Ogbona ni Mhakhena. Evho ghi ghie. My obsession with Ogbona has no known rival and it flows in my veins, to say the least, is profusely none stop. Years of studying, traveling and ingratiating with people of diverse cultures have not gotten it attenuated. If at all, they have served as elixir, causing it to find expression in whatever I do and without being immodest,

I am unreservedly unapologetic about it. Of course, I make no pretense of being ethnocentric or confining some air of superiority on my culture over others ,nonetheless, I find the culture of my people very unique ,appealing and capable of being exported to make the world a better place for all. This is not claiming faultlessness and supernaturalism ,immune from the conventional frailties to which every mortal or culture, owe some subjection. It is just that the deep sense of honesty ,respect for norms and values ,sanctity of human life, sense of communality, synergy, humility and respect for hard work and human dignity which shaped one’s being ,are scarce treasures in many other clines .Most time, I cannot but question my sense of maturity ,especially when certain fond memories of my formative years, in picturesque mode, rush unrestrainedly through my being.

There is no better embodiment of human virtues of communality synergy honesty, sincerity and unity of mind and purpose than Oru traditional farming practice among Ogbona people. It is a kind of co-operative labour contract where members jointly render farming services to one another. A synthetization of efforts among people of like minds to advance farming objectives. It is a system where a minimum of two people come together to work in each other farmland on rotational basis. It is like the two guiding principles in accounting which says for every debit entry ,there is a corresponding credit entry. In other words, when one follows you to work in your farm, you are in the person’s debit book of record , at the designated time, that debt must be repaid in equal measures.

Though I had 2 other crews, my last oru crew members were made up of late bros. Adamson Aikabeli, late Eramha Odayeamoh Aikabeli, bros Philip Adebisi Odior and Mallam Shiab David Eghieye. At the initial stage of our endeavor, safe for Bros Philip Odior who was well aware of the stuff I was made of, others doubted my mettle, considering my age. Thank God for their acknowledgement of the fact that any child who washes his hands very clean is free to dine with elders. Their doubts were soon laid to rest the very day we blazed the trail in bros Philip Odior’s farm. I learnt vital lesson that very day, though, we were 5 in number, bro Adamson was the unofficial leader of the crew and as captain of sort, he took the first portion of about 12 feet to clear and as a new kid on the block, I was asked to take mine next to his. He was a bulldozer when it came to bush Cleary but I matched him side by side and at the end, he gave me hand.

One unique thing about oru is that it is not just a transactional relationship for the purpose of advancing one another’s cause like IGUADE or paid labour, much more than that, it is about shared value and vision, the need to be one another’s keeper. Your crew members are not just business partners, they are your brothers and sister who you can confide in and they have your back at any time. They are your dependable allies whose counsels can be sort and relied on when the chips are down. They are to call you to order when you are going astray. They are the ones who you parents or spouses can walk to and unburden themselves about pressing issues. Up till today, some of those crew members at the different stages of my life remain my best friends at home.

Oru has well laid out three major principles christened herein as the trinity of oru. The evening preceding one’s turn, that member must ensure every member is hail and healthy by going to wish them good night rest (LEGHUE). Very early in the morning, he must ensure each member wakes up very sound too by going round once again to remind them of the day’s business ( KEMAI). Finally, when it is time to go to farm and to forestall any form of eventuality, one might be forced to go round once more to mobilize his crew members for the day’s business (VUEMA). Rule 2 and 3 can be observed together and most times, only rule 1 deserves strict observance but not among members who have come a long way. Unfortunately, when the unexpected happens, one would be asked if the above rules, especially rule 1 and 2 were observed.

Oru helps to cover up for one’s area of deficiency. Some people are extremely good at Cleary compared to digging while some have expertise in digging but not so much at Cleary. When such a pair synergized, one would make up for the other’s weakness and the result is always in the superlatives. Oru is nothing short of practical demonstration of the teaching of the good book that we should do unto others as we wish them do onto us. It is the law of harvest cast into section. If one knew that how well he works in other people’s farm would be reciprocated in equal measure when it gets to his turn, there is no room for drama.

The philosophy of Oru was seen applied in every facet of life in Ogbona, ranging from thrifting (ADASI) to how one lives not only with his neighbours but also strangers.

I feel proud to have come out of a place where time tested and honoured principles of interdependence, honesty, diligence, fairness, equity, justice and dignity of human labour are inculcated into one’s consciousness very early in life, to serve as a moral compass, to navigate him through the challenges of life and to come out with his head high.

John Odior Anaweokhai PhD.

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