EVIDENCE OF MORALITY AND TRANSPARENT LIVING IN IKA
SOME OTHER COMPONENTS OF GOOD CHARACTER IN IKA CULTURE ARE:
Kindness involving generosity is accounted a great virtue and greatly to be cultivated. The kinds have the unfailing blessing of God and men always. The kinds unfailingly have help in times of need while the wicked do not. Though there are times when one may be involved in trouble through kindness, the Ika people believe that kindness pays in the end, whatever may be its immediate outcome. Therefore, one must go on being kind whatever happens. At the best, kindness does not kill, ohuma egbu ihian or ohuma egbu onyen mene
Abhorrence of selfishness
Ika ethics are strongly opposed to selfishness. The selfish person is held in contempt and regarded as not deserving of any help in times of difficulty. As the saying goes, “an elder who eats his food without thinking of others will bear his load home himself”. Such a person must always be left to enjoy the consequence of his selfishness.
Abhorrence of wickedness
The Ika forefather roundly condemned wickedness. The law of retributive justice operates in such a way as to bring back the reward of wickedness, not only upon the wicked, but also upon his offsprings. “The ashes blow after the person who throws them”. Ntu ehuson onyen wufune. This means that the effect of wickedness ultimately falls back upon the wicked. “He who sows the seed of wickedness, it is on his children’s heads that it will grow”, that is to say that his children will reap the harvest in suffering.
For this cause also, to demand or accept reparation from a neighbour for the loss or damage of property is considered mean and wicked. Besides the fact that such a demand creates strained relations, it breeds such bitterness in the heart in such a way that, if in future, a chance of retaliation presents itself, the situation can be terrible. Acts of cruelty usually reflect with terrible consequences upon the doer for, “he who first commits an atrocious act towards a neighbour cannot anticipate the bitterness of the revenge which will bring back retaliation”. The action of the last to retaliate is always severe, njor onyen ikpazun aka-a.
However, retaliation is forbidden because it is wrong. To retaliate is to become involved in wickedness just as much as the first offender. “If you see the corpse of the wicked and kick it, there are now two who are wicked.”
Truth and Rectitude
In Ika culture, truth and rectitude are placed very high among the essential virtues. It is believed that the truthful and upright have the unfailing support and blessing of the divinities. The Ika forefathers taught their descendants to be truthful and practise rectitude as one’s days are thus prolonged on earth. Thus, rectitude pays a good dividend. Consequently, lying and falsehood are considered damnable. In the olden days Ika, the lips of liars were carved out by way of punishment and as a warning to others.
Disapproval of Stealing
The Ika ethics forbid stealing. In the olden days, thieves were pilloried and then killed. The belief is strong among the Ika people that even if the thief escapes the notice of man, he cannot escape the judgment of God. “He who steals under concealment (secretly), even though the eyes of the earthly ruler do not see him, those of the King in heaven is looking at him”. In the olden days, the Ika people used to leave articles of food for sale at cross-roads, or by roadside without anybody to watch them. The owner had only to indicate the prices by pebble signs, and any traveller who wanted any, took what he wanted and left the price money on the stall. Neither article nor money was stolen. A hungry traveller who had no money was permitted to take of the fruits or yam of a farm provided he ate what was taken on the spot. This also applied to hungry hunters who would take yams from a barn to roast or cook to quell their hunger on a hunting expedition.
From their early age, children are rebuked and chastised for damaging or touching anything, which does not belong to them. This important item of ethic behaviour demand of children is carried on as they grow into adulthood and beyond in Ika culture.
Disapproval of Hypocrisy
This is unmanly and reprievable. A hypocrite as well as hypocrisy is known as ime ekana-e. One who moves zigzagly, one whose character is unpredictable; one who often says one thing and does another, a person who is falsely pretending to possess virtues, beliefs, etc. Ika culture discourages such character.
Disapproval of Betrayal
This is an act of, for instance, giving information about someone to an enemy. Betrayal could be a form of a costly disappointment and it can do a lot of harm to peoples’ ego. People react differently and could brood over outcomes of betrayal for some time. When they seem to get over the betrayal, it would affect other relationships they might go into in future. For example, people who suffer betrayal from others sometimes make their mates pay for what they suffered in the past. Under such a circumstance there are some who would never take future relationships serious due to the betrayal suffered in the past. The act of betrayal can, in most cases, be settled through retributive justice; but in extreme cases, the culprit might cover up the shame by committing suicide, or by committing murder, or brutalizing the person, etc. Some people may consider such act heroic when viewed along the Ika saying that “death is preferable to public ridicule”, Onwu ka mma kare ihien iferen.
Protection to Women
It is the responsibility of an Ika man to give protection to the woman as the weaker sex. When a man and a woman walk together, the woman was allowed to go in front and the man behind her so as to afford her protection and defence should there be a sudden danger. In any crisis, women were sheltered and afforded the first chance of escape, if need be. It is mean and immoral to cause an outrage upon a defenseless woman. “A man who fails to respect the woman’s feminine virtues endangers his own relationship with God”.
Treatment of the Elders
Some of these elders are usually old and senile. But despite their senility, they are supposed to be treated with marked respect and their words listened to and obeyed. They are unable to win their own bread by their physical exertion. They are entirely dependent upon succor of their children, grandchildren and very close relations. In the olden days, each time they moved out, they each had a goatskin bag, ekpa esusu, which they carried with them to hold the gifts which they hoped to receive from well-wishers.
As the theoretical owners of their compound properties, and the rituals and sacrifices which they perform for the compound inmates, they in return, receive respect, reverence, obedience and goodwill of the members of the compound in many ways. For instance, the members of the compound worked in their farms for one day in the Ika four days week depending on the village or town. Nowadays, they may receive from their sons abroad heads of tobacco, some machetes, files and money to hire labour.
The Ika forefathers impressed on their descendants that the fundamental moral laws should be kept strictly; and should anybody break any of the laws secretly, he should be punished directly by the spirit responsible for the offence unless the person fulfils certain customs according to the cultural demands of the kingdom concerned. If anyone is caught committing any of the offences, he will be duly penalized according to the laws of the land to appease the spirits or the ancestors as the case may be. “Killing of goat” (igbu ewu) for instance, was employed to deter a maturing child who abused or beat his parents. The killing of a she-goat (odegbe) in the shrine by the elders was a deterrent measure since the offender could not afford to buy goats from time to time.
In order to carry the youths along with this orientation in the olden days, the Ika forefathers employed real traditional education in morality which promoted ethical values, without overlooking the fact that the family was the first and probably the longest school any individual could attend.
Protection of Family Morality and Customs of the Ika People
An Ika family, in the preparatory stage, instills good values in children and ensures that they are internalized and made to grow up to be morally strong and socially bred. In the olden days, parents rose up to their responsibilities over their children and wards. They owed the young ones a great measure of parental care, which is grossly lacking today.
Since all ages, the children are taught that the family should be united in its steadfastness and uncompromising stance. There is nothing that matters more than the family name, and it must not be soiled. The enduring ethos is that a good name cannot be bought with money neither can it be sold for money. Hence in Ika, individual’s consciousness of his family name serves as checks to his excesses. The family imposes great control over its members. Thus, the status of the individual is the status of his family. In the olden days, property was thought of as a family possession.
Generally, in the olden days, there was less individual questioning and rebellion. Marriage itself was a duty to the family, a responsibility of the individual for the maintenance of its name and property, often determined by the family, for its members as whether, and whom the individual should marry. The morals were, to a large extent, the morals of family cohesion. Deviation from the established code, especially in sex relations, was less tolerated since this was an offence against the unity and function of the family.
To be continued…