By Ameh Comrade Godwin and Ali Adoyi
In the extant time, life was lived in the society based on the working system or what could be termed the way of life of a people. It is this way of life that has remodeled the society to what we have today.
However, several changes have emerged along the path that the society treads. Hence, as the society moves from one phase to the another, certain traditional beliefs and cultures that are termed barbaric are often discarded along the way.
The Idoma people in Benue have greatly developed and moved with time. But strict adherence to some old cultures and traditions has become their greatest undoing.
Funeral ceremonies among the Idoma are often theatrical, with superior attention accorded to members of the community who have reached transformation stage before bowing out. This implies that such an individual is ripe waiting for death to beckon on him or her. It is then tagged, the celebration of death and not mourning as the case may be.
Extensive funerals are held for both women and men in preparation for a perfect escort on their final journey away to the (Olekwu) spirit world. A commemorative plaque ceremony, or second burial, is held for the departed after the main burial in order to ensure that the dead pass on to the ancestral world as the tradition demands.
The above has been the systemic order of burial in Idoma land, which many neighboring tribes have emulated for long. However, some segments of the Idoma society are not comfortable with the way burial ceremonies have remained unchanged, especially the Idoma women who have come out openly to challenge an archaic tradition that is bent on putting their womanhood to question.
These women have decided to launch a major campaign against what they tagged as the patriarchal dominance that has characterized the Idoma nation. Their agitation portrays that they have seen reasons beyond what the Idoma men can see and emphasized on the need to bend the old tradition of burial that they consider ominous, barbaric and unsophisticated, hence calling on the entire Idoma nation to revisit the old tradition of burial where a deceased woman is taken to her father’s house for burial.
These same women have maintained that such tradition has put the traditional oath of marriage to question, establishing that it is only a display of dominance by the masculine gender over the Idoma women. They have argued that the Idoma marriage tradition is in agreement with the universal institution of marriage, which maintained the interminable union of two different genders.
Now, come to think of it, are the women right for their request, if religion permits, does culture and tradition permit such new a development, which had being in existence for years? Back in the dark days, when a woman finally bows out, message would be sent to her family officially to apprise them that their daughter has broken the clay pot; thereafter the family would converge to deliberate on whose house the corpse would be interred. After the funeral rites, this woman would be lifted from the warmed arms of her husband to her hometown for entombment.
One would think that its high time the wind of civilization and modernization blew away those archaic traditions. The question is, would the ancestors be happy?
But to their offspring, the psychological trauma and inequalities that becloud their existence as the result of this barbaric tradition are inexplicable.
This is because most of them have seen that the life of an Idoma woman can best be compared to a wanderer who finds herself in the desert and taken back home after being exhausted completely.
The women have referred to this situation as most unfortunate, since the way they are been buried shows that the men who appear to be dominating every sphere of their lives have no value for them.
But the issue of union, eternity, and most importantly, the law of nature are completely besmirched if a woman who appears to have children for her truly wedded husband is taken back to her father’s house after her death.
The answer these women seek at the moment is whether they are part of the home they build with the men or could simply be called outcasts.
If cultures like mourning a late spouse without going to the market or farm for one good year could go unto oblivion, why won’t the women be bailed out of the fetters of some repulsive traditions that are not befitting to humanity? If the great Onyikpechi, Idenyi Ai-Iko, Ekwu Anya and the rest gods could be derelict, what is there to allow a woman rest in her hubby’s house they struggled to build for years?
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