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Ada in Igboland

..Why opinions of first daughters are strong, respected in Igbo family

…It’s God that assigned that unique position to them in the family

…Most female firstborns are conscientious, organised, dependable

…In larger family, it’s the opinion of Umuada that prevails

…In Ngwa land, it’s sacrilegious to make serious family decisions without first daughter

…They’re symbol of authority and special gift from God —Ibeku traditional prime minister

By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu, Chidi Nkwopara, Steve Oko, Ugochukwu Alaribe & Chinonso Alozie

Ada in Igboland

IN a typical Igbo family setting, the opinions/views of Ada, the first daughter, are very much regarded and respected.

Even in times of thorny issues in the family, she is invited to mediate and broker peace, and in most cases, her decision/opinion is binding on everybody, including the parents and the elder male siblings. SEV spoke to some Igbo leaders about why this special respect for the Ada, the first daughter.

They are symbols of authority and special gifts from God –Ibeku traditional prime minister

For the National President of the Traditional Prime Ministers of Nigeria, and the Traditional Prime Minister of Ibeku Ancient Kingdom of Umuahia North Local Government Area, Abia State, High Chief Uche Akwukwuegbu, the first daughter is a symbol of authority and a special gift from God, saying that is why she is highly valued and respected among Igbo families. He added that first daughters are peace brokers, bridge builders, and the oil that lubricates the family in times of crisis.

According to him, any family in Igbo land without a daughter feels incomplete because no male child can play the unique role of a daughter in the family.

He said: “The first daughter is a special gift from God. She is a peacemaker and makes meaningful contributions to the family. First daughters love their fathers. They also love their family. They are special gifts from God and symbols of authority.

“Before important decisions are taken in any serious matter in the family, their opinions are sought. If anything happens to the father, even if he has many sons, they must wait to know the opinion of the first daughter.

“When the man dies, it is the first daughter that will carry the man’s portrait on the day of his burial. No family in Igbo land jokes with the first daughter. So, it is God who assigned that unique position to them in the family. Nobody will take it away from them.”

Chief Akwukwuegbu further said that first daughters are respected because the gods of the land honour their words. He noted that wise people avoid their wrath because if they place a curse on anyone in their paternal family, such a curse is always dangerous. In the same way, if they bless anyone in their father’s house, such a blessing is very effective.

Chief Uzodinma Onyekachi from Umubele, Awka, said it is his first daughter who is already married that resolves any issue in the family.

“I cannot say how it started, but it has become a norm that she is the person who resolves whatever problem that is facing the family, in terms of offering the right advice.

“She is my first child and everyone respects her and her views. Her male siblings would always complain about me and their mother to her and once she gives a directive, that becomes the law.

“In the larger family, it is the opinion of Umuada that prevails as any decision they take is binding on all of us.”

Chief Festus Nwakile from Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State said that having female children first has lots of benefits than having male children.

Nwakile said: “First female children are good keepers of the home. When God blesses you with a female child as your first child, you will soon thank Him for being so good to you because the girl will be assisting you in everything.

“Female children love their parents, especially their fathers, more than their love for their mothers. Apart from this, they hardly take sides with their mothers if there is a misunderstanding. They would rather tell their mother to beg Daddy because she is at fault.

“They will stand by you at old age and most importantly, daughters hardly give up on their parents at old age. Your son can come and give you some money and go his way, but your daughter will seek your comfort, take care of you, and bring you to stay with her or close to her.

“Most female firstborns are conscientious, organised, dependable, accommodating, and persistent.”

In Ngwa land, it is sacrilegious to make serious family decisions without the first daughter.

President of the Men Fellowship of the Evangelical Church, UEC, Ogbor Hill, Aba, Abia State, Deacon Justice Alozie, accepts that the first daughter occupies a powerful position in Igbo tradition. He told SEV that though Igbo society is patriarchal, the first daughter complements the first son in making decisions concerning the family, especially when both parents are dead. He also stated that the first daughter helps to settle disputes between members of the family.

He said: “Though the Igbo society is patriarchal, it doesn’t vitiate the role of the first daughter or the Umuada in the Igbo family system. Upon the death of the father or mother, the first daughter helps the first son in taking care of the family, particularly in the decision-making process. Just like the first son, she leads and guides, and becomes the mother of the house. She also helps her mother in taking care of the home.

“The most important aspect is that women are naturally peacemakers, the first daughter rallies to broker peace when there is a problem in the family. The first daughter is always accorded recognition and respect in every family issue, just like the first son.

“In Ngwa land, it is sacrilegious to take serious family decisions without the first daughter,” Deacon Alozie explained.

Igbo customs and tradition give them special roles in families

Although in Igbo land, families place undue emphasis on the male child, the importance or symbolism of an Ada in Igbo cosmology cannot, therefore, be overemphasized. Even though they are expected to be given out in marriage, our forebears carefully crafted specific roles for them.

Our forefathers made sure that even after marriage; Ada was never detached completely from her paternal home or community.

Igbo customs and traditions made it possible for Ada to hold and command a large degree of respect and dignity in the everyday life of her immediate family and the community.

While they are highly regarded and cherished by mankind, the Ada plays extremely positive roles in Igbo land.

Oral tradition holds that they are the only set of people that can overturn any judgment or decision and have the final say on any issue, in their family or community.

Umuada therefore remains one of the veritable tools in the administration of a typical Igbo community.

They have a spiritual link with the gods of the land—Uwakwe

Chief Ebere Uwakwe, resident of Owerri North Council Area of Imo State, described the first daughter of the family (Ada) as a natural peacemaker and second mother of the family.

He added: “In those days in Igbo land, it is only the Ada that is given a special title to speak to the gods of the land. Just like in a situation where there is a problem in the whole community and it is difficult to solve, the first daughters of the community will be invited to make a decision and that is final.

“They have a spiritual link with the gods of the land and are empowered to make peace where there is no peace. That is not to say other daughters of the family cannot do so, the Adas are regarded as the purveyors of the truth. Their parents see them as the closest child they reveal secrets to.

So, the Adas have so many family secrets that others do not have. Besides, the parents invest so much in grooming the Ada to be a role model to her siblings to be good ambassadors of the family anywhere they are. This makes the siblings accord so much respect to her because they see her as the second mother of the family.”

He said, however, that, “it is no longer the same these days, as we used to have it because the family values have been destroyed following the bad reputation of some of the first daughters. Some of them are now home breakers starting from their family home to their husbands’ home”.

Source: Vanguard

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