Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Reviving core Igbo values of respect for elders, communal life, cooperation, being our brothers’ keeper, identifying with deities of Igbo land and a host of others formed the subject matter when students of Trinity Theological College Umuahia Abia state recently visited Ezeoba’s palace at Nri in Anaocha local government area of Anambra state. Though the advent of civilisation and modernity may have combined to make the ancestral heritage of Ndigbo appear fetish and diabolic as evident in the pouring of libation to the gods and deities of. the land such as the sacred python, river goddess, crocodile, iroko tree as well as other symbols that mediate between man and his ancestors, the visit to Nri kingdom by the students reinforced the dire need to revive, preserve, protect and project Igbo cultural values as it was in the beginning when the pre-literate Igbo society depended on the position of the sun and cock crow to determine time of day and also depended on nature for longevity.
The foregoing was the remote reason why Dr. Ramas Okoye Asuzu stressed the dire need for Ndigbo to return to their roots as it is the only way forward. Ramas while taking the students of Trinity Theological College round various deities in Igbo land at his Liberation Temple of Absolute God Uruofolo village Nri Anaocha local government area of Anambra, told the students that without Igbo language, religion as well as having a currency that identifies and distinguishes Ndigbo from other ethnic groups, the Igbo nation may remain slaves forever.
Ramas who noted that the students of Trinity Theological College Umuahia came to visit the Sacred Order of Ofor Nri Association, explained that the students came to obtain first hand information on Igbo cultural religion at work. He said the students saw the Sacred Ground of Obi Ezumezu Igbo where the students saw Ofor in action and other deities of Igbo land and their individual relevance vis-a-vis Igbo traditional worship. He said the deities include Ofor Ndichie, Akpu, Ngwu, Ngene, Omenketi-na-nu, Ogwugwu, Awgbuchi and other ancestral deities of Igbo land noting that they are all gods of justice, equity and fertility. Though he regretted that the coming of the white missionaries dealt a terrible blow on Igbo cultural heritage, he emphasized the urgent need to protect Igbo culture and language from extinction even as he observed that Igbo culture and tradition is a force to reckon with while efforts should be made to correct certain wrong impressions and negative stereotypes about Igbo heritage being fetish and sinister in practice.
The foremost traditionalist further expressed deep concern that Africans and Ndigbo in particular have not been fair to their traditional religion and worship stressing that Africans are still basking in the euphoria of the influence of borrowed religion. According to him, Islam and Christianity have combined forces to deceive people as evident in oath-taking and swearing-in ceremonies of public office holders and the likes, pointing out that both religions have failed Africans woefully while encouraging the students to uphold what they learnt during their visit to Nri kingdom as it is a veritable step to propagating, protecting and promoting Igbo culture, language and native religion.
On his part, Ven. Dr. Alex Alozie Iheemekwala, lecturer at Trinity Theological College Umuahia and leader of the group that visited Nri kingdom said that one of the courses the students offered made it mandatory that they must visit such places as part of their course work. He said the culture and tradition of Ndigbo were wonderful even though the advent of the white man’s religion tended to spoil things but still Igbo were tracing their roots at the moment. He added that the core values, norms and mores of Ndigbo must be identified and revived so that they could be handed down to generations yet unborn.