By Usman Salame
Understanding The Ibegwu Culture of the Ogugu People of Igala Land in Nigeria. Since the existence of man, there have been rules put in place to check his excesses, and the case is not different from what is a practice in Ogugu today.
Ogugu is a community of Igala speaking people in the Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi State. These people speak another version of the Igala language called Akporto.
Although the tongue is slightly different from Akporto (the original the tongue of the Ankpa people); another version of the Igala speaking people.
The kind of Akporto the Ogugus speak is mixed with Ogugu (the language); Ogugu is a community as well as a language.
They are said to have migrated from the Idah kingdom; the powerhouse of the Igala tribe.
Their culture is a much talked about culture and very much misunderstood by the rest of the Igala speaking community.
Parents from other Igala denominations forbid their male child or female child to marry from that region because it is said that marrying from this community means that automatically, every rule or regulation of this culture applied to you now, so for that, there are forbidden from marrying each other
With civilization into today’s modern society, the culture is said to have been put in place by ancestors for fortification and other reasons.
At the mention of Ogugu, every other Igala speaking community tread with caution, given how potentially dangerous they perceive the Ogugu people to be.
Most other Igala communities do not want to have anything to do with them even though every community has its cultural practices which are not all that different from that of the Ogugu people.
In Ogugu there is a culture known as ‘Ibegwu’, which loosely translates to ‘ancestors’. It is a common belief that the ancestors watch over their descendants and punish them accordingly in the face of bad conduct, crime, or abominations.
For instance, when a person narrowly escapes an accident, it is believed that it is Ibegwu that protected or save them, as the case may be, and in the same vein
When a person commits adultery or other related offense, he/she is afflicted by a severe ailment or a mysterious sickness believed to have come from Ibegwu which could only be treated by making a public confession and carrying out the rituals and sacrifices to appease Ibegwu and cleanse them of his offenses.
However, these rules and regulations hugely apply to Ogugu women more than men, and some people have argued that it should be shared equally as it seems unfair to have the woman bear the brunt of mischief carried out by both parties as in the case of adultery for instance.
In this culture, a woman verbally abusing a man is an abomination so only the man is permitted to verbally abuse the wife, anything opposite to this may attract the wrath of Ibegwu on the woman.
These being part of the reasons why many parents do not want their offspring to marry from Ogugu, other reasons are as clear as follows:
>>> Every rule of the Ibegwu culture applies to you as soon as you marry an Ogugu indigene.
What this means is that you have to begin to abide by the rules to avoid the wrath from Ibegwu whose mode of punishment is usually afflicting with a mysterious ailment
Which will only be healed by fulfilling the rites of confessing your offense openly and proceeding
immediately perform all the necessary rites which if delayed could deteriorate and eventually lead to death.
>>> Ignorance is not is an excuse;
There is no room for pardon in the case of ignorance as you still get meted with punishment whether you were aware or not.
One might want to think that this is unfair as ignorant offenders should be spared with a warning but that is not the case as they are equally punished.
This and many more are why other denominations of Igalas run far away from them THE Ogugu people of Igala land when considering marriage.
>>> A young lady is forbidden to get her money involved in her bride price.
This means that a lady that is about to get married cannot support her prospective husband in the bride price that is meant to be paid on her
But she can support him in any other way that does not pertain to her sourcing funds for him for her bride price.
>>> A married woman is expected to be submissive completely to her husband.
This includes every aspect of life and not just in the marriage context alone.
The woman has to obtain permission from her husband before she indulges any things and best her husband should be aware of before she the wife getting the approval of going ahead, else, she risked facing the wrath of Ibegwu.
>>> It is forbidden for a woman to cross over the meal meant for her husband
And if she does this secretly, Ibegwu would come for her, and unless she fulfills the necessary rites, it may lead to death.
>>> In the case of adultery:
When a woman commits adultery and the husband is aware but keeps mum about it or eats the food that is cooked by her, he would die, unless cleansing rites are carried out. the man in question may not survive the warrant of Ibegwu
Family planning is not allowed in this culture; the Ogugu people are expected to give birth to as many children as they can as family planning does not apply to them.
If any of the couples try to use contraceptives or protection, he would be visited by the ever-present Ibegwu. YOU MAY ALSO LIKE TO READ: The Sacrifice of Princess Oma Odoko
So, to help their husbands escape this wrath, married women use contraceptives without their husbands since their ancestors would come for them.
>>> Ibegwu does not condone premeditated murder, otherwise known as abortion in marriage.
Either of the parties involves in this would be duly punished. And if the woman takes the husband’s money to carry out an abortion, the man would be afflicted with the mystery illness, regardless of whether he is ignorant or not.
In recent times, this practice seems to not sit well with the younger generations as most of them had taken time to voice their frustration, lamenting about how the culture had made them an object of hatred amongst their peer from other fractions of the Igala community and other parts of Nigeria at large.
They also expressed their displeasure on the adverse effect it is having on their relationship with their spouse who they intend to marry as they are now seen as terrible people even though they did not exactly associate or approve of the practice.
Cultures are a way of life total way of life but extreme measures should be kept in check, especially if they undermine or cause undeserved mayhem to humanity. People make culture, and not the other way round.
Hope you have learned something intrigue about The Ibegwu Culture of the Ogugu People of Igala Land. Well am glad you did, My name is Usman Salame, am writing from Afri Notes, Africa multipurpose portal for Africa global tiers
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