Ogwashi-Uku leadership system is famed for being fundamentally based on the Diokpa Leadership. This is Age-based leadership in which the oldest person in any group automatically becomes the head and leader.History has it that the Diokpa leadership was formally introduced by Adaigbo in getting the early settlers in Ogwashi-Uku community organised. He convinced them that “anya ka wa ji ama oka cha aku”!The use of age as base of seniority may have been old in Igboland and other lands but it was noted to be one show of wisdom by Adaigbo against which the elders of the time chose him to be the Democratic/Executive leader of the community.Adaigbo did not let his later recognition as Democratic/Executive leader of the people to get into his head as to upturn the Diokpa leadership. Rather he institutionalized it such that every family structure in the kingdom has a Diokpa as the leader. In fact the statement “Diokpa uno ubi adi ako” meaning that in every gathering there must be a Diokpa (head – oldest person).Adaigbo introduced the Diokpa leadership for peace and order. It is believed that any people that recognize, regard and respect the Diokpa leadership enjoys peace and order. Other leadership systems can be introduced without compromising the Diokpa leadership. In fact, when all other systems fail, the Diokpa leadership becomes the stabilizing factor.Hence, in Ogwashi-Uku, every Ogbe, Ebo, Idumu, Ezi na Uno, call it what you will, every family structure has a Diokpa. It has been so institutionalized such that clubs, associations and even informal groups identify, recognise and respect the oldest person among them at any time who they call the Diokpa. He often breaks the kolanut (to pray) before the commencement of meetings and occasions. Hence the Diokpa is considered the spiritual head in Ogwashi-Uku leadership system.THE STOOL/SEAT OF THE DIOKPAOnce the family or group gathers and the Diokpa is identified, one thing used to recognise and respect the position is his seat or stool. The Diokpa often operates from a strategic position from where he presides over the gathering.THE OFO OF THE DIOKPALike every office holder, the Diokpa of every family is entitled to a symbol of authority. This symbol is called OFO. The OFO of every Diokpa is both spiritual and material. The spiritual Ofo is the natural authority he wields out of the fact that he is the oldest man in the family/group. It is like a “cross” in his face.The material is a physical object he may wield to evidence his authority. The object is often in form of Otulaka (local flute), rod, etc. Some fanatical Christian Diokpas use Bibles, Rosaries, Cross etc. In whatever form it takes the object called OFO must command respect and honour of the people. In fact the material OFO instills fear in offenders and is not often displayed at every gathering. Any time the Diokpa brings out his OFO a decision that bothers on truth is necessary and all contributors are warned.Every Diokpa determines the nature of his OFO. It is not determined by the ancestors or his subjects even though he can be counselled. So a Christian Diokpa who refuses to use an object like a Flute or rod as his OFO but uses a Bible or Cross may not be denied being the Diokpa as long as he remains the oldest man in the family. It will be difficult for any sensible junior to take the seat of the Diokpa while he lives and attends meetings.THE NZEThe Nze is a collection of Ofos of Diokpas who have headed a family over time. It is believed that the joint spiritual strength of the Ofos of all past Diokpas shall empower a new Diokpa in his leadership. Hence the Nze of a people.A Diokpa does not own an Nze. The Nze belongs to the family because it is considered a reposition of past wisdoms or ancestral powers of the family. The NZE is often kept away in a secured place in the Ogwa (palace) of the Diokpa. No one tampers with it unless authorised by the Diokpa.A Diokpa who out of religious fanaticism refuses to perform traditional rites of “Ibu Nze” (inheriting the Ofos of past Diokpas) may not be denied leadership as he only refuses the inherent wisdom of the ages. After him, the next Diokpa can inherit the Nze and continue the tradition.Like the OFO, the Nze which is several Ofos bound together instills fear in offenders. When truth is demanded in a case, the Diokpa calls everyone to order by reminding them that they speak before the Nze. The physical Nze may be away in a corner of the Ogwa but the Diokpa embodies the Nze spiritually. Hence sometimes the Diokpa is referred to as Nze.A DIOKPA WITHOUT NZEA Diokpa is the oldest member of the family. It is earned by age. It is determined by paternal relationship. Hence sometimes it is said that the members of the family are blood brothers.Tradition exists for peace and order. If tradition permits that a child earns paternal relationship in a family from ways out of biological paternity, then if he is denied Diokpaship at old age, the denial is intended to breach peace and order.A person born into a family by a daughter initiated into manhood (Iwachi unor) in a home that didn’t have sons has every right of paternity like another person from a man in another home. So it is wrong to deny him Diokpa of the family because of the form of his paternity. He remains a member of the family and no junior shall have right to break kolanuts over him!At worst, he shall operate as DIOKPA without an Nze but guided by the wisdom of his own age! But Diokpa cannot be denied him!OTHER FACTSThe OFO is often made of wood. Over time most are eaten up by termites when gathered as NZE and kept away for a long time. Some things are used to preserve them sometimes but nobody goes to inspect the items except the Diokpa. In fact the remaining items are often wrapped in an “agini” (mat) and carried to the new place of the new Diokpa. So what really people see as Nze is the packaged Agini of OFO remnants and not the collection of all past Ofos.DIOKPA AND IBU NZETo be Diokpa is different from IBU NZE. To be Diokpa is a natural award by virtue of age. IBU NZE is a ceremony to inherit the wisdom of past Diokpas. There is no choice in being a Diokpa but there is choice in IBU NZE. Yet there is no wisdom in a Diokpa refusing to perform the IBU NZE because it is a significant process in the tradition which does not entail worship of any idol (unless the Diokpa is an idol worshipper by choice) but simply taking over baton of leaderships.A good Catholic Priest once advised a Diokpa to go observe the tradition of taking authority (IBU NZE) which God had granted him by giving him long life and later come to the Church for blessing and Thanksgiving. The Nze does not stop a Christian Diokpa having the Bible as his own OFO for ruling his people which will later add to the Nze the next Diokpa shall inherit. All that is necessary is that the subjects respect and regard the Bible or whatever as symbol of the spiritual authority of the Diokpa.

Elue Adigwe

Readers Comments (2)

  1. Chief Emeka Ekwenuya January 19, 2021 @ 4:55 am

    This is commendable.

  2. Thanks brother for this history, for many of my kinds who really don’t understand it, can now get it right. Thanks once again


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