(Before the Amadioha shrine; things are arranged there to show that it is a shrine to the great god, Amadioha, while two other small gods stand at either side of him. Njoku Ogwugwu, Chief of the Ofo-holders, is sweeping the shrine, while Ogbuehi and Iwejua beat a drum. They stop. Njoku then begins to perform a sacrifice at the shrine. ) 

NJOKU: That's enough o! (He waves his hand for them to stop beating the drum. He takes out four small kola nuts, gives Ogbuehi one, gives Iwejua one, and keeps two.) Chei! Chee! Chee! Amadioha, good morning! Okahia Ogwugwu and Uramurukwa [the lesser gods], greetings. It is Njoku Ogwugwu, Chief of the Ofo-holders, greeting you. Amadioha, look at the kola nut. (He throws out one to him.) 

OGBUEHI: Uramurukwa! Great river with a beginning but no end, look at the kola nut. (He throws out one kola nut to him.) 

IWEJUA: Okahia Ogwugwu, bush that consumes snakes, who bought ochasi [leafy green vegetable] that prevented the monkey from climbing, look at the kola nut today! (He throws out to him the one he holds in his hand.) 

NJOKU: Ogbuehi and Iwejua, heads of Ofo-holders, kola has come. (They then strike their staffs on the ground.) 

BOTH: Yaa! 

NJOKU: Amadioha! One-who-kills-and-licks-blood! One who judges the case that is too much for spirits and humans! One who chases away flies for the cow that has no tail! Look at blood and lick it up! (He cuts off a chicken's head, then scatters its blood on a nearby palm branch.) Okahia Ogwugwu, powerful one whose back does not touch the ground, look at blood and lick it up. (He scatters blood on it. He sneezes three times.) Ahchoo! My-life! Ahchoo! Ahchoo! My-life-o. Strength of the town! I do not answer the call of the spirits! God forbid! (He spits.) Staff of innocence, do not hold me guilty! It's the name God gave me. Rather than die, I prefer to be lost. Even if I lack everything, I will not lack someone to look for me. One who holds the drum also holds the staff of innocence. 

ALL: E haa! You are innocent. 

NJOKU: As to the dispute over the holding of the ofo, guilt will be decided by the spirits. If the one whose long life I make sacrifices for then wishes me dead, when I give him a vicious dog, may he see it as a lapdog! 

ALL: E-haa! Innocence of the spirits. (They strike their staffs on the ground.) 

NJOKU: He who comes to kill me kills himself as well. The one I showed the way to life, if he chooses that of death, when he reincarnates, may he go to sleep before the chickens [refers to dying early].

ALL: E-haa! Innocence of the spirits! (They strike their staffs on the ground.) 

NJOKU: God created heaven and earth, then created human beings to all live in peace and joy. the one who says that only he should live and his fellow men should not live, may he lack family in the world and in the spirit land. 

ALL: E haa! Innocence of the spirits! (They strike their staffs on the ground.)

NJOKU: Let the hawk perch, let the eagle perch, the one that tells the other not to perch, not only will its wing break but its leg will break too: may it also fly out from its place so another one may perch there. He who consumes deathly things will wait for death. He who commits an abomination against the earth, may he be found guilty by the spirits. 

ALL: E-haa! E-haa! Amen! (They strike their staffs on the ground three times.) Lord, you have heard. 

NJOKU: Ogbuehi, bring me that wine that is in the small [clay] pot. Don' t bring the one in the white man's pot [glass bottle].

OGBUEHI: Who mixed that? 

NJOKU: It was Nwadibia. I bought it in the name of Osuji Anajem. He wanted to use it to sue Nwigbe because of his yams that she uprooted and left out on the ground. 

IWEJUA: Njoku, my friend! Have you noticed that something bad has entered this town? Why would a full-grown woman uproot yams planted on a farm, without fear of spirits or humans? God forbid bad things! 

NJOKU: Let's leave this topic now. I have used mature eyes to look for something in the bag and have seen that Uhia-Njoku [farm deity] has reached the time when it makes rain fall during dry season. 

IWEJUA: Ogbuehi, pour the wine for us quickly. It is getting late. (Ogbuehi then pours for each one in the cup he brings out, but he does not fill their cups up to the brim. Njoku then throws out some wine on the ground.) 

NJOKU: God who lives in heaven, whose loincloth drags on the earth, whose heavy footsteps trample the earth, whose wide eyes see all the movements of spirits and humans, hear my voice-o! Amadioha hear my voice. Okahia Ogwugwu and Uramurukwa, I come with the staff of innocence. We came this morning for the welfare of the land. Let what belongs to the poor person come to him, and what belongs to the wealthy person come to him. We came so that there might be peace to great and small in this town. If anyone ill-treats his fellow man, may you not allow him to use his two eyes to see anything good in life. 

ALL: (Everyone then throws out wine before their gods.) Haa! 

NJOKU: If anyone sees the wealth of a widow and snatches it away from her because she has no one to speak for her, please, let him be reborn feet first. In any world to which he returns, let his wife also become a widow. 

ALL: Haa! (They throw out wine.) 

NJOKU: We came for a peaceful talk, and if anyone says that he does not like peace, let him come from the earth and drink his own wine. 

ALL: Haa! (They throw out wine.) 

NJOKU: Amadioha drink wine! (He throws wine before Amadioha.) Okahia-Ogwugwu drink wine! (Iwejua then throws wine before his own deity.) Uramurukwa drink wine too! (Ogbuehi then throws wine before his own deity.) May today's matter go smoothly. 

ALL: Haa! Amen! 

OGBUEHI: Bring out your cups so I can pour them for you one each. There will not be enough for two each. (They present their cups one by one.) 

NJOKU: Beat the big drum, so people will come. The time has arrived. Iwejua, prepare the place where the Ekpe musicians will sit and play their music. Please, do it quickly! (People then gather before the Amadioha shrine. The Ekpe drummers then arrange their instruments. Ekpe music then starts. The Chief Ofo title-holder, Njoku, dances around, holding kola in one hand and a fan in the other. While he dances, he runs back and forth until he reaches the front of the Ekpe dancers, then thrusts his kola into the earth. The music stops abruptly.) 

NJOKU: Che, che, chei, Akabo kwenu! [greetings].

CROWD: Yaa! 

NJOKU: Che, che, chei, Ogwuama kwenu! 

CROWD: Yaa! 

NJOKU: Che, che, chei, villagers kwenu! 

CROWD: Yaa! 

NJOKU: Igbo kwenu! 

CROWD: Yaa! 

NJOKU: Kwenu! 

CROWD: Yaa! 

NJOKU: Kwezuenu! [more emphatic]

CROWD: Yaaa! (Njoku then clears his throat.)

NJOKU: Chiefs and villagers, may you not die early. The main matter at hand this morning concerns a quarrel between the households of Ikekwem Okpuruka and Oguamalam Okemkpi. Before we say anything else, it would be good for the chicken that is being wished a good life to come out before the native doctor [chicken" here refers to a human being].

NWOKORO: Ikekwem Okpuruka! 

IKEKWEM: (He answers.) I am here. 

NWOKORO: You and your people come and take seats here. (He points them to seast on his left, facing the people of the town.) Oguamalam Okemkpi! 

OGUAMALAM: He is here. 

NWOKORO: You and your son come and take seats here. (He points them to seats on his right, then he too sits down. Njoku then rises.) 

NJOKU: Chiefs and villagers, kwenu! 


NJOKU: See here the two people who brought us here this morning. Ikekwem and Oguamalam, greetings! 

BOTH: Greetings! 

NJOKU: The citizenry have told me to issue a call to you two this morning, so you can tell them what is causing a quarrel between the dog and the feces. [Village dogs were always hungry, even to the point of eating feces.] So, you will explain to all the townspeople what made you bring us a bad thing in this town. The chiefs and the people will sit here and decide this matter so that peace will be restored between you. Ihenweorie-ikpa greetings! 

THE CROWD: Yaa! That's what we said. (Iwejua then rises.) 

IWEJUA: Ihenweorie kwenu! [a form of salutation].


IWEJUA: One does not see a child's teeth empty-handed. [Refers to the custom of giving a gift if one is the first to notice that a baby's teeth have started to emerge.] Bring your wine of judgment, and kola nut for the people here. (They bring them out.) 

NJOKU: We have seen your wine. Ihenweorie-ikpa kwenu! 


NJOKU: The next thing we will look into is Osuji Anajem's suit against Nwigbe. Is Osuji here? 

OSUJI: Yes! I am here. 

NWOKORO: Come out here. (He comes out.) 

NJOKU: We have seen your wine. What is your matter about? 

OSUJI: I use this wine to sue Nwigbe, Oparaeke's wife. Last Eke day, Nwigbe entered my farm that is near their house and uprooted fifteen splits of yams I had just newly planted. Up to now, I haven't seen those yam splits. What she used them for, the son of Anajem does not know. What I want is for Nwigbe to pay me 27 ikpoghe [monetary unit, such as cowrie shell] for these yams she dug up. 

NJOKU: All right. Countrymen, have you heard Osuji's side? 


NJOKU: We will look into this matter after we finish judging the first one. Ihenweorie kwenu! 


NJOKU: What brought us here this morning is to have a peace talk. There is nothing sweeter than brothers living in unity, because in unity there is strength. Therefore, we don't want anyone to cause disturbances in this matter this morning. Villagers, greetings! 

THE CROWD: Greetings! 

NJOKU: Oguamalam, explain to us the gist of your quarrel. (He sits down.) 

OGUAMALAM: Ihenweorie-ikpa kwenu! 




OGUAMALAM: The chameleon says that the reason he treads gently on the earth is so that he won't break it, because the earth was not very hard when he was born. I, Oguamalam, am an only child. My mother bore only me. Therefore, there is no one at all I would want to quarrel with. And the ukpabi says that rather than putting his head into the fire [looking for trouble], let the wind blow him away. Rather than the yam be undercooked in the pot, it would be good for Oguamalam if the firewood in the forest were completely used up. Nothing else divides me and Ikekwem and his people, except that I am defending my father's land, which is the "Main farmland" bush. Is there anyone in Akabo who doesn't know that my father, Okemkpi, and his brother, Okpuruka, shared their paternal land? When Okemkpi and Okpuruka buried their father, Chima, they shared all the funeral expenses equally. My father then marked off his share. Okpuruka then also took his share. At no time did a quarrel break out between them. When they began again the sharing of their father's wealth they also shared it equally, with no quarrel at all between them. When these lands were distributed, it was my father Okemkpi who received this "Main farmland" bush. All the Akabo people are my witnesses in this matter. How can Ikekwem and his brothers take their full share in the land of their father Okpuruka, and then come and make a claim on Okemkpi's land? Does this look right to you all? 

THE CROWD: No! It is an abomination! Chei! (Much noise breaks out.) 

OGUAMALAM: Ihenweorie-ikpa kwenu! 

THE CROWD: Yaa! (The noise dies down.) 

OGUAMALAM: God forbid! If one bears a child and calls it Nkemdirim [let my own stay with me], is he saying that his compatriots should let their own run away from them? Let me not reject my own. My brothers, it is because of my father's land, the "Main farmland," that Ikekwem and his household are trying to kill me. I will not avoid people and go and live in the bush for the sake of remaining alive. Rather, let what will happen tomorrow happen today, so I can see it with my own eyes. My name is Oguamalam ["let the staff of innocence not be against me"]. What I know is that I will not do something for which the staff of innocence will indict me. May you all not die early. (Commotion breaks out. He sits down.) 

NJOKU: Ihenweorie kwenu! 


NJOKU: Kwezuenu! 


NJOKU: One should not use only one person's story on which to pass judgment. We ought to listen to Ikekwem's side. (He sits down.) (Ikekwem then rises.) 

IKEKWEM: Countrymen, may you not die early. I will cut my speech short. I haven't the strength for a lot of talk. When my father Okpuruka and his brother, Okemkpi, shared their father's land, they decided that they would redivide these lands when their children had reached adulthood. Our father Okpuruka had three sons. I am his oldest son. My two other brothers have grown to manhood. They all have wives, as you well know. Oguamalam himself is the only child Okemkpi had. He also has grown to manhood. A long time ago I suggested to him that we should redivide these lands as our fathers had decided. But Oguamalam refused to listen to the idea that these lands should be redivided. (Oguamalam then interrupts forcefully.) 

OGUAMALAM: Shut your mouth! Greed will kill you. What-the-eye-sees-the-heart-will-not-let-go! Where did Okemkpi and Okpuruka decide this? Is this something your advisers and your leaders told you to say? Look -- 

NJOKU: (Cuts him off.) Sit down, Oguamalam! Who told you to speak without permission? If you say another word, we will fine you. (A person then rises from among them.) 

ANOGWI: Ihenweorie kwenu! 


ANOGWI: Kwenu! 


ANOGWI: We came to make peace. We ought to listen fully to the cases of these two people. The people will be questioning them. Oguamalam, we don't want to hear from you again until we ask you a question. Ikekwem, get to the point. People and chiefs, kwenu! 


IKEKWEM: What I was saying before Oguamalam interrupted me was that he did not want us to redivide these lands as our fathers had decided. So, I just took over one piece of land so we could start to make use of everything we could by any means. The land I took, "Main farmland," is not among the ones our fathers shared. That is what caused us to fight. May you all not die early. Who would say that if it were he, he would not do the same? May you all not die early. (He sits down. There is commotion for a brief time.) 

NJOKU: Countrymen, you have heard their cases. Is there anyone who has any questions for them? 

IWEJUA: Yes! the first question I want to ask Ikekwem is this. Who is your witness, that Okemkpi and Okpuruka decided that they must redivide the land for their children? 

IKEKWEM: The ofo-holders who came to the sharing ceremonies of that land are here. 

OGBUEHI: I was there when these lands were divided. I joined in going to set their boundaries. But at no time did the two people, your fathers, say in the presence of the ofo-holders that they were going to redivide the land for their children. Nwokoro, eh? (He looks at Nwokoro.) 

NWOKORO: You are exactly right. That is how it happened. 

IKEKWEM: (He jumps up forcefully.) Elder who knows but does not speak! You all are supporting Oguamalam so that he alone should hold everything we own together. No! This will not happen in my presence. I am leaving! (Noise then breaks out. He starts up, as though to leave. Njoku then rises.) 

NJOKU: Chei, chei, chei! Countrymen kwenu! 


NJOKU: Ikekwem! Don't take a step from here! You gathered firewood infested with ants, why are you running away from the lizard? Don't take a step from here. This matter will end today. Ihenweorie kwenu! 

THE CROWD: Yaa! (Ikekwem sits down.) 

NJOKU: We have heard your first question. Does anyone have another question? 

OGBUEHI: Yes! My brother Ikekwem, please, don't feel hurt when the truth is spoken to you. The truth is very bitter to the ears of the person it goes against. I will not, just because of the cat's cries when it is hungry, take my chicken outside for it to eat. Another question I think I should ask you is this: can you kneel before Amadioha and swear that this land that you and Oguamalam are quarreling about is your father's land? And that your father Okpuruka and Okemkpi decided in the presence of the ofo-holders to divide their land and that they would redivide the land for their children when they grew up? And it is not with the idea of cheating that you want to take your brother Oguamalam's land away from him? Will you plead innocence in this way when you swear this oath? 

IKEKWEM: Yes! I will swear it! I and my household. Ikekwem, if I swear it, I will not die. (Noisy commotion then breaks out.) 

NJOKU: People and chiefs, kwenu! 


NJOKU: You have heard that this matter has ended today. Ikekwem has agreed that he and his household will swear and oath and take that land. Therefore, the matter as ended. The day oaths are taken in this village is Eke day. Ikekwem and his household will swear on next Eke day, which is four days from today. Nwokoro, a task has come to you. You will send out the Ayaka-owu masquerade, to go and gather all the bad medicine in that bush early Eke morning. Ihenweorie, kwenu! [Supposedly the medicine will keep Ikekwem out of the land if he is guilty.]


NJOKU: It is very late. We will set another date for the case of Osuji and Nwigbe: let it be on the next Afo-Amadioha. Ihenweorie, kwenu! 

THE CROWD: Yaa! (Drumming then starts. Njoku and the priests begin to dance to it. Ubu-Ekpe [probably a masquerade] then comes out and starts to dance.


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