The Agbalenze


The Ozo title (Agbalenze) is ancient and it constitutes a very important part in the administrative functions of the community because of the high religious position they occupy in ministering the spiritual needs of the people. Matters affecting traditional relegion are handled by them. In consultation with the Obi, and Ndiche, they decide measures to be imposed on any on any person who contraveanes religious rites.

They see to it that title-taking is not abused but kept attractive and dignified in order to maintain high social status in the community. They play roles in the justice of peace in their localities and their decisions are always held in high esteem.

The initial Ozo title necessary before any Ndiche title is taken, was made separately within each main kindred. Thus, an Obikporo man taking Ozo title approached the senior Ozo title man in Obikporo, and the fees were divided among titled men in Obikporo only.
But initial approval will be given. The Ozo title was a very expensive one, though payment can be spread over several years.

The Shrine

The medium by which traditional worship is performed is the ancestral shrine in a prominent place in the home. It should be noted that the structural form of the indigenous Onitsha dwelling house is patterned after the jewish style of rectangular structure with many living rooms and an open space or courtyard in the center.

In entering the courtyard, the shrine is situated in the far end of the building and placed in front Ofa mud seat called UKPO.

This style of shrine is exclusive for an Ozo titled man who is also a priest.


Osisi (Star-apple shaped sticks or staves)

This represents the staff of office like a bishop's crozier. the staves are two in number: the superior one which is bound with an iro ring and which is deposited in the family's shrine after the ozo man's death for his commemoration, the inferior on (Osisi afulu), is broken in two at the mans internment and placed on his grave to symbolise the severance of all ties with hi conferrers.

Until the inferior stave is broken, the deceased Ozo man continues to share in the ozo title fees according to his village.

Okwachi (Spiritual Vessel)

This is a great bugaboo to many Christians. The horror overhanging this item will suffer immediate dissipation when it is understood that the Okwachi contains nothing but five wooden pieces tied together and representing the Ozo man's soul. It is called Nkpuluchi and always kept white by being smeared with the native chalk to show that the Ozo man's soul must always be in a state of purity.

The Ozo man of course at the night of his initiation confronts the Nze (symbol of purity, thruth and justice) and vows to uphold these cardinal virtues in his life.

It is only at his second burial that the Nkpuluchi is smeared with blood and buried with the Igbudu (lamentation of second burial coffin of catafalque).

To emphasize the degree of purity the Ozo man must endevour to attain, it is an undefied young girl that carries the item during the initiation ceremonies. The smearing with blood and the burial of the Nkpuluchi are meant to show that the soul has returned to the Maker.

Okpulukpu (Sacred treasure wooden box)
This is used by the Ozo man for storing sundries like Kola nuts, native chalk, eagle feather and sometimes cash as no one is expected to touch.

Okposi (Six egbi sticks tied together and representing ancestors).
The Onitsha traditional religion consist mainly in communion with the spirit of ancestors to whom aspirations are made as intermediaries and to whom offerings of aliments and libation are occasionally made.

Many Ozo men no longer do this as it is ill accord with modern decency and against Christian priciples.

This is the wand of authority. It is twig from the Ofo tree.

This is the wooden figure which is buried at the second burial of a deceased Ozo man by his age-mate and it symbolises the parting of ways with the deceased.

Azuzu of lether fan
This is carried by the Ozo man for pretige. He stikes it's face on chiars before sitting down in order to cleanse the chair of any foulness and waves it occassionally to create a peaceful atmospher around him.

Eagle Feather adorning his cap
Eagle is the king of birds and it's feather never tarnishes. the feather thussymbolizes that the Ozo man must always shine with virtue. If he trangresses he must take immediate steps at self-cleansing.

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