A VISIT TO HIS LATE FATHER’S IKWUNNE

He didn’t want it to seem like he’d used his late father’s IKWUNNE only to fulfill all righteousness during the burial and funeral rites held four months ago. They were people from his late paternal grandmother’s village, which he had never visited or known till after his father’s death. He’d been informed that his father’s funeral couldn’t be said to have held without them in attendance. He was accompanied to see Omengboji, the face of his father’s Ikwunne before the burial, and the latter had managed to assemble an impressive contingent to the funeral ceremony, who announced their arrival by feigning anger at the death of their son at an unripe age, destroying flora and fauna in their path, as they made their way towards the canopy where the receiving party including his immediate extended family were seated. Only a quick intervention by those who know on his side, by presenting the approaching Ikwunne-party with a white cock, calmed frayed nerves, before they presented their condolence “offerings”, and were escorted to their canopy, presented with kola (including kolanut, garden eggs and peanut butter), food and drinks, and then much later, a live ram with which they left to their village.

He had kept in touch with Omengboji afterwards via phone calls, and did as much when his itinerary on his latest road trip included his father’s Ikwunne. He was accompanied by his friend and sidekick from his village, who though being two age grades below his remained his closest friend, ally and ever present all-seeing eye there. He has never been good with remembering direction to places, and his younger friend wasn’t surprised that he couldn’t locate his father’s Ikwunne, despite been there once before. Google maps and the likes was developed for his kind it seems.

Only with the help of a man locking up his shop at the time they arrived at the place Omengboji asked him to stop were they, with his help and direction, able to finally locate him. It turned out that the man was also a member of the larger Onyinanya family of which Omengboji was one and represented. Omengboji was pleased to see them, and presented his guest with an old stainless steel plate containing Kolanut, pepper and chalk. The gathering at the point included Omengboji, and his kin who’d helped bring him and his friend to the formers’ house. With the chalk, Omengboji drew lines on the ground before him, while making supplication to the gods and ancestors, for protection and provisions for those present and the families they represent. He thereafter passed the chalk to his kinsman who did likewise before passing the chalk to his guests, who also drew lines while praying for a fulfillment of the heart’s desires of all those present, before passing the chalk to his friend who also supplicated powers, spiritual and temporal, for blessings and then like others before him, drew lines on the floor, before painting his big toe with the chalk, like the others (except his friend) had done before him.

Welcome rituals over, Omengboji placed under the plate containing the “Kola” a hundred Naira note, which his friend supported with a twenty Naira note, before asking him to take the Naira notes and bless the Kolanut, as the guest on that occasion. He pocketed the one hundred and twenty Naira notes, blabbed a prayer, and returned the plate containing the kola to Omengboji, who said a more extensive prayer, ladened with blessings for those present, and those they represented, ending with the words, “…. Let the hawk perch, let the eagle perch, and if one tells the other not to perch, may his wing break”, before breaking the kolanut and sharing to the audience that had grown to six to include another man and woman from the Oyinanya compound, who had joined up while Omengboji was delivering his family’s panegyric.

A PLATE CONTAINING KOLANUT AND CHALK, ON THE TABLE WITH BOTTLES OF LIFE BEER, A BOTTLE OF ST-RÉMY BRANDY, CUPS, SHOT GLASSES, WITH ANOTHER BOTTLE OF LIFE BEER AND CHALK MARKS DRAWN ON THE FLOOR BY HOST AND GUESTS, AS EVIDENCE THAT AN IMPORTANT MEETING HAD TAKEN PLACE THERE.
A PLATE CONTAINING KOLANUT AND CHALK, ON THE TABLE WITH BOTTLES OF LIFE BEER, A BOTTLE OF ST-RÉMY BRANDY, CUPS, SHOT GLASSES, WITH ANOTHER BOTTLE OF LIFE BEER AND CHALK MARKS DRAWN ON THE FLOOR BY HOST AND GUESTS, AS EVIDENCE THAT AN IMPORTANT MEETING HAD TAKEN PLACE THERE.

With the chewing of kolanut ongoing laced with small talk about cultures, Omengboji excused himself to get some bottles of beer. Interestingly, neither he nor his friend were into alcohol, having been in his own case, sober for close to five years. Omengboji and his kinsman overlooked that and went on to gulp down the bottles of Life Beer while they accepted the gift of ST-Rémy Authentic Brandy which he presented to Omengboji. Again Omengboji excused himself, got some shot glasses, offered a prayer for the brandy and passed the bottle to him and his friend who despite protestations succumbed and took shots each, in order not to offend their host. A great deal for him, seeing that in that action, his more than four years oath of sobriety had just been broken, but he rationalized it as yielding to culture, with the view of not offending the sensibility of his hosts, his father’s Ikwunne, much like at the annual Passover ritual where he takes alcohol in red wine during the emblem reenactment, for religious reasons. His hosts who were now pleased with him, showered encomiums on him, and encouraged him not to deviate from the path that he has now charted. A path that was gradually closing up at the time his father died.

One by one other members of the Oyinanya family who were with them left, leaving Omengboji alone to cater to his guests on their behalf. The latter didn’t disappoint as he showed that he was up to the task by regaling his guests with stories about his family and others he thought might interest his hosts. Soon afterwards, he got him a machete and with an alacrity that bellied his true age, mowed down one of the plantain trees in his compound and skillfully separated the bunches of plantain from the stock. He also got him three drupes of coconut, cut off the outer layer and packaged all into a sack for him, as present for his mother.

PLANTAIN AND COCONUT GIFTS PRESENTED HIM BY OMENGBOJI ON BEHALF OF HIS FATHER'S IKWUNNE.
PLANTAIN AND COCONUT GIFTS PRESENTED HIM BY OMENGBOJI ON BEHALF OF HIS FATHER’S IKWUNNE.

He soon announced his intention to leave, back to his village on the premise that he had other errands to do, and indeed he had, and this had been the second leg of his journey, having visited his Ikwunne (his mother’s village/people the day before), before coming to his late father’s Ikwunne on that particular day. Omengboji expressed his delight at his visit and hoped that such will be maintained on a regular basis. He promised he would, and left with his friend and sidekick to the main road, where he shared the “kola” money equally with each having sixty Naira, before boarding a tricycle to begin the journey back to his village.

‘kovich

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12 thoughts on “A VISIT TO HIS LATE FATHER’S IKWUNNE

  1. Interesting read. I tried to relate the accounts with what obtains in my home town and find them largely similar.

    Quite alright, I’m aligned with African burial rituals but I wish they tone down on the complicated/controversial aspects, which at least, have adversed effects on the economy.

    Also, I’m not clear on why he had to share the “kola” money equally with his friend. I thought the money was symbolic and a family thing.

    Like

    1. There are more similarities amongst the different cultures in Africa than there are differences, hence I’m not in the least surprised that you found similarities between this and your culture.

      What I have found with burial rituals is that though it marks the end of the physical journey for the dead, it nurtures the beginning of several journeys for those left behind. Many a time, it is this beginning that’s celebrated, in reverencing the dead, in the much ado that heralds the passing of our loved ones.

      As for the sharing of the “kola” money, Igbo culture demands that when such is presented to a group recognized as “guests”, then every member of that entourage must partake of the sharing of the money in spite of the amount. This is also practiced amongst the Urhobo and some other ethnic groups in Nigeria.

      Liked by 1 person

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