By Fr Boniface Opaluwa
Akpané anė akpa.
This is the most ancient prayer of Igala traditional rulers. This prayer is said when kola nut which symbolizes Peace, Love and Unity, is to be broken, shared and eaten. From the palace of Agaba Idu, Ata Igala, to the ef’ōfé Achadu ōkō Ata. Across the thrones of the Éjé’s, from Ofu to Ankpa, from Olamaboro to Dekina traversing all the lands where amōma Ayegba dwell. This potent and most hallowed invocation rings out in the assembly of sons and daughters of the land under the care of the sacred person of the royal fathers.
Akpané anė akpa. This is a call to action. It is a reminder that every action carries a corresponding reaction. It is both a prayer and an admonition. A warning that the sacredness of the land must be maintained. It is equally a declaration that the affairs of the temporal order is under the guidance of the ancestors, who are swift, relentless and thorough in executing justice.
Akpané anė akpa……….”for the land kills those who kill the land…” and when this traditional invocation is intoned from the sacred stools, the “Igagos” lead the old and the young in choruses of Achééé! Achééé!! Achééé!!!, which is an affirmative assent, saying: let the land kill me if I kill the land.
WHAT IS “THE LAND”?
Where the people dwell is their land. It is the land that yields fruit for man. Most religions teach and hold that man was fashioned from the dust of the earth. Judaism and Christianity have Adam as the first man created. Muslims are in concord here as Arabic renders that man as Adama. He was formed from the earth. His disobedience and the bloodshed of Cain his son gave birth to death and also made the land less easy for the dominion earlier promised.
The fashioning of man from the land consequently makes the land sacred. There is an implicit relationship between man and the land. There is this unwritten pact. The land naturally keeps to its own side of the deal. When you put something good into it, it swallows it and gives you something better in return. But when you decide to violate and defile the land, it resists you in order to retain and maintain its sanctity. Akpané anė akpa consequently means “you reap what you sow.”
African traditional religion situates the abode of Ibegwu inside the ground. That is why drinks and libations are poured on the ground for them. Many who have violated the accord between man and the land have others to narrate the tales of their fatal errors as the guilty ones are no longer among the quick of the earth.
THE REIGN OF ABOMINATIONS
In our times, people dare to rush and run where even angels dread to thread. Wanton disregard for the sacredness of the land. Consciously, conspicuously and capriciously demolishing any moral edifice left standing. The land must not be allowed to die, for its death is our loss and our death. For if everywhere becomes ‘Alaché’, the land only grieves for her lost ones who sleep in her cold and dark belly.
Now is the time to re-echo what ‘Ibogijo’ admonished in their ‘Ofili’….. “énwu bibi a w’unyi, agb’éré ma du k’éché tinyō. “Itō ibi ch’awohi ma tō ru”… And now is the time to blow the ‘ōkakachi’ and sound the gong in ‘ōponōfé’. “Ogijo a dunyi kaché a chimōtō ñ”. We cannot seat and watch our youths and teenagers doing ‘gagara’ on ‘ubi-ōgba’ cliff with bicycles without brakes. “Énwu k’Ayegba ji onwu ma tu yi….” some beasts in human form are let loose upon us. Prowling the land and dragging the most prestigious name of the Igala race into gutters, setting ablaze what is left of glorious heritage. When Aba and Onitsha are renowned for dealing in motor spare parts, we are dazed and reeling from the blows of the bad name where we were hosts to ritualists and human body parts dealers in Ankpa area. “Eche inaga ki ya degwu ajō”
THE COST OF HUMAN BLOOD
Man is an animal. But he is not an ordinary animal. He is an animal with a difference. HE HAS A SOUL. As such, the human blood is not like any other blood. It is potent. There is nothing that kills the land more than bloodshed. When the land drinks water, it brings about growth. When it drinks blood, it belches fiery fearsome fury.
“Onobulë f’egwu kp’igbe ki ny’unyi ki lolu…?”
“Éla abigba ya lé efura no”. “ōwō ki ny’efura onwu ejo alō”. The human blood has a very high price. We must not curse the land by letting it flow.
Akpané anė akpa.
YES AND NO
Now is the time to say no to killing and say yes to living.
It is time to say no to cultism, hooliganism and thuggery and say yes to industriousness, entrepreneurship and purposefulness.
The looming gloomy clouds is not lifting. The young boys of today who are the men of tomorrow and custodians of Igala destiny must shun bloodshed in the name of cultism and political thuggery. Now is the time to turn to education and handiwork apprenticeship. Axe and knives must be replaced with Pen and paper. Hemp and drugs must be replaced with spanners and hammers.
What is the land where there are no inhabitants?
We decide to choose life.
Our actions is the reflection of our choice.
“Éka k’Öjō ki jé kali n, é we nyope”
Akpané anė akpa………..