By Ugochukwu Alaribe – Umuahia
It was a colourful event as the Abiriba Kingdom in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State, celebrated her annual “Itu Eye” ceremony to mark the beginning of another year in the ancient kingdom.
“Itu Eye” is a traditional law enactment period in Abiriba kingdom. The ceremony marks the enactment of new laws in the ancient kingdom by the paramount ruler, Enachoken of Abiriba. Other monarchs who accompanied the Enachioken are the Effa of Agboji and the Ukpari of Amogudu.
The new laws made were handed over to the Okezie age group for enforcement. Abiriba kingdom is made up of Amaeke, Amaogudu and Agboji.
The ceremony commenced with the picking of the palm leaf, Iburu omu, by the Okezie age grade.
Speaking at the ceremony, Enachioken of Abiriba, Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu, said Abiriba kingdom has been in existence for over 600 years, stressing that the ‘Itu eye’ ceremony is as old as the kingdom.
He explained that the ceremony is usually celebrated at the village square.
According to the first class monarch, “Last year, it was the “Ugojiaku Age Grade that picks the palm leaf, and this year, it is the Okezie Age Grade that will be in authority.
The Abiriba Ancient kingdom is rooted in age grades. There are 13 Age Grades and they are expected to stay as watchdogs at the village square every time.
The highest among the age-grades is called the “ Ukejiagbala; they have the responsibility to enforce and implement rules and regulations as outlined by the Enachioken of Abiriba and other Prince of the kingdom for a period of one year until the next “Itu Eye’ ceremony. We, therefore, wish them well in this assignment.”
Receiving the palm leaf on behalf of Okezie Age Grade who are the current “Ukejiagbala”, Hon. Agbai Osiri, who is the President General of the Okezie age grade, expressed gratitude to the community for such a privilege given to them to serve and pledged that the Age Grade will justify the confidence reposed on them.
Among the Okezie Age Grade receiving the palm leaf is the Member representing Aba North and South Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Ossy Chinedu Prestige, whose participation added panache to the event.
Reading out the new laws and resolutions of the kingdom, the Enachioken, Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu; explained they would guide the community in the traditional new year.
As the Enachioken read out the new laws, the people chorused in agreement while the Enachioken throws a palm leaf as a seal for the law prompting the Okezie age grade to pick the palm leaf to show their readiness to enforce the laws.
In an interview with South East Voice,Hon. Prestige thanked God for granting him the grace to participate in the ceremony ten years after his age grade took part in another event, the “Igwa Mang” tradition.
He noted the contribution of age grades to the development of Abiriba kingdom and urged other Igbo communities to emulate it.
“Virtually, every project you see in Abiriba Kingdom came through the help of age grades and others are still coming,” he said.
Other members of the age grade include the immediate past President of Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, ACCIMA, Chief Andy Obasi.
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