Posted by: Dara 34 20 5
Posted in: Anambra | Nnewi_south | Culture
20th Mar '18 at 08:40 AM (7 months ago)


At the mention of the town Ukpor many things cascade the mind among which are two prominent ones: Hills and masquerades. Bad roads used to come a close third, but that was then, thanks to whomever contributed to that. From this impulse, therefore, one could form a picture of the town even without visiting it; of masquerades chasing the uninitiated up or down a hill amidst dusts. A great sight to behold? 

This write up has two major parts: an attempt to tell the history of Ukpor, and a detailed account of Ibu Ozu Nwada Ukpor. I shall start with the former. 

I wish to acknowledge Mr Nkekelonye, Mr L. Okonkwo, Mr M. Izunwa, and others who provided useful pieces of information on the history of Ukpor. To start with, Ukpor has no generally accepted historical account, thus, various accounts are available. These accounts, however, do not contradict each other per se.

One has it that what we have today as Ukpor was just a handful of sojourners; of itinerant farmers and merchants, who used to pitch a tent around where is presently called Afor market. This account says that these people came, stayed for some time and continued their journey or business. The region has spring water and giant trees that provided their immediate needs. One of the trees located at their resting point is "Ukpodu" from which the name "Ukpor" was derived. Arguably many still hold that this Ukpodu tree is actually what you see at the center of Afor market today.

With time these people began to settle around the tree. They began to build houses with clay and raffia roofs. And from them Ukpor, which today doubles as the Nnewi South Headquarters, emerged. The people of Amadim are said to be the first settlers which earned them the right to prayer and breaking of kola nut at any town gathering. Uhuori and Ebe followed suit. 

A second account of Ukpor history talks about a certain wanderer named Ukpondu who settled around Ogbo Akwu at the present Afor market. He is said to have lived alone before marrying and raising kids. He lived off his farm produce. Here, too, Amadim is believed to be his first son, followed by Uhuori and Ebe. His sons took up his name after his death so that today Ukpondu slipped to become Ukpor. 

Notable among these two popular accounts are some points of convergence. One, Amadim is the eldest, two, the two accounts have similar dates -- late 16th century. 

Let us now look at Ibu Ozu Nwada Ukpor. 

Nwada (nwa+ada) is a term used to refer to a married woman by his father's kinsmen. Ibu Ozu Nwada is the ritual performed when such a woman dies. Hence, Ibu Ozu Nwada Ukpor which what I'm going to look into here is how Ukpor people perform this ritual. 

In Ukpor, Ibu Ozu Nwada is done in the evening of the day of burial ceremony (or the day after). However, it begins even before that day. So, when nwada dies, her husband accompanied by his kinsmen takes a goat, kola nuts, and drinks to their in-laws (the family of the deceased) to inform them about their daughter's demise. Together they fix a date for the funeral and preparations kick off. During the time for condolences on the funeral day, the family of the deceased would pay a condolence visit with the necessary items including but not limited to drinks, cash and animal. If the deceased had a first daughter who is married, the family of her daughter are expected to come along for their condolence with a fat goat (or cow if they have the wherewithal), drinks, wrappers, etc. The items brought by the deceased's daughter's family are carefully sequestered for the Ibu Ozu Nwada ritual. 

When the time for Ibu Ozu Nwada comes, which usually takes place in the evening, the league of Umuada (comprising all daughters married to various families but from the same extended family with the deceased, whom must have spent the night in their sister's house) would gather at a place with their kinsmen. The children of the deceased woman are to walk on their palms and knees (crawling like babies) toward the Umuada in reference. After that the youngest of them all who is exempted from this crawling part would position a tray on his head while he moves among the people. The tray would contain some sticks and leaves (signifying that he had fetched firewood for cooking and pasture for goats), and some money dropped by commiserators. 

When this part is over the husband of the deceased if alive comes forward with his first son to give each group their due. They'd give the whole items brought by the deceased's first daughter's husband (which was set aside) to their in-laws. If they're buoyant they'll add more items. Then they'd give salt, soaps, and wrappers, sometimes money to the Umuada. Usually after this a gunshot is launched into the air as testimony that the deceased had been accorded due respect. This ends the major events of Ibu Ozu Nwada in Ukpor as other events afterwards are considered addenda. 

By and large, the above history and description does not boast of exhausting the whole points, no, it is just a summary of a far, deeper, interesting history and cultural heritage of the good people of Ukpor


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