The Traditional Ruler of Enugwu-Ukwu Community of Anambra, Igwe Ralph Ekpeh, has described old age as a ‘scarce commodity’, which calls for celebration and Thanksgiving to Almight God.
Igwe Ekpeh said this on Saturday in Enugwu-Ukwu, Njikoka Local Government Area of the State, during the community’s fourth edition of celebrations for its Octogenarians (people aged between 80 and 89 years).
Ekpeh said the most interesting aspect of the celebration in the community, tagged “ILU OGBO 2023”, is that his wife, Dora, and himself are both Octogenarians and are involved.
He said as ILU OGBO, which translates to “getting of age”, progressed, the people would notice the spirituality the event connotes, and the social implications.
“The celebration is not an annual event, but comes up every three years, for those who are in that age bracket,” he said.
Ekpeh observed that some of his classmates, “the boys and girls we grew up together, our colleagues in our different offices, in our villages,” are no longer alive.
“That is why I say that old age is a scarce commodity. It calls for thanksgiving to God because everyday we live on earth, is a special privilege from the Almighty King,” he said.
Ekpeh added that the community adopted “ILU OGBO” as a cultural addition to entertain and give glory to God.
“During our first celebration of ILU OGBO, we invited Igwe Eze Iweka of Obosi, who said the action had lived with them for 300 years.
“No wonder, in Obosi, you can see Octogenarians, nonagenarians (90 to 99 year olds) and even centenarians (those who have reached 100 years).
“In psalm 50, verse 14, the psalmist said, ‘make thankfulness your sacrifice to God Almighty’,” he said.
Ekpeh said “every three years when people my age celebrate longevity of life, it is our collective effort to thank God as a community not only for many other things He has done for us but for life of longevity specifically.”
He said that it is also a recognition of Elders in our community, though this act is yet to be imbibed and practiced and hope with time it would be internalised.
He said that in the ten commandments, “God enjoined us to obey our parents so that our life would be long, what a beautiful order with a wonderful promise.
“Leviticus 19 verse 32 says stand up in the presence of the elderly and show respect for the aged, this is a sound doctrine which I will like our community to practice.
“It has to be noted that when one attains this age, the person should be exempted from any fines, levies and taxation of any sort,” he suggested.
Ekpeh said having celebrated ILU OGBO Enugwu-Ukwu for 12 years, it is expected that the attendant outcomes should be noticed in the language, behaviour and relationship between community members.
He said that in this jet and internet age, young people, for little mistake, abuse Elders by writing unprintable things against them, warning that “this has to stop.”
“It is not valour to disrespect Elders through abusive languages, uncouth behavior, it is against Divine Will,” he said.
Prof Joseph Ikechebelu, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, who was a guest speaker at the event, said Aging entailed “Countless blessings from God,”, indicating that the topic was well fitted for the ceremony.
Ikechebelu said that Aging is about growing old, which is a huge blessing to mankind.
He said that there are three types of Aging, namely Biological, Psychological and social Aging.
“Biological aging deals with the way human body changes overtime for example immunity system changes, while Psychological aging is related to behaviour and how we react to the environment. Social aging deals with the social habits and behaviour change over time of the person amongst other factors,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) named some of the female celebrants as Mrs Monica Nwegbene, and Mrs Caroline Dunu.
Observers said the Celebration has created a forum for people to appreciate their parents while alive, than the huge financial wastage seen during burials.
NAN further reports that a total of 24 persons were celebrated and were called Oke Ichie and Oke Nne (18 of them men and six females).
The event, witnessed by Otu Ofu Eze Royal Society, Umunri Palace, Enugwu-Ukwu Ugosimba Sister’s Association of Nigeria, and also had other visitors from across the state.
A display of cultural dance from the community offered a great fun to the people in attendance.
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