Agadi Nwanyi na asi asiri (the gossiping old woman) – An Igbo Mythology – Igbos, Adapted story, African, Nigerian Mythology, Free to Read, Short Story, Fabling, Pam, Fablingverse, Osu, Ugiri tree, Agwu, Onwa, Chinaeke, Mbe, Nkita
A long time ago in the early years of the Igbos, after they had settled into the new land, a great woman was born.
To ensure that the gods were okay with the immigrants settling down on the land, one of the men had activated the Alushi of the land. This man and his generation would later be called Osu, for they were the pure ones, the ones connected to the god of the land. Nobody would be able to lay a finger on them without coming to terms with the god’s vengeance.
After being activated, the god of goddess of the land, usually a version of the elemental gods, granted the immigrants permission to become citizens and gave them laws that they were to live by. If these laws were broken by anybody the community as a whole would either perish or the culprit alone will perish. In this land, the god was the female embodiment of that port of the earth, The goddess Nneoma. She gave the founders her laws, they accepted them and we’re permitted to settle down in her land.
Now the Osu could not see the things of the spirit, even though he was the one who activated the goddess of the land, and the Igbos were fast learning that everything on the land was connected to a spirit, and there was a method to everything, but because they lacked insight, they could not cope.
One day an old woman, Agadi Nwanyi received a calling It was called Ara (madness) at first, this was something that had never happened, not even in their previous land. To the onlookers, it seemed she had turned mad, so they avoided her, and in her madness, in Onwa Abuo (The second moon of the lunar year) she ventured into the forest where she stayed for three moons, and on Onwa Agwu (the month of the masquerades, and the fifth moon) she returned to her community looking very much like a madwoman but appearing like the sanest person amongst the Igbos.
Nobody knew what happened in the forest, but now the old woman could access the Void of Agwu and the wisdom of the world they lived in, and the world beyond. She knew the names of all the gods and spirits and she knew how to make requests of them. She could hear everybody’s thoughts and could see the pasts and the future and she knew everything there was about everybody.
It was clear that The god of Wisdom and divinity himself had called her to his service. The woman was called Agadi Nwanyi na asi asiri (the gossiping old woman) by the Igbos because she knew everything and said everything she knew. She was also very useful, she even helped cure illnesses by listening to the spirits of the trees.
While she was around, everybody sought her wisdom, and she helped everybody without collecting a fee for herself, she only collected the things the gods and spirits asked for. Then one day, Onwu (Death) came for Agadi Nwanyi.
Chinaeke had once sent The Dog (Nkita) to instruct the Igbos on what to do to avoid death being permanent after the first human died, but Nkita had met The Tortoise (Mbe) on his way and began to play and drink until he forgot the instruction, And not wanting to not complete its mission, Nkita had instructed the humans to bury their dead in the earth an act that cemented the death of the flesh.
Now that Agadi Nwanyi was dead, the Igbos became hopeless, they realised how dependent they had become of the old woman. They refused to bury her and called upon the Osu to call upon the Goddess of the Land, then cried, besieging the goddess to beg Chinaeke to return the old woman to them.
Chinaeke heard their pleas, but as the first human’s death had cemented the laws of death, He could not bring her back. But He felt compassion for his creation and sent them a replacement. This time he spoke directly to them through their goddess. He told them to bury the Old woman and he would return what it was about her they missed.
After they buried Agadi Nwanyi na asi asiri, a sacred Ugiri (Bush Mango) tree sprouted from her head, and the seed of tree contained all the information that her connection with Agwu had afforded her, as well as the ability to access more knowledge from Agwu.
The Igbos were instructed to take two seeds from the Ugiri tree and cut them into two, and then tie each half vertically on the same string. This string will be called Afa, and every now and then, Agwu will call a person to bestow the ability to read and understand Afa, and some may become able to see what the old woman saw.
Over 5000 years have passed now, and the Igbos still use Afa to access the wisdom of Agwu. Folklore has it that the old woman, Agadi Nwanyi will reincarnate someday, and once again deliver the Igbos from the harshness of Uwa (The world)
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