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THE TRADITIONAL AND INEXPENSIVE WAY OF SOLVING CHILDLESSNESS ARISING FROM A HUSBAND’S INABILITY TO IMPREGNATE HIS WIFE

By Anayo Nwosu

It was a humiliating decision any man could take but Mazi Maduako had to do it for the wife he loved so much and also to get his mother of his neck. He was an only son and had resisted his mum's pressure to take another wife because of childlessness.

He had hinted Mazi Okponku that he was going to be visiting him in company of his wife later in the evening. He was so apprehensive. "What if he refuses and turns around to deride me in public?" he kept asking himself. Maduako and his wife arrived Mazi Okponku's house about 7pm that day with a keg of palm wine.

After exchange of pleasantries and breaking of kola nut presented by Rosa, the host's wife, Okponku asked the visitors to deliver the message represented by the palm wine. It was a dehumanizing moment for Maduako but he had to brace up and speak up.

He cleared his throat and asked that the two women (i.e. his wife and his host's wife) excused them, that the message he wanted to deliver was confidential. Obidiya and Rosa got up and recessed to the balcony waiting to be invited later but they stretched their ears like those of rabbits but they heard nothing.

"Recall that I had told you at the market in the morning that I would come to your house this evening for an important discussion", Mr. Okponku nodded. "to cut the long story short, our people say that if a man's gun refuses to shell out a live bullet, his brother would help him. This is my 14th year of marriage and I have nothing to show for it."

"I have moved from one church to the other, fasting till I developed an ulcer. Many doctors have used my wife and I as guinea pigs and our stomachs are now pharmaceutical stores. We are tired and have decided  to seek help. You are my friend and my wife is also your wife's friend. So, you need to help wipe off this shame of childlessness from me," he concluded as he sobbed.

Okponku looked with pity at his bosom friend. He placed his hand on his shoulder and asked him not to feel depressed; that he would be more than willing and ever ready to do his best as he didn't need to purchase from the market, the bullets required to fire the gun. He promised to help at no cost.

The work has to be done in house of the requester. Maduako was required to work out the visiting days and the timing with his wife and get back to Okponku who shall be on duty until success was achieved.

Naturally, Maduako would leave his house before his friend, the helper comes. This is to reduce the pain of the feeling of inadequacy. Which man would stand the moaning of his wife to the sound of another’s drumming?

For the sake of good hygiene, Maduako was expected not to sleep with his wife within the period the hired mercenary was at work.

The choice of Okponku was not without due diligence. He was very tall and handsome. He was also a good Christian in words and deeds and had eight children with even spread of sexes. Nobody beat him in academics at both primary and secondary school levels even though he didn't progress to the university. He  had to take over his father's trading business and help train his younger siblings, a task he performed excellently.

Rosa, Okponku's wife was not a jealous woman. He was rather compassionate and generous type. She was as good natured as her husband. It was her who broached the idea with Maduako's wife. She persuaded her friend to encourage her husband to come seek Okponku's help as she was aware that Okponku had help out Mazi Okoro, the choirmaster of St. Christopher, some time ago.

Rosa actually hinted Okpunku, her husband about the mission of her friend and her husband and enjoined him to agree. She told him that such help was a corporal work of mercy and not an adultery. She believed that adultery was an unauthorized carnal knowledge of someone else's spouse. She likened her husband's fertility assistance as a sperm donation to someone in need.

On the appointed day, Obidiya would serve her male visitor a meal of pounded cocoyam and ora soup which was believed to bring out the best in a man. The visitor would also be served  a 4-litre keg of palm wine provided by her husband to help fire his nerves.

Okponku did his job very well. The fact that Obidiya was well tutored in man handling matters made Okponku looking forward to the next duty date. Both enjoyed themselves while performing an agreed task, though they knew that the task which had become enjoyable would end once the objective was achieved. Okponku didn't disappoint.

After three months, Obidiya fell sick. She fainted in market though she soon regained consciousness but was still rushed to a nearby hospital. Preliminary tests revealed  that she was pregnant. She had suspected so because she had not seen her menstrual period for two months running but had to keep it to herself. She wanted to be sure.

Her ecstatic husband rushed to Okponku's house to thank him, signaling the end of his service.

It was a great relief as Mr Maduako noticed that his wife was always happy after each Okponku's duty visit. He knew how endowed Okponku his friend was as they had both bathed together in the open when they were boarders in the secondary school.

Obidiya was delivered of twins; two boys. The whole village rejoiced with them but only the happy parents, Okponku, his wife and some nosy villagers who read meanings in the frequent visits of Mazi Okponku to Maduako's house in his absence would know how God worked the miracle.

Mazi  Maduako named his children Afamefuna (i.e. let my name not to be forgotten) and Izumunna (i.e. the outcome of a brotherly discussion). 

In situation like this, the twins might resemble their true biological father but they are forever the children of the man who paid the bride price of their mum. That's the Igbo tradition.

When I hear of invasion into our space of Sperm Banking and Surrogacy, I smile. We had all these sorted out at Nnewi from time immemorial!

The scenario I related above worked where it was felt that the man was the weak link in the childlessness.

It was a duty not a taboo to help a male friend or relation to achieve procreation but terms and conditions applied. If the friend or relative continues to see the patient after cure, the adultery has occurred.

There are some men who knowingly or unknowingly have fertility issues but are so stubborn or proud to beg a relation or a friend to assist. They meet their match in some wise older women in the community who induct the innocent wives of these hardliner men into the secret of husband and household retention. They even help arrange a male helper to  impregnate they needy women while the husbands take undeserved glory.

Any wonder why the children of some very good women resemble some other persons other than their husbands? This is still happening till today. It worries no Igbo man as the owner of a child is the mother's husband.

However, when the wife is suspected to be unable to conceive or successfully bear children, she is encouraged to arrange any of her sisters or close relations to be married for her husband. The  modern use of a woman as a mere surrogate is strange to my people and might be considered demeaning from a traditional perspective.

A lady brought in to help solve the childlessness comes in as a second wife is required to be subordinate to the barren wife, and her offsprings are accepted willingly and are fostered by the first wife and the new one.
The first wife is called Mama Nnukwu (i.e. Supreme mother) and the surrogate is called Mama Obele (i.e. Junior mother).

Recall that Leah and Rachel offered their maids to Jacob for the same purpose just as Sarah did to Abraham.

I guess this practice is not peculiar to just Nnewi but to most Igbo communities.

Our Culture was very inclusive and protects the woman who was brought in to help bear children better than what the deal Sara’s maid got.

If Abraham was an Nnewi man, the Umunna or his kinsmen would have overruled his decision to send Haggai and Ishmael away. Ishmael would have become the Obi of Abraham’s kindred. This would have saved the world some bomb blasts.THE TRADITIONAL AND INEXPENSIVE WAY OF SOLVING CHILDLESSNESS ARISING FROM A HUSBAND’S INABILITY TO IMPREGNATE HIS WIFE

By Anayo Nwosu

It was a humiliating decision any man could take but Mazi Maduako had to do it for the wife he loved so much and also to get his mother of his neck. He was an only son and had resisted his mum's pressure to take another wife because of childlessness.

He had hinted Mazi Okponku that he was going to be visiting him in company of his wife later in the evening. He was so apprehensive. "What if he refuses and turns around to deride me in public?" he kept asking himself. Maduako and his wife arrived Mazi Okponku's house about 7pm that day with a keg of palm wine.

After exchange of pleasantries and breaking of kola nut presented by Rosa, the host's wife, Okponku asked the visitors to deliver the message represented by the palm wine. It was a dehumanizing moment for Maduako but he had to brace up and speak up.

He cleared his throat and asked that the two women (i.e. his wife and his host's wife) excused them, that the message he wanted to deliver was confidential. Obidiya and Rosa got up and recessed to the balcony waiting to be invited later but they stretched their ears like those of rabbits but they heard nothing.

"Recall that I had told you at the market in the morning that I would come to your house this evening for an important discussion", Mr. Okponku nodded. "to cut the long story short, our people say that if a man's gun refuses to shell out a live bullet, his brother would help him. This is my 14th year of marriage and I have nothing to show for it."

"I have moved from one church to the other, fasting till I developed an ulcer. Many doctors have used my wife and I as guinea pigs and our stomachs are now pharmaceutical stores. We are tired and have decided  to seek help. You are my friend and my wife is also your wife's friend. So, you need to help wipe off this shame of childlessness from me," he concluded as he sobbed.

Okponku looked with pity at his bosom friend. He placed his hand on his shoulder and asked him not to feel depressed; that he would be more than willing and ever ready to do his best as he didn't need to purchase from the market, the bullets required to fire the gun. He promised to help at no cost.

The work has to be done in house of the requester. Maduako was required to work out the visiting days and the timing with his wife and get back to Okponku who shall be on duty until success was achieved.

Naturally, Maduako would leave his house before his friend, the helper comes. This is to reduce the pain of the feeling of inadequacy. Which man would stand the moaning of his wife to the sound of another’s drumming?

For the sake of good hygiene, Maduako was expected not to sleep with his wife within the period the hired mercenary was at work.

The choice of Okponku was not without due diligence. He was very tall and handsome. He was also a good Christian in words and deeds and had eight children with even spread of sexes. Nobody beat him in academics at both primary and secondary school levels even though he didn't progress to the university. He  had to take over his father's trading business and help train his younger siblings, a task he performed excellently.

Rosa, Okponku's wife was not a jealous woman. He was rather compassionate and generous type. She was as good natured as her husband. It was her who broached the idea with Maduako's wife. She persuaded her friend to encourage her husband to come seek Okponku's help as she was aware that Okponku had help out Mazi Okoro, the choirmaster of St. Christopher, some time ago.

Rosa actually hinted Okpunku, her husband about the mission of her friend and her husband and enjoined him to agree. She told him that such help was a corporal work of mercy and not an adultery. She believed that adultery was an unauthorized carnal knowledge of someone else's spouse. She likened her husband's fertility assistance as a sperm donation to someone in need.

On the appointed day, Obidiya would serve her male visitor a meal of pounded cocoyam and ora soup which was believed to bring out the best in a man. The visitor would also be served  a 4-litre keg of palm wine provided by her husband to help fire his nerves.

Okponku did his job very well. The fact that Obidiya was well tutored in man handling matters made Okponku looking forward to the next duty date. Both enjoyed themselves while performing an agreed task, though they knew that the task which had become enjoyable would end once the objective was achieved. Okponku didn't disappoint.

After three months, Obidiya fell sick. She fainted in market though she soon regained consciousness but was still rushed to a nearby hospital. Preliminary tests revealed  that she was pregnant. She had suspected so because she had not seen her menstrual period for two months running but had to keep it to herself. She wanted to be sure.

Her ecstatic husband rushed to Okponku's house to thank him, signaling the end of his service.

It was a great relief as Mr Maduako noticed that his wife was always happy after each Okponku's duty visit. He knew how endowed Okponku his friend was as they had both bathed together in the open when they were boarders in the secondary school.

Obidiya was delivered of twins; two boys. The whole village rejoiced with them but only the happy parents, Okponku, his wife and some nosy villagers who read meanings in the frequent visits of Mazi Okponku to Maduako's house in his absence would know how God worked the miracle.

Mazi  Maduako named his children Afamefuna (i.e. let my name not to be forgotten) and Izumunna (i.e. the outcome of a brotherly discussion). 

In situation like this, the twins might resemble their true biological father but they are forever the children of the man who paid the bride price of their mum. That's the Igbo tradition.

When I hear of invasion into our space of Sperm Banking and Surrogacy, I smile. We had all these sorted out at Nnewi from time immemorial!

The scenario I related above worked where it was felt that the man was the weak link in the childlessness.

It was a duty not a taboo to help a male friend or relation to achieve procreation but terms and conditions applied. If the friend or relative continues to see the patient after cure, the adultery has occurred.

There are some men who knowingly or unknowingly have fertility issues but are so stubborn or proud to beg a relation or a friend to assist. They meet their match in some wise older women in the community who induct the innocent wives of these hardliner men into the secret of husband and household retention. They even help arrange a male helper to  impregnate they needy women while the husbands take undeserved glory.

Any wonder why the children of some very good women resemble some other persons other than their husbands? This is still happening till today. It worries no Igbo man as the owner of a child is the mother's husband.

However, when the wife is suspected to be unable to conceive or successfully bear children, she is encouraged to arrange any of her sisters or close relations to be married for her husband. The  modern use of a woman as a mere surrogate is strange to my people and might be considered demeaning from a traditional perspective.

A lady brought in to help solve the childlessness comes in as a second wife is required to be subordinate to the barren wife, and her offsprings are accepted willingly and are fostered by the first wife and the new one.
The first wife is called Mama Nnukwu (i.e. Supreme mother) and the surrogate is called Mama Obele (i.e. Junior mother).

Recall that Leah and Rachel offered their maids to Jacob for the same purpose just as Sarah did to Abraham.

I guess this practice is not peculiar to just Nnewi but to most Igbo communities.

Our Culture was very inclusive and protects the woman who was brought in to help bear children better than what the deal Sara’s maid got.

If Abraham was an Nnewi man, the Umunna or his kinsmen would have overruled his decision to send Haggai and Ishmael away. Ishmael would have become the Obi of Abraham’s kindred. This would have saved the world some bomb blasts.
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