Elites with traditional knowledge rooted in our various cultural institutiions are hard to come by, they are the golden pen reserved in the archive to direct our younger generations the true colour and the importance of our cultural heritage.
Base on this, I would want to introduce to us a man whose pen has been bruised by knowledge and asttate wisdom in his work titled “KOLANUT FESTIVAL IN MBAISE. “
He is Ever BEZZE NWAOSU hails from Amaeze obibiezena, Owerri North L.G.A of Imo State Nigeria. He attended St. Augustine’s Primary School Obibiezena, Emekuku High School, University of Calaba, International Institute of Journalism Abuja and Imo State University Owerri.
He worked with Shell, Marine lagos,Military Instructor,Nigeria Military School Zaria. Editor – in- chief Homelinks Magazine and latter Editor in Chief Ezena News Magazine and now, a staff of Federal Polytechnic Nekede owerri Imo State.
A linguist, journalist, poet, Moderator and culture oriented. Chartered in magazine and public Relations and a fellow, institute of corporate Administration. Bro Ever (as he is popularly called) loves voluntary social service of humanity of which he is a divisional chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society and also a special Road Marshall of the Nigeria Road Safety Corps. He is involved in Evangelization both at the national, provincial and diocesan levels of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of the catholic Church. He is also Secretary, cconference of Nigeria Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology.
He anchors his life in God who inspired him in his other publications which includes :
- The Origin of Orie-Obibi Market
- The Aju Mystery,
- The KOLANUT Palava
- Kolanut:National identification Symbol and
- Kolanut: Igbo Sacramental Communion.
He has written several poems and articles in many journals,Magazines and newspaper.
He is married to Mrs. Peace NGOZI Nwaosu and they have five(5) children.
Most cultural Nigerias are constantly and reasonably equipped at any time to dramatize The expression of goodwill to visitors especially those who are known to the host and to others who are not familiar.In readiness for this expectation, he possesses in his home, a wooden platter dish (prepared and kept for the sole purpose of kola nut presentation )but modernity tends to replace the wooden dish with a saucer which could be made of ceramics, steel, plastic or glass.
Whenever a visitor comes after brife exchange of greetings,the host symbolically expresses hhis hospitality and fraternity to the guest by presenting him with kola nut. The friendliness, open-heartedness and love are manifested in the splitting of the kola nut into fragments according to tradition for the consumption of all. This assumed spiritual communion is a convenant of life. In comparison, if Jesus Christ were to be born in Nigeria physically, He would have used the kola nut as the convenant of His body as demonstrated on the Holy Thursday before His death on Good Friday that triggered off the salvation of man according to the Christian belief of life after death.
Some intellectuals and academics are usually not at ease when their guests are to be served with kola nuts.Theif discomfort is neither the affordability nor the availability of the nut. Their problems rather centres on the societal belief and value for the nut. Generally, they are assumed to be people who are knowledgeable and therefore cannot fail in common norms or make mistakes in observing certain conventions.
Unfortunately, some of these people do not know as we wrongly assume,especially, when it concerns kola nut conventions. Some defend their ignorance by saying ” let us forget all these KOLANUT protocol, it is not important for now”.some will try to impose their self-formulated kola nut conventions on the entire people in order to live up to expectation. The few of them who try to impose their concepts then disagree with the hard core traditionalists. Being highly regarded in the society, it is easier for them to win followers; therefore a batle-line is drawn between personal concept and societal convention. This batle can last for hourhours and at time strains relationship.
The “Work” therefore, tries to explain what the royal nut is and how it is presented, broken and distributed to a guest or guests in most Nigeria tribes. KOLANUT has convenations are clearly established . If the conventions are adhered to, the kola nut palaces will be minimized if not totally controlled.
ORIGIN OF KOLANUT
The origin of kola nut in Africa from the cultural perspective, cannot accurately be determined, primarily due to the fact that kola nut has existed for several centuries, or years before the advent of recorded history in the continent.
Before now, history was mainly stories passed from generation to generation. Legends or stories handed down by traditions were popularly regarded as historical with their usual embellishments and distortions. However the mythology of the origin of kola nut has various versions for different people and even for different places.
Nevertheless, The story has continued to move from one generation to another especially among the different tribes in Nigeria. However, the basic fact remains that the Nigerians discovered the kola nut when they setiled in the tropical forest of west AFrica . Their staple food then was made up of wild fruits plucked from flowering plants or trees and animals killed in the forest.
it was during some of the expedictions for food that they discovered the friut and took some of them back to their respective setlements. It was understood that various traditional food processing methodsome such as roasting, boiling, pounding, grinding etcetera were carried out but it was finally realized that eating thathe fruit raw gives it a better taste than other forms experimented on (pakamalu Eke Chima).
The Royal or sacred position the kola nut therefore occupies is as a result of the xharp, structure and component part of the nut that fascinated every person that came across the nut. This characteristics attracted special attention any were the nut was taken to. It was this phenomenon that created a special aura around the nut. This regularly, instigated attraction,and discusSION among consumers on the appearance of the nut, immediately, stimulates question like these ones.
which colour would the nut have if it is peeled?,can you guess?,what do you think would be The shape or structure of the lobes?, How many lobes can we expect? Who picks first before others and why? Can’t we invite our ancestors twhy to participate in the consumption to enable them bless us? This type of questions and answers which could waste some time continued until they metamorphosed into an oral conventional celebration based on the nut and thereafter turned to be an accepted tradition for the entire people and their neighbours through interactive activities within the social settings of the Nigerian environs (pa collintus Ugwuegbu and Oha Ekwonye)
The participation in the kola nut celebration or communion does not require a pre-spiritual or physical preparation before involvement, rather on consumption, one is believed to have entered into a spiritual covenant of goodness with the other participants. It is usually said from the on-set of presentation of kola nut: He who brings kola brings life”. This is an age long Igbo saying. One’s participation in any kola nut celebration brings blessing, free mindedness, love and honesty.
It is a form of spirituality collectivity oath taking in group accord and consensus using kola nut as symbol of unity of purpose despite diversity imposed on the participants y nature.
While the host authenticates his innocence to the guests when he presents the kola nut, one administers on oath of commitment, denouncement of evil thoughts and actions on every participants when one blesses the kola nut by establishing the presence of Almighty God as being in charge of the celebration. He invokes the anger of God on every evil person present.
As this oath of innocence, justice, love, and commitment is being administered, every participant gives his consent in truth, in words and in dramatized actions at the scene as they chorus Amen!! Amen! Amen!!!
FORM AND NATURE OF KOLANUT
Normal native KOLA nut (Oji Igbo) is reddish or pink in colour. Rarely, a whitish type is found and this type is referred to as Eagle-kola. (Ojai Ugo) it is scarce and very expensive. All forms of native kola are more spherical in shape than other species. It is not usually as big as ” gooro” in terms of size but it is more valued. If a given size of “Gooro” costs ten Naira, the sansame size of native kola would be sold for fifty Naira.
Among Nigerians, kola acuminate “Native kola” is traditionally distinct from others as it is specially required for usage according to tradition for rituals, marriage ceremonies, welcoming visitors and to introduce very important discussions and requests. It is important to make this distinction as some people now have substitute like “Gooro, bitter kola, dried meat, dried fish, garden egg, pepper fruit etcetera to welcome and entertain visitors. This is mainly due to the scarcity of “NATIVE kola” which because of its preciousness, is in very high demand.
The other type is kola nitida (gooro). As the name indicates, it is alien to some societies. Its name is a derivation from the Hausa name for kola nut. The msin features of “Gooro” are; its nuts are naturally split into two lobes and it can be either red, pink or white. It is also common and less expensive.
Another minor type of kola nut is (Ojai Ami) ” Expository ” (Exposurere of Secret ). Its basic characteristic is that it draws like ok to in the mouth when eaten. It can be found either partial or total on a kola nut tree. The “total” situation is observed when a given kola nut tree. The “partial” one refers to the situation in which some are not. It is superstitious believed that when one eats this type, there is every tendency that sooner or later the consumer would be exposed if he was involved in any anti-societal vices no matter how minor the vice may be. It has been observed that when “gooro” splits into three lobes,it becomes “expository “.
The next form of kola nut is the “Dumbo” (Oji Ogbu) kola. It could be found in either “native kola” or “Gooro”. It only varies with other types of kola nut with one major characteristic. “Dumb kola” does not possess natural ridges in the seed. No natural “faults” exist in it hence splitting it into lobes without an instrument is impossible. It is usually sent back if it is brought out in error for presentation. It is not eaten publicly or collentirely. In some communities it is reserved for people who have surmounted great challenges and have achieved very great feats in life or have become victorious in the display of manhood in the community.
PARTICIPANTS IN KOLA NUT CELEBRATION
The kola nut communion does not exclude anyboby from participating as a mark of unversal goodwill. It does not also recognise late coming or special guests during the consumption. This therefore implies that participation is unversally open. Every class of human beping could be a participant. There are six main types of kola nut communion participants.
CENTRAL PARTICIPANTS :
The central participants are those guests who were invited by the host for a given purpose and they honoured the invitation by being present at the gathering. They could be friends, kinsmen, strangers, colleagues etc. They play a central role on the topic of invitation.
VOLUNTARY PARTICIPANTS :
This set of participants are not invited like the former group but they objectively visit the host either on account of the invitation to the central participants or on a mere visitation to the host. They can belong to any class or person’s or personalities in the social strata of life.
DORMANT PARTICIPANTS :
This refers to the female folk/children among men within the venue of the celebration. They may be at a place or point of celebration from the onset but tradition only allows them to participate at the consumption stage. at times, they also participate in the commentaries .
OFFICIAL PARTICIPANTS :
The official participants are statutory personnel who participate in kola nut celebration because of their official positions either administratively or sociallly when there is an official activity especially within the Igbo communities, kola nut is presented and eaten. Here, majority of the people are on official assignment.