Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
When in the middle of February, the incest story between 25-year-old Chiadikobi Ezeibekwe and her younger sister, Chibuzor, 17, of Agba village Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State went viral, it came with it a rude shock to the community.
First, never in the history of the community or even the entire Igbo land had there been report of siblings marrying each other, hence it became a shameful and sacrilegious thing to the community.
No wonder the youths of the community but for the swift intervention of the Traditional Prime Minister of Ekwulobia, Chief Gabriel Ezechukwu would have visited the two siblings with jungle justice.
Sacrilegious as the abominable act was, the immediate action of the members of the community after the mob action of the youths failed was to severe relationship with the entire Ezeibekwe family.
But when this seemed not working out as the actions and outburst of the family with the exception of the first son of the family of eight, Emeka who cried out to the kinsmen on getting wind of the abomination, showed no sign of remorse, the community insisted that their land must be cleansed to avoid the wrath of the gods.
Chiadi who was in the centre of the mess had in the heat of it claimed that he and the sister acted in accordance with the instructions of God and said he felt no wrong doing.
“I have tried to feel ashamed, guilty or sober since this thing happened but no way. I feel fine and at home. I have asked God to make me feel bad and guilty if I have done evil, but I am not feeling any of such,” he had said.
However, when the community aware of the grave consequences of the evil act put its feet on the ground and insisted that the marriage must be dissolved and family go through land cleansing (Ikpuaru), Chiadi and the family surrendered and the Catholic Church was brought in to conduct the land cleansing.
According to the Ikenga Ekwulobia, Chief Ezechukwu, it took several meetings before the young man and his people accepted their sin and agreed to perform the cleansing.
“I invited them again where members of the cabinet were present and we met for some days until the children admitted that they committed atrocity and started showing remorse. We told them that we have to consult the authority of the church to find how best to purify the land,” he said.
So when on Saturday, March 24, the land cleansing took place, the Lewis Ezeibekwe family finally came down on their kneels to plead for forgiveness with Chiadi in his usual outspoken manner taking the lead.
In his apology, Chiadi who felt remorse said he has accepted his wrongdoing and was sorry.
“What we did is wrong and an abomination. I feel pained in my heart. I did not do it because I was hungry for a woman or attracted to my sister, far from it. I apologise to everyone. I am very sorry for bringing all of you out here under the sun. Please forgive. We have gone through the process of annulment and the marriage has been annulled.”
On her part, Chibuzo said, “Nobody knows what abomination is except God, I ask for forgiveness.”
However, their mother, 53-year-old Josephine who was their greatest supporter showed no sign of remorse as she said nothing but sang a song.
In his Homily at the special Mass held in front of Ezeibekwe’s house, and attended by leaders of the community, natives and members of the church, the Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Ekwulobia, Rev. Fr. Igunatus Onwuatuegwu who officiated the cleansing proceeding admonished people to stay away from evil.
He stressed that the gathering was an opportunity to emphasize on the social effect of sin and that the cleansing process would involve prayer of restitution and family reconciliation.
“This issue does not concern only the family of Lewis, it concerns the entire Ekwulobia. We are in a world that has disintegrated. This cleansing is important for all of us and the entire country,” he said.
Taking his text from the Gospel of John and 1Peter 24:2, the cleric expressed worry that sins of incest have become rampant in the society, urging the people to repent.
“We are here to do reparation of the sin that is already rampant in our society. It is also an opportunity for us to do reparation for Ekwulobia.
“I am particularly touched by this boy Chiadi. When I came to Ekwulobia, I met him as a boy yearning for the things of God. He was the leader of the block rosary group but here we are today. When I heard the story, I was taken aback. Only God knows what happened,” he said.
The cleansing which was performed with water and salt, came to a climax when the Ezeibekwe family of eight was asked to kneel before the traditional ruler, traditional prime minister and elders of the community to apologize to the entire Agba village in particular and entire Ekwulobia community.