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Main | Open Letter to Obasanjo: President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria »

December 21, 2004

The Udumeze, Ruler of Ohafia, the Mighty Warriors of Igboland, Reigns High in America

Forwarded by

Laolu Akande

CULLED FROM African Sun Times

THE HILTON HOTEL, New York, Nov. 15, 2004 - The Udumeze of Ohafia, His Royal Majesty Eze Onuoha Uma, ruler of the acclaimed mighty warriors of Igboland, today extended his reign to America, where two great Americans he had conferred with chieftaincy titles were ceremoniously presented with all the accountrements of their office. The ceremony was a most spectacular event.

The event was held at the high-class Hilton Hotel on Avenue of the Americas and 54th Street in Manhattan, New York, befitting His Royal Majesty.

Performing the Conferment Ceremony on behalf of the His Majesty Eze Uma was Chief Dr. Chika A. Onyeani, the Igwe I (Man of Steel) of Abam, and Akanagbajiegbe I (Pen is Mightier than the Sword) of Ohafia. Popularly called by his colleagues as the "Dean of the African Media in America," Onyeani is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Africa's number one newspaper in America, the African Sun Times, as well as the author of the controversial and spectacularly successful and No.1 bestselling book "Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success," which is in its fourth printing.

Onyeani's first title was conferred on him in 1998 by his grand uncle, the Onyerubi of Abam, who was the longest reigning monarch in Igboland; while the second title was conferred by the present Udumeze of Ohafia in 2002.

The recipients of His Royal Majesty Eze Uma's recognition are Dr. Annie B. Martin and Mr. Ted H. Jacobsen. Dr. Martin is the President of the New York Chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples), while Mr. Jacobsen is the Secretary of the New York City Central Labor Council, the umbrella organization of the more than 400 unions in New York representing more than 1.6 million members. About a 100 people attended the ceremony, including African Ambassadors and labor, community, political and religious leaders.

Chief Mrs. Opral Benson, who has been conferred with eight chieftaincy titles in Nigeria and popularly known as the Fashion Queen of Africa, graced the occasion as well as outfitted Dr. Martin with her chieftaincy regalia, especially her spectacular head-tie. Both Chief Mrs. Margaret Edu, who liaised with the Udumeze-in-Council and procured all the chieftaincy accountrements, and Chief Mrs. Loretta Onyeani, who has been conferred with two chieftaincy titles in Nigeria, assisted Chief Mrs. Benson in outfitting Dr. Martin.

Others there included Mr. Abba A. Onyeani, vice president of the Okagwe-Ohafia Development Union (USA) branch, Mr. Abba A. Onyeani, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Black Urban Times, and Mr. Joe Kalu Ukpai, one of the most well-known Iri-Agha dancers (the Ohafia War Dance) in the United States today. Joe can compete and win even back home in Ohafia.

Chief Dr. Martin and Chief Jacobsen were recognized by the Udumeze after representations were made to the Udumeze-in-Council by Dr. Chika Onyeani. Some time last year (2003), Onyeani began the campaign, through the goodwill of Chief Mrs. Edu, to have these two great individuals recognized by the Udumeze. Onyeani laid out intimate details on the accomplishments of these two individuals, particularly with respect to Africa and Africans - what they have done, what they are doing and believes how they will continue to do more for Africans.

The Udumeze-in-Council, which advises His Royal Majesty Eze Onuoha Uma on the nominees, deliberated for almost a year before making a recommendation to His Royal Majesty that these two individuals be recognized.

His Royal Majesty, during his last birthday celebrations, recognized both Dr. Annie B. Martin, and Mr. Theodore H. Jacobsen. Dr. Martin was conferred with the title of Ada di Oha Mma I of Ohafia (the first daughter loved by the whole world), while Mr. Jacobsen was confered with the title of Enyioha I of Ohafia (friend to the whole world). Dr. Martin is black, Mr. Jacobsen is white.

Before the ceremony, Onyeani donned on his Okpu Agu (leopard's hat), which is a well-known trademark of Ohafia people recognized by Nigerians, put on his Eagle feather, put on his beads (neck) and wrist beads. He carried not only his Akupe, emblazoned with Chief Dr. Chika Onyeani, Akanagbajiegbe I of Ohafia, but as well as the Odu Inyinya (The White Horse Tail).

Before the event was declared opened, the war dance music began playing as Joe Kalu Ukpai in his War Dance regalia, entered the hall to an applause. He was joined by the Onyeanis, as Chief Mrs. Onyeani danced to spray money on him.

When the Conferment Ceremony began, Chief Onyeani announced that the male ceremony would be performed first. He called out Mr. Ted Jacobsen. A chair was brought for him to sit. Then he was dressed in his Chief's dress and his cap and Eagle feather were put on his head. After this, he was made to kneel down, as the "Nzu" ceremony was performed. His beads were put on him, while the Odu Inyinya ceremony was performed and presented to him. The Akupe, with his chieftaincy title emblazoned on it, was presented. Onyeani then performed the libation and then read his conferment from the Udumeze-in-Council's "Certificate of Chieftaincy title" which "Do Hereby Confer Chieftaincy Title on Our Most Distinguished Citizen of the World (as an American) and signed by the Udumeze.

The same ceremony was performed for Dr. Martin, but in this case the three women Chiefs assisted Dr. Onyeani, especially in outfitting Chief Martin in her chieftaincy dress regalia. The transformations of these two Chiefs, after they were conferred with their titles and dressed appropriately, were spectacular.

In accepting their chieftaincy conferments, both Chiefs thanked His Royal Majesty the Udumeze of Ohafia, "for this high honor, extended appreciation to all those responsible for making this dignified event possible and so thoroughly enjoyable and meaningful, and borrowing from the Nigerian National Anthem, 'To serve with heart and might, one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity ... to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign." The two Chiefs promised to be active participants in Ohafia affairs, especially in the area of education, as both of their backgrounds were in education.

In a write-up about the Ohafia people titled "OHAFIA: LAND OF THE MIGHTY WARRIORS: Erudite Scholars, and Successful Entrepreneurs," Prof. John McCall of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, wrote "The Ohafia are an Igbo speaking people who live in a region of about 100 square miles located west of the Cross River in Southeastern Nigeria. On these rolling hills, twenty-six villages are found. The largest is the village of Akanu. The ancestral capital of Ohafia is the centrally located village of Elu (meaning top high from where the Udumeze emanated).

Prior to the colonial period the ancestors of the Ohafia people were renowned as mighty warriors. This aspect of Ohafia's history remains fundamental to the Ohafia people's sense of identity. The warrior's cap (okpu agu or 'leopard's cap') is ubiquitous in Ohafia and is recognized all over Nigeria as a marker of Ohafia citizenship. The Ohafia warrior tradition and its role in the constitution of Ohafia identity is explicitly embodied in the performance of iri agha - the Ohafia War Dance. The warrior identity is deeply ingrained in Ohafia cultural practice and the process of acquiring deep knowledge of the warrior tradition begins in early childhood."


Posted by Administrator at December 21, 2004 03:52 PM

Comments

A na m ekele Umuigbo na mba nile.
I appreciate this and actually I
am writing my thesis now on the
significance and symbolism of Nzu
in Igboland. This is what led me to
this fortune. I hail from Nimo.

Posted by: Nzudinobieze Ositadinma Amakeze at November 14, 2005 04:17 PM


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