To recapture the primordial state of Igede culture and general evidence of culture decline and mutation, the history of the Igede people provides evidence of rich cultural heritage and incidence of distorted specific cultures. The specific modernization and globalisation that induce culture mutation, which the book investigates include excision of core cultural identity and practices such as alien dressing, dearth of libation to Igede gods and ancestors, mutation of traditional institutions, novel modes of “blessing” of Kolanut devoid of Igede spirituality, monetization of Igede traditional titles, culture de-alignment, land alienation, attitudinal change, dearth of Igede recipe and delicacies, ethical bankruptcy, moral decadence among others. The book substantially elucidates dimensions of these specific mutated cultures.
The Igede cosmology or worldview consists of a Word-above, Terrestrial world or man’s world, and World below. The world-above is known as Ohe Oluhye, that is Sky God, where the supreme God (Ohe) dwells. The terrestrial world is Ohe Oleji, conceived as the earth, the world of man. The world-below (alegứ ịlipyị) is the domain of the spirit and dead ancestors. Life therefore revolves around the interaction of the forces coming from each of the major beings and spaces, represented in the cosmology of life and space. The communication between the living and the dead ancestors is through the four elemental forces: land, water, air and fire (Egbodo, 2015).
Also read: What You Should Know about the Igede People of Benue State (Pt1)
Pre-colonial Igede civilisation was democratic. The Igede people have a complex and sophisticated form of political life. Although they are patrilineal, they believe in omu obwubwu nya adida bala inina (male and female). A distinct feature of the Igede civilization is the absence of any formal or centralised political authority. They have egalitarian and republican structure with sub-groups which observe specialised form of gerontocracy and recognise the council of elders (igabwo) as the highest decision making body who are the custodians of authority.
The largest family unit is the Kinsmen (obwubwu nya adida) made up of male heads of extended families, villages or clans. The patrilineal structure is both distinct and congenial for peaceful co-existence and engages in conflict resolution; the youth and children (anjwo) periodically clear the communal roads, the age grades maintain law, peace, order, security and engage in community development projects.
Decisions on issues are taken with collective consensus binding on the voice called Omi Nya Aluche, Omi Ny’Igede or Omi Nya Aligede. Several such decisions must be in line with the will of the gods and custom of the land. Issues of conflict include communal or family disputes, boundary disputes, breaking of oath of competent relationship, infidelity, deceit, stealing among others. Such conflicts are judiciously adjudicated. After fulfilling cultural obligations such as fines, defaulters are reintegrated. Dissident parties could be ostracized or banished where they do not conform to collective decisions on amenable ways of resolving such conflicts such as purification rituals or cleansing of the land to appease the gods.
Igede Traditional Custom and Paradox of Modernism by Egbodo Benson
Also read: “What You Should Know about the Igede Speaking Tribe of Benue”