The Polity in Traditional Edda Society (Part 2 of 3)
Town Village Group
Edda village elders deliberating on a dispute. In attendance is the Ezeogo of Edda with his cabinet (right)
The heads of the villages and their lieutenants constitute the Council of Elders of the town; with the head of the most senior village (that is the village where the founder of the town first settled) presiding. Known as “Ezeogo,” this elder presides as well over the Judicial Council, Town Assembly and religious matters (as the one who attends to the principal deities of the town). Every male adult is free to attend the town assembly.
Like at the compound and village levels, the Ezeogo does not take decisions arbitrarily and decisions – by consensus – are announced to the town through the Royal Messenger who beat the “Ikpirikpe” (Igba) round the villages constituting the town.
“Omu” is used when major decisions are being announced, and it is only the Ezeogo that has the prerogative to do that. He does this at the market or village square with the heads of the villages that make up the town (or their representatives) in attendance. At the end of the announcement, the Ezeogo throws out a leaf of the Omu leaf on the Nkwa which stands in the village square (Ama Ogo). This is an indication to all members of the village that an important announcement has been made and in this way the message is passed on to everybody in the town.
Decisions and Decrees that the Omu is usually announced with include:
- Declarations of war
- Harvesting of the community palm fruits
- Hunting expedition before bush-burning
- Tracking of a rampaging animal
The town assembly has no fixed periods for meeting and it can be summoned as the occasion warrants. The Royal Messenger with his gong would normally to inform the citizens of a meeting, but in an emergency the “Ikoro” (wooden log drum or tom-tom) is used.
The age grades feature prominently at the level of the town/village group administration. Their organization cuts across other ties such as family, compound, lineage and village and the age grades – especially those under 45 years of age – are often used by the Council of Elders to implement its decisions.
At this level, age grades in Edda provide vital media for mobilization and co-operation for work, war, government and entertainment. An age grade, preferably the one next to the newly-retired grade, is elected or appointed “Ukejiogo” by the Council of Elders. Retirement comes at the age of about sixty/sixty-five or when the community finds the Ukejiogo incompetent.
Members of the Ukejiogo have to see to the maintenance of peace, law, order and the successful fulfillment of development projects by all those concerned. Once appointed, Ukejiogo, an age grade is exempted from manual labor or payment of levies. They rather would supervise other age grades (known as “Akpu Uke Asaa” – the militant and labor age grades) in their assigned tasks, collect fines and render account to the Council of Elders. The “Ukejiogo” are responsible for both the security of the town and the discipline of the citizens – whether as individuals or groups such as age grades.
Continue reading: The Polity in Traditional Edda Society (Part 3 of 3).
Source: Egbebu Liberal Movement. Edda Heritage.
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