NDI NZE: THE TIMELESS SUPREME COURT OF THE IGBOS

Date: 09-12-2020 12:24 pm (7 months ago) | Author: David Jones
- at 9-12-2020 12:24 PM (7 months ago)
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There are few societies in Igboland that have not been lost or mutilated by foreign cultures overtime, these few classes due to their distinct characteristics did not encourage adulteration and has pierced through the fog of time unhazed.
The Nze na Ozo social class is one of these groups, this religious and social group makes up the ruling council of every Igbo community. There are variations as to what this group is called across Igboland, as some parts refer to this same class as ndi Ichie and some others ( southern parts) who believe in masquerade societies call them Okonko and Ekpe.

Ndi Nze na Ozo play a number of roles in harmonizing Igbo communities, ranging from serving as spiritual heads as their name Nze (a living spirit or an ancestor) implies, to being the culture custodians and traditional leaders in their clans, to significantly playing the role of adjudicators in communal disputes, and also being the main constituents of the Eze’s (who is regarded as the highest Ozo in an Igbo community) cabinet, the Eze is also called an Igwe or Obi.

As far as communities are concerned, Ndi Nze hold the right to the ultimate judgment to any dispute involving individuals or groups in any given community. Their sitting is very similar to what is obtainable in a court of law, in a typical setting, you have the accuser (plaintiff), the defender (defendant), ndi Nze or Eze ikpe (the Jury), Eze (the overseer and moderator), ndi Aka ebe(witnesses) and ndi Amala (the general public). The witnesses brought to testify, must be present when kola is broken because the wine provided is used to swear an oath urging everybody who is going to contribute to the case to be honest and give only the true accounts of things as they witnessed it or face spiritual crises as consequences of lying.

 After every testimony by a witness, he is cross examined by the other party he is testifying against ( i.e. a witness called up by the plaintiff gets cross examined by the defendant first, and vice versa), then followed by ndi Nze (Eze inclusive in a situation where he seeks clarification from the witness,) and lastly followed by ndi amala. To have the floor, it is tradition that a speaker first hails the king (words used for this exercise varies across Igbo land), salutes ndi Nze and ndi Amala before continuing with questions or contributions.
Just like Supreme Courts, Nze na Ozo sittings is the last resort when kinsmen, Umunna (clansmen), Age grade groups and sometimes even the Eze has failed to put a case to rest, and it is also the most expensive to convene.

In Okwudor, a village in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, it costs as much as twenty-five thousand Naira (N25,000) from each of the contenders in a dispute to arrange for one hearing by ndi Nze on a case, this is aside the money submitted as ego ndebe (pledge) by the two parties, at the end of the case, the winner is refunded his while the loser forfeits theirs. Ndi Nze sits all year round as long their calendar is free and can take up to at least eight (Cool sittings before a month runs out, and a particular case can be adjourned multiple times to ensure fair hearing and conclusive judgment. It becomes clearer now what the eyes of the coiner of the Igbo proverb “Obodo adiro mma bu uru ndi nze” was seeing when he made the proverb. The proverb translated in English means “it is the gain of ndi nze when there is a continual dispute in the land.”
However, to be conferred an Nze na Ozo title is not child’s play and is a...

Editor source https://www.ojamedia.com/2020/12/ndi-nze-timeless-supreme-court-of-igbos.html

Posted: at 9-12-2020 12:24 PM (7 months ago) | Newbie