Recently crowned traditional ruler of Nri Kingdom, Anambra State, Eze Obidiegwu Onyensoh (Nri Enwelana) has opened up about his kingship with a correspondence of Punch.
The most shocking details bout what he had to say is the fact that a king has to die for three days before being crowned.
He said, “For you to be an Eze Nri, you also have to die.”
How do you mean sir?
Yes, the candidate for the Eze Nri must die symbolically, and after three days, the person will wake up. During the person’s death, he takes a new body and when he wakes up, he must shine like a star.
What I am telling you may sound like exaggeration but I tell you, it is the truth! The candidate must die! When the candidate dies, he will be buried in a shallow grave for three days; his body will be buried, but his head will be left outside the grave. During that period, he will undergo a transformation; pass through a stage, from human being to spirit, after which he will wake up and his body will be adorned with white chalk (Nzu) and he will shine like a star.
What happens next?
From there, he will leave his father’s compound. He will not leave through the door. It is presumed that he has grown above passing through the door.
So you didn’t pass through the door?
No. They had to put a ladder for me to climb over the fence and I landed outside and I left my father’s compound. This happened like 28 years ago.
And what happened to your family during the time you ‘died’?
While you are in the grave, you are being mourned by your family and the entire village will be in festive mood, eating and dancing every day. After that traditional mourning, when you wake up again, you take a new body and you are now a spirit.
After that stage what follows?
So when you have taken a new body, you go to a confluence river. The nearest to our community is the Ezu River, which is in Aguleri. At that confluence, they employ divers, who go down deep into the sea to scoop clay, which would be used to mould a pot. The Eze will drink from it and we call that pot, Udueze.
After the Eze has drunk from it, the pot would be seen as a very precious pot because the clay used in moulding it was got from the depth of the sea, from a confluence of two rivers.
When the divers go in there, they would want to test your agility and spirituality as an Eze. If the diver does not come out, well, that is it! But if the diver comes out with the clay that would be used in moulding the pot, then you are Eze (king).
Around our place here, we have two confluence rivers where an Eze Nri could be taken. There is Lokoja and there is Aguleri. Since Lokoja is far from us, we have to go to Aguleri, that is Ezu na Omambala, Abanaba.
From there, you will visit all communities that are descendants of the Nri Kingdom and then you go home triumphantly as a king. Then you embark on another visit to Umueri clan, which contains 118 settlements. You have to visit as many as you can, and they will know that a new Eze Nri has emerged.
After then, the clans will now return the visit to Eze Nri, where the Eze Nri will settle in his Obi (domain) and receive them.
During that period, the Eze Nri will stay in a hut that is akin to half room, and will return to the spirit world for eight days, before he will now become a human being again.
While he is in that spiritual state, he does not receive visitors because he is still a spirit. But after the two market weeks of eight days, he could receive visitors.
But before then, no one sees him, he is served food from underneath the door; no one is permitted to see him physically. When he leaves the Obi after eight days, he moves to his palace, which at that time, must not be a zinc building but would be built by a certain leaf, called Uma, which is usually broad. That is where he would stay for two years before his palace would be changed.
What is usually the first thing the Eze does when he begins to reign?
When the Eze now begins to reign, his first performance must be Iguaro (annual ritual). The purpose of the Iguaro is to give all the communities the opportunity to see the Eze for the first time. Before then, there is a transfer of authority from the previous Eze to the current Eze. This is usually done by the children of the former Eze. While that is done, no one enters the room where it is happening until everything has been done. Thereafter, the Eze has completed all the requirements, and he could then begin to take decisions.
His first decision is taken from a mud elevator platform, and anytime he wants to make decisions, he has to sit on that platform. The throne you now see is a new innovation.