IKA PHILOSOPHICAL/CULTURAL WISDOM: COMPETITIVE IKA WORLD
Since ages in Ika, no one person or group of persons acquires too much control over the life of others. There is a distinction of age, sex, and wealth, but the Ika philosophical ideology gives to all its citizens equal opportunity to achieve success. The Ika village government gives much latitude to the youth whereby ability, rather than age, may qualify one for leadership. They recognize that a child who washes his hands clean deserves to eat with his elders, eka nwata nwunchan, oson ndichen ri nni.
This makes the Ika World a highly competitive one. It fosters a socio-political system, which is conciliar and democratic. For instance, forward-moving and talented young man who can acquire wealth and ‘convert it into the traditional value status symbol, such as title taking or other noticeable achievements, is allowed to wield political power over his peers and some of his elders. Ika society from time, offers alternative prestige goals and paths to fame. Leadership can be achieved on a competitive basis in such areas like priesthood, farming, trading, icha efa, igu uzun, etc., which are among the avenues to status or rank. These occupations are not hierarchically ranked, and distinction in one field is as good as in another.
Apart from the traditional rulers, Obis, whose rulership are hereditary in Ika, and believed to be ordained by Providence, the other leaders are not born. The Ika people say, onyę rę iwe wu Oba “One who is in one’s home is an Oba”. In its proper context, this means that a dictatorial leader in Ika is inconceivable. A leader may be a dictator if he likes, but his leadership must be restricted to his household. As long as a leader behaves in making it possible for everyone to advance, so long, he remains an ideal leader. This is only when a leader enjoys the support and respect of his followers. Dwelling units in Ika have been towns or small village-groups in which leader operates. His ability to influence any other similar unit is minimal. And often, each village-group is suspicious of, and may be hostile to, the neighbouring village groups.
How Ika People Earn Their Livelihood
Occupationally, the people of the ika World have a root crop economy. Varieties of yam, cassava and cocoyam are the chief staples and provide the bulk of the population with most subsistence needs. No meal is considered to be complete without at least, one or two of them. The staples have high yield, which is offset to some extent by their long growth period. Their profitable contribution requires abundant land and cheap labour. Other crops melon, maize, okro, pepper, tomatoes, pumpkin, sugar cane, and other vegetables are also cultivated. Other soup materials are ujujun, oziza, utęzin, ofigbon, agbolo, azun, orioma, etc. Some of the inhabitants engage in livestock farming – goats, poultry, pigs, dogs and before now, cows were kept. Some keep them as a sign of prestige. They are also useful when they enter the agriculture through farmyard manure they provide. They are important source of wealth when sold for cash. Their demand for use in sacrifices is great.
In the olden days, agriculture was the first and principal means of livelihood of the Ika man. But nowadays in Ika World, there is hardly any single way in which the people earn their living. For most people, agriculture is the principal means, and it may for long continue to be so. Infact, the Ika people derive their livelihood from the soil. This is why today, no-matter the profession of an Ika man at home, if he has no farm, he does not feel satisfied. Since the advent of the Whiteman and the craze for white-collar jobs, there is a flight from the land by a few others – a flight due not to disdain or disrespect, but to the poor returns it offers. Those who cling to the land do supplement their earnings from other sources like trading, paid labour, livestock tenancy, handicraft, etc. The educated Ikas have entered the professions and white-collar jobs; others are successful business men. Although politics is creating a new industry, engineering, law, medicine, education and business administration, provide a livelihood for Ika professional people, and these frontiers are rapidly increasing.
The Prestige and Influence of an Ika Town
In those days, before contact with the Europeans, the prestige and influence of any Ika town was measured by the strength of its able-bodied men who might be be called upon in defense of the town, its ‘diplomacy’ in dealing with its neighbour, its access to long distance trade routes, the power of its oracles, the importance of its market-place, and the degree of its craft specialization.
But today in Ika World, there is an important shift in what was necessary to make a town ‘to get-up’, that meant to get the community developed and talked about. Now, to belong to a forward-looking town is a source of pride to the home people and the ‘sons abroad. To suggest how a town can ‘get up’, and to help it to realize this goal is to be a good citizen. Community spirit has been very strong among the Ika people from time. The individual is now better aware of his dependence on his kin group and his community. He also realizes the necessity of making his own contributions to the group to which he owes so much. His concern for the progress of his town makes him loyal to it because it is his ultimate desire to return to his village after earning money elsewhere.
There is now consensus among more Ikas that education is the key to progress. In Ika World of the present day, schools, colleges, maternity centres, health centres, electricity, pipe-borne water supply, and hospitals, are the new symbols of progress. A village, which aspires to ‘get up’ now, must acquire these new symbols of status within its fence. They represent community development, the result of voluntary community action, for which the Ika are ready to pay in cash and kind.
Towards the achievement of such goals, nowadays, an Ika man’s beliefs about his child’s rearing should be bound up with beliefs about life and how to sustain it. Family should continue to a passion in Ika World. There should be a strong loyalty to family and village, which brings the urban dweller to his home village for feasts, elections, marriages and funerals. The urban dwellers generally should also select a dwelling place in the spheres of the extended family, and by maintaining contact with village life in this way, he is able to retain Ika traditional values, mores and folkways. The technique he adopts in bringing up his children, his values and beliefs, will reflect his family background. Living in the urban area will certainly change some of his values and beliefs, but such change will by and large, affect his attitude towards fads and fashions.
Instruments of Government
Of all the eleven Kingdoms that make up Ika World, only Idumuesah Kingdom has no hereditary kingship institution, but Okparanship system of rulership. The other ten Kingdoms have each a divinely ordained king. All the Kingdoms had age grade associations, title-making societies, Idibie, Osigu, Iheren, Okoeduale, Imuadan, women groups, oracles, as the traditional instruments of government. The use of oracles in the administration of Ika in the olden days was very significant.
Ika oracles are deities and are sometimes powerful spirits, which were institutionalized by a community to serve as a medium by which hidden knowledge and Divine Will could be ascertained. The Ika oracles Aki of Emuhu, Odele of Owa, Ndiken Ozun Idumu ofun and Aluobu in Oyoko, Onicha of Umunede, Ajah and Nkata of Ute-Okpu, Efi, Igbanwu, Araba-a, Edofi, Mkpitime, Odu-uku, Ovia, Ogieze, Uroko, etc. had their judicial role as the final court of appeal in the different parts of Ika land. The common characteristics of the Ika oracles were their secret operations, the institutionalization of an “intelligence service’ and the attraction of clients through a chain of contact agents. Their geographical conditions indicated a regional influence or share of authority.
Oracles were competitive and their clients could choose which one to consult. The oracles’ verdict seemed to confirm popular opinions and prejudices, and to shift the burden of making difficult but necessary decision from the human to the spiritual domain. The reputation of an oracle depends the quality of its intelligence service. The intelligence officials were men who had much contact in those areas where their oracle was most influential. They were most knowledgeable about local and foreign affairs, and had means of investigating doubtful cases. Their ‘feel’ for local opinions and prejudices was nearly perfect. Since clients must be ‘sponsored’, it was not difficult to ascertained through the relays of sponsors or contact agents, what the problem was.
The role of each traditional instrument in the political process of a given village-group could differ slightly. But there emerged a general pattern of political process, which was shared by all Ika Kingdoms. Two layers of political structure might be distinguished in traditional Ika setting – the village and the village group. At the village level of government, which varied in size and population, the accepted practice was direct democracy, a system which has survived the British contact. At the village-group (town level), a representative system was adopted; equality among the associating villages was maintained through the principle of equal ‘sharing of kola’ and ‘equal contribution of material resource’ needed for the survival of the group. Each village was autonomous and sovereign in most matters affecting it. The village was further segmented into a number of lineages and each lineage segmented into major, Umu nedi, and minor Umu nne, sub-lineages.
The picture of the Ika political community, which emerge from these settings was one that was territorially small enough to make direct democracy possible at the village level, as well representative assembly at the village-group level. This was government, in which the principle of equality was respected in which the use of force was minimal or absent, in which they were leaders rather than rulers. In this circumstance, political cohesion was achieved by rules rather than by law and by consensus rather than dictation.
As a person that is nurtured and nourished with the ontology of forces and the doctrine of psychic empiricism, Ika people are either rightists or leftist. They belong, by orientation to the centre of gravity. As the domicile of centrist, the Ika political culture is allergic to extremism. “Anyone, such as the typical Ika person who has gone through the orientation of psychic empiricism and the ontology of forces is a sea of stability in an ocean of turbulence. For, he has learnt the art of maintaining a delicate balance between the contending and conflicting forces of the universe. Such a person has ascended the pedestal of global humanism and can be trusted to regulate motivate and assign men and women their rightful place in the scheme of things”.