(Picture: Chief Inneh breaking the Kola Nut at the Edo Leadership Assembly in 2010)
Breaking Kola Nut (Iwa Óji)
Although Kola Nut (Óji) is a fruit from the Kola tree found in different regions of Nigeria and well as some African Caribbean countries, and used by many for just consumption purposes, it has great spiritual and cultural significance in most Igbo regions of Nigeria (Igboland).
Kola Nut is used to settle disputes between siblings or neighbors, it is served at marriages and burials, is served to guests in a home as a way of politeness, and plays a very important role in bringing a community together.
It is the duty of the local King (Eze) to present and bless kola nut if he is present at a ceremony. This also epitomizes his headship as traditional ruler.
When kola nut is presented to guests, an elderly man from the guest family would touch the kola nut and say to the host “Òji eze nò eze na aka”, this means that the guest have seen the kola which has been presented to them and that the host should proceed to break and bless the kola. The elderly man could proceed to break the kola nut himself or designate the task to a younger man from his family. Where someone other than the elder himself broke the kola nut, it is later passed on to the elderly man for prayers and or blessings.
Óji Ato is a kola nut with three lobes and it symbolizes good relations.
Óji Ano is a kola nut with four lobes and it symbolizes progress and happiness.
Óji Ise is a kola nut with five lobes and is a symbol of reproduction.
Óji Asa is a holanut with six or seven lobes and it symbolizes double progress/outstanding progress.