Christianity has killed our Culture – Eze Asor
January 16, 2012 | 6:10 pm
News, The Arts
BY JAPHET ALAKAM
His Royal Highness Eze I.O Asor, Udi 1 of Obudi Agwa in Oguta Local Government Area Imo State is a culture enthusiasts and one who believes in the protection of culture. But thirteen years after he took over as the chief custodian of his peoples culture, many thought that by now every aspect of the culture would have been revived.
But a look at the events around his domain shows that it is not so. What is responsible for that and why has he failed to use his good office to redeem that. In this chat with Sunday Vanguard Art, the worried ruler bares his mind on a wide range of issues. Excerpts.
Can we meet you?
I am His Royal Highness Eze I.O Asor, Udi 1 of Obudi Agwa in Oguta Local Government Area Imo State. By the grace of God, I was the immediate past chairman of (TROPCON) Traditional Rulers of Oil Producing Communities of Nigeria and currently, I am the Chairman of Oguta Local Government Area council of Traditional Rulers.
*His Royal Highness Eze I.O Asor
How many years have you been on the throne?
By the special grace of God, this is my 13th year on the throne.
How have you used your position as the Chairman of Oguta Local Government Area council of traditional rulers to bring the traditional rulers together?
While, with this new government of H/E Rochas Okorocha, we are still trying to put things in order because the former government spoiled many things. The current government of Okorocha is trying to harmonize things. And on our part we want to fashion out a system to suit his rescue agenda.
For instance, before his emergence, Imo state was the den of kidnappers, hired assassins and all kinds of vices that went unchecked. To restore security and revive confidence in the citizenry is not a day job. The present government is really fighting hard to see that security and confidence are restored.
In fact, that is our utmost pursuit even as traditional rulers for now. We want to make sure that whoever comes back to Imo State will be free to visit anywhere unmolested.
Traditional rulers are the custodians of culture, having spent 13 years in office, how have you been able to project the culture of the community?
I am one of the apostles that condemn this idea of western culture trying to over ride or take over our own tradition by putting churches here and there. But sadly, we are now living on a borrowed culture and if you come to my domain now for example, those who call themselves Christians have dominated the whole places.
If you do one thing, they say it is forbidden, you do another, they say another, so you don’t know what to do again. Unlike in those days when our tradition/culture have precedence above all other culture, people had respect for it.
They worshiped, adored and obeyed the culture, but now it is no more. And if you want to fight this development,the so called church people will kick against you. For instance, in those days and in the Bible, as a traditional ruler, your community will provide you with what to eat, what you drink, the car you ride but now it is not so again , instead of doing these for traditional rulers, they do it for their Reverend Fathers or their Pastors.
They contribute yam, garri, egg, money and buy cars for them instead of their traditional rulers who carry the problems of the community.
How do you intend to challenge all of these ?
Like I said earlier, the dominance of all these churches has caused a serious blow to our customs/culture and I don’t see how it can be corrected. For instance in Imo State, we have over 600 autonomous communities and that means 600 traditional rulers unlike in the North where you have 1 or 2 traditional rulers for a local government.
In some cases, one traditional ruler controls two local government areas and his word is law but in the East they have succeeded in bastardizing the autonomous communities through the divide and rule system. If government enacts a law that is not good and you kick against it, another traditional ruler will say no problem and accept it so we are handicapped.
But despite Christianity’s interference, there are still some of these cultures that beg for attention like New Yam festival (Iri ji) and masquerade. What are you doing about them?
The New Yam festival in Agwa is now done in the churches. In the past for instance, next month when they will start clearing farm lands preparatory for farming season, the first thing to do will be the Fejioku sacrifice (Itu aja oru) a sacrifice that makes the farmers to have a bountiful harvest.
But now if you ask the elders to perform that, they will tell you that they will go to the Reverend Father to pray. This is so because majority of the community are church goers so they kick against the practice. The churches have virtually taken over the customs.
For example, title taking, ‘Ichi Ozo’ or ‘Ikpu nze’ in the community are no longer done. If you call them for that, they say such things are fetish but what is fetish about them?
Would you say that it is as a result of this cultural neglect that the communities are having low production every year?
I will say yes because if anybody tells you that our great grandfathers are dead and are not working, the person is a liar. Even though they are not living, they are working so they are not happy. They are no longer getting the usual cocks, drinks, cola, etc
These people that claim that they are Christians, when they see non Christians they say that they are infidels where as, they are the ones that commit all the crimes in society today. For example, all these armed robbers, kidnappers you hear about are all Christians: they are James, John, Micheal where as these traditionalist hardly do those things because they know their ancestors are watching over them.