OGWA PEOPLE OF NIGERIA

OGWA PEOPLE OF NIGERIA



By Chioma-Christine

I was born in Onitsha but grew up in Port Harcourt, where I had the foundational stage of my life and later relocated to Lagos to work. My life's journey in these towns have given me experiences that have moulded me into the adult I have turned out to be;  with respect to family values, personal values, societal values from the activies of schooling, religious groups and work place. However I did get to visit my extended family at Ogwa during the Christmas and Easter periods and these encounters availed me the opportunity to have memorable stories and imaginations about Ogwa. 

Ogwa is a town located in south eastern Nigeria and consist of about eleven villages. My village is Ochii-Ogwa. Ochii-Ogwa is basically a rural setting where the medium of communication is igbo, most of the villagers engage in farming both subsistence and commercial and trading. Both farming and trading in various products or goods seem to be their main occupation over the years as it is still strongly practiced today. My late grand mother of blessed memory had a garden kind of mixed farming where she planted crops and reared animals. She planted yam and maize and reared chicken and goat. I remember her tilling the soil and making ridges before planting, weeding and harvesting her crops in due season. She also fed her farm animals and got enough "protein" for the family and traded her ever growing livestock. I had the golden moment of watching her deliver a kid from a she goat. This invaluable moment has helped me appreciate my biology class later in my studies.

The Ogwa people are hospitable and deeply religious people that express their spirituality through faith in deities for traditional worshippers or Almighty God for christians with majority of the christians being catholics or anglicans. However with the advent of technology and education, the people have embraced protestant beliefs against their Orthodox beliefs. The people are known for their elaborate festivities like the new yam festival, marriage ceremonies and child naming ceremonies. The people would adorn themselves in the traditional attire where the men wore " Head of Lion" velvet shirt called "Isiagu" on trousers with red cap or white singlet on patterned wrapper with red and white cap that has a tampering tip. The women wore head tie, blouse, wrapper or skirt and complimentary accessories like beads, shoes, handbag and body painting. The new yam festival, as the name implies, it's a time in season to celebrate the harvest from the new planted yam. It is usually done at the village square with the drummers beating their drums,  musicians playing their musical instruments, singers singing and dancers dancing to the sounds and rhythms of the musical instruments to the delight of all the people present at the occasion of eating and merriment of the new yam harvest. The masquerade would also grace the occasion with colourful display of their custome and dance steps. The staple foods, being garri and soup, rice and stew and white palm wine  would be showcased as well.


A notable thing about Ogwa is their political and judicial system. This is based on age group where the men folks are divided into youths, elders and title holders (chiefs) that make up the village council called "Umunna". The elders and title holders constitute the 'Idiche" meaning people or men of wisdom. The elders deliberate on issues bordering on the community for development, peace and maintenance of laws of the land. The elders make the laws, the title holders implement the laws  while the youths execute the laws. For instance if two persons have dispute over a landed property that borders on ownership or inheritance, the matter is taken to the Umunna, the governing village council involving the elders and title holders, that deliberates over the issue based on the laws of their forefathers on rights to inheritance and the verdict is passed for the youths to uphold so that any defaulter of the law is dealt with by the youths which are empowered by the governing village council. 

I am indeed grateful to be an indigene of Ogwa because the humble beginning of my village life has instilled in me both family and personal values that have motivated me to pursue greater endeavours in life. The values include respect for constituted authority such as my parents and elders, hardwork from farming activities, fear of a supreme being, resilience to keep thriving even when faced with difficult challenges  and good sense of grooming. These values have made me focused in life while in pursuit of life's goals, helped me attain good success and contribute my quota to national building.

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