King (Dr.) Appolus Chu, the Egbere Emere of the people of Okori Eleme Community has been conferred the title of Emere Ngwe of Eleme, being the highest yam title in Eleme land.
Emere Okori, Appolus Chu bagged the title having completed all the yam title stages and traditional rites beginning from Achu, Obo, Obere Obo, Otaa Obo and climaxed with A-chu Ette making him the first in Eleme to perform all the stages at once.
The conferment of the title of Emere Esaa which took place during a colourful yam festival ceremony organised by Emere Appolus Chu at his Egbere Emere Okori playground at Ogale Eleme witnessed the attendance traditional rulers and dignitaries from far and wide, politicians,friends and well-wishers of the celebrant.
Inside Eleme gathered that, the yam title festival of Emere Appolus Chu brought about the revival of the aged long tradition that has gone extinction having been witnessed 45years ago. The yam title occasion known in the native palance as Okon-Esaa highlights the main occasion of the Eleme people who are predominantly farmers. Besides its socio-cultural significance, the tradition is designed to celebrate hardwork, industry and success of young energetic Eleme man amongst his peers. A celebrant of the tradition is expected to showcase his worth in the community by the number of yams he or she is able to harvest and knotted in his yam barn otherwise called Ogun.
It is noteworthy that the A-Chu Ette celebrated by Emere Okori consists of 20 lines of staked yams of 100 stakes each, with each holding 21 tubers making a total of 42,000 tubers.
In his speech at the occasion, King Appolus Chu who said the traditional event has restored a long forgotten culture of the people, stressed that it will also inspire and motivate the younger generation to be industrius and channel their energy into positive ventures.
His words: “Today we are gathering here to restore and reinstate the Eleme culture that is long forgotten and abandoned for 45 to 50 years now, so as a traditional ruler, God has given me the opportunity to look into the customs of our people; I felt pity when they abandon culture and I said to myself that for we to loss this kind of great identity it is a serious setback to the Eleme people generally, because a culture is an identity of a people or a person, anybody who lost his or her culture has automatically lost his identity and when you lost your identity, it is as good as being a stranger in your own land. So what makes you unique is your culture and tradition. It makes you who you are and gives you that value”.
King Appolus Chu further said that: “Having travelled round Africa and the world, I have seen people in other kingdoms how they project and protect their culture, custom and tradition even those who are at the government hierarchy, when they come home they respect their customs and tradition, what has gone wrong in my place?”, he questioned.
King Appolus Chu who also holds the title of Abachun Emere and Emere Nkukuma of Eleme said he decided to pay sacrifice to restore lost Eleme cultures and traditions.
Hear him: “I thought it wise that the sacrifice I have to pay is to restore our culture. Our culture and tradition is the parameter that our forefathers set for our young ones, where the young ones will be engaged with activities.
The entire cultists, robbery, kidnapping and all kinds of social vices we are having in Nigeria today are as a result of accumulated energies. Actually, energy must be past or discharged somewhere, it is either you discharge it in the right manner or you discharge it in a wrong manner, especially these days our youths are discharging their energies in a wrong manner, they are engaging themselves in cultism, stealing and fighting.
“So, I have to just revive what our fore fathers had done, it is a wonderful thing for our youths, by the time they engage you in farming, by the time you walk about fifteen kilometers to a place you farm, then do all the farming exercise for that day, and by the time you walk back for that day you are tired and exhausted, what you will be thinking on is how to take your bath and rest for another day.
You can’t have time to go and kill, fight or engage yourself in any social vices because you are already exhausted as a result of the farm work. Eleme people has set it in a way that if you don’t work in those days, they cannot give out their daughters for your hand in marriage. In those days there were no industries, we had farming and fishing and for people to know that you are hard working it will be based on the number of yam barns that you produce and harvest, that is what gives you recognition in the community where you come from.
“Then in that case if you want to marry someone’s daughter, they will gladly give her to you because it is crystal clear that you can feed and take care of their daughter. When you want to associate with your age mate, his parents will say good words about you, especially his father, they won’t disassociate you from relating with your age mate in the community. You will be regarded as a responsible and industrious person, because a responsible person will definitely do the right thing.
“So, on the other hand, in those days when you don’t farm, you will be harassed by your age mates with some unpleasant statements like: ‘don’t talk when we are talking’, ‘how dare you sit where industrious sons are sitting, please get up and get out’, they will humiliate you.
Secondly, your father will embarrass you, comparing you with your friends because you are lazy and the community you come from, they won’t want to appoint you to represent or contract responsibility on behalf of the community, you will not be used because you are regarded as a lazy person.
“Having performed this right, wherever the native drum (Egelege) is been played in Eleme, I have been authorized to dance and placed my leg on the drum as a sign of a great man, I will dance with honour and pride and others will be motivated to use me as their role model, I think the yam title is a wonderful program our forefathers had that we just abandoned, having abandoned it, it has caused a lot of unrest in our society. So what I did was to reverse it back and call the attention of the community.
“Currently, in Eleme, I am the first person to perform all the rites at a time, it has never been done in the history of Eleme, it takes two years to perform the various rites because you do it bit by bit, in Nchia any one who wants to perform this yam title will have to come to me for directives, while in Odido he has to go to Chief J.D. Osaronu.
“The essence of this yam title implies that you are a good farmer, hardworking and successful and when you are successful, you feed the community, and when you feed the community, the community will celebrate you.
There is a popular adage used by an Eleme man when there is a challenge between two persons, that is: ‘has vulture eaten your food before? Have they wasted your food in the waste bin before? Has an ant eaten your food before?’ what this means is that the person is above you so when he is talking you are not expected to talk. Therefore the yam title is an inspiration to our young generation to enable them channel their resources and energy to a positive course”, King Appolus explained.
Highpoints of the event were a public show of appreciation and shower of praises by the two wives of King Appolus Chu on him, friends, well-wishers, age group, extended family members and concerned citizens within and outside Eleme also expressed their goodwill by paying homage to the new Yam Title holder for achieving the new feat.
Symbolic gifts items and food stuffs such as an Eagle, Towel, Machetes, Bathing Buckets cocoyam, yam, dry fish, goat, cow, drinks etc were presented to the yam title holder by family and friends.
The Celebrant was also decorated and led to climb the town square hill before the killing of a native bull. The significance of climbing the hill is that the celebrant has been elevated.
The event also witnessed a traditional competition and then the native traditional drums know as Nkpa-Egoni is played for the latest Yam title holder to dance and place walking sticks on the ground. This is signifies an open challenge to younger ones to summon courage and pick one or more walking sticks which conotes that they are willing and ready to perform the yam title rites and ceremony in the next farming season hence, own their pride amongst their age group.
One walking stick indicates A-Chu, two is Obo, three, Obere-Obo and so on. Thereafter, a hard wood of about 4-5feet called Akwah is pegged in front of the compound of the Yam title holder, a symbol of accomplishment that can be likened to a trophy.
Over 7 vibrant young men took the challenge by picking up the walking sticks thus accepting to the task, a clear indication that the Eleme yam title has been revived and generations to come will not loss sight of it anymore.
Amongst dignataries present were Senator Olaka Nwogu, Chief Nwokolu Dimkpa-Nte, Chief Ejor N Ejor, His Royal Highness, TEK Akobe of Eteo Clan, His Royal Highness, Samuel Obe of Ekporo Clan, Prince Jima Osaro, Hon. Fred Mbombo Igwe, Hon. Philip Okparaji, friends of King Appolus Chu from far and wide including traditional rulers, retired Army Generals and business tycoons amongst others.
To perform the A-chu title rite, such person must farm, harvest and display 21 tubers of Eleme yam called Ngweh or Esa Nkwe on a Yam barn, multiplied by 100 barns which gives a total 2,100 yams on a barn, all lined up in a traditionally made tash called Ogun.
That of Obo holds 2 lines of 100 stakes, 21×100 x 2 which gives a total of 4,200 tubers of yam. Obere Obo holds 6 lines of 100 Stakes, which gives a total of 12,600 Tubers.
Otaa Obo carries 8 lines of 100 Stakes in the barn, each holds 21 tubers which gives a total of 16,800 tubers, haven multiplied (21x100x8) while the highest which is A-Chu Ette consist of 20 lines of staked yams. Each line is made up of 100 stakes and each holds 21 tubers with a total of 42,000 tubers.