THE LAST OFALA OF OLUOHA IGWE DR .C.I .OKECHUKWU OF IHIALA.
by Francis Okoye
The people of Ihiala, a culturally advanced and enlightened town in Anambra State, on 4 th April 2018(Eke -Ukwu),marked the last ofala of his royal highness, Igwe Dr Cosmas Ikechukwu Okechukwu, Oluoha the CVI and clan head of Ihiala.
The event which took place at the community primary school field, Okohia Ihiala,with a pontifical high mass by his grace, Bishop Hillary Okeke of Nnewi diocese, accompanied by over 5o priests and religious, notably among them were Msgr Dr Hypolite Adigwe, Msgr Ojimba,Msgr Dr Boniface Asuzu, Rev Fr Victor Ifeanyi and Rev Fr Pat Ezefunamba.
Delivering the homily, Msgr Adigwe, a son of Ihiala, explained the culture and heritage If Ihiala,”what we are doing today, Ihiala people know it as “abam na obi ikpeazu” of our Oluoha, other non Ihiala people call it ofala. In our tradition, we don’t crown Igwe , what we crown is Oluoha.”
He revealed the reasons for the saying, ”Uli ama ogo” meaning Uli people behave to their in-laws as if they are strangers, and “Ihiala ama nwanne: meaning Ihiala people don’t love their brothers” He said that it was not that “Ihiala ama nwanee”but it was a way of describing what people observed the Ihiala people doing, like the Hausa who call Igbos “nyamiri” because when Igbos come to the north for the first time during hot weather, they feel thirsty and ask the Hausa people “nye miri” meaning “give me water “so the Hausa people started calling the Igbos “nyem miri”
“Ihiala ama nwanne” began because Ihiala people have a culture and tradition that if any one dies in a family, no one would announce it ,until the diokpa ,that is the eldest family member does the announcement..So if anyone dies in a family, someone who heard about it and ask a family member of that family about it, the family member, in other not to break the traditions, would reply” amamu nwannem” meaning I don’t know my brother, hence Ihiala people began to be referred to as “amamu nwannem”.
The clergy man referred to the fight for the Oluoha stool which lasted several years ,including many court cases, up to the supreme court, and said that it was as if it would divide Ihiala, when Dr Okechukwu came in ,the fight reduced, but the kingship crisis has even entered our masquerades groups.
He condemned the action of certain masquerades in Ihiala, who declared at random that they would be no Sunday mass in some churches, and drive out the priest, who come to say mass.
He said that the passing on of Oluoha, was a chance and a call for peace in Ihiala. Jesus Christ promised us peace when he rose from the dead. We have everything to be strong, we have learned people, but we don’t have any higher institutions in Ihiala. Let us come together and find peace in ihiala.
As we celebrated his Virgil mass yesterday. I wrote on my iPod, a poem about peace. The poem says that some people want to see peace, but peace is on a tree top, they brought a crane to pluck it, but when the crane reached the tree top, it could not pluck it, because it does not know what is peace. So they cut down the tree in other to get at peace, but bees emerged from the fallen tree, and drove them away.
Where is peace, they don’t know. Peace is only in our hearts, waiting for us to bring it out. We carry knives and guns, saying we are looking for peace-we can never find it that way.
Oluoha Okechukwu always advocated for peace”agadi nwanyi da ada ugboro na abu,aguo ihe obu na uko onu”.
Let us take peace and happiness to select the person who would continue the work of Oluoha Okechukwu.
BIOGRAPHY OF HRH IGWE DR COSMAS IKECHUKWU OKECHUKWU
Cosmas Ikechukwu Okechukwu was born on Nov 1 ,1932 to mr Aghasomba Beneduict Okechukwu of Umuelekechem, Okohia Ihiala and Theresa mgbelukwere Okechukwu (nee Elendu of Umudiogo) in the present day Onitsha-Olona ,in present day Delta State.
He attended Holy Trinity primary school,Onithsa, emerging with the highest score in standard six. He attended ETC Ihiala from 1954-1955.He taught from 1956-1959 at Isseke,St Anthony primary school ,Ufuma,Ogbonke and Owerri Ezukala,Christ the king central school Mbaato, all under missionaries. He also taught at St Gregorys,Ubahuekwem,Lilu, and Central school Ukpo where Ichie Sylvester AnyIgbo(from Ihiala)was the then headmaster.
In 1961,he passed GCE London at ordinary and advanced levels. He later taught in several secondary schools like St Johns Nchoko , and Ojike memorial secondary school,Orlu.
In 1973,he obtained his bachelor degree(Bsc)hons from University of Nigeria Nsukka.Armed with an Anambra State scholarship ,he obtained a masters degree)M.Ed from University of Alberta Edmonton Canada 1977 and doctorate degree)Ed.D) from the University of Cincinati, Ohio,USA.
He was a lecturer at the department of vocational education, faculty of education, UNN between 1981-1986, rising from lecturer 11 to senior lecturer.
On Dec 1986, he was crowned the Oluoha of Ihiala, which was followed by many years of kingship tussles which culminated in the Supreme Court case, which he won .In all those years, he kept his eyes firmly fixed on God and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and they didn’t disappoint him, nor forsake him.
WHAT PEOPLE SAID ABOUT OLUOHA DR CI OKECHUKWU
FRANCIS CARDINAL ARINZE:described HRH Igwe D r COSMAS I Okechukwu life” It is the passing of a great man, a convinced Christian, a lover of his people and an experienced citizen of Nigeria. In December 2016,Igwe Okechukwu visited me at Nkwelle Ezunaka and we both discussed and agreed on how I would come to Ihiala in December 2017 to celebrate his wedding golden jubilee, and his many years at the service of his people as their Oluoha. Little did he and I know that divine providence had already decided to call him to the next life before that date.
MOST REV HILLARY ODILI OKEKE-BISHOP OF NNEWI: commenting about the Oluoha,”he has left this world where he demonstrated his good life and catholic faith. He was peaceful ruler of Ihiala and he did his best to keep Ihiala together. He was always available for events in the church, both in Ihiala and in the catholic diocese of Nnewi.
HON BARR IFEANYICHUKWU ODIMEGWU-CHAIRMAN IHIALA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA: described him as follows,HRH Oluoha Dr Cosmas Ikechukwu Okechukwu was a well known man of great reputation and famous traditional ruler in Ihiala LGA of Anambra State and Nigeria as a whole. Cosmas was very kind, honest, jovial, easy going and a pleasant personality, so loved by his people and everyone who came in contact with him.
OGBUEHI GERALD ECHERE NWABUGWU-OGHUEHI AKWUDUGHUDU 2nd OF UBAHUEKWEM IHIALA, stated “the ofala is to tell our father, Oluoha Igwe Dr Cosmas Okechukwu,a befitting good bye and well done for the good work he has done for Ihiala, Bible says that every good work deserves a reward. He left everything he was doing as a lecturer to come and serve his people.
HRH IGWE BEN EMEKA,OKE EBO 11 ,IGWE OF UMUERI, adviced the Ihiala people to follow the good steps off leadership which Oluoha Dr C I Okechukwu set ,in other to bring further developments to the town ,and remarked that Oluoha was a great and good man
DR RICHARDSON .U .OKECHUKWU,REGENT OF OLUOHA, whose rule ended on the day of the last ofala, after one year as regent, described Oluoha Dr Okechukwu as one who enthroned peace, unity and progress in Ihiala. He called on all illustrious sons and daughters of Ihiala to set up foundations to alleviate poverty, youth unemployment which is high in Ihiala today. We need industries, we need to support the widows, orphans and train our young ones to learn to respect the laws of the land.
EZINNA CHIEF IGNATIUS NWADINOBI-CHAIRMAN DIOHA ROYAL FAMILY(D.R.F)on behalf of the royal family commended Oluoha”as EZE NA EJE UKA”God himself has purified and got you ready through the sacraments of the church, you received the sacraments of anointing and reconciliation and felt upon death and not to embalm your body. We were privileged to be present when we committed your mortal body to mother earth with holy mass by his lordship most Rev Dr Hillary Odili Okeke, Msgr Hypolite Adigwe, your parish priest,Rev Francis Orah,your spiritual director ,Rev fr .S. Adigwe and a host of other priests and laity according to your wish, you were really a God fearing man.
ICHIE DR EMMA .O .OKECHUKWU,ICHIE EZEDINOBI-SECETARY TO OLUOHA IN COUNCIL”your enthronement taught ndi Ihiala the supremacy of truth over wealth, the power of rosary and absolute faith in God over cultism, hence you begin and end all council meetings with prayer for sustained peace in Ihiala. Your ability to shun intrigue and blackmail made it possible for you to firmly hold together for the 31 years you held the ofo Dioha, the town already ridden with crisis and separatists maneuvers that polarize it. “Igwe na eje uka “as you were popularly referred to within the Christendom in Onitsha archdiocese and Nnewi diocese, was not a sobriquet but a confirmation of your absolute belief in the practice of catholic doctrine in particular. It will be unheard of that you missed Holy Communion in any mass you were present.
OGBUEHI DAN ILIONE.OGBUEHI OF OGBORO,IHIALA-Oluoha was a man of peace ,and without a man like him on the throne, Ihiala would not have fully recovered from the kingship crisis that enveloped it for many years. Now that he is gone, we must do every thing to make sure that peace continues to reign in Ihiala. We will surely miss him.
ICHIE DR LARRY UDORJI-IHIALA DIASPORA COMMUNITY IN USA,described Oluoha Okechukwu this way “his gallant and courageous fight for the unity, peace and progress of Ihiala town took him to several places that Ihiala people live including several trips and appearances to many conventions of Ihiala national –USA (INUSA).
MR LINUS MBANUGO-BIRMINGHAM,ALABAMA observed that that from his encounters with Oluoha Okechukwu ,that he starts and ends his days with prayers and bible studies and always puts the interest of Ihiala people above everything else.
PROFESSOR ICHIE EDWIN EMEFESI OKAFOR(KSM)-ICHIE UZOCHUKWUMEGHERE OF IHIALA,PROFESSOR OF ARCHAEOLOGY AND ARCHAEOMETALLURGY, UNN, a member of Dioha royal family in his tribute said “we thank the almighty god for giving us this Oluoha who during his reign brought enlightenment, peace, development, and above all protected the traditions and cultures of Ihiala ebeleri. We pray that future successors will emulate the humble life and insights of the late Dr. C .I .Okechukwu.
ICHIE ENGR AFAM AFUGBOM0-IFEMBA OF IHIALA. Recalls of Oluoha “you lived out God’s commands. You were a personification of a peace maker. In the face of grievous assaults, you bore no grudge, you were a man of integrity and a devote Christian.
ICHIE DR GILBERT IGBOAKA-ICHIE IHECHUKWUDERE OF IHIALA., a consultant histopathologist based in London said that Ihiala has lost a distinguished compatriot, a true nationalist, a bridge builder. Okechukwu family lost a living father, husband and family icon. The church has lost a strong supporter.
OGBUEFI UFOMBA LAZARUS,OGBUEHI OF AKWA EZIKE IHIALA,CHAIRMAN TRANSITION COMMITTEE. explains”today we celebrate the last ofala of Oluoha Dr.C.I.Okechukwu, after it,Ihiala would coronate another Igwe. I am the chairman of the transition committee, we have done the first phase called” abam na obi,”and this is the last. I plead with Gov Willie Obiano to complete the two roads going on in Ihiala-the Ubahekwem-Uzoakwa road and the Oluoha road., and I use this opportunity to thank him for paying attention tool Oluoha when he was alive.
ICHIE BONA IGBOANUGO,UGOCHUKWU IHIALA:I implore our future Oluoha to deeply study the experiences of our past kings, particularly Dr Cosmas Okechukwu, the oluo obiri,as to guide him in all decisions and to know and understand the faithfulness of God on his anointed ,if he follows him.
PRINCE ENGR NNAKWE MARCEL-described Olouha Cosmas Okechukwu as a man of peace, and one who carried the people along ,I advice Ihiala people to continue to follow the path of peace which he began.
SOME OF THE ROYAL FATHERS WHO WERE PRESENT
The royal fathers present included HRH Igwe Kenneth Orizu 111 of Nnewi, North, who is also the Grand patron of Anambra State traditional rulers, HRH O bi Gibson Nwosu, Ezeuzu 11 of Awka, HRH Igwe Dr Dan Udoji ,MBBS London,Obi Oraifite V111,and zonal chairman,Ananmbra South council of traditional rulers, HRH Igwe.K.O. Obiriolemgbe, KSJI, JP,Ogbuefi Jideofor 5 of Amorka-and the chairman Ihiala local government traditional rulers council, HRH Igwe Emma Nnabuife, Ezeoha Isseke, HRH Igwe .J .I . Ozulumba, Eze Dumdum 2nd of Oburuisiuzo ,HRH Igwe Dr Nnamdi Oruncha,Igwe Ozubulu. HRH Igwe.S.A. Obika,Igwe of Ezinifte,HRH Igwe R .N. Offor,Igwe of Omogho,HRH.Igwe Prof Laz Ekwueme,HRH Igwe Elias.U.N.Nneli,Igwe of Umueje .
The Ogbuehi’s of Ihiala were also present, as follows ,Ogbuehi Zeph Chukwuka-Ogbuehi Umudara, Ogbuehi Gerald Echere Nwabugwu-Ogbuehi Akwudughudu 2nd of Ubahuekwem Ihiala ,Ogbuehi Sir A.U. Ohazulike KSJI ,JP,-Ogbuehi Uzoakwa, Ogbuehi L.C.Ufomba-Ogbuehi Akwaezikenyi X of Ihiala, Ogbuehi Dan Ilione of Ogboro ihiala.,and Ogbuehi Henry .U.Tuzas -Ogbuehi Chinaewubeze, Umuedike,Ihite, Ihiala.
OBI JACKSON AND DIG NTOMCHUKWU WERE ALSO PRESENT
The event also witnessed the presence of some illustrious sons of Ihiala local government like Dr Ernest Azudialo, MD,Next oil,Osuofia Igbonine, the billionaire business tycoon known as Obi Jackson Group. He was accompanied by deputy inspector general of police, DIG, Valentine Ntomchukwu, fsi, mni, a son of Ihiala and the with him the Anambra State police commissioner,CP Garba Baba Umar.,they were led round the arena by Hon Chuma Nzeribe, the Ezealadike of Uzoakwa.
Ihiala Progressive Union,(IPU)and Ihiala Social club(Igwebuike) members were also present, as well as various masquerade groups, including the uhio dance and famed Ohafia warriors dance.
Gov Willie Obiano was represented by the chairman of Ihiala local government area, Barr Ifeanyi Odimegwu, who is also a great prince of Dioha royal dynasty in Ihiala.
HOW DIOHA FAMILY RULES IHIALA-ONOWU HON COL LINUS OHANEHI
The Onowu of Ihiala(traditional prime minister of Ihiala(Onowu Hon Col Linus Ohanehi-Ichie Ochiagha, a member of Umuezeogu family ,one of the seven sons of Dioha, also threw more light on the Dioha royal family which rules Ihiala.
The Onowu Ihiala said that Dioha had seven sons, whose descendants rule Ihiala turn by turn, by providing candidates to ascend the throne of Oluoha of Ihiala.
The 7 sons are as follows
1. Eleke echerem-which produced Oluoha Okechukwu
2. Nnebu ogbu-who will produce the next Oluoha.
3. Meli ike
These three families are from Okohia village.
5. Iro gbu ewu
The Onowu recalled that Oluoha Okechukwu was a man of peace, he loved Ihiala greatly, and whose time on the throne helped restore peace to Ihiala. He was on the throne for 31 years .Onowu Ohanehi warned that in selecting the next Oluoha, due diligence must be followed and a fitting candidate crowned, to avoid return again to crisis in Ihiala.