By Mathew Onwuasoanya
2017 edition of the biennial Egwu Uzu Traditional festival of Awka kingdom in Awka-South Local Government Area posted some uncommon watersheds and tapestries on the portals of the blacksmith kingdom. Held on Saturday, December 30, 2017 at the Ikwodiaku Primary School Playground, memories of pageantry that characterised the epic event – which is the town’s equivalent of Igbo traditional ofala festival – still linger on, one month after.
From the galaxy of crème de la crème in the political, social, chieftaincy and business circles of Anambra state and beyond that pepped pomp and paraphernalia on the event to luminous cultural windows of the ancient town on sideshows; it was just another egwu uzu but indeed an edition that stands apart in Awka’s illustrious annals.
But an aspect of the biennial festival that waxes the last edition more stellar still amazes both political and cultural analysts on all fronts. Not only was the event heralded by fanfare, beginning with 21-gun salute which ushered the king and his entourage into the venue. Not only did topnotch citizens and friends of Awka who converged on the town from far and near were conferred with ilustrious chieftaincy titles – even as far as the Iberian city of Santander in Spain, from where the Campo family came and bagged two traditional titles. Not only did the entire 33 villages in the four quarters that comprised Awka thronged the venue with their tributary entitlements and renewal of loyalty to the Awka monarch, His Majesty, Obi Gibson Nwabueze Nwosu, Eze Uzu Awka II. The awe around the event draws more flesh in the fact that all these are happening at a time some misguided elements in the town orchestrated an affray to smear the town.
Of course, it is obvious that seeing themselves as the proverbial bulls in a Chinese mall, those behind the smear believed that even if they could not actualise their ulterior agenda – which is to strain the chain of succession to the age-long Eze Uzu throne – they would stampede the strategic capital city of Anambra state into a tipping point. That, perhaps, explains why arrowheads of the plot to trigger a political whirlwind, first by striving to spark civil strife and unrest on Awka spared no mud or smear, culminating in a scheduled phantom “coronation” that did not see daylight, despite immense financial war chest that was deployed.
Hence, while the entire good people of Awka rallied around their revered traditional institutional in keeping with the native law and custom, the desperadoes and con artists were hiding from one groove to another, perfecting a plan that was dead on arrival. All they had wanted to shoot down sunset at noon on Awka was a response from the appropriate quartres. But oblivious that their target was a soldier’s soldier with enviable military antecedents and exploits that had carried the day in more dicey war situations, these rabble rousers miscalculated and their “missiles” misfired.
While mischief makers and fair weather “pundits” were predicting Armageddon on Awka, Obi Gibson Nwosu was unmoved althrough those testing times. Like a seasoned pilot that he was, Eze Uzu II scanned the climate well and saw those in the move to unseat him as people whose only undoing was youthful exuberance. Rather than return fire for fire, Obi Gibson Nwosu preferred silent reprimand to call those misguided elements to order – seeing them still as his subjects who are being teleguided, having fallen prey into the dubious hands of a powerful force from outside Awka.
That, again, explains why raining curses and wrath of Awka ancestors on these kingpins of dark plots in his customary prayers over kolanut at the event – which no other force could have delivered anybody caught in that curious web of intrigue, Obi Gibson Nwosu chose the path of temperance. He predicted that calm would return in Awka right from that moment. And that the town which had metamorphosed to a global city in his reign would never be balknised into splinter sections. It may have ringed no bell in the ears of doubting Thomases that mingled with faithful enthusiasts at the occasion. But like the prayer of a righteous sage, it took no time for Awka ancestors to come down with answer. And the return to the model Awka inherited from his forefathers came just the morning after.
In paid full-page advert in a recent Daily Sun publication, a group of four men, consisting of one Barr E.C. G. Okechukwu, Chief Aneze Chinwuba, Ozo Eselu and Chief German Nwofor – that had needlessly holed themselves in the trenches as the backbone of the exuberant youths, on their own, recanted their maleovalence and surrendered. Avowing their allegiance to the general good of Awka town, the group apologized to Sen Ben Ndi Obi and Obi Gibson Nwosu for distracting the noble community. And more will still follow in returning Awka to its cherished history of unity and solidarity.
Hence, just when it seems that heaven was about to let loose on Awka, a monarch who is a silent revolutionary has burrowed into his goatskin bag and come up with a magic wand. Who still recommends an eye for an eye as mark of heroism?