Obi arrives

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Obi arrives by Andy Buhler, CUSO, 69-71

I’ve been fairly busy since I arrived here as you probably know. On Thursday I arrived back from Lagos and was still unpacking when Fr. Golli started deciding on the work he wanted done. Friday I made solutions and did a urinalysis. Saturday I did two urinalyses. Monday I did 11 hemoglobins and 11 WBC and three urines. Today, seven hemoglobins, seven WBC, a urine and a stool. So things are picking up. This afternoon after work I got on my Honda and drove to Asaba to see the bridge into the Eastern States. It’s quite a large and impressive structure. I hope to go over that bridge to Enugu this weekend. I’ll have to see how work and weather are before I decide definitively.

Steven, Fr. Golli’s and my steward, went to market today to try and buy eggs. They wanted 6d/egg. Meat is about £N1 [~$3] per pound.

About all the people here have to eat is cassava root and a few mangos until the crops are harvested this fall. Apparently during the war people were forbidden to plant crops along the road or even in bush near the roads as the crops might have been used by the enemy. Apparently soldiers would shoot at people near the road thinking them to be enemies so people either lived in deep bush or stayed on and ate cassava here.

Most appear fairly healthy though. Since arriving I’ve only seen two cripples -- born deformed. The children seem fairly healthy and lively. However, I’m still in the Midwest. The East may be a lot worse. I went through Ibusa -- about 4-5 miles from Asaba -- and found many houses there have been destroyed. The textile mill in Asaba still has not opened. Soldiers are everywhere and almost every village has a company of them in quarters. You always meet army vehicles on the roads and they usually feel they own it all. It’s a bit hard bouncing into the bush at 40 mph every time they pass but I guess that’s better than being run over.

Saturday the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku came to meet and greet me. He’s the big Chief over the smaller Chiefs in Ogwashi-Uku parish. The village and quarters groups here are quite complex but I’ll try to explain them a bit.

The overall chief is the Obi and he’s the only one who can be greeted “Ago”. Under him are nine village Chiefs -- each village has its own special greeting. Now each village is not always a precise entity. Some villages are too small to have sufficient people to form a quorum for votes on local matters so several may be included under one chief. Some villages are too large so only part of them come under one chief and part under another chief. However, the whole village responds to the same greeting (I think).

Now the Obi’s village, or quarter, got too large for the area it is situated in so some inhabitants set up a quarter further away near another village. They vote under the chief whose village they come under but only respond to the greeting of the Obi’s village. Confused??? I am!!! Consequently I haven’t learned any greetings. This information came over a bottle of beer with the hospital carpenter on Saturday so it may not be exactly precise but it’s as confusing today as it was on Saturday.

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