6 -- PITA CAUSES THE CHURCH OF HIS DAY TO SPEAK OUT STRONGLY
After a few months had passed, Pita returned home. It was a great surprise that someone everyone thought was wasting away in jail had returned and bought many different things. He had bought fine cloth and garments, a large cutting knife and its sheath, and many pictures for hanging in the church.
During the few months that Pita had not been at home, their church had declined greatly because they had no leader or advisor. This made Pita stay at home longer than he expected in order to see that their church did not collapse. He then went to Ajali and asked the priest to send a teacher to supervise their church, and they could help that teacher by doing farm work and performing various other tasks. The priest then told him that he would give them a teacher who would supervise their church and others in the surrounding area, but the teacher would live in Ikpanwahihia. When he finished these things, Pita then got ready and returned to Onicha where he was learning a craft.
In this way, he spent three months or more. Pita returned and came to see how things were going. Since Pita had been born with his upper teeth [considered an abomination], he had become someone who was an example, and many people of their land started to go to church. In their eyes, they said that Pita surpassed his mother and father as well as the kotima and the judges. From the time of this victory, Pita's younger brother started to go to church. Soon, he was baptised and took the name of Jacob. Another one took the name of Sidney, another one answered to David. Chima answered to Edward. Now they all started to go to church, their mothers and fathers continued to scold until they were tired, and the only thing left was for them to start going to church as well.
Because of the strong efforts of the teacher who supervised them, their church grew and progressed. After a few years had passed, when Pita went home as he did at first, he bought a bicycle [iron horse]. This made many people pleased with him. All those who had acted as though he and they were enemies then were ingratiating themselves with him. This also made people remember something that happened in Okigwe.
A European came to Okigwe to give people medicine for chickenpox and smallpox. He looked for someone to go around with him, so a chief there went to the home of a man with whom he had a land dispute, forcibly dragged out his eldest son, and gave him to the European. He thought that his enemy's heart would be broken.
It was not long before the boy began to enjoy his work. Soon, the white doctor acquired an automobile which he used to go all around to the places he was going to give people medicine. Everywhere he went, he and the child went together. By working hard, the child began to understand the white person's language, and started to learn what is called some tools of the trade they used in their work. After a few years had passed, the child had learned a lot of useful things, and became someone who was pointed to as an example and someone of whom people were envious. Even that chief who thought that he had hurt his enemy began to say, "Had I known." Finally, the child achieved an important position in the hospital and was able to educate his brothers. Their household became an exemplary place.
Similarly, there were some people who wanted the kotima to come and take their children and go to the court to see if they could go from there and progress like Pita Nwana. When Pita used to return home on the bicycle, he was under the control of his master. Before long, he was living on his own.
His master and those who owned the place where he was learning the craft then helped him and gave him a certificate that he used to get a job in Uzuakoli as an artist. The place where he worked was in a large Methodist school there. It was his responsibility to hire the various workers, both those who built houses and those who cut grass. This made him a well-known person in that land. All the white people there also liked him; the organization and supervision of all his work also pleased them very much.
Pita helped many people a lot. One time a certain white person who was getting ready to return to Europe sold him a motorcycle. This allowed him to go to his village whenever he wanted. In those times, World War II had ended, that was in the year 1945. Many soldiers' uniforms were being sold in the markets. Pita then bought several uniforms with the result that whenever he put them on and climbed on his motorcycle, took his double-barreled gun and slung it across his back, he looked splendid. Whenever he went back to their village, many people would gather in his father's house, eating and drinking.
Only the Fathers [priests] rode motorcycles in those days. Thus because of the motorcycle, people were asking if it was Pita or Father riding.
7 -- PITA BUILDS HIS FATHER A ZINC HOUSE
Pita then started to make plans to build his father a zinc house. It was a happy time when Nnanyi Kapi [Mr. Carpenter] told those with whom he lived that he wanted to build his father a zinc house. Many who were there that day promised to help in any way they could so that his plans for the house could be fulfilled. Especially the church members promised to help him in any way.
It was not long after he began to build the house that he finished it, because there were so many people helping him. While it was being built, some were treading mud, others were carrying loads, while others were molding clay. Young women had the task of fetching water. These things were done according to custom. It was neither because he was Pita nor that he was the son of Nwana. This was the way people cooperated with everyone in house-building. People did not have to be begged to work. Only by word of mouth did they get the message. Everyone who came would have something to do. Thus Pita finished a large zinc house that people would point to as a model. The house had a large meeting-place and four other rooms. It was a house that was a tourist attraction in those days.
Another thing Pita did was to buy a talking machine called a gramophone. Whenever he came home, his father's house became a place where the people came to hear the gramophone music. This meant that at times the house could not contain the crowds of people who came to hear the gramophone music. They would stay until dark. Some would bring wine with them. They would be listening to the music, drinking wine, and talking about the wonders of that talking box. Some asked if the singers were inside the box. Some asked if the singers were getting tired. When one went home, he told others. This caused people to continue coming until Pita went back to Uzuakoli. On the day he went back, people followed his motorcycle in greater numbers than those who came when Fada would visit.
When he reached Uzuakoli, he would use his double-barreled gun to kill various wild animals. He killed cane-rats, deer, antelope, bush pigs, and flying animals such as eagles, crows, large-headed hornbill [coucal who carried its mother on its large head]. It was said that when it was born, the earth did not exist. Therefore, when its mother died it buried her on its head because it could not find any earth in which to bury her.
It was not only a gun that Pita used to kill animals; he also set various types of trap to kill them. This let all the people living around Uzuakoli know that Pita used a gun to kill animals instantly. Also because Pita was the chief of all the workers and was a skilled craftsman, everyone called him "Kapi," which was the shortened name for "carpenter." What many people called him was "Master Kapi."
8 -- PITA KILLS A LEOPARD AND BECOMES A LEOPARD-KILLER
One day the trap of an Ozuitem person caught a leopard. The man then beat a drum to tell everyone not to enter the bush because there was a snake in the grass. Fear then gripped people both young and old, men and women. This kept everyone from going to gather firewood or fetch water if there were not two or three of them. But how long could they live in fear? If the leopard finally got out of the trap, there would be trouble. It might wait in anger for people going to their farms and chew them to death. Besides this, if the thorn in the forest pierces the chicken, no one will enter it. The leopard was not an animal that could be shot with a gunpowder device. Therefore they sent a message to Master Kapi. Three men were sent to take the message to Master Kapi. When they arrived, they took several gifts as though they were coming to summon a diviner.
They then delivered the message they had come to deliver. One who hunts a cow and calls it by name does not use a rope, he uses special cow medicine. When Master Kapi heard these messages, he had no hesitation in following them. He then gathered some bullets and put them into his bag. Since the messengers had come via the forest road, Kapi joined them and also used the forest road because that road was nearby, although it was not good for riding motorcycles.
They all then went as fast as possible and entered Ozuitem. They persevered until they found someone to guide him into the forest and show him where the trap was. Neither the owner of the trap nor the others was brave enough to approach it. After Kapi finished speaking words of encouragement to them, some agreed to follow him. Some stayed about a mile away; others carried guns, while others carried knives. When they arrived, the place looked as though it had been completely cleared off. When Master Kapi saw the leopard, he signaled to them with his eyes that everyone should get ready. He then took his gun and shot the leopard once; the leopard jumped up as if it were coming to fight, but the trap held it firmly. Master Kapi then shot it again and the leopard died. Some of those who had gunpowder devices then shot them into the air in joy, when they saw that the wild beast who had such great strength had died by force. They all happily and joyfully carried the leopard and went home, thanking Master Kapi and calling him Leopard-Killer. When they got home, they prepared a big feast, and Kapi then left. Ozuitem also gave him many kinds of presents, including the meat of the leopard belonging to the leopard-killer, or the killer's share.
Master Kapi answered to the name of Leopard-Killer but he did not like to answer to it enthusiastically because he said that that leopard belonged to someone else. But how many leopards does a person kill before he answers to Leopard-Killer? It was as if Master Kapi knew that the time would come that he would kill his own leopard. If a person agrees, his personal god agrees. Be that as it may, when Kapi returned to his town he told the townspeople the story of the leopard, and it caused great joy.
9 -- PITA KILLS A LARGE HARE
When he arrived at the Isiukwuato forest, the people of the town were hunting. When the hunt leader [one who shouted to scare game into the open] saw a large hare and how it was very heavy and spotted like a leopard, the man thought that it was a leopard. He then shouted in a loud voice:
Everyone here watch out.
Whoever is in the forest, whoever is in the road, I am saving my head - o.
Everyone save himself - o
What I saw
Was most fearful
It resembled the killer of a strong man on the day of war
Even his dog, when it saw this animal, put its tail between its legs, backed up, and ran to its owner.
At that time many other hunters had come out onto the road to find out if it was true. When they saw that even the dog followed, watching in fear, they gathered around to observe for themselves. They then thought about what they should do, especially since there was none of them had shotguns. They did not know that the fear that gripped the wild beast was greater than that of the hunters.
When Master Kapi? arrived and saw that they all carried guns and were standing as though there were one among them who had been shot accidentally, he stopped and asked them if all was well. After they greeted him, they told him what the hunt-leader had shouted in the forest.
He then turned and asked that person if he had rubbed his hands in his eyes, if what he said was really what he saw. He also asked the man if he had seen its head and its tail. The man said that all he knew was that he had seen only the top of its back. He repeated what he had said, that it was a leopard, the fear of which gripped him in the twinkling of an eye.
Master Kapi then asked them if the place this happened was nearby or in the forest. They said that it was not in the deep forest itself. Then he took his gun and held it in one hand. He took a stone and threw it into the forest. This made the dog poke its head into the forest. Then he took the gun and shot it in the direction they had pointed out, and the noise of the gun caused the hare to run out of its hiding-place. The dog then chased it fiercely. They all got well prepared to see what would develop. In the twinkling of an eye, the dog chased the animal and jumped into the path, but the place where they would run out into the road was far away, and the locally made guns they had could not reach there. They were very fearful.
Master Kapi then climbed on a rock that was there. The animal's head was visible on the road, and the gun spoke. The dog then ran around it wagging its tail back and forth and rejoicing as though it were the one that had bitten the animal to death.
When the hunters gathered, they saw that it was a hare that their brother had seen and talked about. Master Kapi then told them that no one was to blame and anyone who saw a lizard's head in a hole should run because a lizard's head resembled a snake's head. He asked them, "You who heard that it was an animal who ate its peers, did you run to avoid being called a leopard-killer?"
When he had gone across Okeohia, which was their neighbor, he stopped, shot his gun twice, then climbed on his motorcycle. The sound of the gun and the sound of his motorcycle made it known that he had returned. Many people followed him. Some carried pots of wine and came to greet him. They all would be drinking this when they listened to the gramophone and the story of how he killed the leopard. Since he knew that any time he returned, many people would be coming and would stay until dark, he had bought a European-style lamp. The way this lamp shone made them call it Brighter-than-moon. A man who had a locally-made candlestick came, but when people saw that Brighter-than-moon was producing something big, they told the man that he should put out his candle. He refused, saying that he would see whether the candle or Brighter-than-moon would be the first to be extinguished.
While they were listening to stories and various songs, the man did not know when the fire completely burned up the candle and also burned up its holder. When he was told that his candle had burned up completely, he said that his candle wanted to outshine Brighter-than-moon. They told him that it seemed that he was determined to be like a tiger's teeth [stubborn].
10 -- PITA GETS MARRIED
While Pita was building his father's house, he was also talking about getting married. It is true that Pita had become an important person, but he did not ignore his mother and father when he sought to marry.
If Pita had looked for a wife on his own, many women would have been trying in vain to go after him. So his father said that his parents would be in charge of finding him a wife. They then found a woman named Nwakaku who was the oldest daughter of Mr. Ekwedike, one of the Ogbu-onye-oma people in Arondizugu. You can be sure that any woman would be happy to marry into the household of someone like Pita Nwana. Pita was pleased that his parents had found him a wife.
It was not long before Pita's wife became pregnant and gave birth to the first son. That one died. The second one was also a boy who died, as well as the third and fourth ones.
People then started to express their opinions. Some reminded his father of all the various abominations that Pita had committed. Some said that it was Ana-mmiri, some said that it was Imo. Others said that it was the Ana-mmiri snake he killed that was snatching away his children.
Pita did not pay any attention to those people. The only thing he did was to take his wife and go to Uzuakoli where he lived. When they arrived, he told his wife that she should take heart, and that they would yet bear children. He also told her that she should remain strong. Soon they had another boy. Finally, they had five children: four boys and one girl whose name was Nwaobiara. This meant "a child who came to consume wealth." The name of their eldest son was Simon. The names of their other male children were Harry, Alfred, and Enechukwu.
THE DEATH OF PITA'S FATHER
It is nothing new that people's advancement is envied by their peers, and smiles are not always sincere. On the day of the celebration of the opening of the house Pita built for his father, an enemy gave poison to his father. He suffered illness from it for a few years, and then died. This did not cause Pita to change his behavior toward his fellow human beings, and act as though the death of his father had embittered him. Rather, he continued to show that all people were the same. He did not regress where the word of God was concerned, either in their land or in other places.
It was in 1935 that Pita built the house for his father, and his father died in 1937. Pita then moved into his father's house, because he was the oldest son.
11 -- PITA KILLS A BUSHCOW THAT IS TROUBLING THE VILLAGE
Many times the women of Uzuakoli would come and complain to Master Kapi about a large wild animal called bushcow that was spoiling everything they planted on their farms. This animal was very large, and everyone whose farm it traveled across would cry. The result was that wherever it went, whatever it trampled on and whatever it struck with its horns would look as though a huge tree had fallen on it. Anyone who had this happen on her farm would lose confidence and resort to divination to find out if she had done something bad to cause the bushcow to enter her farm.
This wild animal did not come all the time, but when it did come out and roam around, the news of it would be spread. People would announce it everywhere until the next time it would roam around again.
In the year under discussion, a huge rain had fallen, and everything planted on the farms had started to sprout. The corn had put up new shoots, the okra had sprouted; the yam had grown small yellow tubers. It is at times like this that the bushcow comes out. If the bushcow had been an animal that roamed singly, people would have been able to handle the situation or find the courage to endure what it was spoiling. The worst thing was that there were more than five or six of them every time they came out. This year, it seemed that all the bushcows in the forest came out. Therefore it was not only the women who were crying about what they spoiled in their farms, but the men as well.
When Pita heard about the calamity on people's farms, it distressed him a lot. He thought it important to act quickly to avoid disaster. Therefore, he decided immediately that he was going to make war on these animals. Without wasting time, he called two of his courageous men friends and asked them to join him in making war on these animals. But they replied that they had no guns, let alone knives, so how did he think they could join him in that type of expedition? He then told them that if their hearts were strong, they should have no fear.
When the early morning of that day came, the partridge cried, the coucal shouted, and the cock crowed twice. In the eerie night time [when every place seems to be calling out "Who goes there?"], they set out on their journey. When they went out, there were still a few sleeping hours left before the break of dawn on Sunday.
Before church was out, no one saw Master Kapi and those who were with him. Before the night's food was cooked, nothing could be heard. Now it was somewhere around nine-thirty. Fear gripped everyone in their houses. Everyone was filled with fear and imaginings. Their neighbors who knew that their master was not at home were coming and asking if he had returned.
When they finally returned, joy intoxicated everyone like wine. But when they saw that one among his followers was holding his intestines in his hands, all the happiness changed to crying and pity. No one dared to ask them how the expedition had gone.
The first thing Master Kapi did was to go and tell the headmaster of the Uzuakoli college that he should give him a vehicle to take that man to the hospital. When the white man wanted to know how the man got into the trouble that caused his intestines to protrude, Master Kapi told him that his story was a long one, that it was not something he was going to tell people one by one.
The next day many people gathered to hear how the disaster occurred. Master Kapi pieced together how everything happened and told it to them. Here is what he related:
"When my people and I reached the forest on the border of the land of the Uzuakoli at Bende, which is where I had heard that the bushcows were spoiling things, the only things we saw were bushpig tracks. We then went deeper into the interior of the great forest. Soon, we saw the tracks of bushcows. Their tracks were numerous, which showed that they were in a group. So we followed their tracks to see if we could find them. The place where we saw their tracks was where they had come to forage for food at night. But when we had gone more then two miles into the forest, we saw them in their resting place. When they saw us they got ready to run. Before they ran out, I noticed one of them that was the heaviest and told it to stop right there. The sound of the gun made them all start to run. The one that was shot in the head ran one way, while the others headed in a different direction. The gun had wounded that one badly, which made it pant, with its blood streaming like water. This let us know where it was going.
The sun that was shining that day made the animal bleed profusely. As it went along, we followed it until we got close to it, and I then shot it again. It then started to run to its death. We then followed behind it again. If it climbed up a hill, we followed it; if it climbed down, we climbed down too.
We were very encouraged because it was not running and looking back. Also, it was clear to us that nothing would prevent it from falling eventually. Since we were in the forest, it was not clear how any one of us could drag it. But if we had left the animal and gone back, others would bring the corpse to us in a few days. I had shot it three times but hardly scratched it.
As we continued to hunt the bushcow and came close to it, I shot it a fourth time and it started its running again. This time it would go toward the forest and then toward the road, like a drunken person. We expected it to fall, but it did not fall. At that time I told my group that I was tired. Iheukwu then said that we should not abandon the beast, but just rest a little. I asked him what we had to rest with, was it kola or pepper, and told them that we should leave because I did not have an ounce of strength left. Iheukwu then told me to give him the gun, and he would go and look for the animal.
I then gave him the gun, gave him bullets, and showed him how to shoot the double-barreled gun. I then sat down in fatigue, hunger, and thirst. At the same time, I was thinking about how to leave the forest in case leaving should become necessary. I could not tell where we entered the forest or where we could get out. While I was thinking about these things, what I heard was, "Master, he has killed me." I turned around and saw Nwankwo coming on the run. I asked him "What is it?" but Nwankwo did not stop, let alone speak to me. Since I saw only Nwankwo but not Iheukwu, I said there must have been a disaster. If the bushcow did not kill Iheukwu, Iheukwu would have killed the bushcow. I then ran to the place where I heard a commotion. As I went, I was calling out, but no one answered me. When I looked carefully and saw where the animal was standing in a certain corner of the forest, I did not know what to do, because I had nothing but a knife. I did not know where Iheukwu had been, so I could find out the location of the gun I had given him. He kept pointing to the place where he had let it fall, when the animal came out fighting.
While I was looking for the place where the gun was in the path so I could retrieve it, the animal fell down the way a big kola tree which had been chopped down would fall. Thanks be to God that it did not fall on Iheukwu where he was lying on the ground. When I looked for the gun and examined it, the bullets were still in it; I then aimed at the beast and shot it again. I did not know that what I shot this final time had already become a corpse. When I found out that the animal had died, I called Nwankwo and told him to come, that the animal had died, and he then laughed in delight. But when Nwankwo and I tried hard to lift it, we saw that he was bleeding, which showed that his laughter was forced. He would have shouted, except that he was holding his intestines in his hand.
We then took a cloth and bandaged his stomach. Since he was able to walk, we began to look for the exit road. When we had gone something like ten or more paces, Iheukwu said that it would be necessary to put a special mark on the beast, and that we should snip a piece off one of its ears to use to tell the people at home what had happened. In addition, someone else might contest for it, because the tortoise roasted yam in the fire and tied a string on it, saying that it would not be difficult for a person's property to become another person's property. We then reached home as you see us now."
After he finished telling these things, they all started to look for some way to bring home the body of that animal. Some people asked Pita how many strong men he thought it would take to carry the animal. Pita said that all of them there would not be able to carry it unless it were first carved up or cut into small pieces. They all then began to look for knives and axes. Some carried long, oblong baskets and plates, and some carried large baskets. Then they started to walk.
When they arrived, they were all speechless. At last they began to carve it up. Cutting up this animal was like using an axe to cut firewood from a kolanut tree.
In this way they kept on carving it, chopping away until they had carved it enough to allow them to carry it, because the return path was far away.
Soon, the young men were singing on their way. They carried the corpse of this wild animal. Perspiration was running off them like water, from head to foot. When they arrived and put down their loads, shouts of joy and sounds of pleasure were heard everywhere. Its two horns were short but twisted and black. Its two ears were as wide as Hausa shoes. Its eyes and mouth were like a cow's, but its nose was like a flute or a policeman's whistle.
After all of the bushcow's corpse was brought in, it was carved up and the meat was shared among kith and kin. The men took its head, while the women got together and ate its midsection. The meat was used to have a big feast, the news of which circulated to many places. Some people said that they had not seen an animal like this in their lives. Some said that they had never heard of anyone killing it. But now they had seen the corpse of this animal, seen the one who killed it, and joined in eating its flesh. Therefore, they were filled with happiness and pleasure and were thanking this great man, Pita Nwana, calling him various names like "Antelope-killer," "Leopard-killer," "Bushcow-killer," "Killer of the Biggest Animal," "One who kills all," including other things he had done, especially where the church was concerned.
In 1944 and 1945 when the soldiers who had gone to World War II (1939-1945) returned, people were selling lots of military uniforms in the Agbagwu market in Uzuakoli.
Pita Nwana bought some warm garments, both long-sleeved and short-sleeved. He also bought shoes and various hats. Each time he wore these things, it looked as though Hitler's soldiers had returned. Especially if he wore these clothes and his hat with his double-barreled gun slung over his back or carried on his shoulder, both whites and blacks looked at him as though the things had been brought into the market solely for him. [They looked so fine on him.]
Any time Piita Nwana would travel far away, he prepared well: he took his double-barreled gun, slung it across his back, and climbed on his motorcycle. Then one knew indeed that this man was truly handsome. His friends called him by various names. Some called him "most outstanding Igbo," while others called him "tree better than the oil palm."
One day he got ready in this way and went out. When he reached Umennekwu in Isikwuato, the people of the town were hunting. They had flushed out a large antelope. Some of the things the hunters carried were powder-guns or dane guns. Others carried spears and knives. They had shot the animal with their guns but had missed it, had pierced it with their spears but had not penetrated it. These hunters were shouting, and one who had a dog was shouting that his dog had chased out a wild animal. This man was shouting:
Who is on the highway?
Who is on the highway?
If it leaves, you will give me its head o!
Do not allow it to leave.
Who is at the base of the tree?
Stay there o! Stay there o!
While he was shouting, his dog had forced the animal out in a life-and-death struggle. When Pita arrived, the animal was trying to cross the highway. Pita heard the shouts and the hunting bells of the dog hunting in the woods. He stopped and unslung his gun. He had not gotten off his motorcycle when the animal ran out and crossed the road again. Pita aimed his gun at it as it was running for its life, and killed it. Before the hunters ran out because of the odd gunshot they heard, some people asked him if he was the one who had shot the gun, and some asked him if he had seen when the animal crossed the road and escaped. He told them that it was he who had shot the gun, that the animal had not escaped; instead he pointed out to them where to go to carry off the corpse.
Some thought he was lying. So he asked them, "If it is a lie, why did I shoot, as if you would not hear a strange gunshot?" That made them go to see for themselves.
When they reached the place where the animal had fallen, some were happy and ran back to thank Pita, and some, dancing with joy, carried the corpse of the antelope out to the road. Then they all praised his name, hoping that he would give them some of the meat. He told them that since he was a traveler, they should carry the animal home, and they should share and eat in peace and joy. He also told them that they should not quarrel over it. They then thanked him profusely, and he climbed onto his motorcycle and began his journey again.
Everywhere he passed, people would come to find out if he was a priest or a minister. People would come out like this until he entered his town of Arondizuogu. When he got home his friends, kith and kin, and in-laws would come for eating and drinking. Shortly, he would shoot his double-barreled gun and people would call him various names such as Leopard-killer, Killer of Large Animals, One Who Shoots Into the Air to Demonstrate to the Public. The flutist would take his flute and call him Nwosu, Pita Nwana, Leopard-killer, Good Man, Things Are Best Done While Young. As the flutist was praising him he was praising others, wine would flow, food would be consumed in great joy.
This man played the flute as a way of earning a living. He went nowhere without his flute. He could go out of town and stay three or four nights doing nothing but playing the flute, drinking wine and filling his stomach. The name of this person was Okorie Nwoke. He was white from his head to his eyeballs. Therefore he was called White Okorie [albino].
One day, Okorie was in the church and had carried his flute in his bag. Sometimes he would carry two flutes. While the priest was praying, Okorie heard people singing without hiring a flutist. Okorie ran out of the church, joined the singers, took his flute and put it to his mouth, and then there were masquerades everywhere; people saw that he was leading them. Several people called Okorie's flute, "One who wakes up the sleeper," or "If the flute abandons the strong man, it goes home in the bag." Playing the flute was something that had consumed Okorie ever since the day Pita Nwana arrived in his town, because of his shooting of animals and the great joy, food and drink that accompanied it.
12 -- PITA'S RETIREMENT
In 1951 Pita Nwana stopped the work he was doing at Methodist College Uzuakoli. It was a source of regret among the Europeans, and especially among the people of Uzuakoli. They were very upset that Pita Nwana was going to stop working and leave Uzuakoli. Pita consoled them by saying that he was not going to die, but only retire. He told them that he and the white people had discussed it; that he had worked there about thirty years. Indeed, the whites did not want him to leave, but he said that he must go, that a sojourner must always go home.
On the day of his retirement party, many different things happened that should be remembered. The first-grade students and their teachers played a game of football in which Pita was the first one to kick off before the game began. That evening, the students did various demonstrations and sang many songs about Pita Nwana's manual labor in their school.
They also had a cinema show. When it was all over, they gave Pita Nwana gifts so that any time he looked at them, he would remember "Methodist College Uzuakoli."
Similarly, several clubs of various kinds brought him gifts that they had collected, until finally he had packed everything the college people gave him. They also gave him one of their black vehicles which he could use to transport all his things.
They finished by naming one of the college dormitories after Pita Nwana, which it is still called today.
Their schoolmaster, who was also a white man, gave him a beautiful document, or certificate. Because of the printing requirements of this book, we have left the certificate in the English language in which it was written. You will see it at the back of this book.
When Pita returned home on retirement, his attention turned completely to farm work. At times he planted more yams than others whose work it had been for their entire lives. He still shot his gun, but wild animals were not so numerous as they used to be.
Not long after returning on retirement, Pita Nwana suffered a big tragedy. His wife died after a few days' illness. His wife died in the year 1961, on July 31. Pita mourned greatly for her. But after around three years had passed, he married another woman whose name was Salome Nwafo, but the name
her husband called her was Nwannediya. Nwannediya was humble, and knew that what was very important to her master was to feed him at the proper times and to take care of keeping their household clean at all times.
While these things were happening, the church of which Pita had been a leading member before he left had become a very large church called St. Stephen's (CMS) Church, Ndianiche-Uwakonye, Arondizuogu. Even though Pita had grown old, he continued in every way to boost St. Stephen's.
He had already given thanks to God for guiding him in all his journeys, and for the way he returned carrying his own box, rather than being carried in a box by others.
People were coming, urging and inviting him to become a member of their town's governing body, because they well knew that he was an intelligent person and was an expert speaker. Soon, they gave him a written invitation to come and serve on their council that judged traditional matters. He received the document with pleasure. On the day he went to the first council meeting, the council members were very happy to see him.
The council members held their meetings monthly. Only a few months after Pita joined the council, he found that many things were happening: that a matter would be completed one day, but another time, a bullet would skip the one in front and hit the one in back [injustice]. He found also that evening wine and morning snuff were among the things that were ruining them. Worst of all was that in small matters that could have been decided that day, the parties to the case would be told that the case had been adjourned and postponed to another day so that the two parties could keep on pounding fufu and bringing raphia and palm wines. These thngs saddened him, so that he removed himself from those behaving this way, and then resigned from the council.
13 -- PITA NWANA DIES
In the book "Julius Caesar," written by the great European author William Shakespeare, Caesar's wife Calpurnia is made to say that when a poor person dies no special stars are seen in the sky, but the sky itself looks special when a wealthy person returns to his ancestors. This should have been what happened and took place during the life of Pita Nwana, but something happened to cause silence. On September 5, 1968, Pita Nwana died, from a fever of only two days.
We must remember that at this time a war was being fought between Biafra and Nigeria. It was in this year that the war killed many people; hunger killed those who were not shot to death. Those whom death extinguished and those whom hunger killed were too numerous to count. It was at this time that conscription [kwapu] happened in our land, when an able-bodied man would be in his house and he would be dragged out to go to war. This was the time when this fine man, this leopard-killer, this strong man with a high-bridged nose, the reliable man, the successful man, went to his eternal rest. This was the time when death, who kills a person and kills himself, took this man, the Master Carpenter-- Pita Nwana then bid the world goodbye.
Anyone would think that Pita's funeral would have been the kind attended by the great as well as the insignificant. It should have been like that, but as has been said, this was a time of war; in the sky there was no noise because of the way things were at that time. No one could go from place to place as he chose. Young men stayed in the forest preparing their bullets; those who were not old enough to fight were preparing for fighting, learning how to shoot and to dodge bullets, and waiting for their time to arrive. Before several of Pita's children came home, he had already been buried. His people cried so much and beat their chests, ground their teeth, and put on mourning clothes.
It is finished, the struggle is ended, Pita has gone home, returned to his ancestors, for all eternity.
Pita Nwosu Nwana did not amass any wealth. Pita did not take any titles because he was a churchman. He believed strongly in the church and in the things the church people were doing. Because of this, he was buried like a churchman. His grave is in the area around St. Stephen's C.M.S. Church which is in Ndi Aniche Uwakonye, Arondizuogu.
Pita is dead but his name lives on. We well remember that there is a certain book called OMENUKO. The book was published in 1933. Everything he wrote in that book was something that really happened, but the title of the book was not the name of the one who did these things. What
happened was that Pita thought that if he told the name of the person and the various things he did, both good and bad, if one was not careful, it could cause anger in the future. Since this book carries this name,and since Pita did not name the real person, it would not be good now that Pita has died to reveal the name of that person.
Omenuko as named in the book means "One who acts when wealth is scarce." Indeed, the man of whom we speak became one who gave out generously or one who showed kindness when things were scarce.
This book that Pita Nwana wrote was introduced only a few times in all the years by Longmans who published it. Any time he received that kind of money it brought him much praise. Besides going to church to give thanks, he invited his kith and kin and told them that money from "Omenuko" had arrived. Many of those who were informed would come and bring wine with them. He himself would go and buy wine and cook food. It brought great joy to those who came as well as to the master of the house. They used the time to tell stories and get answers to their questions. Even until today, the name of Pita Nwana continues to be known because of that book, and the names and work of his children and his brothers and sisters.
His faith saved him.
Pita Nwana ended his work with the Europeans in the year 1951. He was probably around 70 years old at that time.
He died in the year 1968. From this, it can be said that Pita was around 87 years old, that is, one could say that he was born around 1881. One can learn from the story of P?ta's life why it was appropriate that his book "Omenuko" be translated into various languages. Pita Nwana, One Who Did Things To The Maximum Extent Of His Powers--may his heart truly rest. We believe that his deeds will continue to make the world a better place.
The Igbo say that the death that kills a person does not kill the story concerning the death. They say that the father reaches the child. They say also that the hand waves the hand, from generation to generation. This is true of Pita Nwana's life. One who acted in times of scarcity, a powerful person, a revered man, a feared man, a man who was lauded and given praise-names has left the world, but his story continues until today. he book he wrote, "Omenuko," is what the Europeans call a classic, which is read over and over again.
This book called "Omenuko," One Who Does Things To The Maximum Extent of His Powers, tells his story from his childhood until his death, his work and the story of his life, including the things he said, until he died. He was a man who had faith in God and took his strength, his wisdom, his thoughts and his money and worked for God and his fellow man. He spoke the truth, and the truth was his salvation.
Copy of the letter Rev. Wood wrote to Pita Nwana upon his retirement:
Methodist College, Uzuakoli, 30th June, 1951
Mr. Peter Nwana
Mr. Peter Nwana is leaving the staff of this College after long and honourable service, to enjoy a well-earned retirement.
He worked as a carpenter for the Methodist Mission before the College was opened, working with Rev. Barry at Uzuakoli in 1921, and then going to Ndoro to work with Rev. Slater. In 1925 he returned to Uzuakoli to the College, which had been opened in 1923 under the name "Ibo Boys Institute," and he soon became head carpenter and foreman. I found him in that position on my arrival here in 1931, and for 20 years I have known him very closely, and have always found him eager to serve the best interest of the College.
In addition to being general foreman, in which capacity he engaged and directed labour and bought all local building and repair materials, he was constantly my adviser on local affairs, and acted as my interpreter and counsellor over a long period of land negotiations.
He was a faithful member of the Church, and for some time was class-leader of an Ibo class and has for many years been a local preacher of greater force and originality.
In spite of his sacrifice of his schooling for the sake of others, his linguistic talents have found outlet, and he is the author of "Omenuko," the first Ibo novel, a prize-winning entry in an all-Africa competition.
In addition he has been my friend, and I gladly pay this tribute to him, thanking him for all he has done for the College, and for me.
Rev. J. Wood