Call her the philosopherqueen and you won’t be wrong. She has become so many things to so many people over the years, but whenever and, however, you come across her, it will be almost impossible to miss that genteel mien and persuasive aura of dignity, befitting an aristocratic bloodline. A well-bred personality, deep in her convictions about humankind, and will not miss an opportunity to tell the compelling story of her rich Igbo ancestry and the greatly endowed people of Anioma. She is the Queen of Okpanam Kingdom, her numerous followers call her the Queen-mother, and by the tongue and culture of her people, she is referred to as the ‘Omu of Okpanam, Omu of Anioma’ and the ‘Nneoha Ndi-Igbo’. Her Majesty, Obi Martha Dunkwu, is not just a female monarch, but a living and walking embodiment of the rich cultural heritage of the Igbo nation.
She does not only project the valued treasures hidden in the culture and tradition of the Igbo nation but has dutifully and meticulously committed herself to rewriting the wrong narratives of the colonialists and has patiently been untangling the false wiring of many young and educated folks. In spite of the stories told and re-told, she has proven that the Igbo ancestors were people of great wisdom who saw so much value in the contribution of both men and women in societal development. And the Omu cultural institution is proof that some of the biases credited to the forefathers of the Igbo nation may have been exaggerated out of context. Dunkwu has this to say: “Our forefathers in Anioma Nation created the Omu institution over 800 years ago to include women in leadership in order to tap from their God-given and ancestrally- guided values. The western world started female inclusion a little over 100 years ago. We must continue to show gratitude to our forefathers who were centuries ahead of the world. We were lost midstream; but many of us have rediscovered ourselves and will leave no stone unturned in promoting, protecting, projecting and propagating our values.”
HRM Obi Martha Dunkwu believes in the exquisite beauty and virtue of the Igbo woman and cautions against Igbo women imbibing trending, yet misguided ideologies. “To seek equality with men is an error. Such women, no matter how long it takes, will crash land. May it not be too late for them to come to their senses. The train has moved. No going back.
The force I represent, which is Light, will forever defeat darkness. Some are ashamed to speak, out of imaginary fear and moral cowardice. Many of them are irresponsibly married, constituting pains in the lives of their husbands and children and committing havoc with the borrowed European rings on their fingers. “Unknown to them, they are misguided and as a result of that, we must painstakingly train and reform the women of the future who will take over from us and lead our children purposefully into the future, with courage and the willingness to dare beyond the ordinary. Nevertheless, I am open to new ideas that will take our people forward. According to the late United Nations Secretary General, Bouthrus Bouthrus Ghali: ‘It is only an idiot who doesn’t change his mind in the face of superior opinion’”, she said.
Dunkwu noted further that the woman is far too relevant than she seems to appreciate while maintaining that the pursuit of equality with men largely borders on illusion, and in clear terms stressed that, “there was no equality yesterday, there’s none today and there will be none in the future.” Her words: “Our forefathers and ancestors were not only women-friendly but were determined to harness the potential of women. Man is first, woman is second. Man is the burning fire; woman is water that quenches the fire. Without water, there’s no life.
There was no equality yesterday, t h e r e ’ s none today, there will be none in the future and I am saying it from a positive point of view. The role of the woman is complimentary The future of humanity is in the hands of the woman because she has the lead role of inculcating sound societal values in our children who are our future. It is therefore imperative for governments to invest in the trainer, being the woman. “Many of our men today, see women as competitors as opposed to complimenting them. They want to be men and women at the same time.
That cannot work as it will alter creation and cause chaos, which is what we see today.” According to Dunkwu, it may take just one person or a few individuals to right the wrongs of the past and change the world. “You and I, and other people of like-mind must continue on this journey that will take us to the Promised Land by drawing a line of progression for this generation and generations unborn.” She hinted that she had since taken up her divinely assigned role in the march towards Igbo renaissance and urged every Igbo man to stand up and be counted in this emerging reality. “Frankly speaking, I represent the forces of light, which will, in perpetuity, defeat the forces of darkness.
It is my duty to light the light for all to see. We need our people to be futuristic and critical thinkers. We don’t need jelly-in-myplate- like people, wobbling and groping in the dark. We must be surefooted as we work towards the cherished future we seek for our people,” she said. On the skewed narrative and biases bandied about by colonialists and erroneously passed down to the younger generation, the Queen-mother counselled: “We need to look behind in order to know how far we’re going in the future. Yes, as Vladimir Lenin (founder of the former Soviet Union) would say, ‘by analysing the errors of yesterday, we learn to avoid the errors of today and tomorrow’.
“We need to find ourselves in our past and our heritage. Again, many of our people are rediscovering themselves and must dig out and promote our values. We need to unlearn so many lies colonisation told about us. We cannot move forward if we don’t unlearn our false sense of shame and moral cowardice. “We must tell our own story by ourselves and change the narrative. It is absolutely necessary that we uphold our culture and values.
A people without culture are naked and will never be respected by anyone in the world. Our children are intelligent to the high heavens. Our land is fertile, devoid of natural disasters. Our men are strikingly handsome. Our women are extraordinarily beautiful. All we need as a people is to care for each other.
What does it cost to love and be loved, to want and be wanted, to need and be needed, to give unselfishly, to help where help is needed, to lay a new solid foundation that will not go with the winds, for this generation and generations unborn, to invest in our land so that our children can have hope and live purposeful lives?” She added that the future of the Igbo nation is in the hands of the Igbos, and that self-destructive criticisms will not suffice at this time. According to her, armchair critics and wellmeaning busybodies must give way to critical analysis of the challenges of the Igbo nation with a view to proffering implementable solutions that will take the people to the next positive level. “What I am doing is a physical manifestation of a spiritual conclusion. There’s no going back,” Dunkwu stressed.