Why Pete Edochie Didn’t Bow To The Ooni Of Ife

Why Pete Edochie Didn't Bow To The Ooni Of Ife

The Igbo and Yoruba tribes in Nigeria, shedding light on why renowned actor Pete Edochie did not bow to the Ooni of Ife, a Yoruba monarch.

In a country as culturally diverse as Nigeria, the intersection of different tribal customs often leads to conversations, controversies, and learning opportunities.

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One such incident recently emerged from a seemingly innocuous event involving acclaimed Nollywood actors Pete Edochie and Kanayo O. Kanayo and the Ooni of Ife, a Yoruba monarch.

A video showing Edochie shaking the Ooni of Ife’s hand instead of bowing to him in the traditional Yoruba manner ignited a discussion on respect and cultural differences.

The event sparked a discussion online, especially on Twitter, which turned out to be a valuable source of cultural knowledge since some people regarded Edochie’s gesture as disrespectful. This article explores the matter’s cultural background via the perspectives of two influential Nigerian Twitter users, Abdul Mahmud, also known as The Great Oracle, and Aji Bussu Onye Mpiawa Az.

What Happened

In the viral video, Edochie and Kanayo are seen approaching the Ooni of Ife during a gathering and giving him the customary Igbo handshake. Some people thought the performers were being disrespectful by not bowing to the Yoruba ruler, which is a typical rite in Yoruba culture.

Cultural Relativism: Abdul Mahmud’s Perspective

Abdul Mahmud, an influential Nigerian Twitter personality, commented on the incident, offering a different perspective rooted in the concept of cultural relativism. In his words:

“Have just watched the video of the Ooni of Ife and Pete Edochie. Those who advance the arguments that Pete disrespected the Ooni for not prostrating miss the point about cultural relativism… What’s meat in your culture could be fish in another culture. Cultural relativism is about understanding someone else’s beliefs and practices based on his/her culture. Not outside of his/her culture.”

Mahmud’s commentary here argues that what is deemed respectful or disrespectful varies from culture to culture. Therefore, judging Edochie’s actions by Yoruba standards, rather than Igbo ones, could be seen as an oversight of cultural relativism.

The Igbo Perspective: Aji Bussu Onye Mpiawa Azụ

To further illuminate why Edochie might have chosen not to bow, Aji Bussu Onye Mpiawa Azụ, another prominent Twitter figure, shared some insights into Igbo customs:

“In the old days… when a young man… has asked his father for the authority to establish his own homestead… the eldest living male of his lineage (Di Opara Nna) carries out the ritual of planting of what we call his tree of life at the shrine in which he establishes an altar to his “indwelling Chi” i.e his spiritual self & cuts his “Ofo” which he keeps at his shrine.”

Azụ explained that in Igbo culture, a man is considered to be on an experiential journey through the earth, guided by his indwelling Chi or spiritual self. As such, an Igbo man is forbidden from bowing, a practice viewed as a form of subjection and humiliation.

The concept of “Aka Ikenga,” the salutatory right hand, is important in Igbo culture. The man also holds an “Ofo,” a symbol of truth and justice, compelling him to uphold the highest moral authority.

This cultural context suggests that Edochie’s actions were not rooted in a desire to disrespect the Ooni, but rather, a commitment to his Igbo customs and beliefs.

The Conclusion

The intersection of different cultural norms can sometimes cause misunderstanding. It is crucial to adopt a lens of cultural relativism, as Abdul Mahmud suggests, to foster understanding and tolerance in our multicultural world. As we navigate these intersections, we should remember the Igbo axiom: “Igbo enwe eze” – “the Igbo have no king” – a testament to the individual autonomy and dignity embedded in Igbo culture, reflected in Pete Edochie’s gesture.

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