The Enugwu-Ukwu On My Mind

This beautiful land of my birth, the ancient and sacred land of my fathers, the birthplace of my ancestors, perched on the hills of tradition and overlooking the surrounding towns of Nawfia, Abagana, Agukwu, Nimo and the other towns, all of whom are family and friends.

You are envied by foes but protected and eternally blessed by He that gives life. You are a land of great rivers and mysterious forests, the first son of Nri and the proud custodian of Ofor Nri.

You are a land of great warriors, great statesmen, virtuous matriarchs and beautiful maidens, your milk of kindness is ever flowing, just like the nimkpa, ochichi and ovolu rivers that encircle you. Your benevolence to strangers has survived many decades, you beckoned and welcomed the needy and strangers during the Nigerian/Biafran war.

All your caves and nooks were filled up, you gave them succour in your virgin and fertile fields, they ate of your fresh udala fruits, your succulent mango trees shielded and nourished them in the hot war sun, your cassava leaves gave them hope. They savoured your sweet palm wine in the evenings while reminiscing your big heart, as the women cooked dinner with earthenware pots with your sweet red palm oil, surrounded by children staring and gazing into the beautiful and bright moonlight, the sounds of fresh agu umuakwu firewood crackling away in the night, as the shrills of the crickets completed the sonorous rhythms of your night.

You have produced great men, you have also produced great women, we are blessed to have Igwe Osita Agwuna, Eze Enugwu-Ukwu and Igwe of Umunri, the proud shielder and custodian of Ofor Nri, his wisdom has nourished us, and his activism has benefited Nigeria. Oh! How he fought with Nnamdi Azikiwe and the other great Igbo sons and daughters in NCNC to gain the freedom that we all enjoy today, they still come, till today, to the Obu Ofor Nri palace to sample, taste and marvel at this wisdom, to drink of this free flowing vine of mature and vintage knowledge. They have come from everywhere, from America, from Europe, from within Nigeria and from other parts of the world, to witness in their lifetime his annual Igu aro, and Ofala festival, our tradition, our culture and our gift to the world.

You also gave us Nze Nworah Okeke, (Nka ona adi), my forebearer and progenitor, whose encounter with the missionaries later became a folk story, told by elders in the moonlight, Nze Nworah tried to fight for what he believed in, and challenged the white missionaries in their ways, though he lost in his one man crusade and battle against the whiteman's religious and cultural desecration, as did the other great men of his time, his place in your history has never been challenged.

For his punishment, he was made to carry the whiteman on his strong back, from Agu Igbariam (Igbariam forest) back to Enugwu-Ukwu, a journey that took days. In mother natures's ways, he was rewarded even while here on earth and lived to the age of 110 years, a record waiting to be beaten. Enugwu-Ukwu, you have also produced men of high business acumen, these pages are not enough to do a roll call, in their days, some of them became symbolic of the Igbo man and wealth: the Nwandus, the Nkwochas, the Udenzes, the Nkwontas, the Onwudinjos, the Obiekwes, the Nkwojis, the Nwogbos, the Okoyes and the others are all your children. This tradition still lives on.

We still enjoy your different feasts and festivals, how can we not? We still try to keep the tradition, our feastly masquerade stick fights (Ipia agba) at nkwo market as well as in the other village squares are still carried on, and so are Onwa asato, Ngene, Nimkpa, Ana Enugwu and the other traditional festivals. We try very much not to let the torch burn out in our generation. We can not fail, we dare not fail, our fate is tied to the fate of all Igbos, this is because we (Nri Kingdom) are the ancestral home of all Ndigbo. Our success is their success; our failure is their failure.

How very sad I am, and I am sure you must be too, to hear about all the atrocities that have been committed in your land, the lootings, killings and burnings, your name has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons, some people that never heard your name before are now hearing it, but only in association with mayhem, your honour has been tainted, your glory dented, you have been brutally ravaged and raped by dark forces, masquerading in the name of politics, you surely deserve better.

Sadly, your son who is also a senator, Ikechukwu Abana, from the Uruekwo tribe and village is caught up in all this, we are hearing that it is his friends that have committed this abomination, you taught us that an elder does not leave his faeces in his door step, we don't know if his friends informed him of their intentions and if he was in agreement, we are only concerned and worried that he could not do anything to stop them. Some of the people they killed were your children, The FM station and the Immigration offices which they burned were really important to us, they gave us joy and pride, they also gave us jobs, they made us believe that we are once again part of Anambra state, and now these are no more. Our fathers are crying, our mothers are weeping, and our children are wailing.

When we got the news that fortune had finally smiled on him and that he had won his court battles to become the second Enugwu-Ukwu man to become a senator, we rejoiced with him, just as we had rejoiced with your other son, late Senator Udenze (Lord mayor) in his time, we hoped that things will be different now, that Abana's good fortune will rub off on us by attracting government presence to our town, The Nkwo to Agukwu road, Ring road to Nise road and Ezi Alias to Nimo roads are in needs of repair, we are still reeling in anger from our huge disappointment with our kinsman and your son, Sir Clement Akpamgbo, his closeness to power, and eventual advocacy during the Babangida junta earned us nothing but jeers, boos and shame, we had hoped for a reversal and blessing this time.

We hear that Anambra State is broke and so we don't know when the FM station and the other government buildings destroyed in the mayhem will be rebuilt, also we don't know if they will still be built on our land again, you know what politicians are like.

Your cries for vengeance have reached the heavens, you demand and deserve justice, your gods are angry and demand appeasement. This is not the way you want to be known or remembered; you still have so much joy and gift to give to Nigeria, I can still see the smile on your face, mixed with the tear in your eyes. Heaven will still smile on you, you will still take your pride of place in Igboland and in Nigeria. I want to console you and also to remind you that light always overcomes darkness, after the rain comes sunshine.

Chris uba, Ngige, Obasanjo and co will come and go, the way Emeka Offor and Mbadiniju went. But you shall still remain, a better FM station, better than the one that they burnt will be built, you shall give birth again to warriors even as the cries and spirits of your children killed in the mayhem battle the scavengers and give them no respite, life will return to normal and your smile will shine again.

Oh! Enugwu-Ukwu, the land of tradition, the birthplace of warriors, Long may your history live, and far may it be told, in strange and foreign lands.
Your son.

uchenworah@yahoo.com



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