IJAW: For Truth or Deceit? By Abai Francis

04 Jul, 2024

"The meaning of the word 'Ijaw' means 'Truth'," declared the Kari-owei (a title akin to a priest) to the assembly of elderly men and women that have been summoned to an emergency meeting in the community hall of Fiyegbene by the keeper of the ancestral shrine of the people.

History has it that the community, which was named after its founder, Fiye, reputed to be outspoken, was always in the frontline agitating for what was right. It was even claimed that those who had dared to influence wrong decisions in the community for their selfish gains have often been struck down by the ghost of Fiye which still roams the community, guarding it jealously from falsehood. 

But at the turn of the 21st century, with the recent developments in the modern world as largely dictated by the play of politics, it seemed that the myth of truth and justice surrounding Fiyegbene was gradually fading away, spurred by the power of money which has not only corrupted the minds of its leaders but has also led to the devaluation of the traditional values of the people.

"I was sent to deliver a message and as a messenger I had to beckon to the call of the spirits of our ancestors during one of my prayer sessions in the holy shrine," proclaimed the old man, whose vibrant voice defied his age and could be likened to that of a vocal youth in the mood of anger. "Embrace the message I now give and live; or ignore the message I now deliver to your peril," the Kari-owei warned no one in particular.

"What is this we hear, says the voices of our ancestors. No matter how bright the Moon shines at night, it knows its rightful place and can never cross its boundaries to compete with the Sun when it is day time. You think the times have changed? No! it is you who have changed! The times will always be the same. The morning, the noon time and the evening still retains their cycle. But you, in your confused state of deceit, have derailed from the true cycle you were created to follow.

"In your riches you have turned a blind eye to the truth. You are no longer a people reputed to abide by the truth. Every second in time you dine in a table full of lies and deceive the people daily. The people's wealth you have laid a siege to and confiscated, using the same wealth to enslave them to do your ill bidding. At present, lying has now become a norm and you are no longer afraid of its repercussions.

"Money is now your new king. Your crowned Majesties are no longer your masters. You now control your kings and dictate to them at will. What a taboo! You no longer see your kings as representatives of your ancestors but as mere men you can subdue with your money. Don't you know that your wealth belongs to the king just as you cannot exist in the absence of your ancestors? No matter how tall the Okra plant grows it is never bigger than its owner.

"With your money you think you are now supreme even more than your ancestors whose instructions you trample underfoot. What you call politics is nothing but a game of deceit that you play. In the morning you give the people the promise of hope, in the evening you dashed their expectations with your excuses. You think you are wise but your wisdom is only in foolishness. Because you succeed today in deceiving the people, you become more confident that even the gods have joined you in your evil acts. What sheer arrogance! You are doing nothing but digging your own grave to hell.

"No one dines with the spirits and live! Be warned or else your calamities will come unannounced like a woman heavy with child in labour. You think your monies will save you, you think your connections will protect you? Fools who are mere mortals! The air you breath, do you see it or do you know where it comes from? Do you know how it is formed or even where your last breath goes to?

"Ijaw means truth. Majority of you are only Ijaw in name but not in deeds. In its name you lie to acquire ill-gotten wealth to yourself, you betray your fellow brothers and sisters by depriving them from the truth with your lies, and you destroy the heritage with which your people are known. So, as an Ijaw, are you on the side of truth or you are on the side of deceit?"

Image Credit: Alabo IV Painting | Fine Art America


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