It happened about 40 years ago that the Anambra State government had approved the building of a modern spare parts market in Nnewi. The market was to be sited at the very location of the fearsome Agbọ Edo or evil forest of Edo deity of Nnewi people.
Edo, a woman from Idemili married by Agbaja, the father of Ikenga (who sired Nnewi), Oraifite and Ichi was made a goddess by her children. Edo became the most loved deity worshipped by her descendants who now populate Nnewi, Oraifite and Ichi towns. These towns are together called Anaedo meaning “Edoland”. When Edo became a goddess, she was married to Ezemewi whose first divine wife was Ogwugwu Ezeikwuabọ.
Edo deity never failed her children and worshippers as many miracles were attributed to her, which include the protection of Nnewi town from invasion during Nigeria/Biafra civil war. Edo, had been seen in apparitions to her adherents as an old woman holding a flaming broom in her right hand. She gave Nnewi laws that guided their cultural, religious and commercial lives before the albinos from Europe came to spoil everything.
Even as many Nnewi people converted to Christianity, we never were careless as not respecting “nsọ Edo” or avoiding doing sacrilegious acts outlawed by Edo deity. We gave God his due and Caesar or Edo her own.
And there was spiritual peace.
As a child, I never missed any christian or traditional ceremony in my town. That was why I grew up respecting Jesus and never abused Edo and other Nnewi deities. I didn’t want to be caught in their fight.
Nnewi was in this kind of religious equilibrium, when the contract of an ultramodern market was awarded an Nnewi born contractor.
The contractor moved to site to clear the gaddam forest but was surprised at what he met. Bees and and angry serpents swarmed the bulldozers and earth moving equipment operators, bringing out the sprinters in them. They ran for their dear lives.
We knew that it would happen.
Upon wide consultation, elders who should know decided to proffer the solution.
It is an Nnewi belief that no deity is greater than the people that worship it. Unlike the christian God, all Igbo gods were instituted by their worshippers not the other way round. That is why Igbos can demoted or expel from their land any nonperforming god or a god who has become unreasonable with its appeasement demand or sacrifice requirements.
You can now see why no amụful Igbo or nwoke kwụ amụ would normally greet any human being the way the Yorubas greet as he doesn’t even greet Igbo deities kneeling or bowing down. Also, you can see why an Igbo man would rise against his boss or a leader others fear or regard as a god.
Nnewi people believe that any physical property a deity owns was given to her by her worshippers hence the saying that “ọ bụ mmadụ sị Edo nwelu Nkwọ” meaning that “Edo market or Nkwo Edo is so named because Nnewi people dedicated the market to Edo shrine”. In other words, Nnewi people can decide to dispossess Edo of the market!
It must be emphasised that no one man or pastor can disposes a deity of its dominion of her possession. There must be a consensus by all the concerned persons or their family representatives for the dispossession to be effective.
Therefore, when the contractor met the demands of all the isi obis of Nnewi or the first borns of the villages that make up Anaedo, they converged at the precinct of the Edo evil forests and the Igwe Nnewi holding a machete on his hand said, “Edo, your children want to use this forest to build a market for the use and glory of Nnewi”. He then cut off a shrub.
The three heads of the other villages in Nnewi followed suite and cut a shrub each from the evil forest and the contractors proceeded to clear the once revered forest also known as Agbọ Edo without recording any serious incident.
I don’t know how I could tell many Igbo friends who waste money and prayers in bringing one man of God or the other trying to sack entrenched deities or ancestral spirits their ancestors instituted ages ago. They lack the ancestral knowledge which I now lay bare.
A family desirous of sacking a menacing deity or familiar spirit should first have a family meeting in which all the men must be represented. At least, one member from each family block must be in attendance. Anyone who disagrees should be persuaded or cajoled to give consent. If a father says “no”, the should convinced to say “yes”. You must secure a “yes” vote from each man’s house for the dispossession or casting out to be effective.
That of a town requires the consent of the village heads for a deity to be sacked.
When there is an agreement to sack or dislodge a deity or familiar spirit, even an apprentice spiritualist or a learning man of God can conduct the sacking rites without any resistance from the condemned deity or spirit. They too are emotional. They would feel sad and deflated when they are cast out properly and they must obey the quit order.
Nnewi people hire and fire their deities. If a deity needs to be relevant, it has to be up and doing otherwise it stands the risk of being replaced or de-goded.
What most men of God don’t know or have failed to tell their customers is that only a landlord can give a valid quit notice. The deities and menacing spirits know that too. That’s why they return to base when they are cast out in a wrong way or without appropriate approvals.
By Anayo M. Nwosu