Ndi Igbo Urged To Sustain Kola Nut Tradition, As Unizik Holds 50th Inaugural Lecture

By Emeka Odogwu And Izunna Okafor

A Catholic Cleric, and Professor of Philosophy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Rev. Fr. Prof Bona Uchenna Umeogu, has called on Ndi Igbo all over the world to sustain their rich Kolanut tradition and culture.

Umeogu who was the Former Dean Faculty of Arts, Unizik, made the call at the University Auditorium while delivering the 50th Inaugural Lecture of the great citadel of learning.

He said: ‘’The Kola nut is a multivalential symbol of Igbo thought and culture and correctly depicts the multidimensional individuality and personality of the communalistic Homo symbolicus — onye Igbo.

‘’The information, out-formation, transformation, conformation and even deformation of the kolanut reveal how God, the world, human existence, the society, and knowledge came to the world through Igbo land and culture; but I have to establish both for now and forevermore that the genesis and ontology involved in the context under attention is symbolic, or at best, symbolismic.

Prof. Umeogu who is the Founding Director, Igbo Village and Center for African Civilization (IVACAC), Unizik, said the Kolanut tradition which affords the Igbos the opportunity to offer fervent prayers to God at every gathering is one tradition that should be sustained and tenaciously upheld.

The clergyman who has a PhD in African Metaphysics, with two M.A’s in Western Metaphysics and New Testament Exegesis as well as B.Phil both in Nigeria and Rome expressed dismay over the gradual decline in the respect accorded Kolanut among the people of the south-eastern Nigeria in recent times, urging Ndi Igbo to wake up as a people to check the trend.

He blamed the poor respect given to kolanut on poor knowledge of the substance but urged the members of the society to embrace kola nut as the symbol of unity, adding, "Let us go into what unites us as a people and against what divides us. Since we all accepted kola nut as symbol of unity, it is the only thing that can unite us completely," he said.

He described Kolanuts as one of the core values of Igbo people, which engender love and peace among brothers, adding that Kolanuts is a sacred fruit and that God listens to prayers made during its presentation and breaking.

Dissecting the theme of the lecture —“Kolanut in Igbo Metaphysics: A Phenomenalysical Research Into Its Symbolismic Universe” —Prof. Umeogu, the Golden Inaugural Lecturer said the choice of his topic was informed by the significant roles Kolanuts played in the unity of Igbos as well religious groups and politicians, adding “Kolanut has the capacity of uniting not only the three major tribes of the nation, but Christians of different denominations as well as traditionalists and politicians” .

The university don noted that kolanut being one substance that is highly revered in Igboland has both the mystical and medicinal effects to human being just as it substance contains both magnesium and potassium which help to control heart pain.

On the mystical aspect of Kolanut, he revealed that it has a nature that can be influenced by words and thought, saying "there is life in kola nut. He that brings kola brings life. There is something in kolanut that is affected by behaviour and attitude."

According to him, Kolanut contains ingredients that stimulates, sustains and services the human body, adding that it has distinguished roles to play in Igbo land, hence Ndi Igbo use it in prayers and sacred communion between God and man.

He traced the origin of Kolanut to the tropical and subtropical rainforest of Africa and other continents, saying that it migrated through culture into Igbo world, hence Ndi Igbo separated the it from profane use and dedicated it to sacred use.

Reacting to the lecture, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Charles Esimone commended the Jubilee Lecturer, Prof. Umeogu for doing justice to the topic, which he described as unique.

He maintained that kolanut which is one of the most revered substances in Igboland is capable of solving the ethnoreligious crisis that has continued to threaten the peace and unity of the country.

The Unizik VC said that the symbolic values associated with kolanut is such that should be inculcated into the policy of the nation as a way to curtail suspicion and ethnic rivalries that has continued to trouble the nation, adding that the fruit is of vital importance to mankind through its symbolic values.

Contributing, a former SSG of Anambra State and flag bearer of the People's Democratic Party in the 2017 gubernatorial election in the state, Mr. Oseloka Obaze said the history and culture of Ndigbo can only be preserved and transmitted by Igbo brothers who can understand and interpret it, adding that right from the generations past, kola nut has remained symbolic in the Igbo culture.

In their separate speeches, the Archbishop of Onitsha Metropolitan, Most Reverend Valerian Okeke, represented by Rev. Fr. Patrick Bosah, and the founder cum leader of Otusubakwa Igbo, Prof. Pita Ejiofor, said that Kolanut ritual is a culture in Igbo land that should be respected as such by all and sundry.

In a vote of thanks, the chairman of the Inaugural Lecture committee, Prof. Richard Uwakwe, thanked all who graced the occasion.

Aside Ịwa Ọjị (breaking of kola nut) and delivering of parts of the lecture in Igbo in language in respect of the Kolanut’s age-long tradition of 'none acceptance of English Language, othe highlight of the event included the decoration of Prof. Umeogu as the Golden Jubilee Inaugural Lecturer, by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Esimone; as well as rendition of Igbo folk music and libations (mbem).

The inaugural lecture was followed by presentation and launching of some of the recent books authored by Prof. Umeogu during which Mr. Obaze further reiterated that it was high time the society started to appreciate people who spend their time and resources to transmit and promote Igbo culture and tradition through their writings.

The 50th Inaugural Lecture was not without an innovation as the Jubilee Lecturer, Prof. Umeogu discovered and produced the first Igbo Kolanut juice for stimulation, energizing and sustenance of the body, even as he also has over 400 Metaphysico-Communion Living drugs from BonaChristus’ Symbolismic Pharmaceutical Laboratories

Rev. Fr. Prof. Umeogu is the founder, convener and moderator of UNIZIK 1st Ogirisi Igbo Lectures on ‘’Ọfọ : Igbo symbol of Authority’’ and so many other lecture series, organizations and journals.