The people of Rumuche Community in Emohua Local Government Area (EMOLGA), Rivers State, were thrown into festive mood last Saturday, as they celebrated the initiation ceremony of Ugwu ‘Nganga’ age grade into the ‘Ugwu etor’ a senior group made up of three different age grades.
The event was marked with traditional dances and merry making.
Members of the ‘Nganga’ age grade, who are between the ages of 58 and 60 years danced at the Rumuche play ground to the admiration of families, friends and well wishers and will hold a Thanksgiving service, at six different churches including Baptist Church, Rumuche, Emohua, and St. Lukes Anglican Church Emohua, to thank God for making it possible for them to celebrate such an important event in their lifetime.
Speaking on behalf of the age grade, Engr. Marcus Okogbule Oriji explained that the day was historic and the ceremony unique because with their initiation into the ‘ukwueto’. It is their duty to serve the community for 12 years at the completion of which each of them will not be less than 74 years and ripe for a greater service to the community.
Engr. Oriji explained that the functions of the Ugwu etor include to ensure peace, progress, law and order in the community, mobilise the youths for communal services such as cleaning roads, cutting farm paths, protecting the community against internal and external aggressions and encouraging educational advancement of the youths as well as settling of minor disputes among others.
He stressed that whatever issue that is beyond them is passed over to Eleru-urie or council of Chiefs and if it is beyond them, it is then passed over to the Ohna council or the ‘Offor holders’ who constitute the highest traditional organ of governance and their decision on any matter is sacrosanct and final as far as the community is concerned.
The dancing ceremony called ‘Omaete eri’ according to him literally means, one who does not know how to dance which symbolises the fact that no matter how you dance or what you do, if you are not given a hand shake at the end by the older age grade your efforts are in vain. “it is a tradition that teaches us that no matter what you do on earth, some body somewhere must tell you if you did it right or not, it tells you that somebody some where is watching you,” he said.
The managing director of Moh-Hi Tech Engineering works, Port Harcourt, described the ceremony as an age-long tradition handed down from generation to generation and there is nothing fetish about it because you are not initiated into a secret cult and there is nothing primitive about it because most of the initiatees are highly educated and have attended various universities within and outside Nigeria.
The graduate of Southernton University, England and former lecturer with Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) said, “we kick against fetish and obnoxious practices, the ceremony is a tradition we have to keep to enable the youths imbibe and respect the custom and tradition of their ancestors which kept them together and ensured their progress over the years.
Engr. Oriji stressed that it is because the youths of today have deviated from the custom and tradition of their ancestors, that is why the society is engulfed by all manner of crime, but in Rumuche, where these traditions are kept, the crime rate is very low compared to other neigbouring villages.
He assured that peace and harmony will continue to reign in the villages especially as they have decided to take the bull by the horn to sanitise the community by adopting the principle of leadership by example. According to him, it is only when they allow lapses that the youths can seize the opportunity to cause havoc and dictate the affairs of the community. He, however, lauded the youths for their maturity, discipline and selfless service to the community, adding that their interest and well being will always be protected.
The Chairman of Nganga age grade, Mr. Chinotu Njokwu Olormi, thanked the members for their efforts which ensured thesuccess of the ceremony as well as friends and well wishers for their support and encouragement.