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25 Years Online
••• The International Writers Magazine - African Stories - Long Read

Feeding the Dead
• Odimegwu Onwumere
The Consequences of failing to feed the dead ...

Photo Credit: Burial rites and hand washing, food offering at an Igbo funeral in Isele Azagba. Northcote Thomas, 1900s.

feeding the dead

Onoshie, whose other name was Ike, fled from his family home. The villagers chased after him because they believed he displayed signs of insanity. This occurred because Onoshie refused to provide food for his deceased father, as his father had requested before passing away seven years ago. According to the tradition in Ofuruefu, feeding the dead on the seventh day of a chosen month was essential to ensuring a peaceful journey for them, as his father had desired.

The number seven held great significance in their spiritual beliefs, representing intuition, wisdom, self-awareness, spiritual revelations, and transformative experiences that could positively impact their lives. The people of Ofuruefu also believed in reincarnation and viewed death as a journey. It was crucial to acknowledge and provide food for ancestral spirits in a specific order in Ofuruefu, and failure to adhere to this order would result in the offering being rejected and the spirit not allowing the feeding or recognition to be successful. However, Onoshie, due to his conflicting beliefs, chose not to fulfill his father's request in their Odinala practice. Onoshie disregarded acknowledging his father's reincarnation, failed to honor his Chi, and ignored the customs of acknowledging ancestors from both sides of his family and the leaders of the elemental forces he believed he originated from.

Before leaving the house, Ichie Nnaka, who was the same age as Onoshie's father, always pleaded with Onoshie to fulfill the rituals, but he never agreed. Ichie Nnaka had appeased the ancestral spirits of his father's kin, such as Ngwu, Ngene, Akwali, Arobinagu, Orji, Agbara Mmiri, Agwu ndi Ichie, and many others. He then sought out the Arushi that followed him and his lineage, as well as the Arushi that followed his family. Ichie Nnaka had paid homage to all of them. He had also paid homage to the rare Arushi gbakwutere gi. This was what he wanted Onoshie to also do but Onoshie was heads up. Every individual had their own Arushi that followed them, whether it was their spouse or spiritual partner. This was an integral part of the Odinala practice, and everyone prayed for these spirits to align with them.

As the villagers searched for Onoshie, Ichie Nnaka, who also acted as a Dibia, joined them. They would spot Onoshie on one tree, and then the next time he would be on a different tree, jumping around like a monkey and behaving like a wild animal. The villagers did not give up in their pursuit of him. Being the eldest in the village, Ichie Nnaka knew that Onoshie's father was upset with Onoshie because Onoshie refused to make peace with his personal spirits. These spirits were responsible for bringing family and kindred together, as well as uniting the villagers and the town as a whole when recognized but bring the obverse when neglected. Recognizing these spirits was not just for gaining wealth but also for finding inner peace. By appeasing these spirits, one could make requests that appeal to them.

In one of the neglected bushes in search of Onoshie, the villagers had strange experiences in their minds, as they had not visited the forest for the past twenty years due to modernization. The strange experiences continued with severe weather and strong winds. Ichie Nnaka lifted his head and listened, realizing that he could hear Onoshie's father's voice. As he looked up into the sky, the villagers watched him with a sense of fear and anticipation. Ichie Nnaka stood, his gaze still focused, when a peculiar breeze suddenly intensified. He could clearly hear the voice, which turned out to be Onoshie's father's. The villagers were frightened by Ichie Nnaka's strange behavior but kept a close eye on Onoshie, who appeared somewhat tired. They were amazed by his pristine appearance, despite spending days in the wilderness and surviving on whatever he could find in the forest. As Ichie Nnaka continued to listen, he acted as if he could see Onoshie's father. Suddenly, there was a flash of lightning, causing everyone except Ichie Nnaka to fall to the ground, somewhat unconscious. Then a voice spoke:
“I have refused to be limited by commonly accepted laws and instead focused my thinking on conditions that extend beyond what is typically considered material,” said Onoshie’s father. “Through merging and intertwining the mental and vital aspects with tangible or physical forces, I have successfully communicated with individuals believed to be deceased for a long time.”

Onoshie listened attentively to his father. However, Ichie Nnaka was unable to comprehend the message. The villagers, initially frightened, stood up from the ground and wanted to flee, but Ichie Nnaka urged them not to.

This was the first time Onoshie had spoken, despite spending days in the forest.
"I have discovered a mysterious land beyond our earth, and I refuse to leave this world without leaving a record," Onoshie expressed. The people also failed to understand him and pleaded for him to come down from the tree. He stared at them with disdain, not uttering a word. Ichie Nnaka was about to order Onoshie to come down, but unexpectedly, their cleric kinsman named Pascal, who had just returned from the city and heard about the situation, joined them. The atmosphere was filled with excitement, as it was believed that Pascal, with his special abilities, could command Onoshie to come down from the tree.

Pascal approached the tree where Onoshie was perched and quietly spoke some words. He then said aloud, "In the mighty name of... I command you, Onoshie, to come down from the tree." Onoshie grew quieter, and Pascal repeated this action multiple times, using different words each time. Ichie Nnaka and the others observed this. Suddenly, Ichie Nnaka received a message from a strange voice, revealing that Pascal possessed the power of the custodians of knowledge and wealth. It was believed that it was everyone's duty to share their acquired knowledge and wealth for the betterment of humanity. On the other hand, when it came to dealing with Onoshie, Pascal could only rely on the words he was saying simultaneously. A gust of wind blew again, causing everyone except Ichie Nnaka to fall to the ground. Once they regained their footing, they witnessed Pascal bleeding profusely from his head. Onoshie had attacked Pascal as the breeze descended, swiftly descending from the tree and striking Pascal's head before returning to his perch. The villagers watched as Pascal left the forest, crying out in pain about his injured head. Although they sympathized with him and were afraid, they knew they had to emerge victorious in this battle.

As Pascal left, the majority of the villagers who cheered for him and believed in his abilities were disappointed by the violent bloodshed that resulted from his exploration of the ancient Odinala practice of the Ofuruefu people. This practice had withstood the test of time, and the villagers knew that life extended beyond death, a fact that Ichie Nnaka had proven without a doubt. They were determined to uncover the laws that allowed for the survival and rescue of Onoshie. These laws had been neglected by the living and could provide insight into the nature of life after death and the conditions beyond the human earthly realm. Ichie Nnaka was confident in the reliability of the information he had gathered through his Odinala practice. He had even made discoveries that alleviated his own fear of death, believing that this was the most important and least understood subject in the world, which he would share with his people. Many people who were born with psychic abilities did not develop them but instead embraced modernization.

Ichie Nnaka was the only one among them who scientifically developed his psychic force and became a means of communication between the living and the dead. Conversely, their daughter married someone in a nearby village whose actual date of birth was unknown had psychic powers. Although it was estimated that she was of a certain age on May 20, 1947, during a total solar eclipse. Mmiri Ndu, who was over 80 years old, was exceptionally intelligent and dedicated her life to helping others, which transformed her character and created a positive environment around her. Those who had the privilege of being associated with her were truly fortunate. Despite her assistance, it took many years of work and experimentation to establish satisfactory communication with the inhabitants of the great beyond and obtain direct information about their conditions. The villagers needed to rescue Onoshie and fulfill the wishes of his deceased father.

The villagers had spent several days in the forest without achieving any results. Ichie Nnaka separated himself from the crowd, but not too far, and set up a temporary altar. Smoke came from the altar, but it did not ignite. The people watched as he commanded Onoshie, using unclear words, saying, In a world beyond this one, there are men and women with bodies composed of etheric matter. These beings have homes made of etheric material and continue their family relationships there. They strive to gain knowledge and enrich themselves by helping others.

Ichie Nnaka commanded Onoshie to come down, and after he finished his chant, a strong wind blew, and everyone except Ichie Nnaka fell to the ground. When they stood back up, they saw that he was being attacked, but they could not see the person responsible, only hearing a voice accusing him of shedding innocent blood. The villagers were astonished, as they never expected Ichie Nnaka, who seemed so dedicated to Odinala practice, to be capable of such harm. They realized that those who seek justice must do so with clean hands. As they were confused, they heard laughter coming from the tree and saw Onoshie laughing like a fool. Onoshie's situation provided valuable insight for the people and served as a research opportunity. They wanted to prove to Onoshie and the doubters of Ofuruefu spiritualities and traditions that the death change was horrifying. As Onoshie's father's casket was being lowered into the grave on that faithful day amidst the harsh rain, wind, and clouds, the spirit still lived, indicating that the dead are not alone. This motivated them to solve the presented problem and gain knowledge about this great change. Onoshie's experience showed that nothing in nature is hidden from man and that any problem can be solved with determination. They needed the assistance of Mmiri Ndu, as Ichie Nnaka had disappointed them.

In their culture, they didn't mourn Onoshie's father's passing because they believed in the absence of death. They didn't want to disappoint Onoshie's father, whom they loved even in the grave and who loved them in return according to the law of evolution. Onoshie, however, refused to understand this. They were aware that they could no longer physically perceive their loved ones in the grave, but they believed that they continued to walk with the living, understood their struggles, provided mental support, and comforted them with loving thoughts. The people considered it common knowledge that those in the etheric or mental plane were just as real to them as those they interacted with on a daily basis. Mmiri Ndu was being searched for because Ichie Nnaka, their henchman, had let them down by prioritizing his own glory-seeking pursuits over his knowledge of the old teachings and beliefs, which only a few truly understood. He believed that truth was finite. On various occasions, Mmiri Ndu demonstrated the possibility of communication between this world and the next, although only a select few had been fortunate enough to have direct and independent conversations like she did. She transmitted facts as they were revealed to her, following the laws of nature and appealing to reason. When Onoshie heard that Mmiri Ndu was being sought after, he leaped from the tree he was perched on to Iroko, the largest tree considered king by the people.

Onoshie saw this as a great opportunity to rise above the ordinary and embrace his individuality, not through a miracle but through the forces that drove him. The people recognized that his actions were not ordinary and that they brought with them responsibilities, including living a virtuous life, developing one's character to the fullest, bringing happiness to others, and making their community of Ofuruefu a slightly better place to live. Their cultures and traditions were fading away, but there were still individuals who selflessly upheld their way of life. They believed that Onoshie would recover because truths emerge from obscurity and the night gives birth to the stars, but their hopes rested solely on the fate they entrusted to Mmiri Ndu. When the two men arrived at Mmriri Ndu's house, they were surprised that she understood their journey. Instead of asking, she confidently told them, "You came for the little boy who refused to pay the father for the feeding rite."

Mmiri Ndu was not like most people; she had extensive knowledge and experience. Unlike many others, she believed that the spirit world was interconnected with the physical world and that even after death, people continued to exist in their ethereal bodies. She believed that it was possible to communicate with the deceased, but certain spiritual conditions had to be met.

The conditions for speech were very delicate, as the atmosphere and weather could interfere. Mmiri Ndu knew that during stormy times, it was impossible to communicate, but on clear nights with calm air, the manifestations were indescribable. Absolute darkness was necessary for her to hear direct speech from the spirits, who used their own tongues and voices. She explained to the men that the work required a person with extraordinary vital forces without slowing down the vibrations. She instructed them to find Ichie Nnaka and perform certain rituals to cleanse him spiritually. Once this was done, they could go to the forest, where Onoshie was, for the important task ahead.

The men hurried to Ichie Nnaka, who agreed to their request, and the traditional cleansing was carried out at the market square. With this cleansing, the spirits were able to communicate through the men. The people in the forest, upon seeing the men and hearing their explanation of Mmiri Ndu's instructions, accepted the belief that spirit people had bodies and were present in an invisible world. It was not hard for them to imagine the possibility of speaking with those beyond the earthly realm after listening to Mmiri Ndu. They believed that if they understood that the universe and life itself were made of matter, new possibilities would arise to save Onoshie.

“Tell us about the circumstances that enable you to speak,” Mmiri Ndu said to the spirit world when she arrived in the forest. Onoshie climbed to the top of the tree on sighting Mmiri Ndu. People were happy to see her. Many young people did not know who she was but could relate to her due to her father's house in Ofuruefu. Ichie Nnaka was already there. People were suspicious of his existence, and Mmiri Ndu told them not to care about his presence. "Ichie Nnaka is a renewed person and has a great role in this journey," she said to calm everyone.

Onoshie's problem was like dealing with electric and magnetic forces. Mmiri Ndu gathered the villagers on the side of the forest. Ichie Nnaka and she were in the middle, near the Iroko, where Onoshie was. She took physical secretions—substances—from the forest, while Ichie Nnaka contributed to the mass with a certain spiritual force. They gathered and distributed the troops. The strange wind blew again, and the villagers fell to the ground, but Ichie Nnaka and Mmiri Ndu were standing. Mmiri Ndu wanted to say a word when she noticed Pascal and about four people, including a woman and three men. When the villagers got up from the ground, they were surprised by the presence of the four people, including Pascal. Many believed that he would do miracles this time with reform. It was not long before the people and Pascal shouted, “Onoshie, I command you to come down and be healed in the name of...” then the strange breeze blew. This time, no one fell to the ground except the bees that stung Pascal and the four fellows he came with. As they ran, they shouted, "We will not come back. Power passes power."

The villagers watched with great concern as Ichie Nnaka and Mmiri Ndu took center stage. It became clear to everyone that the issue at hand was not material, like any material that could be collected by anyone for any purpose. It was simply higher in vibration.

The two great Dibia, namely Mmiri Ndu and Ichie Nnaka, wore the breathing organs of the spirits that began to speak with them so that their voices would rise into the atmosphere. When this state was achieved, it was as natural for the soul as it was for people. They could hear the spirits loud and clear. They had a direct or independent voice, that was, the voices of spirits speaking as in earthly life. They wanted the spirits to speak about how Onoshie would be well again. Little did they know that since this case came about as a result of brutality, the biggest problem for the villagers was what would be the final ending. What, if anything, waited on the other side of death's mysterious door? They watched the two Dibia begin the spiritual incantation and prayer to force Onoshie to come down from the tree and perform the necessary rituals for his father.

It was time for Onoshie to make the decision on whether or not to feed his father. Since his time in the forest, every aspect of the people's lives has undergone dissolution and change. The spiritual development of the people had progressed to the point where they could now comprehend dimensions of matter beyond length, breadth, and thickness. They did not need to play with this issue because it was about their traditional knowledge passed down through generations. As Mmiri Ndu and Ichie Nnaka continued their incantations, the world stood still around them. They could hear the universe's force as the duo sent their thoughts, words, and messages into the spirit world. Then, the strange breeze occurred, and everyone except Ichie Nnaka fell to the ground, including Mmiri Ndu. Once the atmosphere settled, Onoshie, now strongly influenced by the governing forces, spoke.
"Mmiri Ndu!” he thundered. “You possess the power, but it is not within your control to save our land."

This sudden change in Onoshie's demeanor surprised Ichie Nnaka. The people were in a state of changeover, adapting to new views and conditions since the chaos caused by Onoshie. Most minds were alert and adaptable, and there was a thirst for knowledge. They were eager to see how the situation would unfold. It was a time of scientifically-spiritual discoveries and the application of the universal law of vibratory action. They were not afraid to uncover the truth and were committed to fulfilling their duty of saving their land. Suddenly, Mmiri Ndu remained silent. She stood up, looked at her bracelet, and began to leave. The people cheered and praised her as a hero.

Ichie Nnaka learned what awaited him on his great mission to gain knowledge from the Great Divide. He had to solve the great problem of resolution, and with the confidence that came from knowledge based on established facts, he was ready to speak with authority. He said many things at once, looking down at the abandoned physical body. His voice spoke words of tenderness, his hands touched the trees around him, and his eyes looked out on his people. He looked at Onoshie and said, "This is the most flawed conclusion that has ever entered the human mind: the dead no longer exist." He looked at his people again and later turned to Onoshie and said, "When we undress at night, we remain the same. If, at the end of a short period of time, we are separated from the physical clothing we wear, we are not dead, we remain mentally, morally, and spiritually the same people as before… With all the power and strength I possess, I command that all life be unbroken and nothing be lost. Communication is possible and occurs in many ways with those in the afterlife. That's why I ask you, Onoshie, to calm down."

After Ichie Nnaka stopped talking, he maintained a focused gaze on Onoshie. He could hear the voices of the spirits, which was the most effective means of communication, repeating countless times. Numerous spirits were speaking using their own vocal organs, and he nodded his head in acknowledgement. From this source, he gained great knowledge and facts that surpassed human learning and were not found in any books, and it was his privilege to hear them. The people set aside their preconceived notions and discarded their prejudices as Ichie Nnaka presented what Onoshie had received from this extraordinary source in simple language. The truth from the great divide impressed him and appealed to reason. The people believed it would be helpful not only in the present but also in the future. As Onoshie began descending the tree, the people expressed their happiness, but before they could even blink, he started climbing back up.

Ichie Nnaka, whose metaphysical speculations had now placed him among the dead, conjured some substances to focus Onoshie and guide him back down. Just as he was about to reach the ground, the strange breeze blew, causing the people to fall to the ground in a hypnotic state. When Onoshie finally landed on the ground, the group of spirits that had been working with him and controlling the conditions on his side appeared alongside him. Ichie Nnaka mourned the dead, while the spirits gathered food from the surrounding farmlands. Ichie Nnaka performed the necessary rituals to provide sustenance for the deceased. It was there that they struck him dead and released Onoshie from his torment.

Onoshie was apprehensive about the number of people lying on the ground, after gaining consciousness. At that moment, they stood up and were amazed by everything that had transpired. The feeding had been completed. Ichie Nnaka lay lifeless on the ground. They used leaves to purify him of any spiritual impediment before lifting him up to be buried in the village, expressing regret for all the trouble Onoshie had caused due to his refusal to provide food for the deceased father.

© Odimegwu Onwumere 3.5.24 - Poet, Writer, Consultant, and an Award-winning Journalist based in Rivers State, Nigeria. Email: apoet_25 at

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