Many have posited that Igbo culture (Omenani) is going extinct. This is mainly due to the negative attitude of some of our people towards promoting and propagating Igbo ideals, belief system, language, tradition and culture.
Some of our Igbo brothers and sisters feel shy speaking Igbo language. This is very bad. We should take a cue from our Yoruba and Hausa brothers who cling onto their mother-tongue wherever they live.
There are groups such as ‘Otu Suwakwa Igbo’ founded by Oka Nmuta (Prof.) Pita Ejiofor who are dedicated to the cause of ensuring that Igbo language and our Omenani do not die. We must encourage them and others helping to ensure that we pass on our time-honoured Omenani to the generations coming after us.
We can not reverse the trend by just complaining and not taking pro-active action. The Christmas season in Igboland presents a good opportunity for Ndigbo to try to re-connect with their Omenani. For example in the 179 communities in Anambra State, there are various traditional activities Ndi Anambra at home and those returning from the diaspora can take part in and witness. These include Nmonwu (masquerade), Ofala and Igu-Aro, Ibanye Ogbo (Age grade system), Igba Nkwu (traditional weddings), Chieftaincy installations, Nze na Ozo title taking ceremonies and so on.
One of the better ways of promoting Omenani Ndigbo is through oral tradition and active participation of both young and old in these activities as demonstrated by the Nwogbo family of Enugwu-Ukwu on Saturday, December 22, 2018 during the Ozo title taking ceremony of Abuchi Oswald Nwogbo.
The senior Nwogbo, Ozo Christian Nwogbo who goes by the Ozo title of Oketelu Enugwu-Ukwu na Umunri was a witness as the junior Nwogbo, his son Abuchi Nwogbo was initiated into the ancient and traditional Ozo Enugwu-Ukwu na Umunri institution.
Growing up, American based Abuchi must have witnessed his own father’s Ozo title taking ceremony and through regular home visits and active participation in Enugwu-Ukwu traditional matters has not lost interest in Omenani Ndigbo. This must have inspired his decision to be initiated as a way of sustaining the family’s Ozo legacy, and keeping the Ozo institution alive.
Interestingly, Ozo Abuchi whose Ozo title is Ozo Ebekuodike Enugwu-Ukwu na Umunri brought his young sons from America to witness the event. This is noteworthy as the boys hopefully will be so inspired and thrilled such that over time, they will seek to sustain the family’s Ozo legacy by taking necessary steps towards getting initiated too.
Part of the challenge Omenani Ndigbo has faced is the misconception that Igbo traditional ceremonies such as Ozo, Nze and Chieftaincy title taking are fetish and devilish. This is far from the truth. Long before the advent of Christianity in Igboland, our forefathers have long distinguished themselves and established their social status and standings through such ceremonies.
Initiation into the Nze na Ozo society is a social and economic investment too. At any new initiation, the already initiated smile home with money and other items provided by a new member as part of his initiation rites.
Once initiated, the new member can proudly be addressed with the prestigious title of ‘Ozo’ while his wife becomes an ‘Iyom’.
As Ndigbo would say, ‘Nke onye chili, nya zelu’ and as we join hands collectively to promote our tradition, we must carry our children and young ones along, after all ‘Nne ewu na ata nni, umu ya ana ene ya anya na onu na amuta ‘.