THE RECONCILIATION OF OMENUKO AND OUR PEOPLE
Omenuko then purchased everything the chief of the land and the chief of the spirits told him to purchase. When he was buying these things, he did not buy the eagle feathers because he had two eagles he was raising in his house. After he finished buying the things, he sent for Igwe. When Igwe got the message, he came. Omenuko then told Igwe that he had bought everything he had been told to buy. Igwe said, "I will go back and tell the chief of the land and the chief of the spirits, and then they will tell me how it should be done." Omenuko then told Igwe that his plan sounded good, that it should be done that way.
The next day, Igwe departed. When he reached home, he went to the homes of those two people and told them that Omenuko had purchased everything he had been told to purchase, and asked them how things should be handled. They told him to tell Omenuko to gather everything and come himself because it was not something to send by a messenger, because they would take a chicken egg, touch it to the mouth and throw it away, and some people would eat little bits of it. All of those things are involved in the ritual eating together of man and spirits. Those things would all be killed and cooked, everyone would eat a little bit of them, each item in turn, from the first person to the last, at the same time. So Igwe said that he agreed, and that he would return to Omenuko and tell him what they had said. At that time Omenuko would decide when he would come.
But Igwe sent a young man of his household to go to Omenuko and tell him what they had said. When the young man arrived and related to Omenuko what those people had replied to Igwe, Omenuko took two people from his household in addition to the one from his friend Igwe's house, gave them the cow and told them to give it to his friend Igwe to keep for four days, when he would be coming. He also asked that he [Igwe] give directions to those two people, as he would not fail to come in four days' time. So they started out and went as he had told them. Omenuko then called his brothers and said to them, "Help me now, so that we can decide how I should make this journey of mine." They all then agreed that Omenuko and Nwabueze should go together.
When the appointed week arrived, Omenuko packed up all of his things and took one of the two eagles he was raising. Rather than pluck out the eagle feathers as he had been told, he traveled with the eagle itself. When he reached our town, he entered the house of his friend Igwe. But when he arrived it was nighttime, so he sent a message to inform those two people [the chiefs] that he had come and that the meeting would take place the following day. When the news reached them they said that it was good, saying, "If one stays at home to wait for someone, his waist will not pain him." Omenuko then asked his friend, "Please, my friend, how will we handle the problem of the wine for the meeting, because I forgot to send you a message about it on the day that I sent the cow." Igwe replied, "Don't worry, we can buy as much as we want if we cannot obtain any [from anyone in this village]." He added that his responsibility now was the wine in a pot whose bottom had not touched the ground. He then went away and came back again. Omenuko and Igwe did not sleep that night until daybreak, because they were discussing all their concerns. Nwabueze and Elebeke and Arisa stayed awake almost as long as Igwe and Omenuko.
The next day, Igwe sent out people to go and find wine. After they came back, Igwe and Omenuko sent out a man to go and tell the chief of the land and the priest of the spirits that they would be coming right away. They then got ready and went to the house of the chief of the land. They then sent someone to go and tell the people who were involved in this matter that Omenuko had come. When those people he needed had all come in, they did not give kola to Omenuko because they had not yet held the ritual eating together they had come to perform. They then told Omenuko to do what he wanted to do. Then he brought out the cow and the eight chicken eggs and one white cock and eight large yams and eight small yams, and told Igwe to take these things and give them to the people of his town so that he and they could hold the ritual eating together, in order to reconcile them from that day forward.
Omenuko then said to them, "Please, everyone who sees me, let him remember that I belong to you and you belong to me. From today on, if there is anything I did wrong in the past, tell me how I can remedy it; I will not fail to do as you want. There is no law in our land that I do not remember, even in the place where I live now; it is the law of our land that I am following." Igwe thanked him, took all of those things and offered them before the chief of the land, saying, "Here are these things Omenuko was told to buy for the ritual feast. Again, these are the words we have heard now." The chief of the land then took all of those things and presented them to those who had come to the meeting, and repeated what Igwe had said. They thanked Igwe and also thanked Omenuko.
Then they chose some young men and told them to take the cow and kill it. They took the cow and killed it, and also took the white cock and killed it. They cut off the head of the cow and placed it and the chicken together, took a pot and began to cook the head of the cow and the whole chicken. That was for our ancestors. After that, they took four chicken eggs and put them into that same pot, took eight large yams and peeled them, cut them into small pieces and put them also into that same pot. When the cow's head was cooked, they took it out of the pot and put all of those things on one large tray. They then removed the flesh from the cow's head, cut the chicken into pieces, and divided up the four chicken eggs. These were the things that would be used to thank our ancestors so that they would be pleased to take some of those items or the foods that were cooked and placed on top of the large ofo [wooden staff representing the god of justice] belonging to the chief of the land.
Afterward, children came and nibbled at those things that had been placed on the ofo. After this was completed, they took out the chicken eggs that had not been cooked and placed them in front of the people. The chief of the land came out, took those chicken eggs and lightly touched them to his mouth four times, saying, "Whether I spoke well or spoke ill of Omenuko and his brothers, it is that bad thing that we are wiping out today. We and they have become as father and son. Our ancestors, hear! The voice of man is the voice of the spirits, and we and they have become one. What we forbid is what they [Omenuko and his brothers] will also forbid now. What we eat is what they will eat now. What saves our lives will also save their lives now. What kills us will also kill them now." After the chief of the land had finished saying this, each person got up, took one egg and touched it to his mouth, and repeated what the chief of the land had said, until all of them had done the same. Omenuko also said everything that the others had said.
Following this, one person was told to gather up those chicken eggs and go and throw them into the bad bush. That person went and did it. Then they began to eat the meat of the chicken and the cow's head and the cooked chicken eggs. They sliced them all onto the meat tray, mixed in pepper and oil, and everyone ate a little of the meat and the yams. They then cut up the cow and gave each one his appropriate share. They brought out all of the wine they had set aside and began to drink it. While they were drinking it, Omenuko said to them, "Please, my brothers, I cannot wait until all the wine has been drunk, because I must go to the house of the priest of the spirits today." They then gave him permission to go. Omenuko and Igwe got ready at once and went to the house of the priest of the spirits. When they reached his house, they brought out everything he had been told to buy, which was: one female sheep, one hen, one cock, eight chicken eggs, a duck egg, a basket of yams, a basket of cocoyams, one pod of kola, one pod of kola pepper, forty pieces of native chalk, wine in a pot whose bottom has not touched the ground, a pot of raffia palm wine, a pot of oil palm wine, and an eagle.
Omenuko then told Igwe to take these things and give them to Iyiukwa, that he did not want any other bad thing to happen--he wanted only to reconcile the hearts of humans and spirits toward himself, so they would feel good will toward him. Now what he had come for was to hold the ritual eating together between man and the spirits. Igwe then said, "Priest of the spirits, here are the things Omenuko brought as he was told to bring. You see now that he was told to bring eagle feathers, but he has brought a living eagle; also he was told to bring a duck egg but he has bought many duck eggs. These things show how sincere he is. Here are all of those things you listed."
The priest then got up and shook hands with Omenuko and Igwe and said to them, "Both of you are strong people." The priest of the spirits then entered his house and took his small bell that he used to call the vultures, went outside and said, "I will find out now if the spirits are happy." He then rang the bell and it resounded, "Ding! ding! ding! ding! ding! ding! ding! ding! ding!" In a short time, vultures were coming from all over the place. Iyiukwa then ran back, took a chicken and quickly killed it; he cut it up into very small pieces, threw them out to all those vultures, and they carried them off and swallowed them. At that time, Iyiukwa returned to the house and said to Omenuko, "Take my hand. Everything will be all right."
It's true that he rang the bell and the vultures came, but you know that even the stupidest animal you have in your house, no matter what name you want to call it, will soon begin to answer to that name. That was the situation concerning Iyiukwa and the bell and the vultures. The vultures knew that any time that Iyiukwa rang that bell, it was they who were being called. After these things were over, Iyiukwa took the cock and killed it, killed the female sheep as well, took the chicken and began to cook them in the same pot, took a few yams and peeled them, took them and began to cook them with the sheep and the chicken, took the four chicken eggs and put them into the same pot.
While they were cooking them, Iyiukwa also took the other four remaining chicken eggs, took the pod of kola and cut it open, took out one kola nut, split open four pods of kola pepper, took forty pieces of chalk, took out the jar of wine whose bottom had not touched the ground, put them all together in one place, then began to take the chicken eggs and touch them to his mouth, saying, "From today on we take back the bad things that were said; the mouth of man is the mouth of the spirits." [The spirits sanction man's words.] He also took the kola nut and did the same thing. He took the chalk and did the same thing, took some wine from the jar, rinsed his mouth seven times and told Omenuko to do the same, and Omenuko did it.
Iyiukwa then gathered up these things, went and threw them in the bush, and returned. He also took the duck eggs, began to cut one of the legs of the duck, and hung it up in front of the shrine; he took the forty pieces of chalk and put them also in the shrine, plucked out four eagle feathers and put them in front of the shrine. He then took out one kola nut and started an invocation, saying, "Omenuko came to you so that you and he might eat together; the mouth of man is the mouth of the spirits. These things that he brought pleased me, then I asked you whether you agreed as I myself agreed, and you showed me that you agreed by sending vultures to come and eat all of the sacrifices we presented to you; because of this, I pray you that from today you will look kindly on Omenuko and his people."
He then split a kola nut and gave some to Omenuko, Igwe, and the others who were there. Iyiukwa also took kola pepper, chewed his own kola, and spit on his ofo. After this was over, they took the cooking-pot off the fire. They then cut up the sheep and the chicken they had cooked. They took a few pieces and threw them out before the spirits, then began to eat the remainder and drink the raphia palm wine and the oil palm wine, which meant that the covenant between humans and spirits had been fulfilled. When they were tired of drinking wine, Omenuko asked the chief of the spirits to allow him to leave. They all then said their goodbyes. Omenuko and Igwe then started out for Igwe's house.
The next day, Omenuko said to Igwe, "I will go home now; you be thinking about when you will have a chance to come to my house, so we can sit down and discuss how our journey went." Igwe told him that was fine. Omenuko then got ready and left. And when he reached home he called together his brothers and told them about the journey he and Igwe had taken. They all were delighted.
a few days, Omenuko called together all the people he governed and said
to them, "I want to let you know today that the people of our land and
I have been reunited from this day on. Let us start dreaming about traveling
back to our village at any time. Anyone who wants to go to our town can
go. Anyone who wants to marry in our town can do so. Anyone whose daughter
the people of our town come to marry, let him consent, if it is a good
man coming from a good family, because I and the people and the spirits
have performed the ritual feast. Also, I wanted to redeem all those people
I sold, but I did not redeem all of them, because one child, whose name
was Oti, has died. One of my bearers I have not found and I do not know
where they resold him; because of this I will be blamed for what I did
in the past. But I will not be blamed now, because I told the family of
that person who has not been found that if there is any way he can be found,
I will not fail to find out where he lives and redeem him. Since that time
when I left my village, it is true that the place where I live and
my life did not please me as they should, but now I am happier, and if
death should come to me now, I will not be afraid of it, because I will
not feel remorse before I draw my last breath. That is all I wanted to