- Community, Catholic church fix March 24 for cleansing
Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
The 25-year-old Chiadikobi Ezeibekwe of Agba village Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government of Anambra State who recently announced the marriage between him and his 17-year-old sister, Chibuzor, has renounced the controversial marriage.
Chiadi as he is popularly called who spoke to Sunday Sun at the Community Secondary School Isuofia in the local government declared that the marriage was no more and was not being talked about again as it stands dissolved.
His new stand came just as the Ekwulobia community and the Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Ekwulobia, Rev. Fr. Igunatus Onwuatuegwu have fixed March 24, for formal dissolution of the marriage and cleansing of the land according to the church tradition.
The young man who is a Parents Teachers Association (PTA) engaged teacher at the school had before now stood to his gun on the marriage, insisting that it was divinely directed by God.
“We didn’t just jump into this marriage thing because we can do it, God showed it to me and not only me, it was shown to other people in this family. God asked me to marry my sister yes, and I didn’t propose to my sister. Sometimes you may have vision, you just keep it, and in the process she got the same vision and spoke out because if she had not had the vision, I would not have been able to speak about it.
“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 earlier said.
But speaking last week when he succumbed to pressure from his community, Chiadi said: “The marriage is dissolved; we are not talking about it again. We are not talking about that marriage again, let’s see what the future holds, even the Bible said we should not worry for tomorrow as tomorrow would take care of itself, so I am not bothering my heart about it.”
The Traditional Prime Minister of Ekwulobia, Chief Gabriel Ezechukwu whose intervention allegedly prevented the youths of the of the community from carrying out juggle justice on Chiadi and the sister had told Sunday Sun that he had agreed with the family and the cabinet for the church to carry out the cleansing of the land.
“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 authorities of the church to find how best to purify the land. Before going to the church I sent the girl to a renowned doctor for pregnancy test and the test proved negative,” he said.
Asked if he was ready to obey the community and the Catholic Church where the cleansing would take place Chiadi said: “I will play along with the community but we have no relationship with the Catholic Church, no matter what they are doing. We will obey the community but we have nothing in common with the Catholic Church.
“I was once a Catholic but everything they do is under idol, there is no difference between them and idol. I was a deep person in Catholic. I discovered so many things, my father did a lot of things and you cannot chase away the devil, it is impossible. If you want to remove idols in your land, do away with everything that is idol. In our entire household no one is a Catholic now, our first son first discovered it and left the church, it is said that God will visit the iniquity of the father on the children and He has already visited us, so we are running for our lives, I’m sorry to say that, but it is a lesson.
“My father was into sorcery and magic and all the rest of them, and it is now coming upon us and we want to remove it from our generation. He was also involved in so many other things that were deep, so we are trying to clear so many things from that family, that’s even how this marriage came up, but people do not understand and they chase shadow without going to the root. I know the reason this marriage came not only to me but the entire family, just that it was like the lot fell on me and I said okay let’s accept this thing, it is a deep thing.”
He, however, insisted that nothing outside his pronouncement to members of the family about the marriage had happened.
“We just proposed to marry, we have not gone far into it, no dowry, no ceremony. We just said we have accepted this thing, let’s do it, before the thing spread and the whole noise started,” he said with regret.
Reminded that the story was that his elder brother who is the pastor of their church wedded them, Chiadi retorted: “Who joined us, who is our priest? Those things are cock and bull stories that people were telling. Join us as how, with what? It was just like you saw a woman you want to marry and you brought her to the house and all were happy, my mother was happy, and they are saying joined us, joined us where? Forget about those stories.”
However, confirming the issue of the cleansing ceremony, the Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Ekwulobia, Rev. Fr. Igunatus Onwuatuegwu said the church was ready but doubted if Chiadi would show up on the appointed day.
He disagreed with the young man’s Bible reference in supporting his action saying, “there are many things deceiving and distracting young people. The young man was quoting songs of Solomon in the Bible out of context. That was why in the past, the Catholic Church didn’t allow unguided reading of the Bible. Before one understands the Bible, he has to understand the culture and the era in which it was written. In Leviticus Chapter 19, it was properly tabulated that if someone marries his blood relation, such a person should be cast away from the people. At times in the Old Testament, it was stated that such a person should be stoned. Unless he was eyeing what happened during the time of Sodom and Gomorrah.”
He, therefore, said: “We are planning to do the cleansing on the 24th of March. The family has assented. Before they came here to pick or fix the date, they said they had agreed to perform the cleansing ceremony. But the observation I am making and from what people are saying, I don’t think the young man will come for the cleansing ceremony.
“But whether he appears that day or not, the cleansing must take place. They are also planning to perform the funeral ceremony of their grandmother and for that reason; they agreed to do this cleansing so that people can attend the funeral ceremony. For members of the family to liberate themselves and distance themselves from the abomination committed by the young man, they have to perform this ceremony. It is like the Igbo adage that says when one finger touches the oil, it affects the other fingers. The sin cannot be forgiven unless the person that committed it repents.
“As for the marriage, it can never be sustained. The community cannot allow that. I must add that in this matter, it is not for us to persuade him to come for the cleansing. It is the people around that can advise him to do the right thing. I am the minister that will carry out the cleansing; it is not for me to persuade him. As a minister in the church, I can only carry out the cleansing.”
On how the church would go about the cleansing the cleric said: “According to the Catholic doctrine and scriptures, we can organize cleansing using the lamb. The reason for using the lamb is that of all the animals, it is one that is not contaminated. The Igbo tradition also considers what the young man did as abomination and to clean the abomination, you must use an animal that is not contaminated.
“In the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ called Himself the Lamb of God and Christ is the only one that has no stain of sin. If not for the grace that has been so gratuitously given to us in Christ Jesus no one would have been saved. So in the cleansing that we will do, we are not reconciling humanity with God. Christ is the only one that can do that. Our function is to announce the freedom Christ has given to mankind. It is not the priest that is doing it, Christ has performed the sacrifice once and for all and we are only applying what Christ has done.”
Asked why the church should use a lamb, the Rev. Father Onwuatuegwu said: “I had seen a situation whereby after the cleansing; some people come up to say that it was not properly done. But once the lamb is used, every Igbo man will agree that proper cleansing has been done. Also some people who belong to different faith can also reject it.
“After blessing the holy water and the lamb is brought in, and a bucket with water will be placed on it and the person in question will wash his hands inside the bucket on top of the lamb. That is an outward sign. After that, the water will be poured out and the lamb will be taken away. The lamb is not for eating but it can be sold and the money used sorely for helping the poor.
“Again, we can heal the situation but we cannot heal the personal decision. But as far as Ekwulobia community is concerned, that marriage cannot stand. They could be all kinds of things when it was not in the open. But now that it is in the open, they will incur the wrath of the people if they commit the atrocity again. In fact, it was the traditional prime minister that managed to quell what could have resulted to a major uprising when people learnt about what happened as the people wanted to use jungle justice on that family and possibly eliminate them. But the traditional prime minister reminded them that we are in a civilized world and things must be done with caution otherwise they run foul of the law.”
Rev. Fr. Onwuatuegwu also gave some brief about Chiadi who he said was once the leader of the Block Rosary group in the parish as he said: “The young man was a member of this church but we started noticing some anomalies in his action. We were confronted to amend his ways but he was not ready to take advice from anybody. So, we became very cautious and later he decamped to another parish in Ekwulobia. When I learnt about his movement to another parish, I alerted the parish priest of that church to be cautious about the young man.
“Specifically I advised the Rev. Father not to allow the young man get access to young people because he might influence them negatively. When the Rev. Fr. started monitoring his activities, he left the Catholic Church and joined one of the Sabbath groups. I can’t remember the name of that church, but I was informed that the church he ran to learnt of the abomination he had committed. He later left the church and formed another one in his father’s compound where he and his siblings are the only members. From his actions, every observable person can easily see that something is wrong with the young man. In fact, some people believe that he is insane.”
Leaving some words of advice, the the cleric said: “One other thing that is destroying the society is the new information age. We advise parents to endeavour to monitor activities of their children. Most times parents are engrossed in our business that we don’t have time for our children. Human project is more important than any other project one can think of because if young people are well trained, that will determine how long their parents will live. But if they are not well trained, they may be the cause of their parent’s early death. We should imbibe moral teaching in the children.”