UKPE NOKHUA (ONYE KHAKHA) BY JOHN ANAWEOKHAI AND GILBERT ODIOR
One distinctive, enduring and appreciable quality about Ogbona, nay Avhianwu tradition, is the recognition given to women of virtue. Such honour is never bought or influenced by whatever means but justly earned. Whoever is conferred with such honour occupies a special position in the comity of women.
One of the basis upon which such honour is earned is through the performance of UKPE NOKHUA rite. As the name implies, it is rare event that is celebrated with rolled out drums.
A woman who has lived very well with her husband and his family, would want to entrench herself permanently in the family. With the performance of UKPE NOKHUA rite, her position in her husband’s family becomes non-negotiable and cemented forever. She can never be forced out of the family. Nothing under the sun can chase her out of her matrimonial home. This perhaps, informs the rareness of the event and the age advancement of women who perform it.
Any woman who so desires, carves a special chair with which she sits down all the time. A special stool with slight resemblance of UKPI is also carved. On the day of the event, her first son carries it on her head, thus becoming the leader of the long precession. If she is not blessed with a male child, the first daughter takes up the responsibility.
A lot of efforts, time and money go into UKPE NOKHUA rite. Anything edible is cooked on that day. It is customary for one to reach out to her well-wishers not necessary to give her money but to prepare whatever they can as support for the event. No matter how well one is supported, the main meal, AKHE of Egusi soup and pounded yam must be personally prepare and presented by the rite performer. The Egusi soup is brought in big open earth pot. Well-wishers may support with any other food, the preparation and presentation of the main AKHE remains the exclusive task of the woman desirous of such honour. This refer to in the local palace as “Onye khakha”.
With everything in place, the woman comes out in her native hand-woven wrapper of IGBOGANE with IDIBIE tattoos all over hand body. She also wears ASAMHA, elephant tusk on her legs. She is qualified to wear UGBAGHO, blue coral bead too. She moves majestically behind her first son with other well-wishers and all food carriers behind her in the long procession around the village. She is free to include any amount of money and present all to her husband and the entire family.
UKPE NOKHUA can better be appreciated when situated in the context of OKHEI. In fact, it is the female equivalence of OKHEI with which the woman becomes an unofficial chief.
List of women that have performed the ceremony in Ogbona in recent past:
- Omhonaya Edogamhe
- Omhonaya Ibrama (Aeroplane)
- Christiana Amina Erua Anabor
- Comfort Abakhue Atsegwasi
- Asabi Imhana Odior
- Angelina Nasamu Odior
- Theresa Uworati Anabor
- Martha Itsefia Orbih
- Alice Ibra Ogah
- Janet Azaigbor
Alfred Enetomhe IDODE: This is a brilliant piece!!! In my opinion,there is NO BASIS to compare it to OKHE title holders, in fact it is higher than Okhe.It is equivalent to an Okhe title holder who has. performed the version of UGBO_EMA stage of Okhe title which admits holders to AVIANWU MEN’S ROLL OF HONOUR. UKPE NOKHUA title for women in Avianwu, admits them into Avianwu Women Roll Call of Honour. It is an EXCLUSIVE Club for women who have achieved in Avianwu and every Rite performer earns the title of ONYE_KHA_KHA,(Great Cook For Nation!!!)IT’S AN OFFICIAL TITLE PLEASE!!!! Both titles for men and women in Avianwu are achieved as a result of share determination and HARD Work!!! By Alfred Enetomhe IDODE.