IVE OKPU: ADAM PEOPLE WERE EXCITED AS THEY CELEBRATE WOMANHOOD

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It was an indelible day for the Anam people in Anambra State, when the people celebrated Ive Okpu, the most revered ceremony in honor of the Anam woman.

‘Iyom’ refers to the titleholder, while ‘Okpu is made from elephant tusk. Okpu is known as Odu in other parts of Igbo land. The elephant tusk is expensive and rare, making it one of the most sought after ornaments, even by Europeans. In many African cultures, it depicts class and authority.

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Princess Ijeoma Eunice Nnakwe was one of the women that exuded splendor and royalty as they danced that day.

Former commission for commerce and industry in Anambra State, Professor Augustine Eboatu, said of the elephant tusk and Ive Okpu ceremony: “in Yoruba land people wear trinkets made of elephant tusks. The elephant is the biggest land animal created by god. It is a very intelligent animal and could stay in awake and hear conversations going on in Onitsha. It is the only animal that has that ability. Therefore, anything from an elephant, the truck, the tusk, the bone, is revered by man.”

In Anam, there are two title-taking ceremonies: Imee Oba, for men, and Ive Okpu (the ‘breaking of wife’s legs’), which is for women. The ceremonies are for those that have distinguished themselves in their respective endeavors in life and have been found worthy in character to become Ogbuevi and Iyom, respectively. Ive Okpu is about initiation into Ndi Okpu society.

IVE OKPU: ADAM PEOPLE WERE EXCITED AS THEY CELEBRATE WOMANHOOD It was an indelible day for the Anam people in Anambra State, when the people celebrated Ive Okpu, the most revered ceremony in honor of the Anam woman. ‘Iyom’ refers to the titleholder, while ‘Okpu is made from elephant tusk. Okpu is known as Odu in other parts of Igbo land. The elephant tusk is expensive and rare, making it one of the most sought after ornaments, even by Europeans. In many African cultures, it depicts class and authority. Princess Ijeoma Eunice Nnakwe was one of the women that exuded splendor and royalty as they danced that day.  Former commission for commerce and industry in Anambra State, Professor Augustine Eboatu, said of the elephant tusk and Ive Okpu ceremony: “in Yoruba land people wear trinkets made of elephant tusks. The elephant is the biggest land animal created by god. It is a very intelligent animal and could stay in awake and hear conversations going on in Onitsha. It is the only animal that has that ability. Therefore, anything from an elephant, the truck, the tusk, the bone, is revered by man.” In Anam, there are two title-taking ceremonies: Imee Oba, for men, and Ive Okpu (the ‘breaking of wife’s legs’), which is for women. The ceremonies are for those that have distinguished themselves in their respective endeavors in life and have been found worthy in character to become Ogbuevi and Iyom, respectively. Ive Okpu is about initiation into Ndi Okpu society. Sir Chibuko Okonkwo of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) also explained: “Ive Okpu is an ancient noble and prestigious initiation ceremony that qualifies a woman to bear the Iyom title in Anam. The women usually appear in a procession; sometimes carrying beautiful decorated stools. In the olden days, it was the dream of every Anam woman to become Iyom. It is a mark of industriousness, wealth and encourages hard work and resourcefulness among the womenfolk.” The national president, Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA), Processor Alex Asigbo, also an indigene of Anam, said: “culture is a way of life. Ive Okpu is equivalent to the Oba title for the folk. In Anam, for a woman to qualify as a true Iyom, she needs to be initiated into the Out Okpu society. There is nothing fetish about it. There are only rituals of initiation and there is nothing fetish about rituals. Anything you do in affixed order is a ritual. “A man that feels that he has achieved some height takes the Oba title; the woman does the Ive Okpu. We figuratively say that ‘n’ogbajigo go okpa, ’meaning that ‘your husband has broken your legs. ‘That could be the highest expression of love from a man to his wife. It is an expression of our culture. With due respect to Christians, virtually everything that is done in the Christian religion is done in African traditional religion. They have their own images of people they worship. They call on their great-grandfathers and ancestors during worship and same happens in African traditional religion. Those not mentally liberated see African religion as fetish.  But these days, Ive Okpu is no longer as popular as it used to be. In fact, some think that it is fetish and should be allowed to die like many other cultural practices. But some others think it should be revived as a way of imbibing cultural values in the people.
IVE OKPU: ADAM PEOPLE WERE EXCITED AS THEY CELEBRATE WOMANHOOD

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Sir Chibuko Okonkwo of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) also explained: “Ive Okpu is an ancient noble and prestigious initiation ceremony that qualifies a woman to bear the Iyom title in Anam. The women usually appear in a procession; sometimes carrying beautiful decorated stools. In the olden days, it was the dream of every Anam woman to become Iyom. It is a mark of industriousness, wealth and encourages hard work and resourcefulness among the womenfolk.”

The national president, Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA), Processor Alex Asigbo, also an indigene of Anam, said: “culture is a way of life. Ive Okpu is equivalent to the Oba title for the folk. In Anam, for a woman to qualify as a true Iyom, she needs to be initiated into the Out Okpu society. There is nothing fetish about it. There are only rituals of initiation and there is nothing fetish about rituals. Anything you do in affixed order is a ritual.

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“A man that feels that he has achieved some height takes the Oba title; the woman does the Ive Okpu. We figuratively say that ‘n’ogbajigo go okpa, ’meaning that ‘your husband has broken your legs. ‘That could be the highest expression of love from a man to his wife. It is an expression of our culture. With due respect to Christians, virtually everything that is done in the Christian religion is done in African traditional religion. They have their own images of people they worship. They call on their great-grandfathers and ancestors during worship and same happens in African traditional religion. Those not mentally liberated see African religion as fetish.

But these days, Ive Okpu is no longer as popular as it used to be. In fact, some think that it is fetish and should be allowed to die like many other cultural practices. But some others think it should be revived as a way of imbibing cultural values in the people.

Ibekwe Cynthiahttp://evergreennewsonline.com
Ibekwe Cynthia .C. is a certified senior reporter/graphic designer/Advert executive at Evergreennewsonline.

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