Westernization was a turning point for the Igbo people as it changed a lot of their customs, it brought part change as well as the absolute change in some areas.
The point is, things have never been the same. Thankfully, some of the Igbo cultures were retained in its entirety, the kolanut is one item that is still held in high esteem for over 100 years.
The Kolanut revered in the Igbo land is the oji Igbo, it usually has more than one cotyledons and its said that each cotyledon is significant of a particular thing
One cotyledon: Due to the beliefs around this, it finds no usage in the culture. It is believed that a single cotyledon kolanut represents abomination and ill-will.
Three cotyledons: In the Igbo language, this is also referred to as “oji-nze or oji dike”. It is said to be kolanut for titled men and is fully appreciated in the culture
Four cotyledons: This is said is to be one of the most common kolanut found, its four parts are said to represent the four market days In Igbo land- Eke, Orie, Afor and Nkwo.
Seven cotyledons: This is rare but when it does a show, it is significant of procreation and progress. In the culture, whoever breaks this, takes it home.
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The oji-Igbo is significant of so many things but mostly, it is a hallmark that represents unity. Each cotyledon that sticks with each other goes to show the peace and harmony of the Igbo community, it shows love and promotes progress and goodwill between the Igbo people. In every typical Igbo celebration, it is one of the first processes carried out, one in which we cannot do away with. The Igbo kolanut is also used to say prayers of goodwill over a person’s head as well as for the Igbo community.
Who can Break it?
Breaking of the kolanut is one of the most important processes in the Igbo culture and is not just carried out by anyone. To an extent, this depends on the community. In some Igbo communities, the eldest male in the family or in the gathering is required to break the kolanut while in some others, the youngest is given the task. In the absence of any male in a gathering, the eldest female present is required to break the kolanut.
Rules surrounding the process
There are not a whole lot of rules that surround this process. There are just a few:
A woman cannot break kolanut in a gathering where there is a male even if he is still a teenager, it would be an abomination for her to do so
A woman cannot climb a kolanut tree
During the passage of kolanut, the women are not shown the kolanut as it is regarded as wrong
Every prayer to be said on breaking a kolanut must be said in the Igbo language
Apart from the Igbo language, the kolanut is one item that has kept the culture and held it strong against all the storms westernization has brought forward.