African culture upholds truth. It is that same ingredient that drives the symbol of authority in Igbo land. “Eziokwu bu ndu” is a testament to this supreme notion all over the land, mandating subjects to the superiority of this authority. It was common practice to see gatekeepers of the “ofo” as upright and steadfast men, who swore to the authority, in truth and fairness without bias. They were mostly men of stellar qualities.
Lies, deceits, cheating, robbery, rape, incest, denials,`nshi n’aja’ were those vices that the “ofo’’ moved against. I remember other arsenals that were rife in the strong hay days in Ahaba — “Ebi”, “okpango”, “ekwekirikwe”, ones that were sent ahead to seek information in the ethereal space, ones that were easily deployed when the land was desecrated, ones that were easily summoned when the land was stained, ones that were the last resort in a quest to cleanse the land. I remember the popular saying “Ala Ahaba tuputakwa gi”-laying credence to the sanctity of strength of my maternal homeland.
Ahaba land was powerful. It rid itself of miscreants and impunity. It was self-serving, boiling hot enough to keep every marauder at bay. Was it not this same Ahaba that a goat was touted to have climbed a palm tree?, was it not this same Ahaba that had “Nwata dibia Unogu”?, was it not the same Ahaba that a basket was filled with water and it never leaked, was it not the same Ahaba that a machete was thrown high up in the air and it never came down, was it not the same Ahaba that the okpango ferried my grandfather Ajawuihe into a well and mysteriously vomited him, was it not the same Ahaba that had my maternal uncle Okwudigbo, with the potent “Aju” who had sent the army of termites that attacked the Whiteman snipers at the ama-orlu sector warfront, was it not the same Ahaba that deserved “Oji dike” times over and beyond.
Ahaba, my maternal home has gone cold, the land has gone mute, it has lost its prowess. The authority seemed to have abdicated the throne. What was once a force, was now a remnant of an old bastion that now glorified that which it abhorred — Lies.
Ama ndi ashi — a liar’s lair existed in my maternal home of Ahaba-Orodo. I do not know for sure if any legend knew why said square was named, but nothing sinister would give this place away. My uncle Emekoma’s house stood right by the corner, just shy away from that bend that led to Amaukwu village while Oguzie’s store that served as a shack hid in plain sight right adjacent to my uncle's. It was here that my cousin, Obinna had lied to me, he said he had an important message to drop at some bar along the road that led to Nkwo-orodo. It turned out to be that brothel owned by wally-wo and dee sam — turned out to be my first-time experience of the underworld happenings around orodo.
It was at this same lair that legends have peddled stories that touched the heart — ones that dated back to the civil wars when two brothers who were sworn enemies took their issues to the war front. One of the brothers had run for cover in a nearby dump only to find his brother already quartered, legend has it that on sighting his brother, he had started a scream to alert the enemies to pinpoint location — a move to finish off the brother in that battlefield. It was in this same lair that reminded me of the futility of life, a lesson learned right in my father's hospital, on the death bed of my uncle who had summoned his sworn enemy — his brother, for forgiveness and parting words. It was in this same lair that had a fork running towards Idume-ogwa, through umunwamkpi, who now in recent times have watched lies, death, murder, gross impunity, and evil transgress the village — reeling from oppressions and intimidations by street urchins and escapees, ones that had no fear nor respect for any remaining authority of the land.
The Ofo and okpango and other potent arsenals had gone to school and church, they had learned the civil ways of the white man, they no longer acted without wide consultation, they now constituted committees before any decision, they now had meetings in school buildings rather “in the obi”, they drank stout and hero, children now insulted it — they even tossed it up and down.
The Ofo and okpango and other potent arsenal had gone mute in my maternal home, watching liars and people without the best interest of the land rule, observing brothers kill brothers, eyes open as brothers maim each other, awake as siblings go for each one’s throat, sleeping as the land is filled with blood. The Ebi has lost its inert GPS qualities — if not, why hasn’t it unearthed all those who have blood on their hands, why hasn’t it taken us to them who have littered our lands with bodies, why has it not found any Fulani in our lands, why hasn’t it pinpointed them who say we see no peace.
The Ofo, now banks with zenith or United Bank of Africa, now a politician in my maternal homeland, seeking favors from the highest bidder, understanding only languages of money and electric transformers, bypassing incantations and libations with praise worshipping of same ones that “ala ahaba kwesiri ituputa”.
The Ofo had gone rogue. the same way in all the villages in Orodo. The authorities have all abdicated the throne and sanity is no more to be found. We definitely stand to be engulfed by the new authority whose gatekeepers take prisoners, ones who offer heads and blood as appeasement, ones who will have a change of mind — if at all with a fat bank alert for a ransom.
Our land is desecrated.
Someone has to go back to the land of the dead — -someone needs to carry the information to them. Tell them that “Ala Orodo ahushiela anya”.