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The concept of reward and punishment, as it appears in every belief system, can have a transformative effect on the general psyche of a people, hence the resolution of a typical African-Igbo man to ignore his existence here in search of an afterlife that promises him happiness after death. Whereas within the original Igbo spiritual system, the perception of an afterlife, falls under the notion of the consciousness seeking redress in areas of life that weren’t fully experienced or was found wanting or lacking in those areas, hence, the belief that if one isn’t wealthy in this reincarnation, in his next reincarnation he would certainly attain such status, in order to experience this aspect “affluence” of life. 

This perception created the idea of “Karmic Debt- Ugwo onye-uwa” which largely describes the interconnectedness of actions and their consequences, where individuals are responsible for their actions and must face the consequences, whether positive or negative, reaping the benefits of their previous actions or be forced to suffer the consequences of those actions.

Therefore, this law of retribution or cosmic justice “Ugwo Onye-uwa” embodies the idea that actions have consequences and that individuals are accountable for their deeds. Therefore, when someone acts in a way that disrupts this harmony by violating social or cosmic moral codes, it is believed that this will bring about consequences, often in the form of misfortunes or suffering.

This also extends to the actions of ancestors which can affect the fortunes of their descendants “Suppose an ancestor committed acts that upset the cosmic balance”. In that case, their descendants might inherit their karmic debt, experiencing difficulties until the debt is repaid through rituals and acts of atonement such as Ikpu Aru Ngwuru or Ikwu Ugwo Onye Uwa, which are restorative justice rituals used in atoning and restoring cosmic harmony that was caused as a result of disrupting cosmic & social moral codes that were committed by an individual’s reincarnating consciousness “Onye-Uwa”.

Also Read: Ogwu Ego In Igbo Culture.

How Does This Restorative Rituals Work?

    The term “Restorative Justice” is anchored on restoring balance after the disruption of an individual’s moral code and social codes, hence, in the context of traditional Igbo spirituality, the performance of restorative rituals is to atone for these karmic debts by addressing the consequences and the effects of life past actions. 

Actions that disrupt social and moral codes are;

These actions can be a disruption of your personal nso “moral codes/principles” or community nso “communal social moral codes/principles”, these codes include; 

  1. Destroying ancestral or communal shrines and effigies.
  2. Committing abominations such as; incest, murder, abortions, and homosexuality.
  3. Engaging in human trafficking or human sacrificial rituals
  4. Unfulfilled promises to deities or your human neighbors
  5. Abuse of power either as a leader or as a spiritual director.
  6. Sleeping with a married woman and theft of yam.
  7. Engaging in Ogwu Ike/Ajo ogwu activities, such as the installation of Okeite and other installments that go against the natural principles that are prevalent in Igbo spiritual and cosmological science, etc.
Chi na Ezumezu is a book on Igbo cosmology, it redefines the spiritual practices of Ndi-Igbo according to how our ancestors practiced it.

This ritual and the items used in performing them contain elements of justice and can be used to signify accountability which would in return aid in cleansing an individual from these debts. The formulation of these rituals by our ancestors shows their understanding and acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of actions and consequences and by taking steps to address these imbalances or disharmony they give their descendants or individuals whose cosmic debts is as a result of the actions of his/her Onye-uwa, an opportunity to scratch off these debts and to lead a fulfilled life which would trigger the elevation of the consciousness into Obi-Chukwu.

Also Read: Idotu Chi/Isi Ite Chi & The Erroneous Misconception Of Settling The Chi In Igbo Spiritual Practices.

Who Performs This Ritual And What Should You Note?     A Dibia can perform this ritual of Ikwu Ugwo Onye-Uwa during the first Chi rituals and during this ritual, the individual who is paying his/her debt would not partake in eating any item that he/she used while paying this debt. In situations of paying debts that is accompanying an individual’s ancestors, the rite of Ikpu Aru is performed with a Dibia Nri or Ezeani as the chief officiant, this is because they have a specific/special tool known as “Otonsi” and this tool is usually in the hands of a Dibia Nri/Ezeani. The traditional function of this artifact is to directly speak with Ani on issues regarding Aru, therefore, without the presence of an Otonsi, the rituals of Ikpu Aru are ineffective.

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