The Idoma people are the inhabitants of the lower parts of western Benue state in Nigeria.
Just like every other tribe in Nigeria, the Idoma tribe has a very rich and interesting cultural heritage and traditional beliefs that set them apart from other people.
One of those beliefs is the Alekwu culture.
Alekwu in Idoma land is synonymous with “Ekpo Nka Owo” in some parts of Akwa Ibom state. This deity was responsible for punishing married women who indulge in the act of adultery.
In this narrative, Zion Peter Jnr exposes the mystery behind the dreaded Alekwu in Idoma culture.
In the Idoma culture, when a woman is caught or suspected to have an affair outside of marriage and she is not reported to the Elders before time, she would lose her children and her husband to alekwu.
Alekwu is known as the idoma watchdog; it has its way of punishing those who commit adultery and refuse to confess on time.
Alekwu goes after the woman only if she commits adultery; one would ask why?
If a woman commits adultery and did not confess so that she would be cleansed, she would bring calamity to her household.
If she doesn’t confess, she would lose her first male child, followed by her remaining children.
If she still did not confess after that, she would be struck with paralysis, which would lead to her death.
More importantly, if her husband is aware of this and refuses to report and still eats her food, the nemesis that came upon his wife would befall him as well: he would be struck with paralysis which would lead to his death if proper cleansing is not done.
To get away with the act of adultery without confessing to Alekwu is never heard of.
The practice of Alekwu is found mainly in three (3) districts of Orokam, Otukpa and Owukpa kingdoms in Ogbadigbo L.G.A of Benue State.
Otukpa is my hometown.
Alekwu has the power to protect, reward and punish indigenes of the land. A woman comes under the oath of Alekwu when she marries an Idoma man.
Also, any Idoma male that commits incest would bring the anger of Alekwu upon himself. He would be spared if he confesses and performs the rightful rituals to pacify the spirits of the dead.
Failure to confess, the offender dies before 7-21 days or the period of one year depending on the degree of the offence committed.
The fact remains that no Church can halt such punishment. This is what drives offender’s crazy; many have tried running to church to repent, but still died mysteriously.
It deals with issues regarding sex, communal disputes, man’s inhumanity to man, injustice and other factors affecting peace in the land.
This tradition is handed from generation to generation.
A family under the spell of Alekwu risks untimely and sudden death of mostly its male children, ill-luck, strange sicknesses that would not respond to medical treatment.
My dad told me a story of a man that gave his money to his girlfriend to go and do an abortion, then in 2004. After the successful abortion, he got ill and his teeth began to rot. He was advised by his dentist to go for an operation for the removal of his teeth.
After his teeth were removed, blood gushed out continuously and refused to respond to treatment. That was how he died untimely! Many stories I have been told by my dad, but time won’t allow, I tried making this short. Other offences include:
>A woman is not to spend her income in financing any of her property, without the consent of her husband.
>Don’t give money to anyone for abortion, even if it’s your wife. (Death!)
Many offences, but I want to make this short.
To appease the gods, the offender is to go to the village shrine with a goat or hen as demanded by the custodian of Alekwu.
Every year, three days are set aside to celebrate the spirits for a bountiful harvest in the outgoing year, and expectation for the beginning of the New Year’s planting season.
The occasion is known as the ‘Eje Aleku’ Festival.
During the festival, the spirits of the ancestors come as masquerades known as ‘Alekwaafia’.They run through the genealogies of the decent in a poetic tune.
Alekwaafia is the reincarnation of Idoma ancestral father into a masquerade.
The festival is celebrated in Orokam every year between July and August. In some parts of Idoma land, it is celebrated early February or March.