A story written by Jakemond…
Owerri Nkworji Town was founded and established in the eastern part of Nigeria by my ancestors in the 1800s. The inhabitants of the town were no different from those of other traditional African societies that believed in deities, traditional practices, and values passed on to them from a long line of ancestors—practices that included polygamy and ancestral veneration, and stood the test of time; values that were guarded closely generation after generation and fiercely protected by great warriors of the time. As one of the prominent traditional practices demanded, two social institutions were established through which children were indoctrinated and socialized depending on their gender. The girls were trained by older women, while the boys were trained by older men. Each group of male trainees would graduate at the age of thirteen, while the girls would graduate at twelve. During this time of indoctrination and socialization, which was normally scheduled at a certain time of the year, it was considered a taboo and a punishable offense for non-participants or opposite groups to spy on each other. Neither the trainers nor the trainees were permitted to visit their village during training.
These unisex institutions were highly revered and their practices closely guarded by the indigenes. The training grounds were normally located deep in the jungle. Females were taught important norms and values in the culture, and how to become good wives so they could take care of their homes. The males learned their traditional roles. They were trained to become strong wrestlers and well-rounded, skilled traditional warriors able to attack and defend their communities against dissidence or intruders from other villages seeking to invade or encroach on their land. They were taught to build huts, climb up palm trees to cut palm nuts and settle family disputes. They were also trained to be dauntless hunters and farmers, as these were regarded as essential skills for a man to have in order to provide for his family….
Other practices brought untold hardship, fear, and agony to my ancestral community during that era. It was said, for example, that whenever an Igwe (traditional ruler/king) died, all women and non-secret society members had to remain indoors until some traditional ceremonies and rituals were performed. In those days, tradition demanded that Igwes be buried in a grave with live humans, so they could keep him company in eternity. At such times warriors would go out in search of young people to bury alive, and virgins to kill for sacrifices, before the burial. They would attempt to capture men and women from neighboring towns, but when that wasn’t possible, the warriors wouldn’t hesitate to take from their own.
When a man desired to marry a woman, he would inform his father and his kindred. If they consented, his father and kindred—excluding the intending groom—would meet with the woman’s father and her kindred to make a proposal on behalf of their son. If the proposal was accepted, both parties would schedule a date for the woman to go to the man’s home. When the set date arrived, the woman would then be accompanied to the man’s home by her age-grades. By tradition, she would stay with him for four days, during which the groom’s family would observe her, and then she would return to her family. After several weeks, she would be required to return to the man’s home for a ceremony at which she would be “disvirgined.” This was done through the insertion of a special ritual object into her Kittycat by some seasoned old ladies. The object, when forcefully inserted, would break her hymen if she was a virgin. Other ritual activities would be performed by the man’s family, after which she would be allowed to go back to her parents. After a few more weeks, the girl’s parents were obligated by tradition to send her back to the man’s home so she could sleep with him for eight consecutive days and nights. After the eight days—within which the bride-to-be was expected to conceive—she would return to her parents. If she did not conceive during those eight days, the marriage was canceled.
Polygamy was also the order of the day at that time. Men who had many wives and children were highly respected and popular, and were considered productive to society. As a……….
To Be Continued…