Raymond Ozoji, Awka
A Catholic priest and Professor of Philosophy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Rev. Prof Bona Uchenna Umeogu, has called on Igbo people predominantly living in South-East Nigeria, to sustain their rich Kolanut tradition.
Umeogu, who is the former Dean Faculty of Arts, Unizik, spoke at the University Auditorium while delivering the 50th Inaugural Lecture at Awka yesterday.
He said: ‘’The Kola nut is a multivalential symbol of Igbo thought and culture and correctly depicts the multidimensional individuality and personality of the communalistic homo symbolicus: onye Igbo.
‘’The information, out-formation, transformation, conformation and even deformation of the kola nut reveal how God, the world, human existence, the society, and knowledge came to the world through Igbo land and culture; but I have to establish both for now and forevermore that the genesis and ontology involved in the context under attention is symbolic, or at best, symbolismic.
‘’So, the conflicts of ontologies involved in the consideration of the polyglot genesis of Igbo reality is resolved in and by the logical significance of the kola nut’s symbolismic universe: of kola nut symbol, of kola nut symbolism, of kola nut symbolismic expression and Kola nut symbolismic deposition’’.
Rev. Prof Umeogu who is the Foundation Director, Igbo Village and Center for African Civilization (IVACAC), Unizik, appealed to teachers and students of reality to transform ‘’our knowledge of reality by the authority and specialization of kola nut symbolismic universe and the constitution and institution of the sciences and Arts involved’’.
Umeogu said the Kolanut tradition which affords the Igbo the opportunity to offer fervent prayers to God at every gathering is one tradition that should be sustained.
The theme of the lecture is “Kolanut in Igbo Metaphysics: A Phenomenalysical Research Into Its Symbolismic Universe.”
The clergyman who has a PhD in African Metaphysics, with two M.As in Western Metaphysics and New Testament Exegesis as well as B.Phil both in Nigeria and Rome expressed dismay over the gradual decline in the respect accorded Kolanut among the people of the south-eastern Nigeria in recent times.
He described Kola nuts as one of the core values of Igbo people, which engender love and peace among brothers, adding that Kola nut is a sacred fruit and that God listens to prayers made during its presentation and breaking.
“Some of the reverences being accorded to Kola nut are no longer being observed due to lack of knowledge and we must wake up as a people to check this trend,” he said.
Umeogu the Golden inaugural lecturer said the choice of his topic was informed by the significant roles Kola nuts played in the unity of Igbo as well as religious groups and politicians, adding “Kola nut has the capacity of unifying not only the three major tribes of the nation, but Christians of different sects as well as traditionalists and politicians.”
Umeogu’s lecture was not without an innovation as he discovered and produced Igbo Kola nut juice for stimulation, energizing and sustenance of the body, even as he has over 400 Metaphysico-Communion Living drugs from BonaChristus’ Symbolismic Pharmaceutical Laboratories.
He is the founder, convener and moderator of UNIZIK 1st Ogirisi Igbo Lectures on ‘’Ofo: Igbo symbol of Authority’’ and so many other lecture series, organizations and journals.
Prof. Umeogu noted that kola nut is one substance that is highly respected in Igboland hence it has both the mystical and medicinal effects to human being just as the substance contains both magnesium and potassium which helps to control heart pain.
On the mystical aspect of kola nut, Prof. Umeogu noted that it has a nature that can be influenced by words and thought. “There is life in kola nut. He that brings kola brings life. There is something in kola nut that is affected by behavior and attitude,” he said.
Prof. Umeogu blamed the poor respect given to kola nut on poor knowledge of the substance but urged the members of the society to embrace kola nut as the symbol of unity. “Let us go into what unites us as people and against what divides us. Since we all accepted kola nut as symbol of unity, it is the only thing that can unite us completely,” he said.
He said further that Kola nut came from the tropical and subtropical rainforest of Africa and other continents but migrated through culture into Igbo world hence Ndi Igbo separated the Kola nut from profane use and dedicated it to sacred use.
He explained that Kola nut contains ingredients that stimulate, sustain and service the human body, adding that it has distinguished roles to play in Igbo land hence Ndigbo use it in prayers and sacred communion between God and man.
Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Charles Okechukwu Esimone, commended the Jubilee lecturer, Prof Umeogu, for doing justice to the topic, which he described as unique.
Prof Esimone said that one of the most revered substance in Igboland, kolanut, is capable of solving the ethnoreligious crisis that has continued to threaten the peace and unity of the country.
The Unizik VC said that the symbolic values associated with kola nut is such that should be inculcated into the policy of the nation as a way to curtail suspicion and ethnic rivalries that have continued to trouble the nation.
He informed further that kola nut has vital importance to mankind through its symbolic values.
Former Governorship candidate of PDP In Anambra State, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, said that the history and culture of Ndigbo can only be preserved and transmitted by Igbo brothers who can understand and interpret it adding that kola nut is symbolic in Igbo culture right from the generations past.
Highlight of the event was the decoration of Prof. Bona U. Umeogu by the UNIZIK Vice Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone and rendition of different Igbo music and ‘mbem’ associated with Iwa Oji even as part of the lecture was rendered in Igbo in respect of the Kola nut’s long age tradition of no English language.
In an interview, Reverend Father Patrick Bosah who represented the Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Reverend Valerian Okeke, and Chairman of Otusubakwa Igbo, Professor Pita Ejiofor, said that Kola nut ritual is a culture in Igbo land that should be respected.
In a vote of thanks, the chairman Inaugural lecture committee, Professor Richard Uwakwe, thanked all who graced the occasion.
Also, after the inaugural lecture, Prof Umeogu presented and launched some of his new books at the Hollywood event center Awka, which attracted who is who.
Making his opening remark to launch the books, Oseloka Obaze said that it is high time the society started to appreciate people who spend their time to transmit and promote Igbo culture and tradition through their writings.