DIBIE (DIBIE, NATIVE DOCTOR OR IDIBIE,
NATIVE DOCTORS) IN IKA CULTURE

ONYEKPEZE AND IKA CULTURAL MATTERS

IKA CULTURAL CUM TRADITIONAL RELIGION

Much as the dibie is almost like the diviner in Ika culture, it will be more meaningful to discuss dibie under a separate heading for the following reasons:

a. Diviners are chosen by spirits who want to speak to people through them. They are thus subject to possession to become diviners. They are just a few in numbers while anybody who inherits or can afford the cost aspires to take the Idin title to qualify as dibie or Ogbuebulu.
b. The training and the initiation ceremonies of the diviners are long, complex and rigorous compared with those of the dibie.
c. All diviners qualify to be witch-doctors and they thus have certain affinities with the witches while only a few native doctors, idibie, are bold or courageous enough to confront a known witch.
d. Diviners are soothsayers as well as specialists who diagnose disease by means of inspiration or manipulation of objects through various techniques. But only a few native doctors are soothsayers and medicine-men, as such, only such a few of them own divinatory equipment (igbagba).

With their difference shown, idibie can now be discussed separately. The operators of idibie are referred to as ndi idibie in Ika culture. They are guild of ritual specialists. The Ika culture believes in the existence of a spiritual energy, sometimes called ‘vital force’. The power is latent in some people in Ika. This is the power behind religion and magic linking idibie into one system or guild or cult. It is the force that gives effect to sacrifice, taboos, charms and spells as operated in Ika culture.

The idibie have supernatural powers, some apparently being able to perform feats that have no rational explanations. For example, idibie are often hired to ‘cook’ fighters and make them bullet-proof, or prepare charms to make warriors invincible in battles. They also keep witches under control, and use mystic powers for the benefit of the health and welfare of the society. Some idibie are herbalists, revealing hidden things, foretelling the future and performing sacrifices to appease the gods on behalf of their clients. They extract spells buried into people by their enemies through special ritual process known as iwe ihien elu. They exhume buried charms ibuo nsi, both in or outside the house and apply ‘avoidance preparation’, iro, on the materials exhumed to neutralize their effects. The idibie cleanse the land when crimes like homicide, murder and suicide are committed. They examine the stomachs of the people who died of suspected poisons. They can save and kill. They cleanse and purify the persons suffering from the evils done by the reincarnators, ili uhuku uwembu and isehien iyi uwembu. They prepare life elongation preparation called idayi\idehi that has to be brought town to stop the last breath of a dying person. This preparation may be in form of tied cord ‘treated’ after purifying the ground on which it would be finally brought; and pacifying the gods so that the holder may not die until the preparation touches the ground. They also administer oaths supported by spiritual sanctions and serve as agent of enforcing social control in Ika community.

The idibie form themselves into guild or cult into which they initiate new members after prescribed training. As in other neighbouring communities’ sphere of influence, the real apex of the system is the idin title for which a candidate in Ika needs two basic qualities – wealth for the necessary ceremonies and rituals redistribution and purity, attained by protracted and arduous ceremonies. Nowadays, there are many idin title holders in Ika. In the olden days, they were fewer. “It is not an easy thing”, one of the respondents said. “There were so many natural laws against holding Idin title in those days”. For example, “an aspirant must have attained a certain age, should be an honest man, must not enter anything that is dirty; he is regarded as pure, and so on”. The members co-operate, and support one another’s revelations. When they dance together in their shaggy dress, edegho, with adornments of cowry-shells, small dried nuts, jingling bells, ero, and many other accoutrements, they are impressive to watch. Occasionally when the members hold special meetings, they round their eyes and rub some parts of their body with enabling white or coloured concoctions. On their arms on such occasions, are worn ivory wristlets; strings of charms tied round their necks, some continually blow furious and deafening blasts of their ivory horn, otu-eka. The members render assistance involving buying and selling potent medicines among themselves.

They make use of a lot of charms like the diviners, and the chief and handy ones are ikpare, out-eka and onunu, which the idibie, refer to as ediebo edi-enwase, their main symbol.

To be continued…

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