KUKODZO IN GBI-BLA
Kukodzo largely follows the same traditional procedure as TƆVIDALI. One cardinal difference is that it involves the whole town (traditional division) in particular and the entire Gbidzigbe NORTHERN ADONTIN in general which is Bla, Kpeme and Abansi (Three Town).
By Samuel Abednego Agbo
KUKODZO is the sole responsibility of Tɔgbe Buami, the Overlord of Gbi-Bla. He is customarily responsible for the physical and spiritual well-being of all natives of Gbi-Bla, both home and abroad, whether dead or alive. He is also, to a very large extent, responsible for all human beings that reside in Gbi-Bla. In other words, Tɔgbe Buami is largely responsible for the socio-spiritual balance of Gbi-Bla. Tɔgbe Buami reserves the power and the right to, upon the advice of ABRIWA, sanction any native or resident who breaches any traditional customary procedure(s) of Gbi-Bla. Tɔgbe Buami also bears the responsibility of ensuring that all natives and / or residents of Gbi-Bla live in harmony with the gods and the ancestors of Gbi-Bla and for that matter Gbi and he must ensure that the gods and ancestors are placated for any action or inaction that might incur their wrath.
All proceedings in XƆMEDALI and TƆVIDALI end up in KUKODZO. It is the customary traditional platform put in place by our forefathers to enable Tɔgbe Buami to customarily audit and streamline preparations for the burial and funeral of deceased natives of Gbi-Bla and where necessary, deceased residents who choose Gbi-Bla as their home.
KUKODZO has three (3) main functions, which are:
1. To resolve all issues which could not be satisfactorily resolved by the two (2) earlier customary platforms i.e. XƆMEDALI and TƆVIDALI.
2. To officially announce the burial and funeral arrangements i.e. burial date, funeral dates, the nature of the funeral, etc.
3. To announce key functionaries for the burial and funeral programmes i.e. AMEDIE, TSIDZOEƉOA, ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA, etc.
In undertaking the sacred customary duty of KUKODZO, Tɔgbe Buami is assisted by his sub-divisional chiefs and elders from the entire Gbidzigbe northern ADONTIN which is Bla, Kpeme and Abansi (Three Town). The following is the customary arrangement put in place by our forefathers for sub-divisional chiefs and elders who could assist Tɔgbe Buami in KUKODZO proceedings:
1. If the deceased person hailed from Blanyigbe, then the sub-divisional chiefs of Bladzigbe (i.e. Tɔgbe Vule and Tɔgbe Ayim) and elders from Tsrivi and Bladzigbe are those expected to assist Tɔgbe Buami in the KUKODZO proceedings.
2. If the deceased person hailed from Bladzigbe, then the sub-divisional chief of Blanyigbe (i.e. Tɔgbe Aʋaliɛ) and elders of Tsrivi and Blanyigbe are those expected to assist Tɔgbe Buami in the KUKODZO proceedings.
3. If the deceased person hailed from Tsrivi, then the sub-divisional chiefs of Bladzigbe (i.e. Tɔgbe Vule and Tɔgbe Ayim) and Blanyigbe (i.e. Tɔgbe Aʋaliɛ) and elders from Blanyigbe and Bladzigbe are those expected to assist Tɔgbe Buami in the KUKODZO proceedings.
4. In all KUKODZO proceedings, there is expected to be representatives from Gbi-Kpeme and Gbi-Abansi, delegated by the DUMETSITSIE of Gbi-Kpeme and Gbi-Abamsi (i.e. KPEMEMETSITSIE and ABANSIMETSITSIE) respectively. (The ADONTIN system requires that when death occurs in Gbi-Bla, the DUMETSITSIE of Gbi-Kpeme and Gbi-Abansi should be informed and requested to send representatives to support Tɔgbe Buami in the KUKODZO proceedings. The same thing is done when death occurs in Gbi-Kpeme and Gbi-Abansi, where delegations are sent from the other two towns to support the divisional chief of the deceased person in KUKODZO proceedings.)
For the actual proceedings, the sub-division from which the deceased person hailed present themselves to Tɔgbe Buami, his sub-divisional chiefs and elders for a traditional customary assessment to ensure that preparations for the burial and funeral are in accordance with the customs and traditions of Gbi-Bla in particular and Gbi in general. In appearing before Tɔgbe Buami and his sub-divisional chiefs and elders in KUKODZO proceedings, the delegation is led by the SAMEMETSITSIE i.e. Tsrivimetsitsie, Blanyigbemetsitsie or Bladzigbemetsitsie, depending on where the deceased person hailed from.
During the proceedings, the SAMEMETSITSIE would report on all that transpired during TƆVIDALI. He will then call on the DZOTINUMETSITSIE (Head of Clan) or ƑOMEMETSITSIE (Head of Family) of the deceased person to feed-in with any information that he (SAMEMETSITSIE) might have left out.
DƆNƆGBƆNƆWO (those who provided care to the deceased person during the final days / hours) and all other persons considered to possess relevant information are also interrogated.
At this point, the issues of interest are those that could not be satisfactorily resolved in TƆVIDALI. All such issue(s) must be presented in KUKODZO for resolution. Failure to present any of such issues in KUKODZO is a serious breach of custom and tradition and attracts severe punishment(s) in the form of fines (ram, goat, drinks, etc.).
After all presentations / interrogations / queries, Tɔgbe Buami will then dispatch the elders to go and consult ABRIWA. In the wisdom of our ancestors, chiefs do not go to ABRIWA in KUKODZO proceedings. Whatever opinion any of them might have on the proceedings is relayed to the elders to be taken to ABRIWA. Before leaving to consult ABRIWA, the elders will request for not more than two persons from the sub-division of the deceased person to join them in consulting with ABRIWA. The person(s) who join the elders to consult ABRIWA is /are expected to relay to ABRIWA some vital information, including the persons identified to be AMEDIE, TSIDZOEƉOA and ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA for the consideration of ABRIWA. Such person(s) would re-join their kinsmen immediately after executing their assignment, while the elders confer further with ABRIWA.
The verdict of ABRIWA is delivered through Tɔgbe Buami’s TSIAMI in the following manner:
1. Persons found by ABRIWA to have breached customary rules are fined.
2. The names of key functionaries in the burial and funeral programme e.g. AMEDIE, TSIDZOEƉOA and ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA as directed by ABRIWA are announced.
3. The form and manner of the burial and funeral and dates are also announced as directed by ABRIWA.
Generally speaking, the ruling / message(s) from ABRIWA are quite straightforward if there are no unresolved issues from TƆVIDALI that require the intervention of ABRIWA.
(The above is quite an abridged presentation on customary preparations that are made for burial and funeral programmes in Gbi-Bla. Others are entreated to feed-in with relevant missing-links or correct any inaccurate information identified.
Also note that the above did not discuss the funeral arrangements for chiefs, queen mothers and other traditionally prominent natives of Gbi-Bla. Those will be discussed in due course.)
Author: Samuel Abednego Agbo