Hereditary Monarchy In Igbo Communities And The Guard Of Tradition …The Historic Instance Of Emekuku

Hereditary Monarchy In Igbo Communities And The Guard Of Tradition …The Historic Instance Of Emekuku

By Chinedu Max Egere MNGE.

Investigations have consistently shown that in Igbo land, there are a few unique communities that are enshrined in cultures, customs and traditions of heredity over their monarchy. These communities have been aged in the history of heredity with their royal stools endearing them honour and respect.

A social scientist of renown has defined a hereditary monarchy as an age-long system of sustaining a royal authority in a particular family and that the family owes it as a duty to select who reigns as ‘Eze’ of their autonomous Community.

In this case, the stool of the monarch of the autonomous community is traditionally domiciled in that royal family. A traditional ruler has described such communities as ‘’mother communities’’ which have stuck to the cultures, customs and traditions surrounding their royal stools having the belief in ‘Ahamaefula’ which in English parlance entails ‘’ life legacy”.

In perfecting the traditional processes in a hereditary system, both the royal stool and the Chief custodian, the ‘Eze’ will be cocooned in the same tradition that created room for both his selection and reign. He reigns forever which is that the stool is customarily permanent.

Investigations independently carried out indicate that Emekuku, an ancient community in Owerri North Local Government Area, Imo state is suitable to be used as a historic instance of royal heredity. In order to achieve that, the attention of not less than 35 elders of substance were drawn from within and across Emekuku and their voices of wisdom and reason counted.

Before delving into the analysis of the narratives, key points were clear in respect of the advantages of hereditary stools that are anchored on traditional processes of which lie the divine factors of peace, unity, security and progress.

The voices only differed in the use of words but the facts were the same and appeared sacrosanct. They were dispassionate and only looked up to the cultures, customs and traditions of Emekuku.

The royal stool in Emekuku is hereditary and domiciled in Obi Royal family. This “Ezeship” has significantly existed for more than a century. Obi Ezeship Ajoku Abuba I, the Ezeukwu of Emekuku passed on in 1923. He began to reign in 1900. After his demise, the prestigious throne remained vacant for upwards of ten years.

That vacuum did not give room for crisis or rancour or skirmishes nor did it pave way for political interferences. What a great community!

And so, in their wisdom armed with the traditional ethos, the principal members of Obi royal family selected the first son of the late Eze Ajoku Abuba in the person of Kaligogo Amadi Obi II, the Ezeukwu of Emekuku.

During the reign of K.G Amadi Obi, health challenges formed a hiccup which led to his inability to respond to the invitation by the then East Central state government during the local Reforms. It was on that ground that he instructed his brothers, the direct sons of Obi Ejeshi Ajoku Abuba, (the principal members) to choose among themselves who will succeed him since he became incapacitated and could not function anymore.

His siblings came together nominating one of them named Prince Fidelis Ebelugwu Obi, but unfortunately, he declined citing his incapability to be at the helm of the popular throne and they went forth to nominate Prince Peter Ugochukwu Obi, presenting him to the Eze, KG Amadi Obi.

The Eze expressed his enthusiasm as if they were in his mind over the choice of Peter Ugochukwu Obi. The presence of God manifested in that traditional direction. The Eze gave a nod in exuberance to his choice and could not hide his joy by requesting his palms for blessings. That was done in the midst of his brothers (the principal members). He poured his spittle on the pair of

palms of Prince Peter Ugochukwu Obi signifying stamped blessings that would yield progress, prosperity, and unity all for the good of the community. He was not just blessing the new Eze as a person, but as well as blessing the throne, blessing the principal members, and the Community. The blessings were a way of empowering the new Eze with the traditional wisdom and strength for the throne. He was said to have capped Prince Peter Ugochukwu Obi with ‘Okpu Nwagoro’ as his successor which is still in the old palace as an archive.

The late Eze Peter Obi
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The late Eze Peter Obi

That was not enough as the tradition demanded. Thus, Peter Ugochukwu Obi was presented to the community who coronated him at the Emekuku Market Square (Nkwo Emeke) in 1981 though he had been presented with the staff of office by the then government of Imo State in 1979.

Records have it of Emekuku that the direct sons of Obi Ejeshi Ajoku Abuba who gathered to choose Prince Peter Ugochukwu Obi as the next Eze were Benson Udogwu Obi; Fedelis Ebolugwu Obi; Kamala Obi; Meja Obi; Peter Ugochukwu Obi; Steven Igboahunauba Ob; Lucius Uwandu Obi; Cyril Egomnini Obi; Christopher Nwaneri Obi; Agwamba Boniface Mmere Obi; Peter Ibeawuchi Obi. Unfortunately, this set of generations is gone and Eze Peter Ugochukwu Obi gloriously became the last to exit out of the surviving sons of Obi Ejeshi Ajoku Abuba.

The title of Nze is well respected in Igbo land and Emekuku has her own ‘Nze’ who worked with Eze Peter Ugochukwu Obi and many of them are still alive. They include Okenze Lawrence Ohiri Amadi (Now late); Nze Ben Ihenacho (acting capacity); Nze Vitalis Ugwuadu; the vice President of Nze Oratta; Nze Edenobi; Nze Vincent Osuji; Nze Alex Onyewuchi; Nze Joseph Obi; Nze Edward Obi; Nze Mike Obi; Nze Reginald Obi; Nze Bruno Obi (Financial secretary, Nde Nze Oratta) Nze Lucian Ohale (Chairman Nde Nze Emekuku) Nze George Obi and the rest of them. It is important to note that the Association of ‘Nze Oratta’ comprising Owerri North and West was wisely founded by the late Eze Peter Obi which has its headquarters in Emekuku. Their relevance is key and their traditional roles cannot be compromised in the kingdom.

The Late Eze Peter Ugochukwu Obi did not derail from the track of traditions of Emekuku which earned him a great honour of the ‘’National Award of Heritage Custodian Per Excellence’’ from the National Museum. Eze Peter Obi was not selected by the Town Union rather by the principal members of the Obi royal family as the tradition demands while the supreme council of Oha Ezelukwu Emekuku received him and gave him their blessings before he was presented to the community.

In the community, the traditional ruling council has Ndi Nze, Nde Oha and members of the C.G.C which the Eze was the Chairman. The tradition is that these groups would be informed before his presentation to the community. Ndi Oha and ndi Nze are traditionally important in Igbo culture since their roles are to see that the communities flow in peace and justice.

Now that the generation comprising the surviving sons of Obi Ejeshi Ajoku Abuba is no more, the tradition of Emekuku demands that the mantle falls on the direct grandsons of Obi Ejeshi Ajoku Abuba to gather for the choice of the successor to the throne. These surviving grandsons are the principal members of Obi Royal family. They genuinely constitute the second generation of the royal family.

The questions are: Have they met? Have they played the required traditional role to save both the tradition and image of the great community?

Chinedu Max Egere writes from Owerri.

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