Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
Unfortunately, our elders depart this world with our history in their memory.
I did ask my grandfather several questions before he passed.
Preserving history has been my passion, though resources have been a hindrance.
Once on a trip to my father’s hometown of Umuasua in Isuikwuato, the vehicle developed a fault.
We were at the neighbouring Amaba, if my memory serves me well.
I, my uncle, and a cousin had to trek the rest of the distance.
As night fell, there was concern over lighting and as I always travelled along with a torch, I brought it out.
Completely oblivious of my surroundings, I suddenly heard the two men yell my name.
Get back, they muttered, with a sense of urgency.
I doubled back.
Unknown to me, a snake was inches from my feet!
A huge, stout and colourful red and green stripped snake it was, slowly wriggling its way across the footpath from one bush to another.
My suggestion that the snake be killed was rebuffed.
No! It is Okenyukwu [Great Guardian-Friend]. You are a child of the soil. It will not harm you.
I glanced at my uncle in disbelief.
Just let me get home safely first!
The men thought the sluggishness of the snake must be due to a recent heavy meal it had.
Much later, I discovered the snake was likely the African Beauty snake, a non-venomous reptile.
During the rest of the long trek home, we discussed the traditional belief system of Ndi Umuasua.
To our left was a dense forest, which I could still visualize despite the darkness.
It was surrounded by farmland. The core was however untouched vegetation, a sign of reverence.
That is the habitation of Okenyukwu, my uncle continued. No one goes there.
I enquired on the deities of Ndi Umuasua.
This soil I am treading?
Yes. Have you destroyed it by walking on it?
We entered Umuasua central and pointing to a tall and mighty oak tree which I have noted since childhood, my uncle informed it was an oracle tree.
I thought as much.
He added that with my dressing – Hijab and Niqab – rumour will be that he has enlisted the services of a powerful enchantress!
Ndi Igbo bikonu!!!! Serious laughter!
The history and traditions of Ndi Igbo cannot be narrated without a mention of elephant tusks.
I recall seeing tusks in our home in my childhood.
Years later when I learnt of the extinction of elephants, I pondered why we cannot have sustainable cultures – enjoy drinking palm wine from the tusk while taking steps to allow the survival of elephants.