A Father’s Encounter With His Christian son (4)
Uncle: Chief; are you in the house?
Papa: Please don't call me Chief. I am NZE .
Papa: They don't mean the same thing.
Uncle: Then, what is the difference between Chief and Nze?
Papa: Listen; Chief wasn't an Igbo Tradition; it was the British colonial regime that created Chiefs through which they controlled our resources and imposed their culture on us.
Papa: We had and still have Council of Elders, which is the Supreme Governing Council of every Igbo community. Then, there were/are great men who differentiated themselves in their endeavours that were/are awarded the titles of NZE and OZO etc. The rest were/are known simply as MAZI (Mr).
Uncle: NZE! Please I apologise for the mix-up; but what's the name of your NZE title?
Papa: My NZE title is ONYE N'EMERE IBEYA (The Neighbours' Helper).
Uncle: NZE! That's a beautiful name. Anyway, I want to know what you basically do at the market square.
Papa: We make our usual animal sacrifice and wine offering (libation) as performed by our forefathers, thanking CHINEKE (GOD) for His protection etc.
Uncle: What do you do when the market day falls on a Sunday.
Papa: We don't have Sunday in our Igbo Calendar. We just have 8 market days. And so, we perform our tradition irrespective of the day.
Uncle: But don’t you think; sacrifice and libation are no longer necessary.
Papa: I don't know what you mean by 'necessary'. However, we are only following the practices of our forefathers. By the way, in that your bible, didn't God direct the Jews in Numbers 28:7 to offer Him a strong drink? Is that not libation?
Uncle: Yes; but God told them how and where to offer the strong drink and perform sacrifices to Him.
Papa: Exactly! God equally told our forefathers how and where to offer Him the libation. And that's how we do it.
Uncle: But the Jews have stopped all sacrifices and libation because those Temples where they customarily perform those things don't exist anymore.
Papa: Well, if their Temples are gone, ours still exist. Must we stop performing our sacrifices to CHINEKE because the Jewish Temples are gone?
Uncle: My concern is; your sacrifice to CHINEKE may indeed be for those small gods like NJOKU and IKENGA etc.; unlike the Jews who sacrificed directly to God.
Papa: NJOKU and the rest of them are not gods but our messengers to CHINEKE (God).
Uncle: By the way, who appointed these your messengers, Africans, Ndigbo or CHINEKE?
Papa: IGBO and Africans
Uncle: But in the Bible God appointed His messengers. For instance God sent Moses to go and save the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. In fact, Moses was the go-between God and Israel.
Papa: Whoever that needs to send a message appoints the messenger. IGBO people wanted the go-between them and God, so they appointed NJOKU and others.
Uncle: I mean how can you send a message to CHINEKE through a messenger that's carved from wood that doesn't move, see, talk or hear? How do you determine if the message actually got to CHINEKE? In fact, all the messengers from God including Moses and Jesus spoke with God live and direct and people witnessed all.
Papa: But you Christians have the image of Jesus on a cross carved from the same wood like ours. Now, tell me, how do you know if God heard the prayers you prayed through that image?
Uncle: Anything you ask in Jesus' name, God will fulfil.
Papa: Well, somehow our forefathers' requests were answered because in their minds they worshiped nothing else but God.
Uncle: It seems; the intention to worship God was there, perhaps, out of ignorance Africans chose the wrong approach.
Papa: What wrong approach? Ha Ha Ha! You better remain ignorant because 'ignorance is bliss'.
...to be continued