UMUOMAKU, MY HOME, MY PRIDE.

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This is a story about a village;
This is a story about my country home
This is a story about Umuomaku from my eyes.

I wasn’t born in Umuomaku but Umuomaku heard the day I was born.

My earliest memories of Umuomaku are filled with long trees, mud houses, traditional lamps/candles, clay pots, bird chirps, calabashes, masquerades and loads of other beautiful things.

A picture of a mud house in Umuomaku

We used to travel to Umuomaku every Christmas and some Easter holidays but Umuomaku is and always would be more fun during the ‘mass return’, which is usually after every two years from the last one.

I’m not so sure but I think ‘The Mass Return’ was initiated considering economic situation of some families thereby giving them the opportunity to save and return at least, once in 3 years.

We never missed any Mass Return…
Back then, my parents used to ask us our preferred dates and it always fell between the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of December. The 22nd always came up tops ‘cos that meant we would stay a little longer in Umuomaku.

Driving into Umuomaku

Travelling from Aba to Umuomaku takes about 3 ½ hours and once we drove into the compound, Nne’s (Grandma) voice always welcomed us with the words “Fa abata go oo” (They’ve arrived) and then, our “already arrived” cousins will rush out to hug you. Hmmm…..We are all grown now and we no longer get that sort of hug (maybe a BB smiley for hug). Sometimes I think growing up sucks!

Bags are moved from the car(s) into your section of the house as most extended families stay(ed) together in mini houses in the same compound or in houses not so far from each other as people from your “Umunna” (Kindred). Though tradition says that people of the same kindred are meant to stay close by and No, you cannot marry each other, Yeah, even if he or she is hawt like that☹.

Back then, there was no borehole in the compound and just because we needed to clean the rooms we immediately had to rush to any of the streams “Ngene Ocha, Akara or Mmiri Igwe” to fetch water.

I love the stream most importantly, I loved the multi-functional use of the stream; bathing, washing and even fetching drinking water, different people came to the stream at the same time to get water for different reasons. My friends back in the city always worried about water diseases and all the issues of today but I always quoted this saying that “a flowing river does not pass you twice”. So all these fears never really affects anyone.

Road to Ngene Ocha

People in the Ngene Ocha river

Nne once warned me that anyone who killed a fish in the “Ngene Ocha” would face the wrath of the river. It would visit your house and will not leave until you appease the gods. I never tried and will never try that.

Celebrations……….
First day of arrival was always filled with different stories and these stories are shared with our favorite delicacy “Ji ahuru na oku” (Roasted yam) eaten with “Ukpaka” straight from “Odo” (mortar) under the tree with “Npa na aka” (Local lamp) providing lighting and then “Mmanya Nkwo” (Palm wine) is used to wash it down.

Npa na aka (Local lamp)

Mortar

Yam Barn (Oba Ji)

The morning after a night of “Mmanya Nkwo” starts with going to the stream and coming back to meet a breakfast of “Abacha na Aki oyibo” (Cassava flakes and Coconut) or “Akpu na Ofe Ora” before heading out to watch “Nmowu” (masquerade) in the field.

Aki (Palm Kernel Nuts)

The masquerades in Umuomaku are believed to come out from Ant Hills and women are not allowed to look at them directly. Trust its a fearful sight to behold as a man, and once I swear I nearly wet my pants just starring at it. Its like it starred into you soul, judging you for some wrong doing or another. Almost like approaching a “god” of sorts.

Ojukwu masquerade of Umuomaku

The masquerades goes about with young men that hold the “Utali” (whips) and before you can do that, you have to go through an initiation rite called “Izi mmadu nmowu”.  The Izi Mmadu Nmowu rite equips you with the secrets surrounding the masquerade (making you like almost a semi or demi “god”) and that automatically qualifies you as an adult but such secrets are not to be shared with a woman or another man.

Another masquerade

Like they say “Ana ha ano ofu ebe enene muowu” (One does not watch the masquerade from one spot) so this takes us from one field to another and by the time we got home we would be tired but trust Nne to present us with “Ji na Mmanu” (White yam & Red oil) straight from the  “Oba ji” (Barn) served in a big tray for all but when we got older we started stopping over at Mama Emeka’s Point & Kill joint for “Azu ndu” (Fresh fish pepper soup).

“Azu ndu” (Fresh fish pepper soup)

Our stay at Umuomaku was always very interesting, with various activities lined up:

24th December = Meeting Umuagbogho /football competition in the evening.

25th December = Church service and masquerade dance /football competition in the evening. Oh Christmas day. I loved “popping the tags” off my Christmas clothes and heading out to the church with my toy gun filled with all sorts of coloured lights. As kids, we usually spent a greater part of the service outside the church “showing off” our Christmas clothes. 🙂

26th December= Umuomaku day. People based in different towns like Lagos, Onitsha, Aba, Enugu, etc will come together at the village square with their dance groups to compete for Igwe’s grand prize.

27th December=UPU (Umuomaku progressive union) meeting.

28th -31st December = Village meeting/kindred meeting/ football competition.

My most interesting night in Umuomaku has always been the night of December 31st. We prepared for this night specially.  We equipped ourselves with loads of “banga” also known as fireworks from Aba, we prepared for the night like soldiers. It’s also special because we had the opportunity to hang out with babes AT NIGHT.

Dark night in Umuomaku

“Uka Abali” (Night service) starts at 10pm but for your presence to be noticed it was always better to stroll in around 10.30pm and then walk the entire aisle all the way to the front in search of a space to sit but more importantly to announce your presence in the church.  I can’t remember paying much attention at any of the “Uka Abali” but we all waited for the priest to shout “Happy New year” and almost immediately its past 12midnight the activities began. Outside the church is another story all together. Tyres are burnt, fireworks and knockouts compete for air space and grownups looked for babes to take to the nearest bush/dark corner or home.

People celebrate the New Year in their own special way but nothing beats New Year rice prepared with “Anu Efi” (Cow meat) bought specially from “Eke Market”.

Motor from Eke market

The concept of communal sharing comes to play on the 1st  of January every New year. The  New Year rice is something that goes round and you can visit as many people as possible and nothing stops you from eating outside your home (even though you’ve been told that the other families can jazz you).

Most people start returning to their cities of residence from the 2nd of January but for us that is the day we visit “Ikpa Nne” (Grandma’s farm) to harvest yam and other food stuff for her but the highlight was usually the Ikpa lunch of “Oka na Ube” (Corn & Pear) or in some cases “Aku na oka”.

“Ikpa Nne” (Grandma’s farm)

Ube (Pear)

Aku

I was in Umuomaku recently for my sister’s wedding and may be going home for Christmas this year but one thing is certain, I love Umuomaku, it’s my “country home” and I look forward to retiring there someday in the future….Thank you for reading.

In loving memory of Simon Igwe, Obumneme Ezenwa, Rachaeal Emeghebo and all our departed loved ones.

Tell me about your hometown.

Noble Igwe

Noble Igwe

Nobs is a SLU…shh trust fund kid who works just to exercise his body and mind. He’s “Unruly” but as calm as the “ABE” boys. Referred to as FYI (Fly, Young and Igbo) by his friends, Nobs says iT tHe wAy iT iS. Follow him on Twitter @nobsdaslushhkid Enough of the English language……..My name is Noble Igwe,go figure!

45 comments

  1. Nice read. I could relate on most fronts… I guess most Igbo families from the 80’s and 90’s had similar experiences too…
    Now I’m craving aku 🙁

  2. Beautiful.. Well written! Thank you so much for mentioning my dad! It’ll be 16 years since he passed on, next week. I’d always had a very negative opinion about you, but for this, I really appreciate you! Thank you, again!

  3. Awwwwwwwww. This must be very special to you. I miss my hometown, haven’t been there in 11 years.
    Btw, “Odo” means the same thing in Yoruba. Who’d have thunk it?

  4. Now noble dis is wat I call a masterpiece! Brilliantly written! Gosh!!! U r very good n I give up for u!!
    This is one of d best articles I’ve ever read,,I cld actually relate to it as I read. Let’s get more of dis n der’ll be no dissing from anybody! Great piece..keep it up!!

  5. From the title of this article till the first paragraph,brought tears to my eyes. I read thru d article crying. I’m lost for words…noble igwe, this is really lovely. To my late dad, Obumneme Ezenwa,though ur time on earth seemed all too brief…,for the priceless memories are a comfort now we lovingly remember u 16 years after.

  6. Gosh nwannem u just resurectd my lovely childhood memories..Growing up does suck cos rite now it wil b hard 2 really experience dis again..d 80’s nd 90’s was bliss xmas was alwais villa, now all I tink nd dream is some exotic locay..

    I want Ube….the ones on d pix r killing miiiii

    Lovely writing I must confess
    Keep it up

  7. Lovely piece. When i was younger, i enjoyed visiting my village, but for one reason, not anymore 🙁 I really liked reading about someone who appreciates his hometown.

  8. Oh! Dis is so interesting. It makes me wanna go home even before December. This is my first visit to 360nobs.com. I like wat I c.

  9. Hey Thanks for this Nobs, My mom is actually from Umuomaku but we never got to go there (think we went once) cos we always went to my dad’s village for Christmases. Now I have a bit of a feel for what it woulda been like in to Umuomaku.

  10. Ube!! I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed pear…until now!This post just reminds me of how much my dad rocks!He really encouraged us to visit home and all. But I really hated those visits cos, however coded, there was always some resurrected family drama i couldn’t care less about *sign*

    Nice article.

  11. Chai Chibuzor Imela nna.Thank u for resurrecting my childhood memories.I can relate to this article.I’m from mbaise Imo state and when i was younger (Still in naija) Mum and Dad never failed to take us there.Some of my older siblings actually choose to live and raise their families there.I’m sooo going back immediately i get back home. Nobs Nwonke oma Nno 🙂

  12. Ah! Nice one… Am still young, still go 2 d villa with my parents.. Dnt appreciate it so much sha. Maybe cos we dnt get 2 go 2 d stream nd ish… Bt then, ur villa seems 2 be a great place 2 be. Invite me? 😉

  13. Well said. Believe it or not, you succeeded in taking us down memory lane.

    Just so you know….you did good.

    NICE ARTICLE.

  14. Omgosh,surprise is an understatement here,my memories of umuomaku is almost identical to yurs,mass return,yay! Dats like d best time to go home,as for the UPU meeting,my house is still their regional meeting place here on PH…d dawn of a new year is so magical,d bangers,fireworks and all the new year greetins,so much fun,much more fun for me since my house is just at the juncton,wuld normaly just sit outside and watch people pass by wit friends and family,and o! How d masquarade whip guys who refuse to tip them…..so much fun really….dis is good article noble, I am soooo showing it to my siblings and parent..nwanne I’m proud of dat place as much as yu..I’m proud of you tooo…..I’m so ovawhelmed….yay!! Good job!

  15. I’m proud of u.I never knew great minds like u came from Umuomaku.Ur write-up made an interesting reading.U took me down the memory lane,but it’s like Umuomaku has derailed & has booked a place in the comity of failed towns!GOD bless Umuomaku.

  16. My name is chinedu chukwuemeka the son of job chukwuemeka(onyennayawuro 1 of umuomaku) in umunanbu village of umuomaku.i luv my town very much and allso will rich in agriculture,economic,culture,etc

  17. There’s no place like home..I miss the nkiri mmanwu during xmas and the uka abali. You’re good at what you do. More power to your joints. This is a masterpiece,could serve as a subpaper in one of the Year one Humanities text book in the Uni.

  18. umuomaku,,, i miss so much,, a great and happy town,,, i will not miss obigbo this year ,, noble thank so much ,, keep it on

  19. wow i love this. thank u 4 remembering me back home, i miss everything there. friends familes etc .
    i dont know what to say, but thank thank thank. that is my home town i love that place.

  20. i was very greatful when i seen my people on net or google.i thank god 4 my people nd who bring d idea of this in our village.i miss my people but by god grace i will be back home this year celebration 2012.i honour my people especially my families:chukwuma egwuekwe.God be the honour bye…

    Stainless my nickel name: i advice my people to inagage she/he son into computer . Will are into computer age now plz.

  21. Noble, great article l must confess. I am a son of the soil too. Precisely, ‘ndiocha’ the village @ the heart of the town. I have never missed the xmas in the village but for this year owing to the accident I encountered this month with my car somersaulting. Men, it’s a bizzare experience and the shock is yet to leave me. All thanks to God anyway. Meanwhile, i want to commend you for taking the bold step to x-ray the features and values of the great town ‘Umuomaku’. A step in the right direction. I adore the touch of sincerity in your article, nothing doctored or censored. It is authentic and so real. Kudos!

  22. Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!
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  23. I stumbled into this write-up by accident. I am from Enugwu-Umuonyia, the village that gets drinking water from Ngene-Ocha. Thanks for taking me down memory lane. I live in the USA and my kids are grown and I always encourage them to visit home, their roots as much as I can and they do listen to me. Hope to read more from you.

    Ichie

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