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Anambra 2021 and the metaphor of Nzà bird

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THE beauty of Igbo cosmology is that it has an uncanny way of explaining life. Through its folklores, proverbs and metaphors, life is explored and explained. There are two of such folklores concerning Nzà bird that are relevant to recent events in the run-up to November 6 gubernatorial election in Anambra State.

  Nzà is a tiny but aggressive bird. Venerable Chinua Achebe used the metaphor of Nzà bird in Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God to drive home a point that a man should never provoke his fate. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe compared Okonkwo to the Nzà bird, who forgot himself after a heavy meal and challenged his chi to a wrestling match.

One clear meaning of the metaphor is arrogance and foolishness. Both Okonkwo and Nzà bird foolishly challenged their chi, an adversary who is clearly greater than them. The result of such challenge is predictably disastrous.

  There’s another interesting folklore concerning a famous seer and Nzà bird. There was once a powerful seer in a certain village who had so much wisdom and powers that he could see the past and into the future.

People from far and near came to consult him. His exploits soon became a source of worry to some local folks and they decided to put him into disrepute using the Nzà bird. They hatched a plan to march to his house with Nzà bird enclosed in someone’s palm. The plan was to ask him if the Nzà bird was dead or alive, since he is reputed to be a powerful seer.

If he said that it was alive, they planned that the person holding the tiny bird would squeeze it to death thus proving the seer wrong. But if he said that the bird is dead then the person holding the bird will release it to fly away; again proving the seer wrong.

  When the test was put to the powerful seer, he paused for a while and cast a slow glance at the group and said: “the life and death of the Nzà bird is in your hands, not mine”.

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