5th degree initiate of the renowned prestigious Nzenaozo institution of Ideato land, a core and unrepentant African traditionalist of no mean order, spreading the message of African Odinalaism in all the four corners of Creation.
While I was being initiated, before the Ofor was handed over to me, part of the oath I took is to speak the truth at all times. I must not only do justice in all matters, even if it involves my mother. I must be seen to speak the truth and be fair to all manner of men. This was the way I met things and I will never deviate from what has been the long time practice of our people. This is how we go about the justice that has kept us together for centuries now.
Part of that Oath is that, as the Eze, under no circumstance must I be seen to cheat or sleep with another man’s wife or be covetous in all that I do. The truth and nothing but the truth is the watchword of all that I do, as an Eze on this throne.
Sadly, what we see today all over Igbo land is not only shameful, but at variance with our customs and tradition. That people are given certificate of recognition and staff of office does not in any way make them an Igbo traditional ruler. The only parametre is the ancestral Ofor duly handed over to such a person before he can be called a king. Once this is not done, as is the case today in most parts of Igbo land, it is nothing but political chieftaincy titles and self-delusion by those involved in it.
So, how many ‘so-called’ traditional rulers in this part of the country know about this today or get initiated into the Nzenaozo institution of Igbo land?
Instead of doing the right thing, some of them get initiated into diverse foreign cults, whose cosmology they know nothing about. Surprisingly, you will see such people travelling to Jerusalem, Rome, India, America and Mecca in search of knighthood or recognition. These are strange to our customs and traditions. These are some of the reasons I am not joining them in what they do to offend our gods.
Most traditional rulers today in Igbo land commit so many atrocities that are at variance with our customs and tradition. It is only in this part of the country, as far as I know, that a traditional ruler stands up from his throne to greet a serving politician. Some of them even escort politicians, who visit them in their palaces to their cars. Some leave their thrones and go out of their palaces to meet visitors outside. Some even go to the extent of removing their caps to greet a politician or use two hands to shake government officials, even chairmen of Local Government Councils. This was not the Igbo tradition I met on ground.
Before 1914, there was no genuine traditional ruler in Igbo land, who operated with certificate from anyone in government. This was due to the fact that it was the people that identified who they wanted and crowned as kings. Such a selection was based principally or predicated on the people’s cosmology. It is never done for someone to stay in Abuja or anywhere in the Southeast, and select who becomes the traditional ruler of Uzii Most Ancient Kingdom, without caring about whether the people, ancestors, gods and goodness of the land, accept him or not. This is the extent they have bastardised our customs and traditions.
My mind bleeds over all these atrocities committed against our ancestors and gods. Certificate of recognition, which is an imperialist and colonial imposition, has killed traditional rulership in Igbo land.
I will tell the truth, if it will help to stop the recklessness we are today witnessing all over Igbo land.
Sometime ago in this part of the country, because of proliferation of traditional rulers, the government had to place traditional rulers on a stipend of N10, 000 a month. That sum is not even sufficient to buy Kolanuts that we used to entertain our guests/visitors in our palaces. You know what? Traditional rulers, who had no means of living up to the standard of the throne they occupy, devise dubious ways of sustaining themselves on the throne. That was why kidnapping and ransom became order of the day, until government decided to do something decisive about it.
I will give you the picture of my ancestral Ofor, the original instrument of office given to me. I have the remote control of it, which I carry everywhere I go, as it is not wise to carry the original one except in very rare occasion. Wherever I go, with the remote control of this Ofor, if the rain wants to fall, I have the powers to stop it, until I am done with the business I have outside and return to the palace. I am not just boasting I have done this severally.
There was this particular incident, when I was invited by Igbo students in the University of Benin for a lecture. When I arrived the scene of the event, I had wanted to pay the then Oba of Benin a courtesy visit in his palace before appearing at the event. Unfortunately, the courier messages I sent to the Oba three weeks before the event were not delivered. All the same, before I commenced the day’s activities, I had to invoke the spirits of ancestors with the permission of the Oba, even though I did not meet with him one-on-one.
The gods heard my prayers, because I did the right thing. In between the event, rain wanted to fall, but I said no, this wouldn’t happen. I raised the remote control of my Ofor to high heavens, and the rain did not fall within Benin metropolis. Rather, it ended up falling along Ore side and the Esan side of the city. This is how efficacious prayers offered to our ancestors with Ofor is.
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