The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo, says the Igbo tradition of presenting kola nut to guests is a sign of hospitality in the area.
The group stated this in a communique issued at the end of a one-day seminar by the Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo in Nsukka Local Government Area, Prof. Damian Opata, and made available to newsmen.
It explained that the Igboland attaches some sacredness to the fruit, commonly called “oji”.
It stated that the seminar was organized for traditional rulers, president-generals of town unions, scholars and other community stakeholders.
It reads amongst others: “Kola nut remains a symbol of hospitality, which is why the first thing offered to a guest as a sign of welcome by the host in Igboland is kola nut.
The group further explained that in Nsukka area, the kola nut is first broken into lobes before prayers are said to ascertain that it had no bacteria infection.
“It is believed that any kola nut presented must be wholesome,” Opata stated.
According to him, infected kola nuts are usually thrown away since it is believed that “Ezechitoke” (God) and our ancestors will not accept it.
“Any person assigned to break kola nut among the Nsukka people does it and gives a lobe to the oldest person in the area for prayer.
“Kola nut and Ofo (traditional symbol of authority) constitute the two most important ritual symbols in Igboland,” he stated.
The retired University of Nigeria, Nsukka lecturer further explained that the seminar was organized to emphasize the importance of the kola nut-breaking ceremony.
“This seminar is anchored on the need to explore the various practices associated with breaking of kola nut and preserving them for posterity.
“In this age of modernity where many young persons have become alienated from their culture, youths should be taught how to break kola nut in Igboland.
“The sacred fruit is an object of ritual and communing with God and our ancestors,” he said.
The group expressed appreciation to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and the Chairman of Nsukka Local Government Area, Chief Walter Ozioko, for their continued support for Ohaneze Ndigbo.
It stated that the duo had shown passion in promoting the Igbo cultures and traditions.
The communique listed the speakers at the seminar to include Igwe Patrick Okoro and Igwe Christian Asogwa, while Igwe Simon Okenyi was the Chairman, the Local Organising Committee.