AFRICAN CULTURE BOOSTED AS NZE NA OZO SOCIETY INAUGURATED IN CAPE TOWN
August 13, 2016 | Uhuruspirit
Isi-Igbo South Africa, Chief Peter Chukwurah (Ozo Chukwuneme na Enugwu-Agidi/Umunri) - 4th from the right - is flanked by Isi-Nze Cape Town, Nze Chinedu Chukwurah (Nwabunnia na Ogidi)- immediate to his right - and Deputy Isi-Nze Cape Town, Nze Nkem Osita (Ezennia na Aguleri), during the inauguration of the Western Cape chapter of Nze na Ozo South Africa in Cape Town.
In a big boost to current universal efforts by Africans to re-discover themselves through the promotion of traditional African values and the requisite institutions that epitomize those values, the Nzo na Ozo Society was proudly launched in Cape Town, the whitest city in South Africa, a few weeks ago.
The colourful event which took place at Martin Adams Community Hall in Brooklyn, Cape Town drew hundreds of Africans, mostly Nigerians and South Africans.
Isi-Igbo South Africa, Chief Peter Chukwurah (Ozo Chukwuneme na Enugwu-Agidi and Umunri) greets guests upon his arrival at the event.
The Nze na Ozo society – the association of Ozo titled men – is the highest and most important institution in Igbo communities in south-eastern Nigeria. In many parts of Igboland, the Ozo title is the highest title of honour. In the olden days, as well as today, to take the ozo title is a mark of achievement. A man who takes the Ozo title becomes an “Nze.”
The Ozo title is a symbol of justice and Ozo titled men in the days of yore were the custodians and regulators of the custom and laws of the land. They were deemed “holy” and were expected to live a life that showed that they were of high moral standard, observing all the taboos in the land and all the traditional religious ceremonies and rituals of the gods and goddesses of the community. This was why they were involved in every cleansing ritual.
The Ozo title is conferred on people of good character; those of questionable character are not initiated into the society. Before any man is admitted into the Nze na Ozo society, enquiries are made concerning his character to ascertain the type of life he lives. The life of a titled man is centred on his integrity. He is expected to live above all mean behavior and must not be a thief, a debtor, or a liar. He must not embezzle public funds or encourage others to do so. He must show impartiality when settling disputes, since his testimonies are taken to be correct. So, in the past, they were the highest judges in the traditional Igbo society and, therefore, the last resort for cases that required critical attention. Their verdict was highly respected and final and people looked upon them as decent people. A title holder was a symbol of love, honesty, truth, peace, unity, and harmony in his community. Hence, the author Emeka Aniagolu referred to the Nze na Ozo institution as “an African Knighthood” in one of his book.
Initiation into Nze na Ozo is usually a very rigorous and expensive process. The title is thus normally taken by very rich people. But it is still the rule today, as it used to be, to ascertain the source of one’s wealth before the Ozo titled is conferred on him. As wealthy people in the past were usually successful farmers and other hardworking people, Ozo titled men were seen as the quintessence of excellence, and the institution, as a source of motivation for hard work.
In many communities, all Ozo men are regarded as members of the ruling council (Ndichie), while in other communities only Ozo titled men are chosen as members. The members of the ruling council constitute the cabinet of the traditional leader who is known as “Igwe”.
In any social gathering, the Ozo men are distinguished by the beads around their ankles and the ankles of their first wives, as well as eagle feathers fixated on their red cap. While one is free to wear the red cap once he acquires the Ozo title in some communities, the wearing of the red cap is not automatic in many other communities. It has its own requirements in materials and rituals. And once one is initiated into Ozo, he takes an Ozo title name by which he is addressed in public.
In the olden days, the final stage of initiation into Ozo was performed by Eze Nri, who used to exercise power over not less than three quarters of the areas in Igboland.
The Ozo institution came into conflict with Christianity during the colonial times, which lingered for many decades after independence, when it was regarded as a pagan institution because of the traditional rituals and sacrifices involved. But since Christian missionaries have come to recognize that one can be an African as well as a Christian, Africans are now allowed to take the title without jeopardizing their Christian beliefs.
The marriage between the Nze na Ozo institution and Christianity was indeed manifest during the Cape Town event where proceedings had kicked off with a Christian opening prayer.
The opening prayer was followed by the breaking of Kola nut which was elaborately performed by Isi-Igbo South Africa, Chief Peter Chukwurah (Ozo Chukwuneme na Enugwu-Agidi/Umunri). Chief Chukwurah was assisted by Chief (Sir) Jonas Udeji (Onowu Igbo South Africa), a knight in the Roman Catholic Church, to ensure that everyone at the gathering had partaken in eating the kola nut.
Isi-Nze South Africa, Nze Chinedu Nwaogwugwu (Idi Akubuo I na Oba) receiving the Kola nuts.
Isi-Igbo South Africa, Chief Peter Chukwurah (Ozo Chukwuneme na Enugwu-Agidi and Umunri) performing the Kola nut breaking ritual at the event as Chief Amadi O. Amadi (Udozulumba I na Amasiri), President, Ohaneze Ndigbo South Africa, to his left, pays attention.
Chief (Sir) Jonas Udeji (Onowu Igbo South Africa) helps in sharing the kola nut.
The event got into full swing after the kola-nut breaking ritual when preparations got underway for the inauguration of members of Nze na Ozo in Western Cape Province. This saw all the Ozo titled men, resplendent in their traditional red and white outfits, dancing around majestically in the venue to the beat of background traditional Igbo music, while acknowledging cheers from guests and well-wishers. At the end of the dancing, Nze Chinedu Nwaogwugwu (Idi Akubuo I na Oba), who is the head of the Nzo na Ozo Society in South Africa (Isi-Nze South Africa), accompanied by other national office holders stepped forward to inaugurate the Nze na Ozo chapter in Western Cape. The inauguration ceremony came to the climax when Nze Nwaogwugwu handed the staff of office to Nze Chinedu Chukwurah (Nwabunnia na Ogidi) who is the head of the Nze na Ozo Society in Western Cape Province (Isi-Nze Cape Town) and his deputy, Nze Nkem Osita (Ezennia na Aguleri).
Isi-Nze South Africa Nze Chinedu Nwaogwugwu (Idi Akubuo I na Oba) prepares to inaugurate Nze na Ozo Cape Town.
Isi-Nze South Africa Nze Chinedu Nwaogwugwu (Idi Akubuo I na Oba) hands over the staff of office to Isi-Nze Cape Town Nze Chinedu Chukwurah (Nwabunnia na Ogidi) and his deputy, Nze Nkem Osita (Ezennia na Aguleri).
Following the inauguration ceremony, the inaugural address was presented by Nze Chucks Okoyo (Ohamadike Ndigbo South Africa), who is the national secretary of Nze na Ozo South Africa. In his speech, Nze Okoye reminded all and sundry of the significant role played by the Ozo titled men before the intrusion of colonial powers into the Igbo-African society.
Isi-Nze South Africa Nze Chinedu Nwaogwugwu (Idi Akubuo I na Oba) – middle – is flanked by Nze Chucks Okoyo (Ohamadike Ndigbo South Africa) – right – and Nze Alex Eneanya (Eze Okigbo na Ogidi), left.
He also reminded the gathering of the huge responsibilities placed on Ozo titled men.
“Ozo title confers on the holder a moral as well as a spiritual obligation to speak the truth
at all times, and in all circumstances, to be fair and just in all his dealings, and to dispense justice to all manner of people without fear or farvour,” he said.
“An Nze is the moral conscience of his community and must be seen to be fair in adjudicating disputes in his community,” he added.
Isi-Nze Cape Town, Nze Chinedu Chukwurah (Nwabunnia na Ogidi)addressing the gathering.
Nze Charles Otogbolu (Ochiagha Igbo), Chairman, Imeobi Ohaneze Ndigbo South Africa makes some remarks at the inauguration.
From Left to Right: Chief Frank Anagu (Ikenga Igbo South Africa) and Nze Mark Muodum (Ichie Ogbuefi Ugonabo na Akwaeze), former Isi-Nze South Africa.
Among the objectives of Nze na Ozo South Africa that Nze Okoye listed, include the promotion, development and the advancement of Igbo cultural heritage by its members while living in South Africa, among others.
They were plenty to eat and drink on the day and after the official inauguration ceremony, guests were treated to sumptuous meals of Igbo traditional cuisine. Guests were also entertained with traditional songs and dances by a live band.
Among the dignitaries in attendance included: Chief Amadi O. Amadi (Udozulumba I na Amasiri), President, Ohaneze Ndigbo South Africa; Nze Charles Otogbolu (Ochiagha Igbo), Chairman, Imeobi Ohaneze Ndigbo South Africa; Nze Mark Muodum (Ichie Ogbuefi Ugonabo na Akwaeze), former Isi-Nze South Africa, and Chief Frank Anagu (Ikenga Igbo South Africa).
A representative of South African traditional leaders and other guests at the event.
Ichie Charles Obiorah (Onowu Umunri), Acting Secretary of Ohaneze Ndigbo in Western Cape. To his far right is Chief Emeka Muo (Isi-Obu Umunri).
Other dignitaries present were: HRH Igwe Ndubuisi Oyoro (Isi Mmiri na Limpopo); Ichie Charles Obiorah (Onowu Umunri), Acting Secretary of Ohaneze Ndigbo in Western Cape; Chief Charles Ezeh (Ide Umunri); Chief Emeka Muo (Isi-Obu Umunri); Chief Mike Elendu (Chairman, Abia State Progressive Union Western Cape) and his deputy, Chief Osinakachi Ohaja; Barrister Chuma Anazodo (Governor, Anambra State Welfare Associaton Western Cape); Hon. Vincent Nzekwe (President General, Abia State Union South Africa); Chief F. N. Ezeokenwa (Omemma Nkata-Ego na Oba); Nze Charles Iguwa (Dara Ezechie n’Azia), Social & Welfare Officer Nze na Ozo SA; Nze Izu Chigbo (Idi Akukaria na Obosi), Treasurer, Nze na Ozo South Africa; Nze Chukwudi Collins Okpala (Nwakaibeya na Isuofia), Secretary, Nze na Ozo Durban; Mazi Val Okafor (Chairman, Umunri Welfare Association South Africa); Nze Alex Eneanya (Eze Okigbo na Ogidi); Ozonkpu Uche Okocha (Ezechichili Enugwu-Ukwu na Umunri); Chief Chinedu Udodi (Ozodindiri / Chinaku-Eze na Alor) and Chief Omezie Onyire (Ide Akuluouno I na Obosi), among others.
Chief Mike Elendu (Chairman, Abia State Progressive Union in Western Cape) - right - and his deputy, Chief Bright Osinakachi Ohaja at the event.
Barrister Chuma Anazodo, Governor, Anambra State Welfare Association Western Cape.
From left to right: Chief Charles Ezeh (Ide Umunri), Chief Charles Nnaemeka (Anegboidei na Anam) , and Mazi Nonso Ricky Obiorah (Secretary, Anambra State Welfare Association Western Cape)
Chief Vin (Mmirioma) speaking at the event.
From Left to Right: Mazi Val Okafor (Chairman, Umunri Welfare Associaton SA, Chief Ifeanyi Muo, and Nwa Papa.
From Left to Right: Hon. Vincent Nzekwe (President General, Abia State Union South Africa), Chief Victor Johnson, Okwute, Chief Amadi O. Amadi (Udozulumba I na Amasiri), President, Ohaneze Ndigbo South Africa, and Hon. Lucky Johnson, PRO, Nigerian Union Western Cape (NUWC).
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