To mark the second year of his recognition by the Imo state Government of Nigeria, on the 27 of January 2024, HRH, Eze (Engr.) Cosmas Akanwa Onyejiji, Obodonweze 1 of Aguneze Ahiara conferred the ancient Nze title on three sons of Aguneze namely Sir Peter Akujobi Amaefule, Chief Callistus Okonkwo and Mr. Mathias Uzoaru.
Nze title is an ancient traditional title in Igbo land conferred only on men with honour and integrity. The word Nze is believed to have been derived from the word “Nzerem” which means one who abstains. One who abstains from evil deeds and wrong doings that would offend the gods of the land. One who avoids “imeruala or nso ala”. Imerula or nso ala literally means contamination of the land. In Igbo mythology and traditional religion, the land is considered sacred and all are expected to respect the sacredness of the land (Earth) which also includes ensuring justice, fairness, equity and good conscience. To ensure the sacredness of the land, there is “ omenala” which means the tradition and culture of the people. This embodies the way of life of the people, from language to food, birth rites, marriage rites, burial rites, justice system among others. Any act against these rites may be considered as imeru ala ( sacrilege) and there are restitutions to be made .
The Nze participates in ensuring the sacredness of the tradition and culture of the people along with the traditional ruler. The Nze title is not awarded, the people appoint their Nze who must be a man of integrity, honest and forthright. Upon appointment by the people, the person is presented to the Eze and his cabinet, who now screen the candidate to ensure he is a man of integrity and one with the ability to sustain the sacredness of the land through justice and fairness. The Nze represents the Eze among his people and is the representative of the people in the traditional cabinet. He ensures justice and fairness among his people. He also participates in the coronation of a new Eze. These underscores the importance of conferment of Nze title on three sons of Aguneze along with their wives who were conferred with the title of lolo by Ugo eze Catherine Onyejiji.
The event started with the blessing of the items for the conferment by the parish Priest of St Mathias Catholic Church Aguneze reverend father Honorius Jimanze, who prayed God to guide the new Nzes as they sustain the culture and tradition of the people in contemporary times. The traditional rulers of Lude Ahiara, HRH , Eze CY Uwaoma (PhD), Ude 11 of Lude and HRH Eze Remigius ihejieme, Emere1 of Nnemere Mpam Ekwerazu participated in the conferment of the titles.
HRH, Obodonweze 1 of Aguneze noted during the conferment that sir Peter Akujobi Amaefule who was conferred the title of nze akaraugo 1 od Aguneze , is a knight of the Catholic church and also a Jerusalem Pilgrim (JP). He reminded him that his Christian life is an assurance that he would join him in ensuring justice and fair play in the land. He further enjoined all the new nzes to always remember the high honour they are being bestowed with as they wear the insignia of their office and perform their duties. While the traditional ruler of Lude Ahiara HRH Eze CY Uwaoma PhD advised the newly conferred Nzes to ensure peace, justice and progress while rebuking evil in order to succeed as Nzes.
In their response, Sir Peter Akujobi Amaefule, nze Akara ugo 1 of Aguneze expressed gratitude to God , HRH, Obodonweze 1 and the community for finding them worthy as Nze. They promised to uphold the culture and tradition of the land while following the footsteps of the traditional ruler (Obodonweze 1) in being a true representative of the people, a man with fear and respect for almighty God.
Aguneze is one of the towns that make up Ahiara ofo iri and oral tradition has it that Aguneze is the first son of Ahiara. The first son holds significant leadership and traditional roles in Igbo Culture. The quality of Nze from Aguneze means a lot to the entire Ahiara people. Aguneze Ahiara is an autonomous community in the Ahiazu Mbaise local government area of Imo state Nigeria.