THE OGBONA THAT FLOWS IN MY VEINS (25) Dr. John Odior Anaweokhai


Dr. John Odior Anaweokhai

Between the Odior family and The Ilegah family is the Eshiesimua family. While both families are Ivhianaga kindred of Okotor Quarters, The Odior family is Ivhitse Kindred of Ivhiochie Quarter. The Eshiesimuas were proud owners of one of the three upstairs in the Ivhiebi Quarter. It was made of mud blocks of orange colour. The building was never plastered and like the other three, it soon became dilapidated and was replaced with a model building. Eramha Tsedi and Eramha Tsado stayed there together behind the Ifaorumhes. Eramha Tsedi was the senior but was not as tall as Eramha Tsado. Both of them had beautiful girls whom they guided jealously. Eramha Tsado was a trader but later worked at UBTH Health Centre. He later left Ivhiebi to down Okotor where he built his house before his death. Mrs. Stella Mode is one of his daughters. Eramha Tsedi was tough and hardly welcomed male visitors to his house though I was allowed to visit Roseline and Orele who were my classmates in secondary school.

One fate we all suffered in that part of Ogbona is the rough and undulating topography that grossly affected the settlement of Ogbona. It is as if nature conspired with some unseen forces to deny Ogbona equal settlement on both sides of the town. From Ivhiosano to the back of the Otsoi family there is no room to expand inward as the back is full of steep valleys and high mountains. As a matter of fact, that part of the town is inaccessible. Until one drives through Ughieda through Ege Ikpido, one has to resort to trekking and climbing mountains. From the back of Ivhiebi up to the Aikabeli, the story is the same, the valleys are over three hundred feet deep. The place is neither arable nor habitable. Unfortunately, that part of the townhouses is our banana plantation farm. The one closer to the house belongs to my father while the one further down the valley belongs to Baba Nokhua, Eramha Eshiemomoh but they later became known as Eghede Dimka. It was a place we all visited in groups, especially during the dry seasons after the annual Harmattan bushfire. The bush fire provided us with the needed opportunity for gaming. As the fire was burning we would stalk for animals, sometimes we caught squirrels or snakes. That was occasional but that of the banana was regular though somewhat seasonal too. we would cut the bananas, bury them underground and return after five days to do justice to them. My cousin, Eramha Michael, aka, Dimka was in charge. He was very tough and never spared any trespasser but my case was different as I had unrestricted access to either of the plantations. How he came to be known as Dimka beats my imagination. It was a name he gladly answered until the Dimka coup of 1976. He became uncomfortable with the name soon after Col. Dimka was declared wanted over the death of the then Head of State Gen. Murtala Muhammed.
One interesting about the banana we harvested directly from my father’s plantation farm was that the money realized from it was for our exclusive use as our mother was not allowed to share the proceeds. Most times, we hawked the ripe ones in the market.

I loved the market days then especially when we had bananas to sell. The market was a very big open space with few shades. it extended from the totemic Orokhiyie to the Anabor compound. The Front of the Itsuokor compound in its entirety was part of the market. There was a big Obadan tree that my grandmother used to sell beside the Itsuokor family house. The tree had obviously passed its prime with little or no green leaves. Beside the Anabor house was the ALOKOKO shrine which was rarely opened. Before the Shrine is the legendary dry wood, Utuora Nokai. It is the place where proper initiation into manhood is done after naming from Fugar. Also The Azoganokhai and The Asapokhai compounds though both on opposite sides of the roads, were an extended part of the market too. Both sides were the places where garri buyers used as their shades. One thing we did on market days to make some money was to help convey packaged bags of garri into stores, carrying bags of garri was very interesting. The mature ones among us like Anthony Ilegah, and Aleghe Oyiowhi Ozoh would join hands together and fall the bags on their wrists while we supported them from any side. At the end of the day, one or two kobo would be given to us each.

Among our trading partners then were the North Ibies. Ogbona relied on them for scent oil, Avhinopie and earth pots. They bought garri and snakes from us. It was very difficult to see any Ogbona person that ate snakes. If a snake was killed before market day, it would be smoked till the next market day and true to type, The Ibies bought it on arrival without much ado.
Also located in Ivhiochie is one of the primary schools, Imhakhena Primary School, now Oboarekpe Primary School. We called it a Catholic school, perhaps, because of its origin as a catholic mission school. Though the Primary school we attended in Okotor was also Imhakhena, we never saw ourselves as one. To us, they were alien and our staunch rival. All efforts by our Headmasters to disabuse our minds of such sterile notions fell on deaf ears even though we always had joint sections on vacation days when results were called. We also competed against outsiders together especially, during football matches. One thing they had in abundance was their Smooth football pitch which contrasted heavily with ours. Our football pitch was rough and divided by a wide path that made it look awkward during matches. They had a big hall like ours which musicians used. Gen. Bolivia easily comes to mind. It was the venue he patronized before Asaya Inn was eventually built. Going to the musical show at night was very scary because of the cemetery.

The Catholic Church is also located inside the school premises. The architectural design reflects that of the cross. A lot of weddings were conducted in those buildings. Those weddings helped to inspire one to greater heights in life. Three weddings really inspired me. Bros Godwin Atsegwasis’Bros Tony Ogedengbes’and that of Bros Gilbert Odior. My plans to attend bros Godwin Atseegwasi’s wedding were shattered by my mother who woke me up early that morning of April 1982 to follow her to farm. Bros. Tony Ogedengbe’s wedding on November 7th,1983 was marred by the profuse tears he shielded that day because his father had just passed on. Bros Gilbert Odior’s wedding on 10th December 1983 remains green in my memory. We practically lived in the same place at home. I didn’t attend the church wedding but I attended the reception in their compound with Gen.Bolivia on a milk colour safari entertaining guests. It was a gathering of Creme de la creme in Etsakor. The space between The Esi, Ogbualo and Akhigbe compounds was parked full of state-of-the-art cars then. There was Alhaji Inu Umoru and my elder sister, Pst Mrs.Julie Inu Umoru, Chief MCK Orbih, Chief Philip Okhumhale and others including Chief Bruno Oshiohpekhai who was the chairman of the Occasion. After that marriage, I said to myself that I must wed my wife too and that I would buy a car too because bros Gilbert also had a brown Peugeot 504 saloon car with registration number BD 1700 CA

How fulfilled I felt that day I wedded my wife though not in Catholic church, in The Redeemed Christian Church of God.

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