Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sweet Mama Africa

By Biko Agozino

 Inoakamma Agozino (nee, Ile) 1934-2014 (approximately) R.I.P.


"To my mother, Inoakamma (or the enemy does not say your praise), who was once charged to court by the colonial administration in connection with an alleged breach of the peace when she rallied the community with a poetic tonal cry for the arrest of a stranger who was fishing in Omala, our ancestral stream. The fish in Omala symbolized happiness for the villagers because they were never threatened and it was believed that if the fish was killed, the stream would dry up. Proof of this is found down stream towards the distant farms where Omala merged with streams in which we could fish and where the stream dried up during the dry season. Omala was sacred to us as the route through which new born babies return to us from the land of the ancestors. Mothers of new born babies were expected to visit Omala and have their ritual bathe with a troop of young children singing a dedication of the new born to Omala. The mother usually returned with water from the stream that she would feed to the new born so that s/he would learn the tongue of our ancestors with ease. I once accompanied my mother alone in sorrow when she had a still birth and while watching her bathe with a stream of tears down her face, I pledged silently to live and dry those tears from her face. The man who was caught fishing in Omala was given a good beating by the villagers before the police rescued him. My mother conducted her own defence in court and won the nick-name, leyo-maji, or Lawyer Magistrate (stipendiary as opposed to lay Magistrate), from her fellow peasant women. However, my father allegedly rebuked her for using the 'male' art form of tonal poetry, iti mkpukpo, to rally the community and so since then, according to her, she lost the talent for this kind of performance poetry. Knowledge of this case that happened long before I was born, must have sensitized me to the fact that what is crime and what is justice are not given but are contentious and are contested."

Quoted from Biko Agozino, Black Women and the Criminal Justice System: Towards the Decolonization of Victimization, Aldershot, Ashgate, 1997, p. xii.


Ngozi Osarenren said...

Biko my condolences! Just seeing that your special woman is gone ndooooooo. When did this happen?

Odozi Obodo said...

Dalu Prof. NG, na April 28