Sunday 21 July 2013

Dying For Their Wives: Nigerian Communities Where Husband Is Struck Dead Over Spouse's Adultery

Via - The Sun 

The biblical saying that the sins of the father shall be visited on their sons is a present day phenomenon in Ihechiowa and Ututu, two neighbouring communities in Arochukwu local government area, Abia State which have some things in common. One of these is how an adulterous woman is punished. Well, the irony is that, it is not the wife that gets punished for her adulterous undertaking. It is her husband.

He dies, if he continues in the marriage. But, according to the communities, the right to punish resides with the deity. As the communities claim, the deity first exposes the infidelity and the man, together with the clan, takes it from there. Punishment is applied only when the woman involved, fails to confess and performs some traditional rites.

First to speak on the issue is 96- year old Eze Arunsi Ota, Ezeogo of Umuchiakuma, Ihechiowa with his nephew, Prince Kalu Uche Ota, 32, a bricklayer. Also, in an interview, the traditional ruler of Amaeke Ututu, Ezeogo Nchehe Okeke in company of the palace secretary, Godwin Kalu Nwankwo with the palace treasurer, Cletus Ulu Ekea, reveals how the deity works, kills, its appeasement, and futile prayers by Christians in the community to destroy it.

While the monarchs were emphatic that prayers can never destroy the covenant that binds every married woman in the communities, some pastors think other wise, claiming that their prayers had destroyed the potency of the deity. They all spoke to VINCENT KALU AND CHIOMA IGBOKWE. Excerpts of Eze Arunzi Ota's interview:

We heard that a deity in your community kills a man over wife's infidelity?

Yes, it is so


Our ancestors were very wise and foresighted. They wanted to preserve the dignity of womanhood. In some places men kill their wives because they suspected that she was committing adultery but here, if your wife commits adultery, the deity reveals it immediately to you.

How does it work?

Once a woman is married to a man from Ihechiowa and the bride price paid, no man shall have sex with her. The law goes even beyond having sexual intercourse; it also forbids any other man to walk across or over the woman's legs when she stretches her legs while sitting. That is, no man crosses over her legs or embraces her, touches her breasts or slaps or touches her buttocks.

Once a woman commits extra marital affairs, our ancestors would appear to the husband in a dream and reveals to him what his wife had done. Such signs and revelations are so real for the man to understand.

If he were wise, he would call his wife and ask her to explain her movements and if she is adamant, then based on the revelation or sign, which is so convincing, the husband should put it before his wife that she had contravened the law of the land regarding marriage.

If she said 'no' that she didn't do such thing, the man should stop eating whatever she cooks and in this direction, demands she should swear before the deity to prove her innocence. If she swears before the deity, the man is free to eat whatever food she prepares, and is free from any calamity including death.

It is then left for the gods to decide the innocence of the woman. In this issue, the gods cannot lie. Some women out of shame and instead of owning up to their sins had tried to prove obstinate by daring the gods and paid dearly through mysterious deaths.

However, if the woman in question owns up to the act and performs the sacrifice both of them are free from the wrath of the gods and it is left for the husband to decide whether to continue with the marriage or not.

There is this couple from our community, who resides in America. The wife had extra marital affairs and as usual our ancestors appeared to the man in dream and revealed to him what his beloved wife had done. The man knew that he was close to his grave and confronted his wife and his wife admitted to the act. Considering the distance, the woman's family came here and performed the necessary sacrifices before the husband was free from death. The woman confessed to him that she had sexual affairs with a Nigerian medical doctor.

What sacrifice is often made to atone the sin of the woman?

To atone for the sin of the woman; she would bring two fat live goats - a he and she goats. The he goat is for her, while the she goat is for her partner in sin.

The partner in sin is absolved of any punishment, that is, the ire of the gods doesn't descend on the man that had sex with a married woman from our community. So the poacher walks free. It is the woman who performs the sacrifice and if for any reason, her husband contributes or gives her money for the sacrifice, the man is then guilty and would die.

The law is binding on any foreign woman married to a man from our place, so long as the bride price was paid.

It is unfortunate that some of our men who had foreign wives died as a result of their wives' adultery because these foreign wives don't believe this covenant. After these foreign wives committed adultery and as usual our ancestors revealed it to their husbands in various ways and since they are tied to their wives aprons or their wives didn't believe this is real, they continued in the marriage and finally paid the fatal price.

Men who mostly fall victim are those who so much trust their wives, that is why, when their wives fouled and it is revealed to them, they put it aside as not true but the wise ancestors would go further to establish the truth.

There is no escape for the woman whose husband died because of her adultery. The issue is that even as the ancestors killed the man for the sin of his wife, and if the wife does not perform the necessary sacrifice, the ancestors will equally kill her in due time.

How can the community progress if the deity after killing the man later comes after the wife, leaving orphans?

If the woman had owned up to her sin, the deity would not have killed her husband or she. It was not the deity that killed them; it was stubbornness, which is also witchcraft.

What is the origin of this deity?

Nobody could say when the covenant was instituted. My grandfather told me that even his own grandfather didn't know when it started and how it came about. They couldn't trace its origin, meaning that it could be as old as the community. It could have been centuries before the whiteman arrived the area in the mid 1800.

The reason why it was instituted is for wives to respect their husbands and to see herself as the exclusive preserve of her husband even when their husbands are not around for years.

If this were not so, when you leave your wife and travel and by the time you come back you would find out to your chagrin that some covetous men have turned her to another thing and you would not have respect in the eyes of people or community.

Is this covenant not meant to suppress the woman?

It was not meant to suppress the woman, instead it is otherwise; meant to protect the virtue of a woman; keeping her away from living promiscuous life and preserve her dignity. The covenant doesn't have penalty for any man who commits extra-marital affairs.

How are Christians in your community feeling, can't they destroy the deity with prayers?

Nothing has been lost in the potency of the deity, and nothing would be lost. No other power can dilute its efficacy. If you had been here five days ago, a young lady with her parents came here and performed the sacrifices. Another woman few weeks ago called her parents and told them what she did and sent money to them to come and atone for her sin of adultery.

There is no way it could be destroyed. You destroy what you know where it is. We don't know where it is but we only know the alter where the sacrifice is done. It could be in the air. It is a spirit, do you catch spirit? We don't know the antidote.

There was a time the women of the community basking on the platform of women liberation and Christian women came from various parts of the country and beyond demanding that the covenant should be destroyed.

They were told that for it to be possible they would all march naked on the main road to the neighbouring town, which is about 20 kilometers and they reneged and backed out. This is not easy to destroy. They wanted to be loose and live the ways that please them to the shame of their husbands.

Those you people thought to be 'holy and born again' have also been victims. It may sound funny; a pastor's wife has also come here to atone for her extra marital sins. Another pastor's wife, who came here the other time, was because her boss in office in Umuahia touched her breast in trying to seduce her. This is sin.

In this instance, the ancestors were appearing before the lady in dream and she was having nightmares and told her husband and she came here and performed the sacrifices. Sometimes, the ancestors can appear to the wife, the husband or both. The ways of the gods are mysterious and unsearchable.

(At this point, he led Saturday Sun team to the alter, where sacrifices are offered to the deity. It consists of ancient stones of different sizes heaped together beside an Ogirishi tree trunk where he continued the interview.)

There was no power, not even prayers that can destroy the covenant power of this shrine. This is beyond Christians' prayers. The Christians in the community had at different times held vigils and prayed to destroy it but their prayers have been in vain because the God they are praying to doesn't support adultery, which is an abomination before Him. The more the churches try to pray against the deity, the more powerful it becomes.

I dare any woman, whose husband is a pastor from this community to try adultery and see if the husband would not be struck dead by the deity.

How does the deity kill?

If it is revealed to you in the dream or any other way that your wife has committed extra-marital affairs, and if you continue to eat the food she prepares you would die.

What you are supposed to do is to quarantine her, stop eating her food or making love to her until she has gone to perform the sacrifice. If you divorce her, both of you are free from death. Some times, when the sin is committed and both of you are still living together, the deity may leave two of you and go after your children, killing them one after the other, before getting to you. No one can question the way the gods decide to act or who they choose to kill. Their ways are beyond human understanding.

Are some people exempted from the covenant?

Yes, the deity will not kill some people who transgress against it. Once a woman had given birth to twins, the deity has at that moment rejected her and so no matter what she does thereafter, the deity looks elsewhere.

The only woman who can commit adultery and go scot-free is a woman who had given birth to twins. This is because it is a taboo before the deity for a woman to give birth to twins. In this case, the deity had already rejected her as normal woman and the priests would not eat or touch whatever that comes from her.

Ututu community's deity liberal

The deity of Ihechiowa and Ututu works almost the same way except that the latter's is a little liberal. Ihechiowa's deity not only kills both husband and wife it can go further to kill the children, but not so with Ututu's.

While any woman who gives birth to twins is free at Ihechiowa to commit adultery, in Ututu, it is not the same. If a mother of twins commits adultery, the husband would also die if the woman doesn't appease the gods.

This was confirmed by the traditional ruler of Amaeke Ututu, Ezeogo Nchege Okeke in this interview. Excerpt:

How does the deity operate?

If you marry, whether Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa even American, European etc, the covenant is binding, the man would be killed if the wife commits adultery and refuses to atone for her sin.

What is needed for the atonement?

To atone for the sin of adultery, the wife has to present the following; a hen, she goat, four smoked fish, native kola nuts, two gallons of palm wine, Bertola dry gin, and specific sum of money and thereafter the husband would start eating his wife's food and also starts normal relationship. He is free to continue with the marriage.

If this is not done and the man in his foolhardiness continues to eat any food prepared by his wife or makes love with her, he has dug his grave. Prayers cannot save him.

Where is the atonement performed?

Once in a year, the convent is renewed at the Achi tree called Izu Umuagbaogo.

(He led Saturday Sun to the atonement alter, beside an ancient Achi tree.)

The deity is killing men because they refuse to heed the signs shown to them over their wives infidelity.

There was this man living in Lagos, he was wise. His wife committed adultery and when he returned from work in the evening a beehive was in his sitting room. He knew it was not ordinary and called the wife, who also confessed to the act. They both came home and performed the sacrifices. He decided to call off the marriage thereafter.

There was also this woman who descended so low to have affair with her driver. Her husband had been given signs severally and he refused to do nothing and later died.

Once the woman admits to the sin it is left for the husband to go a step further to know who her partner was. The basic thing is her admittance.

What should a man do to escape death from an adulterous wife?

If the woman fails to admit her sins, the man in order to be free would pour a gouge of palm wine outside his door and say that, 'whatever that binds them together as husband and wife is severed' then he is free from the wrath of the ancestors.

A man who was living in Umuahia got a sign that his wife was into adultery and when he confronted the wife, she said it was not true and he separated from her. After awhile, her relations came to beg the man. The woman confessed to have had sex with a Reverend Father in the village. The necessary atonement was done and they started living together.

Is it not against the woman?

It protects them from all abuses and covetous men. If a man wants to take a second wife, it must be with the approval of the first wife.

The deity has provision for impotent men. If a man is impotent, his family will gather and certain sacrifices would be done and the number of children he wants to have would be agreed and his wife would be asked to use her common sense and get pregnant that, is, going to other men to get pregnant. After the agreed number of children, if she ventures out again, she has attracted the wrath of the gods and if sacrifices are not done, the husband would die.

This arrangement would not be heard anywhere as it is a very guarded secret. At no time will any member of the family raise the issue of the paternity of the children.

Is it not against Christian faith?

It is only promiscuous women who kick against it. The Bible kicks against adultery and churches preach against it, then why do you ask if it is not against Christian faith. It strengthens the faith of the Christians on this issue.

When some overzealous Christians say it is against them, I wonder why. They said they were going to destroy it, well, let them try.

They know that is impossible to remove the deity. They know the extent their faith or prayers could carry them.

Would this not deter ladies from marrying Ututu men?

Only a woman with bad intentions would be scared. Here, we have women from different parts of Igbo land, and beyond and they are not complaining. About 2003, some women under the aegis of Ututu Christians said they wanted to destroy the deity. They thought it was the ancient Achi tree and were praying for it to die. We were laughing because of their ignorance. How can you destroy what you don't know where it is?

Does Ihechiowa deity have the same origin with Ututu?

Ihechiowa deity is not the same with ours. We don't have the same origin, and so the deity doesn't have the same source.

We don't know when our ancestors instituted the covenant.

Pastors in Ihechiowa and Ututu communities react

Speaking on the deity, four pastors of Pentecostal churches in the two communities spoke under condition of anonymity for fear of physical attacks by the adherents of the deity. They were unanimous in condemnation of the tradition or covenant.

According to them, it is fettish and against biblical injunctions. When reminded that adultery is a sin against God and anything done to stop it should be commended. They said, it is a sin, but it is only God who has to pass judgement and not deity or gods.

On why the deity is still potent in spite of their prayers, they said that the power of the deity, if any, has been destroyed, adding that the priests are only deceiving the people and feeding fat on some gullible people from the communities.

How marriages of victims crashed

Dr. Ekenna Ukpabi had lofty dream of setting up a specialist hospital in Abia State. Before he disengaged from public service to set up a private hospital, he sent his wife, Joy to a university in India to study medicine and specialise in obstetrics and gynecology so that both would bring their various areas of specialisation to manage their private hospital.

For Ekenna, the hospital would be noted for excellence with him being a surgeon and his wife, a gynecologist.

That dream turned forlorn because he alleged that while in India his wife had extra-marital affairs and the deity in his community, Ihechiowa revealed this to him with a warning that an atonement must be done the moment the wife returns from abroad.

This explains why on the day Mrs. Ukpabi, now a medical doctor returned from India, the atmosphere in their home was somber instead of excitement and jubilation having been away for long.

Dr Ukpabi kept a distance from her and the following day sent for his wife's family and informed them that his wife while in India had extra marital affairs and in line with their tradition, Joy should perform sacrifice to atone for her sin or swear before the deity that the allegation was false.

However, Joy, who is not from the same Ihechiowa community reneged to perform the sacrifice or swore but maintained she was innocent of the allegation.

Ekenna being so sure of the revelation by the deity and for fear of being killed by the deity called off the marriage, his investments on Joy and vision aborted.

That was also the case with Mr. Ikechukwu Okereke from Ututu who reportedly died for shielding his wife from confessing and sacrificing to the deity.

Ikechukwu didn't have strong source of livelihood and depended on his wife to take care of the household. The wife was accused of keeping lovers and her husband was aware of her activities. When Ikechukwu became sick, the community warned him to bring his wife to confess but he shielded her. Ikechukwu died months later and the community blamed his wife and banished her.

The husband of Pastor (Mrs.) Martha was sick and when all efforts to cure him failed, his wife, secretly travelled down to the village and performed the rituals. According to Elder Aham, the pastor returned to the village to seek for help when it was obvious that her husband was about to die if she refused to confess a sin that she committed. She claimed that she did not commit adultery in the real sense but was lusting after a man.

Women express mixed feelings

Some women who spoke to Saturday Sun on the issue expressed divergent views. Mrs. Nneka Oluigbo said that she is not bothered, because it is very wrong for a married woman to seek pleasure outside her marriage. "Those who are bothered are those who cannot respect their vows at the altar. I pray that such laws be extended to other areas because adultery is on the increase especially among married men and women", she said.

Chidinma from Ihechiowa said she has sworn to remain single than marry any man from her area. "It is pure wickedness and that is why our men are so promiscuous. They know that any woman that falls into their trap has no choice but to submit. They even deprive their wives of sex. Most women in my area are sex-starved and want to free themselves from such bondage. I am not justifying or giving credit to any woman who dares sleep around, all I am saying is that if there is any law that would ban woman from sleeping around that law should also be applicable to men", she added.

Mrs. Yemi Adekunle said the morals in this country have depreciated so much that values no longer count. "Those good old days such things are done in the secret, but these days men even allow their wives to keep boyfriends or go to bed hungry. It is so bad that most women are forced to sleep around to save their jobs. I don't blame them when they refuse to marry from such areas like Ihechiowa or Ututu", she stated.

Miss Ogechi Ukandu said she doesn't believe that such a thing exists, adding "in my village Ututu, all I know is that once all those lazy men in the village are in need of celebration, they would start nosing around for issues. I insist that this is the case because I know a lot of women in my area who are into adultery and yet nothing has happened to them."

Mrs. Julie Samson also said that till date, women in Africa are slaves and tossed around. "In my area, in Nsukka, it is the man who would suddenly become sick, and if the woman does not confess, the man will die. Women these days are empowered and are ready to do what it takes to free themselves that is why there is so much increase in divorce cases in Nigeria.

"It is pure wickedness to marry a woman and deliberately refuse to care for her and satisfy her sexual desire. No one should blame such a woman if she falls easily. I rather divorce my husband to face the shame of dancing around the market to pacify the gods", she stressed.


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