…As community moves to dissolve marriage, purify the land
Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Those were the words of 25-year-old Chiadikobi Ezeibekwe of Agba village Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government of Anambra State who recently pronounced marriage between himself and Chibuzor, his 17-year-old younger sister.
His pronouncement could have been ignored by a wave of hand but for the seeming legitimacy bestowed on the ‘marriage’ by his 78-year-old father, Lewis (Leiusco) and 53-year-old Josephine, his mother, who approved of the wedding conducted by their elder brother, Chijioke, said to be a pastor.
A visit to the home of the Ezeibekwe family in Agba, Leiusco, who has 10 children, 8 boys and 2 girls was found to be very popular in the area before he became very sick.
Though the action of the siblings has received strident condemnation by people in the community who heard about it, the mood in the family is sober and gives the impression of mourning over the sacrilege committed by the children.
Thirty-three-year-old first son of Leiusco, Emeka, who was the only member of the family that opposed the marriage, however, refused to speak on the matter saying that they were under instruction not to talk.
He simply said, “We are working on somebody’s instruction; don’t be offended, they have given us instruction not to say anything on this matter; if you want to get any information about what happened you can go to Ikenga Ekwulobia (Traditional Prime Minister); but for me, I don’t know anything about it. You know, children when they say something, may be jokingly, they cannot stand what they said, I regretted even coming back. The way they carried the news is not how it is. I can call my younger brother to talk to you.”
More surprising is the guts of the main actor in the marriage, Chiadikobi, who teaches Mathematics at Community Secondary School, Isuofia. The holder of National Diploma from Federal Polytechnic, Oko, insisted that he had only fulfilled the injunction of the Scripture.
He said: “I am a Sabbatharian, I am a Christian that observes Sabbath and in the process of searching through the scripture we discovered that it is possible to marry your relative, your blood relative, your cousin, uncle, your sister, and on account of that we went on. Then people started hearing about it and that was the uproar and everything, so I married my younger sister.
“We are not really wedded in the church. It wasn’t true that we wedded in the church; we are just a family gathering here. Every Sabbath we observe Sabbath, we don’t do any other thing, we are just a family. There is a church that was here before, but we are no more with them; they have found a place and stayed there and we are now on our own, we just observe Sabbath on Sabbath days.
“We don’t have any name, we don’t have any signboard, we just observe Sabbath here and worship. He is not really the head, my elder brother, Chijioke, is rich in the scripture.
“It was me that pronounced our marriage, that my sister and myself were going to marry. Our parents were around. Mother, because of what she believed, supported it. Then the two of us went to our father and he asked us, ‘why should this come to pass, did we consult people, did we ask very, very well or are we just playing with it?’ We told him we were not playing with it, that I could not play with something like that. He asked again whether God told us to do it and did we search through the scripture? We told him that we searched through the scripture and we believed it. He said there was no problem, that if God signed it he could not reverse it.”
On the reaction of other members of the family, Chiadikaobi said: “When my eldest brother, who is in Port Harcourt heard about it, he came back to know what happened. We told him that we had wedded and he declared that he would not allow it. But I told him that our father had already given his consent. The first issue in marriage is parental consent and we had gotten that. So he went out to report to our relatives. The kindred and the other people came and said that we would not be allowed to go through with it, even if we found a similar thing in the scripture, because it is not the cultural practice of the community or Igbo land. They gathered and burnt the makeshift place where we used to meet for Sabbath worship.
Asked what he would do if the community decided to ostracize him and the sister because of their action, Chiadikobi said: “I am waiting to know and see their decision. Already, many have come and the Traditional Prime Minister of the community has waded into the matter. We were in his house last Tuesday and after they had asked us many questions, he said that they would dissolve the marriage to appease the masses; that they would call a priest to reverse everything and remove the abomination and curse upon this.”
The young school Mathematics teacher debunked the report that he impregnated his sister before marrying her, claiming that he had not even had carnal knowledge of her. He said, “She is not pregnant, they have already gone for pregnancy test and found out she is not pregnant. We just married, I just announced the marriage and within a week my brother heard it and all this issues came up. Nothing has happened between us.”
Chiadikobi stressed that he has no lustful desire for his sister and this decision to marry his sister was driven by physical attraction to her.
His words: “This is not really attraction in that sense, there are people who are people who God would talk to in the dream. We didn’t just jump into this marriage thing because we could do it, rather 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, but I didn’t propose to her. 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.
“So it is not the beauty; the attraction there is that when God sends you to do something and you believe it is of God, sometimes if you don’t want to do it , you might be forced to do it. And when you ask God He will tell you one or two things like He told me in this case. One of the things he told me is that divorce is very rampant; people marry today and divorce tomorrow. When we marry our relatives and may be siblings, it won’t be to the high degree we are seeing today, even if anything, she will still be in your house. The children that you will bring into this world will not be nuisance in the community. It will also help you to maintain the culture and other things.”
While the community is planning to cleanse the land in a Christian way, Chiadikobi said he has left everything in the hand of God. He added that they had wanted to show people the scripture that gave them the right to do what they did but have not been allowed to do so.
“After the visions and the dreams, we searched through the scriptures to be sure that we did not make mistake because we know that Satan used to bring his own vision into men to cause them to err. The scripture that gave us the impetus is the Songs of Solomon, chapter four to be precise (Songs of Solomon 4) and chapter five.”
In the school where he teaches, Chiadikobi said that some people have called to ask him and he narrated the story to them. They advised him to fast and pray more about it, saying that the whole thing was still difficult for them to comprehend. He told some students that showed a bit of boldness, to ask him about what they heard that if the people would leave them alone, he and the sister would see how the marriage would turn out.
Asked how he sincerely feels now, Chiadikobi gave a straight face answer: “I’ve been trying to feel down or may be guilty or shameful but I am not feeling it. I’ve been praying to God to show me if this thing is a mistake. Till now, I have not felt anything. I don’t feel as if I have done anything terrible or something that should not be done. I go out and speak with people. To be honest with you I don’t feel anything.”
The younger brother of Chiadikobi, Chukwujekwu, who is opposed to the marriage said that his brother and sister used several bible stories to justify what they did, adding that it was their elder brother, Chijioke, a pastor, who wedded them in his church.
“The kind of wedding he did was that he just joined their hands together and prayed for them,” Chukwujekwu said.
“My mother supported them fully because they are the ones putting her in the direction she is moving, my other sibling is still tender, she is 13 years.”
The Traditional Prime Minister of Ekwulobia, Chief Gabriel Ezechukwu, said that people in the village reported the abnormality to him and he stopped the villagers from their earlier intention of reporting to the police or administering jungle justice on Chiadikobi and the sister.
His words: “I went to the family and met Luisco, his wife and the children. I did not see the young boy in question. I invited members of the family to my house and interviewed their father. He told me that he was previously in support but he had withdrawn his support.
“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 would have to consult the authorities of the church to find out the best way 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. On Wednesday, we went to the Parish Priest after the 5am mass and told him all that happened. He fixed a date, March 17, for him to dissolve the so-called marriage and purify the land in the Christian way.”