|Tuesday, August 12, 2022|
friend of mine once said to me: "generosity is the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return". Sometimes we need only to look at the sunset to see the generosity of God in our life. Attention is the purest form of generosity. Without God in us, obviously, we cannot give generously to others the gifts we have freely received. We must practice the act of sharing because it is more rewarding to give than to receive. Let us listen to the voice of God. Without God, we cannot achieve anything meaningful in our lives. This is simply because after our life on earth what will remain of us is the love we have shared and freely given to others. So, do not keep a record of your generosity to people - God is keeping watch of your progress. Be your brother's keeper. He will surely reward you.
Back in the village
In the village of Eziama lived Uchenna, a shoemaker. He was the only brother to Anayo, a tailor; both brothers lived in a mud house they inherited from their late father, Ikpeazu. It was on record that their father, Ikpeazu, destroyed and set ablaze the ancestral shrine in their native land, Umuofeke. For ages, the shrine was known by the villagers as a God of justice. The shrine was also considered as a god that strikes with lightning and punishes anyone who defiled the land. It had always been referred to as a god of peace and protection to the people of Ndiogu against their enemies and any unknown spirit to the land. Everyone in the village tried as much as they could to avoid the wrath of the god upon oneself by being just and upright in words and actions towards other people.
Furthermore, the villagers worshipped no other God except the God of their ancestors, Okinawa. There is a popular saying that a stream polluted at its source passes on its pollution through its length. The people of Umuofeke believed in the ancestral shrine for protection; but the succeeding chief priest of Umuofeke village (Ezeogu), was an evil man. Ezeogu was fond of using his authority as the chief priest to fight anyone who opposed his decision. He promised to defend the villagers; instead, he brought only calamity and nothing more. No one could question the gods, else Ezeogu would threaten them with the punishment of the god. He was known for his wicked behaviour, but no one dared to speak to admonish him. For that reason and many more, Ikpeazu sought for the face of the Almighty God to liberate the people of Umuofeke from dwelling in the dark. He selected a group of young men from the village and prepared them for a freedom fight against the worship of the ancestral shrine. In his speech, he said to the freedom fighters: "a god that feeds on the blood of its inhabitant is not worthy to be worshipped. The people of Umuofeke are like a man who has fallen into a well, we ought not to be there yet we cannot get out; we are sick; we need healing; we need deliverance; we need liberation. God has given us directions; He is anxious about our happiness and freedom to worship the true God - the choice is ours. As long as time endures we must liberate our land from the worship of a manmade god - a god that has a mouth but cannot speak, it has legs but cannot walk… the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob shall be our God and we must not go back idol worship". One midnight, when everyone was asleep, the ancestral shrine was set on fire; everything burnt to ashes. There were feelings of liberation among the people, but their joy was felt like a gentle breeze in the air.
It was a known fact that after Ikpeazu and his group destroyed the ancestral shrine, Ezeogu could not hold his anger. It was obvious that Ezeogu had no other shrine to make sacrifices. The chief priest threatened to offer him as a burnt offering to the gods and to cleanse the land, else the entire family would be banished from Umuofeke village forever. When Ikpeazu received the message of the chief priest, he did not hesitate in taking a decision. Early the next morning, before the sunrise, Ikpeazu with his two sons abandoned the village and went to live in his maternal home, Eziama. With the offerings of some people in the village, Ikpeazu acquired land and built a mud house with one room, a window and an entrance door.
The inner vision of unity
Ikpeazu lived happily with his two sons. They were helped by the inhabitants of Eziama. One would say that they felt the presence of God in their lives. As Ikpeazu would always remind his sons: "Truth changes every obstacle in life. Your enemies may help you to bring out your hidden potentials because they know your faults and they point it out to you even when your friends are not courageous to say that to you". With those words as a guiding principle, Anayo and Uchenna grew up. Before Ikpeazu died, he called his sons and reminded them of the importance of brotherly love and care. He said, "We must first value God in us all the time because no one can give to others what he does not have. Learn to support each other in love". Unanimously, they agreed to their father's wish. When Ikpeazu's body arrived, he sent his sons on an errand. They came back and met the lifeless body of their father. If weeping could bring the dead back to life, there was no doubt that Ikpeazu wouldn't have returned to life.
Before the death of Ikpeazu, it was said that their father had destined his sons to marry at an early age to enable the continuity in his lineage. Following the custom of the land, Uchenna was obliged to obey the will of his father. Shortly after Uchenna's wedding with Nsonma, Ikpeazu died after a brief illness.
On the contrary, Anayo had been in no hurry to get married. He was too busy establishing his business as a tailor. He did everything possible to improve his economic conditions. He relocated to the city with the help of a friend. There, he got the opportunity to combine his work with studies. After years of sacrifice, he graduated from one of the best universities in town with a bachelor's degree in business administration and management (BAM). In honour of his father, Anayo created jobs for the indigenous people of Eziama; he built a massive vocational training school for the youths such that they could be independent in pursuing their future career.
For many years, Uchenna and his wife lived in the village of Eziama and had many acquaintances. They were famous, kind-hearted and generous with everyone. Nsonma had a provision store where she sold articles mostly needed by the inhabitants. Uchenna stayed in a corner, outside Nsonma's shop to repair people's footwears and at the same time kept watch of people's movements in and out of the shop. Many of the villagers would prefer Uchenna making new shoes for them instead of buying already made shoes from the market. Uchenna was a talented shoemaker. He used good materials in patching and stitching footwears.
Nsonma conceived for the first time after ten years of marriage. Their joy was indescribable when Uchenna got the message. From that first month, both husband and wife began to make a project for the child. It was a cold evening in December and pouring rain when Nsonma died, after giving birth to their only son, Obumneke. In a state of shock, Uchenna moved around the house aimlessly, unable to believe that his wife was gone. He thought of the future of the defenceless child, so fragile and innocent. The cry from Obumneke provoked more tears and sympathy for Uchenna. Death did not permit Nsonma to have a glimpse of his son's face. After the funeral service of Nsonma, Uchenna at first intended to send his son to his brother's wife in the city. After several thoughts, he felt sorry for the little Obumneke; he decided to keep the child with him. He felt it was not wise to allow his son to grow up like an orphan of both parents. But Uchenna had no luck with children. A few weeks later, Obumneke fell sick and died. As Uchenna's rage kept developing, he became depressed and began to complain to God. More than once he prayed to God for death. It was at this critical moment that Anayo went to the village and took his brother to the city. It was through prayers, counselling and reunion of different types that Uchenna was revived. He didn't want to go back to his shoemaking profession. He dedicated the rest of his life in God's service and taking care of children in the orphanage.