WOMEN & CHILD DEVELOPMENT

Aketi Eternal: Imo Community performs traditional Mgbafu Mkpe rite for widow

..as Late Gov’s sibling assures in-laws of adequate care for the widow


By: GELE AGBAI

The weather was clement. There was neither rainfall nor harsh sunshine. In spite of the heatwave being witnessed across the country since this year, the elements on Sunday, March 31, 2024 seemed to have cooperated and collaborated to make Emeabiam Community in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State have a conducive ambience suitable for the ceremony.

Venue was the late Chief BUB and Nneoma Dora Anyanwu’s compound at Umuikea Emeabiam. And the event was the traditional Mgbafu Mkpe ceremony of Her Excellency, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, wife of the Governor of Ondo State, Arankurin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, CON who passed away in December 2023.

Mr. Herbert Igbo, representing Umuegeolu Kindred, handed the former first lady of Ondo State to the immediate younger brother to the late Governor, Professor Wole Akeredolu.

The handover to the Akeredolus was the climax of the ceremony.

This was after the Akeredolus had indicated interest in still having Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, the Ada Owere 1 in their family after the demise of her husband.

Prior to the handover, the Akeredolus had presented kolanuts, palm wine, and she-goat to the Umuegeolu kindred, including some item 7 to BUB & Nneoma Dora Anyanwu’s family as tradition demands.

Responding on behalf of the Akeredolus, Prof Wole Akeredolu expressed gratitude to the family, the Umuegeolu kindred and entire Emeabiam Community for their hospitality.

He formally informed them of the demise of his elder brother and their in-law who had since been buried.

He pledged to continue to cater and care for their wife, Betty.

He also thanked all those who were in Ibadan Oyo State to commiserate with the Akeredolu family and the ones who were in Owo in Ondo State to witness the interment of Gov Akeredolu’s remains on February 23, 2024.

In an interview, the Principal Adviser to Emebiam Elders Council, Chief Celestine Okoro expressed happiness at the successful performance of the ceremony. Though the mgbafu mkpe is an Igbo ceremony, Okoro submitted that it is peculiar to the people of Imo State.

The former first lady, who was clad in a black gown with a touch of white stripes and dark sun shade, signalling that the mourning period was not yet over did not respond after the ceremony.

Present at the ceremony were Umuegeolu family members, Nde Mgboto Emeabiam(Daughters of the soil) and Oha n’Ikoro Emeabiam(Elders Council), Babajide Akeredolu amongst others.  

Mgbafu Mkpe is a traditional Igbo ceremony performed shortly after the demise and burial of a woman’s husband in Igbo land. The family of the woman’s husband would indicate interest in still having the widow live with them or not.

Upon saying yes, the in-laws would hand over the widow back to the husband’s family after performing some rituals.

Should the husband’s family say no, certain rituals are also conducted to free the woman from her husband’s family.

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