By NewsCritic Reporters
The Traditional Prime Minister Gburugburu and Agu Ngwu Isingwu, High Chief Charles Onwuneme has vowed not to let the tradition and culture of his people stop in his life time, saying that he would do anything possible to keep it going because it is the life of the people.
High Chief Charles Onwuneme, a member of the Oganiru Age Grade Amafor Isingwu, is among the group who will perform this year’s Iza Aha ceremony coming up on Saturday 26th December, 2020.
While speaking to the NewsCritic online at his palatial home during the week, High Chief Onwuneme explained that the Iza Aha is an age long tradition that is peculiar to the people of Amafor Isingwu, and communities like Abariba, Ohafia, Igbere etc, adding that some communities like Afugiri, Ossah, Umuda etc have tried to copy it without success because they failed to learn it from the owners.
He said the significance of the ceremony which has lasted for over a century is that it signposts that the celebrant has attained a milestone in life, hence need to celebrate the traditional retirement. According to the Okeosisi, at this point in life the individual who performed the ceremony would be exempted from certain activities in the village as a senior citizen.
High Chief Onwuneme pointed out that in the past the attainment age to perform the Iza Aha ceremony was 80 years, adding that as people begin to die early the number of years was reduced to 70 years and now to 60 years. He said any Nwa-Nwa of Amafor that belongs to Age Grade system is free to join in the ceremony, likewise the people of Umuokoro Isingwu in Age Grade.
He stressed that the people of Umuokoro Isingwu enjoys a special relationship and recognition in Amafor because history recorded it that when the Amafor community fought with their Umuda brothers, the Umuokoro people were on their side.
The Agu Ngwu Isingwu, further said that this year’s celebration could have been grander if not for the pandemic which almost affected the ceremony by reducing what the Age Grade could have ordinarily done for the community in terms of development efforts. He however, noted that despite the economic situation in the country people are congratulating the Oganiru Age Grade for their community development initiatives.
He said on his part, he has donated half a million Naira towards the rehabilitation of the Ossah-Amafor road, in addition to the Age Grade spending another N150, 000 to open up the Amafor-Nkwoachara road which is now motorable. He also said that Revd Sam Ekeledo, the former executive chairman Umuahia North LGA singlehandedly attracted the construction of the Amafor-Ebite-War museum bypass. The intention of the Age Grade is to make this year’s ceremony one of the best in the history of Iza Aha, Okeosisi remarks.
Said High Chief Onwuneme “What we are doing is to also thank God for keeping us alive throughout the period of the pandemic. So, starting from 23rd December I will be putting down one Cow each day for seven days to feed people, all you need is to come at my gate.
The TPM Gburugburu said that apart from the road rehabilitation works, he has been involved in philanthropy and community development initiatives. He has offered employment to members of the community, while he equally bought vehicles for some, gave others money to start trade as well as paid school fees for the indigent. He said he singlehandedly brought transformer and High Tension to the Amafor community and sent some indigenes abroad.