Ndigbo: Royal Highnesses without Royalty

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: When Ndigbo embraced Kingship, after the era of Igbo enweghi Eze, it became a sacred and highly reverenced stool. Kings were mystics. That was when crowning King was spiritual than coronation it has become today. Being King was not by the numerous wealth and educational certificates one had, but by the dictates of Chukwu Abiama (The Most High of Ndigbo). King was held in high esteem and he abided by the rules, beliefs and cultural legacy of his people. After the (Eze Ala, Onowu, Oji Ofo), King was the mediator between his people and the spiritual forces of his land.

{Pic: culled online)
{Pic: culled online)

King was the epitome of uprightness. King was Chukwu, so revered. He would not have a father in order not to be controlled. He inherited the stool from the father. King would not eat in the public. And if he must, it would be in secret. When he was up in the morning after the morning Ekwe must have been beaten, he would offer supplications to the ancestors and the forces of the land. Even though that King was entitled to many wives, he would not be lascivious. His household would live apart from his dwelling place. King would not pay bride price; this did not mean that he would take the would-be wife by force. No. To be King cost not much, as far as the person was chosen by the spiritual forces of the respective land. Alas! What we have today are mainly “419” Kings who most of them rule their villages from far lands and can be kidnapped by kidnappers or die uncertainly. What we have today are money bags kings who hardly know the norms and ties of Ndigbo. Many of them are university graduates who cannot express themselves fluently in the Igbo language. What we have today are Kings that would prefer going to court to settle litigations than settle them among their traditional kinsmen. There is no secrecy surrounding how King is chosen in Igbo-land again. This is caused by avarice. Some are even crowned by their church Bishop, than to be crowned by the Traditional Priest, who administers the Oath of Secrecy that made King of the old to be an initiate of the Igbo Spiritual Order. He would be above kidnappers and flippancies of rivals. Hardly are traditional rituals in crowning King these days. The aura that once surrounded Kings is elusive today. What we have today are royal highnesses without royalty of sacredness that the stool had enjoyed. Some of the Kings are politicians and even (‘bastards’). Ndigbo my people, it is a pity how we lost many things that once worked for us in the name of civilisation or is it the alien Christianity. It is a pity that the sacred places we had have been desecrated for frivolities. It is a pity that Kingship is now a tussle than inheritance, spiritual. I’m irritated. It is a pity!

-Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Writer, Rivers State.