The aim of this study is to examine the socio cultural issues on Ozor title taking in Ugbelle, Ideato south of Imo state, in respect to Ozor title ship in Nigeria as a whole. An Ozor titled man are those men who were chosen by the Eze or the village to support the Eze in ruling the community, they are also known as cabinet men who make bye-laws and punish law breakers in the community. Ozor title holding is socio-economic, socio-political, socio-cultural and socio-religious. This research made us use historical method, oral method and some articles concerning the topic. This research recommended committee of Ozor titled men and the relevant roles played by them in the development of a community.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Ozor title holding is a chieftaincy title conducted according to the native law and customs of the people of Nigeria. It is recognized by the people, the government, all and sundry as a title in Igbo culture. Ozor title is one of the oldest and highest social institution in Ugbelle, Ideato south of Imo state. It is a prestigious traditional title which has assumed an important position in the traditional inclination to the people of Ugbelle. In many places in the Igbo land, the functions attached to the Ozor institution is immense despite its conflicts with organizations like Christian region and the partisan politics. A complete Ozor man in Ugbelle is seen as the highest social paradigm in which the people aspire.
In Ugbelle, the holder of Ozor title is protected against indignities from anybody. This is as a result of his new status in the society. He has the authority to inflict punishment on anyone that commits crime. They are therefore regarded as men of proved worth.
In the pre-colonial Igbo society, religion and title taking were interwoven, most of the legal sanctions rose supreme from the goal who were at most of the times, the intermediaries. A man who eventually takes this title was seen to be highly disciplined. Every organization or association has rules and regulations guiding their members, so it is with the Ozor title, that is why a holder of this title is exempted from manual labor and is safeguarded from any bodily assault which may tarnish the image of the organization.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Before knowledge of the Europeans and full exposure to Christianity, the Igbopeople were noted for having strong ties to their customs, traditions, and ways of life. Title holders were respected for their accomplishments. Nze na Ozor(Nzeis the name of a titled man in Igbosociety) title holders performed special leadership functions in the community. They helped to govern and maintain peace and order. Ozortitled men settled cases with elders among its people. The Igbopeople maintained a lively and stable culture before the advent of Christianity. One of the most significant signs of the development of Igboculture is its system of law and order. The work of elders and Ozortitled men showed how functional the Igboculture was before it came into contact with the Christian Religion.
However, before Christianity ever arrived in Igboland, there were some customs of questionable character. First, the Igbopeople have the custom of killing twins. Secondly, the Igbohave the custom of sacrificing human beings to the gods and deities. Thirdly, the Igbohave a custom of burying a king (Eze) with a human being. These Igbocustoms conflicted with the teaching of Christianity. Christianity questioned these Igbocustoms and maintained that Igboculture is devoid of good values. Also, some analysts have written the Igbopeople off as a nation without leaders. The theory of Igbo Enwe Eze (Igbo Enwe Ezeis a term which states that the Igbopeople have no king/leader) therefore should not be taken seriously, as this study will demonstrate.
The Igbosociety stands divided and disunited between those who defend the Igbotraditions and those who have accepted Christianity but criticize some Igbovalues. Today, there is a big problem in accepting Ozortitled men as leaders.
The Nze na Ozor title is common among the Igbos and the Ozor title
shipis wellrecognized in Ugbelle, Ideato South of Imo state, due to thesocial recognitiongiven to them.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of this study is to point out the significance of Ozor title holders in Ugbelle, Ideato South local government area of Imo state, Nigeria.
- To expose the functions of Ozor title holding in Ugbelle and in Igbo land in general.
- To access the significance of Ozor title practices in modernity
- To point out the significance of education, religion and technology on Ozor title holding in the Igbo lands
- To access the importance of Ozor titled men in an average African society
To bring to light the relevance of African traditions and cultures, especially the Ozor title ship
SCOPE/LIMITATIONS TO THE STUDY
This study is concentrated mainly on Ugbelle community and the work was limited by lack of finance to enable the researcher travel extensively to collect materials for work. There were also lack of textbooks on Ozor title holding while the available textbooks were not entailed in the treatment of the topic. The researcher also faced the problem of disappointment as most people resisted consultations and interviews while others did not show any interest at all.
The method of research used in the writing of this project is basically analytical and descriptive method of data collected from numerous information about Ozor title holding found in both preliminary, primary and secondary sources that were relevant to the topic.
The data from the primary sources were collected through oral interviews with some Ozor titled men and non-members while the secondary sources were collected from the internet and some books that were relevant to the work. The findings were carefully selected for easy comprehension.
DEFINATION OF RELATED TERMS
- OZOR: This is a prestigious traditional Igbo title. Ozor titles are designations to which some people are according to custom are legally entitled to the possession of particular dignities. It is a traditional chieftaincy title or honorary chieftaincy title.
- CULTURE: This is defined as “the way of life of people”. The concept totally consists of elements as religious, economic, social, political and educational. The religious culture of the Igbo which is enshrined as the ‘Omenala’ helps to train, educate and form the good moral character in the traditional Igbo society.
- RITUALS: These are rites and ceremonies associated with a particular event or occasion, in this case, Ozor title taking.
- EZE: This means a ‘king’ and he is the number one citizen of a community, he is the ruler of a community. Igwe is derivedfrom the Igbo word “Igwekala” or “Eluigwekala”, which means “the sky or heaven above the sky is bigger than land”, implying that the Eze is a higher servant of the people.
- OKPARA: This is the oldest living son of a family.
- NZE: An Nze is a symbol of moral and spiritual excellence in the community. He must speak the truth as he knows it at all times and in all situations. He must be fair and just when adjudicating over cases or settling quarrels and disputes among his people. As a father of all, he must mediate and pacify and not instigate or terrify.
- UMUNNA: these people are known as the kin or kindred of a person
- UMUADA: The umuada in Igbo cultural group is one of the most organized, peaceful and endowed women groups in Nigeria. As individuals and as a group, their contributions to human welfare are central to the ability of households, communities and nation to tackle the challenges of poverty and conflicts. In families and communities, their reconciliatory roles are unsurpassed in support of their husbands and the empowerment of rural women. As an organized group, they have established goals and strategies to pursue peace.
- KOLANUT: Kola nuts are sacred trees produced by Cola acuminata and Cola nitida trees, kola nut (Oji) is an important fruit among the Igbos and it is held almost sacred. There are two types of kola nuts: Oji-Ugo(whitish) and Oji-ibube (light reddish) among the Igbo Between the two types of kola nuts, the Oji-Ugo(whitish) is highly valued among the Igbo people. It is symbolic. Oji-Ugo(white kola nut) symbolizes luck, good face, and prosperity. Oji (kola nut) is the first thing that is presented to a visitor. It is a mark of acceptance. In most places in Igbo society, it is the prerogative of the oldest man to pray and break the kola nut. The authority to dismember a kola nut always rests with a titled man and/or an eldest non-titled person among a gathering. The breaking is usually accompanied by prayers of protection, good health, prosperity, and long life to God, god, ancestors, and spirit of the community. The kola nut (Oji) is the greatest symbol of Igbo hospitality. The Igbo people say that, Onye wetere Oji wetere Ndu (one who brings kola nuts brings life). From the aforementioned analysis, three things are involved when kola nuts (Oji) are presented to visitors: the presentation, the breaking ceremony, and the distribution of the kola nuts. There are Igbo customary rules observed with kola nuts among the Igbo people. Usually, women are prohibited from climbing, breaking, and praying over kola nuts. These privileges; to break, pluck, and pray over the kola nuts are strictly reserved to men. Failure to observe these rules could upset the spirit of the ancestors, an action contrary to omenani Igbo. This tradition of presenting and breaking the kola nut (Oji) is still observed among the Igbo people.
Photo 1:1: Oji (Kola Nut)
- NZU: calabash chalk is a geophagic material popularly consumed in West African countries for pleasure or by pregnant women as a cure for nausea. Calabash chalk is a naturally occurring material composed of fossilized sea shells. However, it can also be prepared artificially by combining clay, sand, wood ash and even salt. By molding and heating this mixture, the calabash chalk is obtained. It is available as powder, a molded shape or a block.
Photo 1:2:Nzu (calabash clay)
- DEITIES: a deity is a rank or essential nature of a god. They are exalted or revered as supremely good or powerful.
- ANCESTORS: are believed to be family members and this is not made up of only those members who are still alive, and that the invisible ancestors, or the living dead members are very much a part of it.
- SPIRITS: A spirit is a supernatural being, often but not exclusively a non-physical entity such as ghost, fairy or angels. Spirits are also often used to refer to the consciousness or personality. The concept of spirit and soul often overlap, and are both believed to survive bodily death in some religions and spirits can also have the sense of ghost, that is manifestation of the spirit of a deceased person.
- OFO: ofo/ofor refers to a particular type of staff (as well as the wood/bronze from which it is made from) carried by selected Igbo elder men, notably patrilineage priests, kings, onyishi and some masqueraders typifying authority, right to command, legal administrative powers, leadership conferment or power bestowed by the gods.
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