Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Two Anambra communities bicker over purported suspension of a traditional ruler by his colleague for allegedly flouting traditional rites accorded kolanut in the area
Kolanut occupies a central place in Igbo customs and traditions. It’s widely accepted as harbinger of peace and love. But surprisingly, the handling of the piece of fruit has pitched two communities in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State against each other.
It is common in Igbo gatherings to hear the saying: “He who brings kolanut brings life” but happenings in the riverine communities of Anambra East is threatening to eclipse that popular belief, since the traditional ruler of Nkpunando Aguleri-Otu community, Igwe Alex Edozieuno, who doubles as Chairman of monarchs in the council area allegedly suspended his counterpart of Umueri community, Igwe Benneth Izuchukwu Emeka (Oke-Ebo II) following a tussle over breaking of kolanut at a public function.
Igwe Emeka was suspended from the meetings of Anambra East Traditional Rulers’ Council for one year over disagreement on issue of kolanut rites via a letter dated January 31 and signed by Igwe Edozieuno.
The kolanut war between the traditional rulers allegedly began when Igwe Edozieuno, allegedly attempted to usurp the traditional right of breaking of kolanut at an event in Otuocha Township Stadium, said to be the domain of Igwe Emeka of Umueri. He was stopped by the Umueri monarch.
Igwe Emeka’s resistance to what he felt would have been tantamount to a royal public disgrace and embarrassment resulted in his purported suspension for a year. So, for refusing to be intimidated and deprived of his ancestral right of performing kolanut ceremonies in his own land where he is the custodian of the culture, tradition as well as the ancestral heritage of his community, the monarch has been banned from the gathering of traditional rulers in Anambra-East for one year.
But his subjects have since risen to his defence. They described the suspension as frivolous and laughable, with a warning to Igwe Edozieuno to desist from exporting restiveness to other communities.
The Umueri people alleged that the traditional ruler of Nkpunando Aguleri-Otu was neck-deep in alleged malevolent tendencies evident in the way he ran the affairs of the traditional institution in Anambra-East.
Responding to Edozieuno’s letter of suspension to their monarch, the Umueri people accused him of setting out in a conscious voyage of character assassination of their traditional ruler and planting seeds of discord not only between their monarch and his subjects but also among him, his fellow Igwes and the Anambra State Government.
Part of their letter reads: “We noticed your intentional address of Igwe Benneth Emeka as “Igwe Ben Izuchukwu Ameke.” It is obvious that this misnomer is not out of inadvertence but fully intended and carefully meant to insult the Oke-Ebo II maybe to give credence to your assertion that Igwe Benneth is from Uromi in Edo State.
“We would have disregarded your letter in its entirety but for the fact that the title “Oke-Ebo II” of Umueri was added. May we, however, warn that such outright insult to the occupant of the traditional stool of Umueri Oke-Ebo shall not be tolerated subsequently.”
On the allegation that Igwe Emeka “grabbed” kolanut from Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Anthony Oli, they said that “Igwe Benneth Emeka only did the reasonable thing a man of integrity should do when supposedly wise but regrettably dubious traditional leaders set out to distort culture, tradition and history just to suit their dubious intents. One of the commonest traditional practices surrounding the breaking of kolanuts is the facts that it is the man of the house (Nna-nwe-uno/ di-bi-uno) that breaks the kolanuts in his domain. A man’s domain remains his domain even if it has been inhabited by strangers or visitors.”
They further accused Igwe Edozieuno of maliciously usurping the position of their monarch and supplanting another in his stead.
The community, therefore, described the so-called “suspension of Igwe Emeka” as a sheer brazen daylight palace coup.
Regarding Igwe Edozieuno’s directives to Umueri town to overthrow their traditional ruler, they said: “We find that laughable knowing full well that Umueri is populated by peace-loving people not easily incited by unintelligent directives of traditional rulers of suspicious standings. Umueri has no business with you Igwe Edozieuno neither have you any business with Umueri. We therefore advise that you concentrate in administering your volatile community and desist from exporting restiveness to other communities.”
In launching the reprisal attack on the Nkpunando Aguleri-Otu monarch across the Omambala river, Umueri people categorically stated that they are a full-fledged autonomous community hence, Edozieuno has no business whatsoever with them.
The traditional ruler of Nkpunando Aguleri-Otu could not react to the letter from Umueri community as at press time, but watchers of activities are wont to say that the drumbeats of war are on in the area again.
Obiorah Okwusa, a resident of Onitsha said the only way to nip the brewing crisis in the bud was for the Anambra State Traditional Rulers’ Council, headed by the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe and the state government to intervene immediately.