What is “EZE OZO” in Onitsha?
Eze ozo is one of the most misunderstood terms in Onitsha Ozo hierarchy. Professor Anderson in his well written book on Onitsha “The King in Every Man” translated this as “King of Ozo”, this was wrong.
While “Eze” means king in English language, it also has other meanings! “Eze” when used in another sense could mean “to participate”, “to honor” (like in Ezennia) or to assume role of or privileges of a position! When an Onitsha native uses “Eze Ozo” ,he is using a shorter form of “Eze kwana ozo yi” or “eke eze kwana ozo yi! This means DO NOT ASSUME ANY ROLE, PRIVILEGES, OR OBLIGATIONS THAT ACCOMPANY OZO TITLE YET!
By 9pm on the 23rd of December 2015 Ina Obibi begins In Ogbeabu village of Okebunabo clan Onitsha with the arrival of Agbalanze members from the immediate village and other villages. They come prepared for the long night wearing cardigans, head warmers, long dashikis, wrappers, all dressed casually yet having the distinguishing apparel of a titled man with ceremonial accessories like the Osusu ( long wooden staff), cap adorned with white feather directly behind the skull, Azuzu (leather fan) and others. The arrival continues…
The Immediate family Agbalanze members from same village are the ones that are seated inside the Iba with the Diokpa in person of Ezenwa Okagbue, but members from other village are seated outside under canopy.
Ezeozo Chukwunonso is in full anticipation of the initiation rites, having been secluded in a cottage built with mats, awaiting the arrival of the Obi of Onitsha. The Obi paints his whole body with Nzu (white chalk) signifying his sanctity as a new being elevated. This ritual is referred to as Ima-nzu. Therafter, he swears an oath of allegiance to the Obi and his council. The Obi asks him his title name( Afa-Ozo) Ezeozo replies with ‘Nnayelugo’ as he is no longer Ezeozo, and the Obi hails him NNANYELUGO meaning his father gave him the feather(crown), because Ugo the eagle signifies royalty and crown. Obi departs .
The Agbalanze come in to meet him in the cottage led by Igba man ( drummer) who ask him, Kedu afa ozo yi? He replies; Nnayelugo , Nnayelugo amalum afa ozo yi… The drum beats go on and the procession begins in circular rotation, and behind Nnayelugo the new initiate is the ‘Okwachi’ bearer (a virgin) who follows him anywhere he goes all through the initiation ceremony as his guardian angel.
Credit: Akunwata Onochie Obienah
Ugonabo Onyebuchi Amene
More information and pictures coming soon on Mmacha na Ozo NNANYELUGO OKOSI, later this evening. Log On www.inlandtown.com