HIGH CHIEF OLLORWI OSARO
Ndèlé is a customary provision that allows a woman to manifest her personal wealth by publicly transferring part to another woman for the purpose of conferment of the prestigious title of Ɛmɛrɛ Ɔwa with all the prominence which custom grants to such a person. It is a deliberate action by a woman to enrich another. The Eleme Culture designed Ndèlé as a traditional means of Economic Empowerment and Wealth Transfer among the female folks. In transferring wealth, Ndèlé has helped empower many couples and give autonomy and self-sufficiency to several families in Eleme.
Purpose of Ndèlé
The established process of economic empowerment and wealth transfer known as Ndèlé has hitherto transformed the lives of many families. It is also an attainment for social recognition and status conferment among our female folks. Ndèlé ensures that the title of Ɛmɛrɛ Ɔwa cannot be assumed overnight without being formally confer with it, after due process and especially meeting the minimum requirements of Otora Ndèlé.
The benefactor, i.e., the woman performing the Otora Ndèlé must examine herself fit for the exercise and buoyant enough to meet all the requirements. She must carefully select the beneficiary, who in most cases will be her daughter, junior sister or niece.
Material for Otora Ndèlé
The list of material for Otora Ndèlé is endless as new and expensive things are introduced from time to time in line with changes. However, the following are prerequisite: Different Varieties of Yams, Cocoyams, Sugarcane, Beans, Pepper, salt, palm oil, Pumpkin, One Plantain Sucker, One Basin of Garri, Big Dried Fish (known as ete njira), and a female goat. Also to be included are various sizes of aluminium pots, plates, basins, axe, kettle, matchet, trunk boxes, bicycle, trinkets, gas cooker and cylinder, sewing machine, trays, tripods, cups, mortar and pestle, sieve, cutlery and so on.
When the materials for Otora Ndèlé are assumed to be complete, leading women in the community will be invited to inspect all the materials which will be laid out in a room. The women qualified to carry the materials are compound members, relations of the celebrant, members of her age-group and other female members of the community. That is, the more the materials, the more the number of women to carry them.
And apart from the bicycle which may be rolled along with the entourage, every single item will be carried by a woman on her head as they sing the Ndèlé song:
Ndèlé Etoo Hey yaa hey
Ndèlé Esaa Hey yaa hey
Ndèlé Ojaku (Ojakpo) Hey yaa hey
Ndèlé Onwie Hey yaa hey
Ndèlé Njae Hey yaa hey
Ndèlé Akpikpe Hey yaa hey
Ndèlé Abã Hey yaa hey
Otora Ndèlé is usually performed on Ɔbɔ and it is never carried to a widow, spinster or a woman not currently married to a man.
Only a married first daughter who have acquired the Ɛmɛrɛ Ɔwa title leads the NDÈLÉ procession, first round their own community to announce their departure and then to the recipient community. One of the leaders will carry a heavy metal gong which she will sound monotonously as they walk along. This will continue until the entourage reaches their destination and is received by members of the age-group or friends of the husband to the recipient.
Custom demands that both the recipient and her husband must hide themselves in nearby compound and remain there until they are sent for, while their friends will help the entourage to settle down. When the entourage has finally settled down, the friends of the couple will now help them to come and see the gift items which will be announced to them as they move from their hiding place to their own house.
In the spirit of welcoming the entourage all the necessary rites will be performed in the recipient’s house before they will begin their journey back home.
Conferment of Ɛmɛrɛ Ɔwa Title
The arrival of the entourage back home begins another round of celebrations by the celebrant who joyfully receives the entourage and praises them for safe delivery of all the items. After a period of singing, dancing and merriments, the leader of the Ogbo Ɛmɛrɛ Ɔwa of the community will formally announce the emergence of a new Ɛmɛrɛ Ɔwa and the celebrant in response will thank all present for honouring her by admitting her into the Ɛmɛrɛ Ɔwa Eleme Hall of Fame and wish them safe journey to their various houses.