Osodieme, Please Forgive Me!
COMR. HARRIS CHUMA-ODILI, PhD
I have seen a thousand and one definitions of marriage. But the one that makes cultural and spiritual sense to me is that which defined marriage as: ‘a voluntary union between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life’. Aside the articles in this definition, every other word is key – ‘Voluntary’, ‘Union’, ‘Man’, ‘Woman’, ‘Exclusion of all others’ and ‘For Life’. Removing any invalidates that word marriage, which is in alignment with Igbo culture and spirituality. The ‘union’ in the definition presupposes oneness, which sees the two individuals as one. That is why the Law of Marriage sees couples as one. This has rubbed off on terms like: Sister -in-law, which loosely means ‘sister in the law of marriage’. If the two individuals have become one in marriage, the person’s sister, automatically becomes a sister, ‘in the law of marriage’.
So, when Chief Willie Obiano, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, came from Aguleri, his hometown, many years ago to get married to our sister, Ebele, it established the fact that he had become our brother in ‘the law of marriage’, and whoever expects anything good or necessary from his brother cannot be termed greedy. Whoever asks his brother to fulfill a promise does not have a misplaced intention. Many youths in Ogbunike had campaigned for Chief Willie Obiano and had actually rejoiced over his victory because they hoped it would bring the community closer to reckoning in the scheme of things in Anambra State. As a community with potentials, the youths had hoped the emergence of our sister as the ‘governor’ (in the law of marriage) would help activate some of these untapped assets in Ogbunike. With the transformational power of tourism, one of the assets everyone had looked forward to was the Ogbunike Cave.
Having been identified as one of the World’s Heritage Sites by UNESCO, it is not misplaced for any government to think of giving it a befitting outlook. The Governor and his handlers understood this fact, which was why they conspicuously promised in 2014 to do all within their power to revamp the fortunes of the Ogbunike Cave. It would have been beneficial to the state in shoring up the revenues; but particularly, it would have been a source of pride to the people of Ogbunike. That would have spawned jobs, investments and sundry other benefits for the entire community. I have read some articles insinuating that the Governor has been beneficial to some individuals from Ogbunike community because he gave them political appointments. We thank him for that! But the big question is, how many people will the appointment of a handful of individuals rub off on? Of course, only the few appointees and their immediate family members! But insisting infrastructure would be to the benefit of a larger population, which is why the youths of Ogbunike still preferred the government to bridge the infrastructural gap instead.
To imagine that our daughter, Ebele (Osodieme), would happily be sleeping in the corridors of power when her people, Ndi Ogbunike, are still wallowing in utter neglect of the government she is heading, (by the law of marriage) is unbelievable. History tells us how useful Umu Ada can be to their communities. From the ancient days of many African empires to the modern days of late Mrs. Mariam Babangida, whose influence brought the capital of Delta State to Asaba, a huge source of transformation to the people of the town today, one can see the need to always reckon with every Nwa Ada.
We thank the Government of Chief and Mrs. Willie Obiano for siting a Court in our community; although we have been cajoled by neighbouring communities that our brother-in-law, had by this gesture given us express permission to be spending our monies on litigations. We thank Osodieme for building a public toilet in Oye Olisa market, although other communities in Anambra have called it ‘an intervention to our diarrhea’. We have heard expressions like: Ogbunike Ndi Otoro and Nene Ogbunike, nene toilet! These are very derogatory remarks.
Not too long ago, the traditional ruler of Ogbunike, Igwe Umenyiora, passed on. Till date, the Government of Anambra State has not sent a condolence message to the community that gave the head of the government, Chief Willie Obiano, their daughter to marry. A flurry of media attacks came from the Governor’s media handlers when a son of Ogbunike, who is a journalist raised the issue. This is not proper. A few months earlier, the community had planned to host the Governor and his entourage at the Igwe’s Palace, only for the Governor’s team to shun the reception without a notice of cancellation, in utter disregard of everyone. This is disdainful to the Ogbunike community to say the least.
With all these, would it be out of place to assume that Mrs. Ebele Obiano (Osodieme) has rejected Ndi Ogbunike, her people? Would it be sacrilegious to call for the rapid development of Ogbunike Cave? Is it a crime to demand for the Governor’s attention to the plights of ndi Ogbunike? Is it arrogance on my part to remind our dear in-law, Gov Willie Obiano, to fulfill the promises made to ndi Ogbunike?
Osodieme, my beautiful sister, Ogbunike needs you to fight our cause, dry our tears and save our soul. We need you to rewrite our ugly story. Osodieme, Mama Anambra, Osodi global, renowned philanthropist, kindhearted and godly woman, Mother General, the mother Theresa of our time, hope of the hopeless, eye of the blind, please come home and move Ogbunike forward. Come home and provoke a change we can see, feel and touch. Do not harden your heart but come to our aid. Nwanyioma, do not reject your people. Please, forgive me for standing up and speaking the minds of thousands of our people. What is our sin?
Ogbuefi Comr Harris Chuma-Odili, PhD
Ogene Igbo na Ogbunike
Oyi LGA, Anambra State.