By David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
if you hold the impression that a Catholic priest cannot be an Ofo custodian in Igbo land, you had better have a rethink as a renowned priest; Rev Father (Dr) Raymond Arazu of Eze Dibia clan in Otuke village, Ihembosi in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State is already a substantive custodian one.
Daily Sun was told that the title is the exclusive preserve of the oldest man in that community.
Rev Fr Arazu in his explanation after taking the prestigious Ofo stick said that the development was not his choice but was forced on him by fate (nature) as the oldest man in his community.
He further explained that he had carried out researches on the Ofo tree which he said actually originated from Senegal and found out that it was a spiritual tree that had structures similar to human skeleton.
He said that Ofo tree is a sacred and spiritual tree that could not be hewed for fire wood and that any person having Ofo in his hand must compulsorily stand on the side of truth.
Asked if he would not incur the wrath of the church for becoming a custodian of Ofo which is supposed to be for the traditionalists in Igbo land, his clan inclusive, the priest said that he was an authority and well-read; having gone to Rome, Italy to study Theology and Philosophy. He added that he actually got Doctorate Degree in Moral Theology which he said had given him the opportunity to study a lot about religion and tradition: «The fact that I›m a priest does not exempt me following the tradition of my people. I made a complete research about this Ofo thing.
«The tree grows like that tree (pointing to a tree in his compound). You don›t cut it with a cutlass or any sharp object. It falls on its own. The branches fall off and they look like human skeleton. And that›s why the ancients chose it as a sacred tree».
On his passion for herbalism, Fr Arazu noted that herbalism runs in his family and in his blood.
He recalled that he actually had psychological problem as a young man in the seminary because of herbalism in the family and that he actually wanted to leave the programme prematurely but was prevailed upon by his spiritual director then who dissuaded him not to withdraw: “When I look around, I know the value and use of the leaves and roots in the environment since my childhood. I actually learnt that from my father».
He said he could make herbs available for all manner of diseases including anti-witch craft.