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Igbo Ancestral Home                     

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IGBO ANCESTRAL HOME – UMUDEGE VILLAGE, IGBO-UKWU
This is the ancient household of Igbo, the ancestral father of the Igbo race. In front of the shrine which represents his old living room (Obi), Igbo is depicted by a bronze casting of a man in the traditional loin cloth, holding a staff.  A replication of what his Obi looked like has been erected on the same site where he lived so many centuries ago.  It has become a shrine and a hallowed ground, attached to the old family shrine. The floor is covered with broken kolanuts previously offered to ancestors. Visitors are received within the ‘Obi’ which is furnished with traditionally carved wooden chairs depicting eagles, lions and other animals. They are presented with the traditional white clay, kolanuts and palm wine, a mark of spiritual purity and hospitality.   

Dege; a descendant of Igbo, whose name the village now bears was killed in the Okotu war.  The present custodian of the Obi Igbo is Umeokonkwo Chukwumonso; Eze Ononobi Igbo of Igbo-Ukwu.  He is the Prince of Igbo, descendant of the first son lineage.  Within the inner shrine, there is a helmet which Igbo had worn in the war against Agu-Ukwu, Nri.  This can only be brought out by the Council of elders of Igbo-Ukwu.  Other instruments such as his horn of elephant tusk can also be seen. 

There is a jar from which palm wine magically does not finish.  Palm wine taken from it is an antidote for poison. The shrine is forbidden to men who carry charms on their bodies, whose characters are questionable and to menstruating women.  There is the belief according to legend that the man Igbo did not die, he grew so old that he faded away to join his ancestors. This is what informes the saying in Igbo land that an’ Igwe’ does not die; but lives on forever. Owing to his ancestry, the Ononobi Igbo is a higher Chief than by descent than traditional rulers in the area.  The historical value of what he and his ‘Obi’ represent cannot be quantified.

IGBO TOWER/HILL


This is a tower built by Igbo at the top of a hill called ‘Mkpume Onu’ where he had his security post.  It was from here that he monitored the town and its surroundings against the encroachment of enemies.  From this spot the whole of Igbo-Ukwu can be observed.  There are big boulders and sand stones which are all that remain of the old tower hill.  One particularly big boulder, called the rain stone is believed to give rain in cases of prolonged draught.  The worshipers of this stone come with food and sacrifice to the stone, after which the rains come.   Strangely the sacred stone surrounded by the hill is collectively owned by three towns; Igbo-Ukwu, Ekwulumili and Ezinifite.  It is at the border of the three towns, used and maintained by all but has never been in dispute.  All around the rain stone, one finds objects of sacrifice brought there by adherents who believe that the stone has spiritual powers to enhance fertility.

 


                                                                                                                          
NKWO IGBO MARKET

This is the oldest and the biggest local market in eastern Nigeria.  The market is in session every Nkwo day out of the four Igbo market days; ‘Eke’, ‘Oye’, ‘Afor’ and ‘Nkwo’.  History has it that the market began originally on the spot where Igbo and other elders of the town sat in council to settle civil disputes and law suits among the local people.  A section at the centre of the market is regarded as sacred ground because an ancient civilization is buried there.  It is earmarked for the construction of a monument to commemorate the origin of the Alternative Justice System which has become quite popular in Nigeria at the moment.
A variety of locally produced foodstuff such as breadfruit (Ukwa), cassava starch (akpu) used for foofoo, palm fruits and large quantities of oil, ‘Okpa’, a local pudding made from grinded barbara seed, sliced cassava (Abacha), Cocoyam, Okra, Okazi leaves, Ube or local pears, maize, locust beans (Ogili) and local goats.  Non-edible goods of the local variety abound such as cloth materials, baskets and hand fans, soap and tobacco powder (Utaba).  The size and busy nature of this market is better seen to be believed.




UDO ONU SHRINE


This shrine behind the Nkwo Igbo market is the most sacred shrine of the people.  At its entrance, there is an elaborate cauldron pot of clay and ancient objects abound on every hand.  Cow skulls and traditional injunctions made of palm fronds are used to keep intruders off the premises.  The whole area is overshadowed by great trees, giving the shrine an awesome appearance.

Within the shrine is a tunnel from where its prophets enter to consult the oracle.  On ‘nkwo’ market days, the prophets walk around with the local jingle (Uyo) in their hands.  Any stall they decide to enter, they simply strike the ‘Uyo’ on the floor of the stall and all goods within are thereby confiscated by the oracle.  They are carted off to the shrine.  The festival of ‘Igba Odo’ is performed by worshippers at the Shrine, once every year, in the month of November. However, daily sacrifices of animals are made at the shrine to keep the gods appeased. 
 



                                                                                                                              IKORO OGBUNKA


This is an ancient and mighty slit drum used as a means of summons by the Ogbunka people in times of emergency or impending trouble and war. This culture  is quite universal to the Igbo people. It is a carved piece of wood, in the shape of a normal slit drum but a lot larger.  On its body are carvings of male and female forms, probably idols of the people.    The difference between this Ikoro is that it is quite antiquated and its dedication to the ancestors of Ogbunka was done with human sacrifice.  It belongs to all the villages in Ogbunka and was used in the ‘Okpoko’ festival which took place every December in the past.  During this festival, it became an instrument of dance and music.  
 






IKORO OKPUTOROKPU UMUEZE – ISUOFIA

This is another mighty slit drum, belonging to Umueze village of Isuofia, Aguata Local Government Area.  It was carved from an Iroko tree in 1914 and used as summons for war and major feasts, such as the new yam festival.  When beaten, it is heard in faraway towns and the message it carries varies according to the beat.  The shape of this ‘Ikoro’ depicts a male form, with head, hands and feet.  It is still in use up till date.








                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                       UDOEKE SHRINE OF UMUEZE

This is a typical shrine with traditional paintings and carvings; there are three other minor shrines at its entrance called ‘Oda’ – the unwritten constitution of the land, represented by mounds of clay.  At the setting up and dedication of an ‘Oda’, all family heads in the town come together at the site with their ‘ofo,’ symbols of authority.  The Chief Priest goes ahead to pronounce the words of the law and all the people signify accent by throwing their ‘ofo’ on to the spot where the ‘Oda’ is finally erected.  These family heads are assumed to speak for all members of their different families and therefore, the laws of the ‘Oda’ are binding on every indigene of the town.  Offenders of the law are usually made to swear by the ‘Oda’ to ascertain their innocence or guilt.                                              

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