My modest, The prisoner of love and Akumefune
Sometimes, that which is most beautiful, intended to endure forever, can be corrupted or destroyed. However, he who transplants, sustains. Just like a bright red rose flower that responds to the motion of the sun's ray, radiating graciously in a wonderful splendour.
On this premise, and with a profound gratitude, I humbly dedicate this memoir to our father in heaven, Lord God the almighty, who guided my taught and articulations as I was writing this memoir recounting the life and times of a rare gem, 'Akumefune nee Ezeagbor' into something worthwhile. This I did in memory of my dear aunt, Mrs. Ejime Christy Nwazu nee Ijei, who was a woman by genetic makeup and morphological attributes, but was a courageous man at heart and character. Sleep well in paradise Aunt Christy! Also, to her daughter and my beloved cousin, Franca who death stole from me in 1998. Have a blissful sleep in heaven my beloved Franca; I missed your warm hug, your usual tapping on my shoulder and your electrifying smiles.
The Super Eagle:
The memory lane of a woman called Akumefune, travelling down from her root to her exit from this complex world. I Akumefune was the daughter of Ezeagbor the son of Iyegbu. Her mother's name was Enweke the daughter of Isitua the son of Oko. Akumefune was married to Ijei Nwabudike, the son of Dafua, Ijei whose mother was Nwokonyia the daughter of Obi Osemene I of Oligbo kingdom.
Culture is improves or changes from one generation to another generation. It changes with time, and develops with new discoveries in science and technology, as well as emerging new ways of thinking. But culture cannot be separated from the family, which is an integral unit of any society and travelling through the memory lane on one's ancestral root, is so captivating and exciting adventure to explore. At this juncture, I welcome you to this wonderful expedition, which tells a story explicitly about a woman whose energy was like that of a stallion that gails resiliently, pulling down every obstacle that crosses its way. She can also be personified as an eagle that soars powerfully in space against any raging storm. Her life was full of ups and downs though, and smooth and rough at various points in her life, but she was not perturb, rather, she was able to conquer the complexity that life threw at her by her perseverance, persistence, self-sacrifice and most importantly by her love of God and mankind.
According to the Psalmist in the Holy book of the Christians, it says, “God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble, so we will not be afraid, even if the earth is shaken and mountains fall into the ocean depths. Even if the seas roar and rage, and the hills are shaken by the violence”. Absolutely, the God of all creation was Akumefune's shelter and strength and because of that, she was not afraid to face the earth quakes, sea roars and the raging storms that came her way when she lived on earth. Indeed, she did not allow the turbulence to overwhelmed her. But rather she committed all her trials to God, and surmounted the huddles, as she rode on majestically, into victory. This was evident in her life as she triumphantly lived all through her life time and aged gracefully as well, and died ten years over a century after she was born.
THE MEMORY LANE
At the start of every planting season, during farming operations, seed are sown into the soil believed to be fertile enough for a bountiful harvest. This same process is also applied during procreation in human being, the method that brings about the union of a matured man and a woman of like mind, through the process of fusing together of the male garment, the sperm cell with that of the egg cell of the female during copulation to form a fertilized egg (zygote) which ultimately develops into the offspring of that union.
In the late 18th century, during the colonial era, a man and a woman named Ezeagbor, the son of Iyegbu and Enweke the daughter of Isitua, the son of Oko became spouses. Ezeagbor was a noble man, and was privileged to be enlisted into the Royal British police force saddled with the responsibility to enforce law and maintain order in one of the British Colonies. Enweke was his diamond and their affectionate bond brought forth the eaglet soaring like a supersonic jet within the stratosphere, her bright eyes and her angelic smiling face was just like a star that twinkles in the early hour of the night. Arguably, this beautiful creature was born when other children were born, but certain features and attributes stood her out amongst her peers. She was born into the family of six children, five male children and she, being the second child out of the six children and was the only girl. Mr. Ezeagbor was a serving police officer in one of the British Colonies, in the South East protectorate, now Southern Cameroun when his long awaited joy, Akumefune whom he fondly called Titi named after the young damsel that he had secretly admired when he was serving at the Lagos protectorate. The couple, Ezeagbor and Enweke both gave the name 'Akumefune', meaning, “my wealth is not lost. Ezeagbor also gave a name of English origin, 'Angelina', named after a young British official, a very charming young woman, kind and diligent to her duties, whom Ezeagbor had worked with in the British colony of West Africa before she returned to Britain to minister to her majesty, the Queen, in her court. Ezeagbor and his wife lived in Cameroun for many years with their children, Stephen, the first child and a boy, Akumefune, the second and a girl, and four other boys, who include, Peter, Emmanuel or Nwa'eke, a name was given to him because, he was born on 'eke' day, a day which was made for resting, and people here forbidden from working in their farms, as prescribed by custom. In addition, Nwaeke later took after his father as a police officer and served in most police formations in different parts of Nigeria. He married an epitome of beauty in some standards, because she was very tall and huge, with an ebony black complexion. Little did anyone wondered why her parents named her 'Mgborji', after her birth, which means, 'the soul of an Iroko tree'. Amongst the other boys were Jebose, which can be interpreted as, go to God's house, then the last but not the least was Isaac, the child of promise, the last two children were successful farmers and traders.
After the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorate in 1914, Ezeagbor voluntarily retired from the service of her royal majesty, the Queen, and returned home with his entire household to a place in the South South Nigeria, the land of 'Isei' in Issele-Uligbo kingdom, an off shoot of the Bini kingdom. That place is the present day Issele-Uku in Aniocha-North local government area of Delta-State, Nigeria. Before the exit of Ezeagbor from the British royal police, and his eventual return to Isei, unlike the rest of her siblings, Akumefune was given a special attention by her mother, Enweke in art of managing a home, she also received training in trading (an act of buying and selling of commodities). During that period, Titi (Akumefune) usually followed her mother to a very big market in Southern Cameroun to buy fish and other sea foods in large quantities and sell them in bits to some retailer in their shades in the community. That was how Akumefune learnt trading, especially on fish and crayfish. Not very long her family returned home, she was betrothed and subsequently married to a young energetic farmer, a successful farmer going by the standards of that time. He was also a prince of Oligbo kingdom, because his mother was the first daughter of the reigning monarch, 'Obi Osemene I', of Issele-Uligbo. It implies that, his mother would have been the heir to the throne, had it been that, there was no male child as crown prince. Secondly, the custom of the people did not give much importance to women; it believed that women were weaker vessels and because of that, all their efforts and competence to lead, were never accepted by the male folks, because the society felt that, they were inferior species and they were consequently relegated to the background. The son of Nwabudike, who was popularly called Ijei 'Nwa'awolo' (the progeny of a lion) by his peers and admirers. His mother's name was Nwaokonyia, the daughter of Obi Osemene I.
THE RETURN OF THE EZEAGBORS TO ISEI
After arriving Isei, Akumefune lived happily with her parents and siblings at Ozorma quarters, helping her mother in particular to sell commodities, like food stuffs at the market square on markets days, which falls every four-four days. She also carryout her domestic duties, such as, helping her mother to prepare food for her father and the whole family, when ever Enweke Afumefune's mother was out on trade or other activities. She also perform other domestic works, like washing of plates and all the cooking utensils, her family clothings, especially her parents regalia, her father, Ezegbor, being a noble man and one of the image makers to the king, His royal majesty, Obi Okafor I. Besides, her father was also known by everyone within and beyond Oligbo kingdom and the entire Ezechima empire as a good dancer. He was respected for his thrilling moves during any dancing displays, at every festival, the Ine festival in particular in the kingdom. The process that metamorphosed Akumefune's adolescence to a complete womanhood was culminated by the marriage rite between her and Ijei Nwawolo, and her eventual departure from her natural parents and siblings was sinequanon for her to begin another journey in life- starting a new family of her own.
This union between Akumefune and Ijei, a woman and a man from distinct upbringing and background, although from the same cultural setting, was consummated with Akumefune's conception three months into their marriage, as her pregnancy was becoming so glaring to everyone, due to the outward push of her stomach. Fortunately, six months later, she delivered their child, a bouncing baby boy, who came into this world with one eye closed and the other opened. The baby's name was Okolie, named after his father who bears that too, and because, he was born on Olie day, one of the market days in the local calendar. After his birth, other children came but subsequently, died, perhaps because of the prevailing epidemic that time. Okolie however, stayed till after his 13th year birthday before he passed on. As a young boy, Okolie was so resourceful, he helped his parents with most house chores, such as sweeping the whole Ijei Nwabudike's compound early in the morning everyday, he helped his mother to wash plates, boil water for his father to have his bath whenever he returned from his farm, especially, during the raining season. He also helped his father in the farm during farming season, and check his father's trap at the nearby farm (Ugbo'nta) before going to school everyday. His sudden death affected his parents so badly like a dagger thrust in the heart, and a ceaseless torture enveloped Akumefune's being. This was because Akumefune was so close to her son, sharing the strong covalent bond that bound them together as mother and son. Yes, the couple grieved for the great lost of Okolie, and the memories lingered for a very long time, and Akumefune was not able to conceive again, many years after. Olisebuluwa, the almighty God acknowledged her tears of supplications and she took in again, and gave birth to a female child, name Mgborafor, because she was born on Afor market day. Meanwhile, when all these tragedies of losing a child either through childbirth or when they were a bit grown, all the incident was traced to superstitious belief, that those children didn't like the earth surface, so preferred early exit back to their ancestral home in the waters and other places. That was the submission given to Akumufune and her husband by the oracle priest. In fact, the children were actually labeled Ogbanje, that is, from the waters, and their mother in the water was the mammy water, (the goddess of the sea). So sad. That was the superstition that our fore parents were fed with, before the advent of modern medicine. In truth, the death rate recorded then, was so high. The occurrence almost on daily basis, were as a result of lack of proper medical diagnosis and prompt treatment of many diseases like bacterial and viral infections that were prevalent in that era due to lack of access to medical care to manage and control these ailments, before they got to the climax and caused death.
However, the mournful and sorrowful music was brought to an end, after the birth of Mgborafor, even though no other child came immediately after her, for about seven years, that was when Akumefune embraced the Roman Catholic Faith, one of the denominations in Christianity. The Catholic mission came to Africa for the sole purpose of evangelization. The Catholic Mission, it came to Issele-Oligbo in 1904 and settled in Isei, the present day Issele-uku and other towns and villages in today's Delta-state where they set up schools for the children of their host communities, in other to acquire knowledge on how to read and write in the Whiteman's language (English and Latin) and acquire skill. In addition to that, hospitals were also built to administer medical care to the sick. One of the hospitals was present day St. Theresa's Catholic hospital Issele-Uku, that is in a dilapidating conditions, because the black men that took over from the white missionaries could not maintain its facilities. The missionaries also built places for the worship of the known God, Jehova Yaweh and his beloved son, Jesus Christ. Moved by all these progress in Oligbo kingdom, many people embraced Christianity and denounced the worship of the unknown god, the deity, known as Mkpitime, although, not everyone did, as some didn't leave the former way of worship, calling on Mkpitime the deity of their ancestors to mediate between them and Chukwu'abiama or Olisebuluwa, that is, the almighty God. Amongst these persons who embraced the new religion was Ijei Nwabudike, Akumefune's husband, while some were on the fence, (neither there nor there) this was because, they go to church just for mere identity and benefits from education and medical services offered by the Catholic mission, but not for the sincere worship of the almighty God as they claimed. Such good weather kind of attitude is still prevalent in our present day Nigeria, especially with the plague of uncontrolled proliferation of churches in Nigeria.
THE BIRTH OF THE PROMISED CHILD
After the birth of Mgborafor, Akumefune could not conceive again till after seven years. During that period she was bereft for lacking a male child, as she was approaching her menopause, even though she was auspiciously waiting for the coming of more children, male children inclusive, who would continue the lineage of Ijei Nwabudike, after he passed on to join his ancestors in the land of the dead, being the only surviving child of his parents, Ijei was also disturbed about her inability to produce more children for him, as a result of that, he took to drinking palm wine as well as the locally brewed gin (Ogoro or Sapele water) in Urhobo land.
Many times, he drank to stupor that he slurred and taunted Akumefune, a situation that makes her wince. Nevertheless, she endured those afflictions with great stoicism. Fortunately, Ijei was a loving man by nature, and that was why each time the effects of the alcohol clears from his eyes, he entreated her pardon, and cuddled her. As days go by, Akumefune visited the Catholic Mission and the church to ask for God's mercy on her and her household, despite her busy schedule of travelling across the Niger, to places like Ogoja and Calabar in todays Cross River-State and Port Harcourt in River-state, to buy fish in large quantities, and to transport then to Onitsha market in the present day Anambra-state, to sell in small quantity to other traders at the market, before she carry's the remaining to Isei, to the final consumers.
Again, her frequent visits to the mission house brought her closer to the white priest, Fr. Bohr of Blessed memory, who eventually became a friend to the Ijei's family. It was told how Akumefune sent fish as well as other kitchen items for Fr. Bohr to us. Furthermore, she also fetched water and cleaned the father's house with other women, who had accepted the white man's religion. Fr. Bohr reciprocated these gestures by visiting the Ijei's family every Sunday to pray and share the scripture with them, even though Ijei Nwabudike never accepted the white man's faith like his wife, despite her numerous subtle persuasion, imploring him to embrace the Christian religion. In response to all these, he tells her, “woman do your own and I do my own, after all, we are both calling Olisebuluwa, Chukwu'abiama bi na enigwe to bless and protect”. In truth, even though Ijei refused to go to church to profess Christ Jesus as his Lord and Saviour, and never received sacramentally, the gift of the Holy Spirit, through the sacrament of baptism and confirmation as prescribed by the church, nevertheless, he lived a life worthy of a Christian, which include love, truth, justice and selfless service to humanity. And that was why many people were not surprised, when he founded an age-grade club, with a motto 'love one another' many years before he died, he died mysteriously. There were many version of the stories of his mysterious death. The most prominent was the one in which it was alleged his head, that is, his life was being exchanged for a male child. Before he passed away, stories also had it that he had predicted the calamity that would befall on his household through one person's cruelty. He had said before his death, “I am so sad ……” and I pity my beloved wife and my children, because I know that when I die, all that I gathered over the years will be scattered by Isaac”.
A MALE CHILD IS BORN
Once upon a time, there lived a man called Ijei Nwabudike, also called, Ijei Nwawolo by his admirers, he copulated with his wife, Akumefune, and she became pregnant and bore a son many months later, who was presumed to be a promised child. For that reason, they named him Isaac and Chukwuka as his native name. You recalled that Isaac came along after many years after Titi Angelina Akumefune Ezeagbor's womb was temporary and mysteriously sealed. His birth brought joy and soccour to Ijei and his wife, Akumefune, as well as the extended families of Nwabudike and Dofua, as well as, the Ezeagbors and the Osiegbus. In the same season of joy, two years later, another male child followed, and many other children came along too, although females came in succession there after. Miraculously, six more children followed Isaac, including twins of which one of them died at child birth and one survived and her name was Ejime or Christy which was given to her after baptism. The names of the remaining children are, Emefie, who was the second male child from the surviving children. He was born just like any other child in the family, but certain attributes differentiated him from his siblings. That endeared him to his parents and grand parents. There attributes include; studiousness, his boyhood strength (hard working) and resilience, as well as, his mark of erudite brilliance. These however, juxtaposes his elder brother's characteristic or attributes, who was not very strong, slow in learning and always falling sick as he was suspected to be a sickler. Its obvious that, he is a victim of sickle cell anaemia, which tells us that, perhaps, Ijei and Akumfune were both carriers of the disease, and are likely to possess. As rhesus factor in their genes, but unknown to them due to ignorance, and because they were not acquainted with advancement in medical science.
Also, other children who were girls, four in number, came after Emefie, they are, Ifeanyichuku, Ejime, the survived twin girl, Anna and Nwaewu. Ijei and Akumefune had a happy home and were blessed with wealth. This was because, Ijei being the only surviving son of his parents, inherited large hectares of farm land and vegetation of all kinds of fruits and cash crops like, kolanut and palm trees as well cocoa amongst others from his father, Nwabudike, Nwadofua (the son of Dofua). He was also privileged to acquire more land outside his inheritance by virtue of being a prince of Oligbo kingdom through his mother's link to the royal family, as the first daughter of Obi Osemene III, of Oligbo kingdom. Thus, Ijei was reputed as the most successful and wealthiest farmer in the land. Little did any one at that time wonder why Ezeagbor, the first police officer and the first man to have been associated with the colonial masters, gave out his priceless jewel to him in marriage. Let us bring to our reminder, that, Akumefune was loved and adored like a goddess by her parents, as well as her siblings, even though they were men. In the Holy gospel, the Virgin Marry was blessed among women, but Akumfune was blessed among men. She was loved not only by the Ezeagbors but also by her uncle Osiegbu and his children, and till this moment, Akumefune, mama Titi, as she was fondly called by her nieces and nephews and even their children from Ozorma quarters and beyond, still revere her so profoundly.
Furthermore, a lot of good qualities can be ascribed to this rare gem, the progeny of Ezeagbor and Enweke's consummation. These include her business acumen, her overwhelming success in fish business, thus, giving her that jenesaiquoi that differentiates her from other girl child born in her generation without much western education. Ijei on his part, was a strong kind hearted hardworking man, fearless and was abhorrent to all kinds of evil practices around him, that degrades sanity in the society and human dignity, which he opposed vehemently. This was one of his reprimanding remarks to the head of the Omado council of elders, who was a notorious oppressor of the poor, especially, the widows and orphans “ekwe'ka, Chukwu Kpoi-oku kina chi, Ochichi nchigbu” which translates as, “don't allow God to set you ablaze as you continue to antagonize the people with your kind of leadership”. However, Ijei had his flaws as well, which Akumfune had bored with, all through and that was, drunkenness, which on many occasions, made him hoarse and slur after consumption of large volume of locally brewed alcoholic gin and palm wine. Akumefune was always worried about her husband's idiotic behaviour achillesheel, but she prefers acquiescence to the whole scenario. As a home builder like St. Monica, she handed over her sorrows to God, and never tried to berate him, because he squeals and constitutes nuisance to the community, which has continued to bring shame to her and her family.
THE IJEI AND AKUMEFUNE'S FAMILY AT ONISHE QUARTERS
The Ijei's family, consist of Ijei Nwabudike and his spouse, Akumefune and seven children that comprises of two males, Chukwuka and Emefie, and five females, Mgborafor, Ifeanyi, Ejime, Anna and Nwaewu, the last daughter. Mgborafor as a growing woman, went through the huddles of adolescence, as she was sordid in behaviour, which gave her mother in particular so much pains and embarrassment, because, she was found to portray the attributes of a coquette, and could be likened to a dare devil. Her coquetry, therefore, crazed Akumefune with fear and grief, and was disillusioned that she began to apply or adopt double standard kind of faith, this implied which, she was not devoted to God of the Christians alone, but also patronized the service of the witch doctors, and oracle priests in so many places as well as sought for prayers and counsel from the priest at the Roman Catholic Mission, in order to get solutions to her daughters deviant behaviour. Inspite of her lack of faith, she found clemency in the Lord and Mgborafor was delivered from her captivity and was given out in marriage to Ekudo, a very good looking man from a neighbouring village. The marriage was blessed with four children, three girls and a boy. However, the marriage was not without it usual challenges, due to incidence of many quarrels or rancour at the earliest stage, that led to the couple parting ways for some time.
Investigation revealed that Mgborafor was always the cause of the problems, because, she taunts Ekudo all the time, acting superciliously, that her tone during any disagreement was always curt and hostile to her husband. Her parents had a clear knowledge and understanding of their daughter's personality and so had to pick up their grand children to live with them, with the permission of their son-in-law, who admired his wife's parents, and did so, till the day he passed on.
Apart from Mgborafor who was a pain in the neck to her parents, particularly her mother, the other children were doing well, both in the school and at home. Ijei and Akumefune embraced the white man's way of life, especially their resolution to train their children through the process of western education. As a result of their resolution, they sent the children to Bohr Catholic primary school, the first and the only elementary school is Issele – Oligbo that time. Mgborafor however, was left out because, she never wanted to acquire any form of training, whether formal or informal, as Akumefune also taught the other girls the art of bead making, weaving of clothes and soap making. But Mgborafor was carefree and defiant in character. Isaac and the rest of his siblings attended Bohr elementary school, although Isaac was not too physical nor bright and mentally because of the frequent occurrence of his health crises resulting from the Ss genotype that he posed, which necessitated taking time off for convalescing at home, most often. But Emefie and the girls were outstanding in their academic performance, as well as, other curricular activities in the school. Emefie for example was such a jenesaisquoi that whenever people try to boast or brag about their brilliance, the response from some persons will be, “if you so intelligent as you claim, are you as intelligent as Emefie Ijei”? He was a paradigm for measuring the level of human intelligence.
At this juncture, it is imperative to note that the paradox of Akumefune's existence, especially as a wife and a mother are in both ways; that of, the joy that came from her business explores and the brilliant performance of Emefie and his sisters on one side and on the other side, was the pains that she felt each time she remembers her husband's addictions, Mgborafor's waywardness and Isaac's state of health. Indeed, she harboured and pondered them in her heart, and continue to soar like an eagle, even till her death at a hundred and ten years old in July 2009.
Angelina as she was proudly called by her father, Ezeagbor was also gifted with love and commitment in serving other people's needs – comforting them in time of agony and giving hope to people in their moments of despair. Her angelic nature was displayed when she courageously adopted her bosom friend's son, Ifeanyi Iyegbu, whose mother died when she was delivering him. Akumefune took the child and nurtured him till he became an adult and left for the United-States, where he has been living for over four decades now. And Ifeanyi has always testify to her benevolence with deep gratitude both in words and in actions.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, most of the Ijei's children were already leaving the elementary school for grammar schools, that was the high or secondary schools of today. Isaac and his sisters, Ifeanyi and Ejime settle for modern school, later on, Akumefune withdrew Isaac from the modern school and sent him to live with her brother Emmanuel, who was a police officer in Abakaliki, present day Ebonyi-State capital to learn skills in typing and shorthand, so that, he can become a clerical officer in any government organization or private companies Ifeanyi and Ejime finished from the modern school and were married to two honourable men, who were officers of our nation's security, securing lives and properties, enforcing law and order and protecting our territorial integrity as a nation, in the Army and police force respectively. Meanwhile, Emefie was already admitted to the prestigious Edo college, Benin before her sisters. Akumefune, once told me that her first time in Benin-city, the present day Benin city in Edo-state was when she took Anthony, as she likes to call Emefie to start school at Edo college. His brilliant performance continued at Edo college, that he became one of the students to reckoned with. At that young age, he was so versed in literature and languages, especially, the European languages like, French, German, Greek and Latin. He performed brilliantly in the sciences too, that he was considering either going to the University to study medicine or European languages after his HSC examinations. In 1968, Akumefune his loving mother accompanied him to the ancient city of Ibadan, when he was admitted to study French and other European language at the then University college Ibadan, during the peak of the Nigeria's civil war. The war which brought setbacks to Akumefune's business, after she was arrested by the federal military of Nigeria with a truckload of fish, which she invested heavily on, was ceased together with some monies with her, on her way from port Harcourt to Onitsha. Sadly, she was detained for two weeks before she was released by the soldiers. According to her, “my family thought I was dead, I lost almost all that I had worked for, my entire investment to that seizure”. Yes, life goes on, you will agree with me, sure, she moved on with her life that unforeseen loss, and joined her husband in farming, and she went into small scale trading too at Issele-Oligbo market.
As she joined Ijei in farming activities, they began to record bountiful harvest from their crops, both cash crops and food crops like cassava, yam, maize, to mention but a few. Due to this increase in their harvest, Ijei sometimes jokingly referred to her as a woman with gifted hands because whatever she lays her hands on, prospered. Akumefune was also adored by men and women and children from Issele-Oligbo for her dancing skills, which she inherited from Ezeagbor her father, and subsequently transferred to her daughter Ejime, who led a dancing troop called 'egwu-amala' in her adolescence. Music was accounted to be sole occupation of the Ezeagbors, because after Ezeagbor retired from active life due to old age, his first son, Stephen took over, together with his brothers to form a dancing group, 'imdiegwu abada' this reminds the people who were on this planet in the 1970's of one popular song, which goes like this, “Umu Ezeagbor etego egwu-egwu, eye, ye, ye, Ifeanyealu bu Ugboe” which translates as “Ezeagbor's children are known for dancing, yes, yes, whatever a man does, is his occupation”. It is therefore, so unfortunate that non of the Ezeagbors and the Ijei's offspring's in this generation took interest in music, in order to make a living.
Emefie was then at the University College Ibadan studying. It was recalled that when he passed the entrance examination to the school, that Akumefune the mother was overwhelmed with joy and was proud of her son. Out of that excitement, therefore, she ran to Ijei to announce the good news of their son being the first child to get to UCI for studies from Omado district at that time, even though many of them had obtained their degrees in Universities in England and the U.S.A. But to her astonishment, Ijei said, “if Emefie has passed the examination to gain admission to study in the University, did he also passed the money to pay the fee too”. Emefie would have gone there on scholarship, but the government was bankrupt due to effects of the civil war of that time that crippled all economic activities through which the government derived its revenue from. However, Akumefune was not discouraged by her husband's response to the development, rather, she waxed stronger, and courageously raised the money for Emefie's fees and upkeeps at the university and joyously accompanied him to Ibadan, not minding the risk that was involved, as it was at the peak of the civil war. There was never an iota of perturbation in her, but she was glad that Anthony was admitted into the highest school in the land. According to her, that was her first visit to Ibadan and South west. Incredibly, Emefie graduated top of his class and was one of the best 10 students for that graduating year in UCI and was offered a commonwealth scholarship for his postgraduate studies in Canada in 1972. By this time, the last child, Nwaewu was doing fantastically well at the teachers training college, while the married daughters were doing great as well. Ifeanyi was with her husband in Jos, and who was at that time serving at the peace keeping mission in Congo and Yogoslavia, and Ejime was with her husband in Lagos. It was worthy of note that the era urshered in peace, joy and prosperity into Akumefune and Ijei's family, that the grand children were always longing to spend their holidays with their grand parents at Issele-Oligbo, because whenever they were there, they not only received discipline, but they also get fun from grandpa Ijei's so much yelling and lashing of 'bulala or koboko' whenever they followed him to the farm, they were usually comforted and pampered by grandma Akumefune's cuddles, soft talks and stories as well as with all the gifts that she lavished on them. Some of them confessed to me, that they equally treasured each moment that they spent with grandpa Ijei. According to them, “we enjoyed the roasted yams that he give us whenever he was telling stories in his 'Ogwa' (hut) most evenings”. Isaac worked in Enugu after he completed his training for some time before he returned to Isei after the civil war to take up a job as a clerical officer and bursar to a school at Ogwashi-Uku, the then local government head quarters of Aniocha. As I was told, he was well refined, kind hearted and considerate. His attitude changed however, after he got married to Theresa from Owele district. He did all the traditional rites and white man's wedding at the Pilgrim Baptist Church. The Baptist church (mission) which came to Issele-Oligbo in the late 1920s and established infrastructures like schools, hospitals and vocational training centers, through the supervision of Rev. Dr. SW Matins and indigene of Issie, who had been away in America to train as a pastor and a theology expert. Notable amongst the social amenities and structure founded were Pilgrim Baptist hospital situated at the present Issele-uku, Akwukwu Igbo, Agbor, Ogwashi-uku and many other places. Schools were also established in those areas. The schools include Pilgrim Baptist Grammar, Martin's College for the girls as well as teacher's training colleges. Nwaewu was among the beneficiaries of the Baptist mission schools, because she attended the Martin's College, and the teacher's training college before she proceeded to Amadu Bello University to study Psychology in 1983. Isaac worked in one of their schools as a bursar, and was moved by the incentives that he received, left the Roman Catholic Faith to join the Baptist Mission, where he tied knot with Theresa Ofiaegbu in 1973. The union was consummated with a girl child named Ngozi, followed by other four female children. However Isaac and Theresa were so troubled about their inability to have a male child, that they desperately did everything within their reach to get one. You can imagine their myopic way of reasoning. Why do we despise a girl child in our locality? I do always asked myself this question. At the end of this book you shall find out that, it was the female children that actually saved the Ijei's family from total collapse and catastrophe, after the men messed up. The role of women was exemplified by the role played by Nwaewu when Isaac and Emefie passed on. Her role at saving the family from several sanctions from the community with her wisdom subtle words and humility to the elders. Emefie finished his studies in Canada and United Kingdom and returned to Nigeria in 1975. Upon his return, he joined the Nigerian Army, and was commissioned as an officer in education corp, where he taught in Nigerian military school Zaria and was a visiting lecturer at the Nigerian defence academy NDA Kaduna. In 1976 he met Bridget his wife, an administrative secretary at the Nigerian Institute of Aviation Technology Zaria. He disclosed his intention to marry Bridget to his family, Akumefune his mother was so glad about the news, that she threw her weight behind him. She begged her elder brother Stephen to accompany Emefie to Ikot'akpene, a town in the present day Akwa Ibom-State for introduction and bride price payment was done. They were married in the western way, both at the court registry and in the Catholic Church, and marriage was blessed with a girl child followed by three boys. There was no gainsaying that the Ijei's family was the envy of most family in Issei because, the children were succeeding in all their endeavours and Akumefune and Ijei were getting bountiful harvest from the produce of their farm. I said earlier that Ijei refused to accept the Christian religion but preferred to stay put to the worship of Mkpitime, the deity that his fathers Nwabudike and Dofua served and had passed on to him as a custodian. Dofua his grandfather was a reputable medicine man. He had used herbs from his backyard to cure serious ailments and fevers and the people admired and acknowledge him, as the greatest medicine man that ever lived in Oligbo kingdom. I presumed that, this could be one of the reasons that influenced the Obi of Oligbo kingdom to give out his princess to Dofua's son Nwabudike as his wife.
Following the events that had been unfolding at the Oligbo palace over a period of time, His Royal Majesty, Obi Okafor I passed on to the other side of the realm to join his ancestors in the world beyond. He was buried the day he died, followed by important rituals which were customary for the burial ceremonies of a king in Oligbo kingdom, and took a period of seven days. At the end of the mourning period, that ended ceremonies after the fifth eke day, the coronation of the crown prince was announced by the Ogbelani, one of image makers, and second in command in Issele-Oligbo kingdom, after meeting with chiefs in-council. The crown prince, Rufus who was serving as a military attaché to the Nigerian high commission in London returned home, to take over the leadership of Issele-Oligbo after the demise of his late father, Obi Okafor. In preparation to the coronation, initiation rites and many other rituals, in accordance with the tenet of the Ezechima traditional institution preceded the coronation ceremony which was administered by His royal majesty, The Oba of Bini kingdom. The kingdom is the progenitor of Issele-Oligbo kingdom. The indomitable lion, Rufus, judging by his appearance, such as physical strength, mental alertness and articulation, as well as his bright sparkling eyes, was affirmative to this brilliant soldier's beauty. He was adorable that most young women within and outside Oligbo wished to be involved with him and even desired to marry him if possible. He ascended the throne of his fathers with great expectation from his subjects who anticipated peace, prosperity and abundant blessings from Mkpitime, the deity of the land, and Oselobuluwa, Chukwuabiama to guide him as he oversees the affairs in Oligbo kingdom. In Issile-Oligbo, seasons were marked, as festivals were celebrated in a colourful way. Amongst them, were the new yam festival, known as 'Iwaji' which was an age long way of thanksgiving to the gods for the gifts of life and bountiful harvest; then, we have the Ilomuh ceremonies, when sumptuous meals were prepared by the wife/wives in the family, for a portion of it is offered to the idols that represent the deity Mkpitime inside the shrine (Ukwu-Ogwa) by the heads of the families, who have been initiated into the Ichi-aka'guild. The sacrifice of this sumptuous food and drinks (rectified spirit, e.g. dry gin) as offered to the gods as a sign of worship-indicating the peoples deep gratitude to the gods of their forefather for the many blessings that they had showered them with. This period used to be most joyous moments for the Ijei's family, as people from Omado, one of the districts of Issele-Oligbo that nestled Onishe and Ozorma, and the Ijeis and the Ezeagbor's domicile, gathered at Ijei's compound to eat the sumptuous delicacies with assorted fish prepared by Akumefune. It was a usual annual privilege for Akumefune to have Obi Okafor I visit, to partake in her carefully prepared meal. The Obi, who comes to share the joy of the season with his nephew Ijei, this time afforded the opportunity to not only share food and drinks together, but also to talk indeptly on silient matters that can promote health and prosperity of their family and the whole Oligbo kingdom. Amazingly, the tradition continued after his majesty, Obi Okafor I left to join his ancestors in the land of the spirits “Ani'mmuh”. The relationship between Ijei and Obi Rufus Osemene III became so strong like a daughter that is tied to her mother's epron spring, at a time, both cousins exchanged a sobriquet of 'Odegede' and Oshekede. Ijei bore Odegede,while Osemene took Oshekede, the bond persisted and extended to Ijei's children especially Emefie, another fine soldier who shared the same ideology with Obi Rufus Osemene III his uncle, and was always anxious to visit Oligbo kingdom from his base in Zaria, despite his busy schedules to discuss with his uncle about military matters and issues aimed at bringing welfare to Issele-Oligbo. He also enjoyed his pepperish soups, which I had tasted as a little child in the early 1990s. This was because his cooks were men and he enjoyed pepperish food. Sadly, Odegede, Nwawolo (the offspring of a lion) I mean Okolie Ijei Nwabudike, the son of Dofua, the great medicine man of time, died in some mysterious circumstances in early 1980s
There were different versions and speculations about his death. One of the assumptions was that he was exchanged for another male … (let us leave the sleeping dog lie, otherwise, it will bite us). On the other hand, Oshekede his beloved cousin died many years after, and his son Henry succeeded him, although many observers and stakeholder of Issele-Oligbo project opined that the reign of Rufus's son was devolved, some persons berated his antecedents and character as a leader. To cut the story short, he died mysteriously in an automobile accident, in on which his body was burnt to aches not too long ago.
Again, when Ijei died in the early 1980s, a lot of problems entered his family, and his death was the starting point to the climax of Akumefune's moments of sorrow and regrets; the house became so turbulent, that the daughters started having challenges in their marriages, Ifeanyi for instance, lost her prince-charming, Onyeanwuna her first son, whose death, by clinical diagnosis, was traced to food poisoning. This was because Onyeanwuna died after consuming some bunch of banana given to him by his grandma, his father's mother. This incident happened during one of the long vacations and as he was then getting ready go into the prestigious Nigerian military school, after brilliantly passing the common entrance. However, Ifeanyichukwu the another was not satisfied with the doctor's report and from that moment her emotional state became deranged, a situation that made her flare up at the slightest provocation. The anguish actually made her called her mother-in-law a witch, accusing her for being responsible for Onyeanwuna's untimely death. Her husband's sister did not take the accusation lightly at all, and that generated so much commotion and disputes between her and the husband and that led to their temporary separation, several times during that period.
THE REIGN OF A TYRANT
After the demise of Ijei, his first son, Isaac return finally to Issele-Oligbo from Ogwashi-uku. By then, he had been able to get a male child which he and his wife had desired for a very long time. By this time, his younger brother Emefie had gotten two boys after his first female child and they were living happily in Zaria. What really compelled Isaac to return finally was that, he was laid off from his job for misconduct. I mention earlier that Akumefune was a successful trader, who traded in fish, and as such, made so much money from it. Apart from supporting Ijei the husband at the home front and paying her children's school frees, she also built a house at the market square which by right and as well as by Issele-Oligbo, custom was supposed to be inherited by Emefie who was second son in the family, Issele-Oligbo tradition has it that everything a mother owns is solely for the second son, except if she decides to share some of it to other children. However when Isaac came back to Issele Oligbo he claimed this house as his birthright. He said to his mother, “I have taken that house at the market square which you built for your beloved Emefie, and I shall complete the remaining part. You single handedly sent him to the best school in the world, even to the highest level of education, he is working now and he is very sure of pension, so that is my own pension”.
Since the forcible acquisition of the house at the market square he never maintained the house but had continued to collect the rent without giving his mother a dine from the rentage until Akumefune the mother passed on in 2009 and himself died a year later. Certainly for everything in this life, there is a season, why did I say this? I said this because, the last time I visited Issele-Oligbo, the house instead of appreciating, it is beginning to depreciate because most parts of the building was found to be wearing away and this is to tell us that nothing is permanent in life.
Without mincing words, to say that Isaac became a terrorist to the entire Ijei's house hold wouldn't be an overstatement because day after day, he fought his siblings especially the women, his mother was not spared either, as he continued to antagonize her in so many ways, which include driving her away from a piece of land that she had already start cultivating and lashing curses and abusive words on her, whenever she tried harvesting the products or plucking fruits that she sowed with Ijei even before Isaac was born. Isaac and his wife taunted generally on trivial issue. Isaac went to extent of being diabolical, trying to bring down everyone in the family in order to remain in control and take charge of all that Akumefune and Ijei laboured for, over the years as well as their efforts to keep him alive and healthy, as he was born a sickler. Following the sequence of calamities that be fell the Ijei's family after the demise of Ijei, many people were convinced that the emergence of Isaac as the head, according to our tradition then, and his marginalization of the womanhood was a jinx. Akumefene suffered so much affliction at the hand of his “promised” son, that she did everything humanly possible to keep alive. Surprisingly, Ijei before he passed on, in a state penury, predicted, that he know that all that he gathered with Akumefune would be scattered, because he had known Isaac to be callous and self centered. Unfortunately Ija's prophecy came through because, his compound which used to be a haven for all, now became a no go area, even for the children and grand children in the family. Isaac became intoxicated with leadership as well as power drunk, and Akumefune the poor mother became the direct recipient of his crazed insensitivity and madness that had continued to cripple him and his family till this moment, with the consequent stifling of their progress.
Our people say, that a woman builds a home and a woman destroys it too. Akumefune was referred to, by her husband as a home builder and a women blessed with magic hands and that everything she touched yielded expected outcome in great measures. But can Isaac say that of his own wife? Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. After all, they (Isaac and his wife are partners in crime). From what I gather from reliable source and from my close examination of Isaac's wife, I think that, she is such a heart strong difficult woman, who wanted her own way at any price, even if it involves the blood of the innocent and inhumane treatment of a widow, who had to go through pains all her later life but only get consolations by the visits of other children, grand children and her brothers, the Ezeagbors and their children, who continued to adored her like a goddess till her last moment on earth. Amazingly Akumefune never bore any grudge against Isaac and his wife, but had continuously loved them, prayed for their wellbeing and even intervened and protected them from external attacks. She also pleaded on their behalf each time her children wanted to confront them or her family at Ozoma plans to sanction him and his wife
My candid opinion is that Ijei family witnessed an unfortunate turbulence in later years. This is because a most senior son who should have been a father figure after the death of his parent, stood up against his brother and sisters, even his own mother, all because of greed and with the sole aim of being relevant in the skim of things. He was so blindfolded with evil desires that he consulted witch doctors just to ensure his siblings did not make any progress so that, they would always worship him. A most unfortunate turn of events you will agree with me, but good news is that God has the final say.
AKUMEFUNE CONNECTS TO ONYEKACHUABIAMA
Wherever your yearnings are, that is where you encounter your creator even in the midst of the most difficult moments of your life. Akumefune was gifted, with the virtues of patience, love, perseverance and total submission to the will of God, who used her as an instrument to build a home in Nwabudike's lineage, through her fulfillment of the ordinary duties, as a mother, wife to the Ijei's as well as, a daughter and a sister to the Ezeagbors at Ozorma. She was able to turn the circumstances of her life into opportunities, and in the promulgation of love and service to God and humanity. It is very important to note that if one does not live by him or her heart, that, there is no point living at all.
There are times our lives, when we are confronted with perilous moments of worries and despair, especially when we see the gravity of the situation mirrored before our face, and we to feel a sudden ache in our hearts. This picture depicts the condition of Akumefune after the death of her husband, and the hostility displayed by her son, Isaac towards her and her children (Isaac's siblings). Nevertheless, there exist some hearts worthily wise, noble, tender and warm, hearts that live to love and crave for love and try in every way to spread joy, the joy of good. This statement buttresses the solace that Akumefune found in people around her; these people of goodwill were her nephew, John Ezeagbor who comes to visit her every “eke” day with tubers of yam and bunches of plantain and some other things. Ifeanyi Nyebu, her adopted son, who flies over 25000km from the U.S to visit her very year, her other children and family members showed their tremendous love to her as well. More succour came her way when Ejime her third daughter returned home with the husband, after her husband retired from the Nigerian Army. She took it upon herself to prepare food everyday and took to her mother, washed her clothes and cleaned her house as well. She also organized her reception of the Holy Eucharist at her house. Sadly, the joy didn't last for so long, as Ejime died few years later in the year 2006, and care for Akumefune seemed to cease, although Emefie tried to fill the vacuum left by Ejime's demise as he regularly came home from his base in Zaria to look after his ageing mother, as she was this time over a hundred years. Once upon a time, I travelled to Issele-Oligbo to see ageing Akumefune in 2008, unto found her house sparkling clean and everything washed; her mattress was changed or replaced with a new one. When she noticed that I was startled with what I saw, she said, “Anthony came home last week, he cleaned the entire house for me, washed my clothes and dishes and bought a new mattress for my bed”. I smiled and said, Mama, it's pay back time, Anthony is indirectly paying you back, for all that you did for him. I could remember that you once told me, that your first time in Benin-city and Ibadan was when uncle Tony got admission to Edo College and University College Ibadan, I added. She laughed so warmly, then said, “so you still remembered all that I told, Onyekachukwu (Ajonwa' si owele ba nne na'for)”. This translates based on my understanding, as “a bad child that entered his mother's womb through a footpath”.
Onyekachukwuabiama is a seed of Akumefune and Ijei, he is the son of one of their daughters; he came to this world as a clemency of God to the Ijei's family, her daughter in particular, 8 years after she suffered a terrible loss that almost ruined her marriage, in other words, Onyekachukwu'abiama is a child of consolation who came to earth to reduce tension raging in Akumefune's home. He was born like any other child, although there were some circumstances surrounding his birth, probably because he was born to accomplish a mission of bringing light to dispel darkness in all ramifications. He would have been born in a foreign land but he was not destined to, as his mother got into labour in an airplane, and many horrorfic things happened, in the process of his birth. Perhaps the agents of darkness knew before hand, that the child was coming to carryout a mission; to set his people free from slavery and satanic manipulations. However, and most fortunately, he arrived this stratospheric part of the globe at God's appointed time. He came into this world, troubled about many affliction suffered by loved ones especially Akumefune his beloved grand mother (Nne) through the wicked practice and satanic manipulations of some individuals with their collaborators.
Firstly, he closed his eyes and became tremulous on the calamity created by persons because of greed and power tussle and the stench of pride that had become uncontrollable. He opened his eyes widely like an eagle soaring across space survielling it surrounding, even though not like the supersonic aircraft. His heart melted with pity for his root, but courageous and indomitable like that of a tiger, and in his hands were found surgical tools ready to begin the medical procedure of pruning out any diseased or malignant cell in the body (Ijei and Akumefune's home) indeed malignant tumor, knew that the slayer has come to abort their manoeuvers. When Onyekachukwuabiama, was born, other names such Nnamadi and Osemeke was given to him, but Akumefune welcomed him with joy of great intensity like that tidal wave, and personally name him Onyekachukwuabiama, meaning”, who is as great as the almighty God? The answer is and that is nobody. She so loved him that she requested that Onyekachukwu come to live with her, the development which didn't go down well with his uncle Isaac and his family, because it was obvious that he was a threat to them. Onyeka came down to live with Akumefune his grandma, who loved and pampered him that she did not allow even a fly to touch him. He attended the elementary school happily with his peers who admired him for his good looks, his good command of the English language with an American accent, and his curly hair that curved outward that made most of the pupils refer to him as Jerry Curl as he also bore name Jerry too. Also, they make caricature of his eye glasses as being the pupil that wore glasses in his class. He was equally loved by his teachers for his brilliant performance and especially by one of them, who passed on in his presence not too long ago, at the military hospital Ikoyi Lagos. There were other sides of his time at the elementary school, as he was always bullied by some pupils who felt intimidated by his intelligence and popularity at the school; same goes with his cousins at home too, even though some camouflage to like him because they are proud to introduce him to folks as their cousin, and because he helps them to solve their school work. His uncle Isaac hoarsely to talk to him but he shrugged because he knows him to be a man who taunts a lots and derives joy in doing it. Story was told or should I call it gossip had it that Onyekachukwu abiama follows his grandmother Akumefune to her farm to drink beverage, or (tea) as it is commonly called by some locals, and to drink cornflakes without doing anything tangible according to them. But to be honest with ourselves, Onyekachukwu was a hard working boy, full of energy, considering his age that time, and grandma Akumefune was so proud of him. There was also a time that uncle Isaac threatened to chased his mother and his nephew out of Ijei's compound and Akumefune had to run to her siblings at Ozorma quarters and they intervened in the crises. Isaac's action was actually based on stench of pride and wild uncontrolled jealousy, simply because Onyekachukwu was loved beyond measure by Akumefune as well as his acceptability by everyone who came across him due his charming innocent look and good manners that he possessed in preference to his children who were rude and nonchalant in attitude. Onyekachukwu-abiama was very happy living with his grandmother, was always happy to run errands for her, errands such as, going to the Utukpe's to buy her snuff as she was addicted to that kind of tobacco, and to take money to Umu'ada's meeting in several location across the Omado district for their weekly contribution, which was hosted by different person, at different meeting days. The Umu'ada means the daughters of Ozor quarter married across board.
Unavoidably, the time for separation came, when Onyekachukwu'abiama completed his primary education and had written his common entrance examination. He left Issele-Oligbo to Lagos for his secondary education before he finally left for the north to begin his high school education in one of the military schools. One could remember the scene, when Onyekachukwu was leaving Akumefune; tears were rolling down from Akumefune and her grandchild's eyes. They loved each other very dearly but, understandably there was the need to do what was appropriate, which is Akumefune's desire is for her loved children to acquire qualitative education. Onyekachukwu was also tutored by Akumefune on principles that promotes good societal norm and values, especially the virtues of honesty, hard work, patience, belief in oneself and most importantly the total submission to the will of the almighty God. She says, “Onyekachukwu nwam (my child) don't ever compete with anyone, try to avoid envy. Do your best and leave the rest to God”.
Onyekachukwu visited Akumefune his grandma then during long vacations. Even when he finished his secondary education he was always anxious to see her, so that she could tell him stories of her life and that of her family (ies) as well as the entire Oligbo kingdom. Onyekachukwu was equally sure of having some pieces of bitter cola, some T shirts and souvenir brought from America, that she had carefully kept for him, waiting for his visits. Each visit was occupied with lengthy discussion which you can call gossips between a grandma and her favourite grandson, her grandson who had the assurance of returning to his base with a large sum as pocket money and he reciprocated the gesture in his own little way, by performing his duties as grandson. The agents of darkness and haters of love, almost succeeded in creating a face off between Akumefune and her grandson, if not for the intervention of God and the wisdom that He, God blessed us with. It all started one certain time that Onyekachukwu travelled from Ibadan to Issele-Oligbo. When he got to her at her Onisha quarters, he found her lying down, and she told him that she was down with fever. He rushed down immediately to the nearest medicine store to buy her some antimalaria medicines and some provisions, when he returned, he prepared a hot beverage for her to take along with the drugs, after which he went on to clean up the room which was found to be so unkept. They stayed to chat for some time before Onyekachukwu returned to his house which was less than two kilometers away from grandma Akumefune's house. He came back the following morning to prepare her breakfast and to administer to her, her medications, after which he packed all her clothes out to wash. There after, they discussed for a very long time before she retire to her room to sleep, while Onyekachukwu departed to his house. Meanwhile, since the previous day, that Onyekachukwu arrived, he noticed that neither his cousins who were at home, nor his uncle Isaac nor the wife came to say hello to their aged mother and grandmother who was lying down with sickness, and that indeed mavelled him so much, giving an indication that even till that moment, his uncle and his family had not relented from their callous behaviour. Surprisingly, these are the people that jump from one church or spiritual house to the other, seeking for signs and wonders, and claiming to be spirit filled well, it could be that they were filled. So where lies the love propagated by Jesus Christ through the gospel; even all religions encourage people to love and to see to the needs of one another.
Onyekachukwu travelled back to school, after the short home visit. It was after three month before he embarked on his next visit to his grandmother who welcome him with mixed feelings which could be that of joy seeing her beloved son again and that of sorrow and disappointed about something that may happened. Onyekachukwu being a very sensitive person could sense that something had gone wrong. After a while, when he discovered that their chat was not flowing as usual, he left to make some enquiries from relatives around, only to be told that the night before the day he travelled back to Ibadan, that his grandma's house was burgled and that intruders made away with some valuables including her most cherished beads, that she had preserved over the years for Emefie and other children that she might want to give them. The informant added, that she was told that his uncle Isaac conspired with his family members and leveled the allegation against Onyekachukwu, she said that one of Isaac's daughters told grandma Akumefune, that she saw Onyekachukwu sneaked out of her house with a bag on his left hand, and hurried away. After hearing this, Onyekachukwu wept bitterly and left very disappointed with his grandma for not trusting him knowing fully well that he could never do anything that would hurt her, in his dilemma, he returned to his base very disillusioned. While back at Ibadan, he thought over the scenario, and concluded that all that transpired was more than met the eye. It was a sort of satanic manipulation by his uncle Isaac's family who had been looking for the slightest opportunity to cause disaffection between him and his ever loving grandma. Casting his mind back on the initial could reception the grandma gave him before she began to warm up during their discussion, it done on Onyekachukwu that she had gone so advance in age, and the law of the diminishing return was acting on her, thus, she was reasoning like a little child now. He felt immense compassion for her instantly and he began to develop this urge of travelling to Issele-Oligbo to see once again. Coincidentally, at that period he met a girl who was so found of her grandmother also and she boasted her's is the best grandma in the world Onyekachukwu became very jealous, that he could feel emotional tears dripping from his eyes, but no one but him can understand reasons or cause of the tears drop.
When the night time came, he could not sleep, because to him that night, Isaac diabolism and satanic manipulations against his father's household had murdered sleep; therefore, it shall sleep on more. The day break came before he knew it, and the darkness of the night was dispelled to usher in a bright light of hope. Onyekachukwu could not travel in the morning, because he had school test to write. He eventually travelled at noon time and arrived Oligbo kingdom so late that he was unable to visit his grandmother's home. He did that, the following morning. When he got to his grandma's house, he walked straight to her bedroom, met her lying on the bed, and seeing the face of his grandchild, her face glowed with a radiant joy. Onyekachukwu greeted her and asked her how she was feeling, she said, “fine I am happy to see you Onyekachukwu my son, I hope you are fine and studies too”. After the pleasantry, they started talking in a very low lone as they never wanted a third party to listen to their conversation. It was during their discussion that Akumefune whispered to him that she was not feeling well, but Onyekachukwu dismissed the expression, and told her that her feelings were normal, that she was just battling with old age. By then she was over a hundred years old. However, she made tea herself and drank it in his presence as they talked. Suddenly a call, which needed his attention in the house came, so he hurriedly gave her what he bought for her, including 20 pieces of mint one hundred naira note which he enclosed in an envelop. She took those items from him with a warm smile and prayed for him. As he was leaving she held his hand for a while, then he stood up to go and then wave at her with a solemn promise that he would be with her throughout on Sunday, after the Holy Mass. Akumefune smiled at him and waved her hand continuously until Onyekachukwu was out of sight.
Wide spread information has it that she passed away few hours later that day and the news of her death spread like wild fire throughout the whole Oligbo kingdom Destiny will also have its way. Onyekachukwu by all available information and calculations was the last person to see her and even discussed with her.
The evil men last but one visit in which he left his town back to school with a heavy heart because of what happened to the grandma and the evil information given her by Isaac's daughter continued. It discovered that they plotted to exchange her corpse while she was lying in the mortuary, but for the prompt intervention of Nwaewunashiego the last daughter, her body would have been taken to another land. At last she was buried on October 16, 2009, two days before Onyekachukwu abia'ma birthday. And everything went on smoothly, all through the entire rites. Noticeably, on the day she was laid to rest, Onyekachukwu found his uncle Isaac crying and taught it was crocodile tears, but it was real, I for he believes at that time, the uncle realized what Akumefune meant to him and how her presence had been shielding him from external attacks, because Isaac was notorious for fermenting troubles in the community but were not able to challenge him openly, because of the reverence the people had for Akumefune his mother. Most of the issues were on matters pertaining to land disputes. As suspected, uncle Isaac died a year after his mother passed on, with various speculations that surrounded his death. One of them was that his alleged enemy killed him in a diabolic way. Another version was that his wife starved him to death as he had often complained of hunger even to his sister who he never regarded in the past. Infact, no one know the true story. Only future will review the time story. Sadly too, Emefie passed on, as this project was being written, after battling with prostrate cancer for over a year. May God forgive his past failings and grant him eternal rest in paradise where he will meet his parents Akumefune and Ijei to rejoice forever. Amen.
It is hope that the future generation would learn lesson from the past mistakes of their parents. Hence, history will remind them of the horrible past events that made Akumefune's grand children lethargic to associate freely with each other, especially the offsprings of Isaac and his wife. As the lush green, Ijei and Akumefune's compound has become a dry worn-out and waterless land, deserted by the original inhabitants, of Ijei and Akumefune's compound.
My beloved readers, I implore you to luxuriate the entire content of this piece (memoirs) bravo.
Written in memory of my grandmother, Late Madam Akumefune Titi Angelina Ijei nee Ezeagbor.
Onyeka J.J. Ogbue