(First son in an Igbo Family)
Okpara or Di-okpara in Igbo language means the position of a first son of every household in an Igbo family. okpara is position acquired by birth and as such it is never contested and the bearer cannot relinquish the position no matter his abominable act. The only condition upon which an okpara can loss his position is by death. Upon the death of Di-okpara , the second son of the family automatically becomes the next Okpara.
The position of an Okpara(First son ) is well respected in the Igbo society ,because every okpara is the ambassador of his father and the entire family name. He is the next in line of the family’s leadership in the event of his father’s exit to the great beyond and also a guide to his siblings who also respect him and protect his interest outside the home. It is the responsibility to take care of his mother and younger ones in the event of premature death of the father.
The Igbo society bestowed several responsibilities to an Okpara (first son ) , both on the family and society level no matter his age or class in the society. Okpara is the right hand man to his father, as such the father does everything within his reach to make sure he train his first son both in good manners and academics at the highest level, learn him a trade if he cannot afford to train him in school. Or even set up a business for him. This is because in the Igbo society it is believed that when an Okpara ( First son) is well equipped to face the challenges of life, he can then support his siblings both the male and females to also find their feet in life.
Traditionally there are also responsibilities which a first son (Okpara) is expected to perform. For instance an Okpara is expected to join the prestiguos NDI OKPARA SOCIETY which is exclusively reserved for only first sons in the Igbo society. This is where they perform their civic responsibility to the society. In a event of a father’s demise it is the first son(Okpara) that take the lead before any other person to make sure that his father is accorded the last respect before he finally Bede farewell to the world of mortals.
There are ritual sacrifices expected of the first son (okpara) to perform like slaughtering of goats or chickens as the case may on his father’s Ezi(frontage of compound) for the entire community as part of the activities to bede the Deasesd father a fare well . The first son (okpara) also perform the famous ‘’ itu aka ese ‘’ and also dance the ‘’ese ‘’music in the company of his kinsmen, friends and associates where he will eulogise his father’s achievements during his life time to the admiration of his kinsmen and spectators
An Okpara performing a traditional ritual to bid a deceased father farewell
In a event of a first son (okpara) who declined to perform such sacrifices without any meaningful reasons then he will loss some priviledges that accrue to the position especially in terms of properties. such privileges will then go to his younger brother who have the courage to perform such sacrifices. The dissident okpara may also face some grave consequences of untimely death, business collapse or a struggling career for embarrassing his ancestors and lineage in the great beyond. This is a mystery which the Igbo society holds supreme.
In some Igbo communities where monarchy is still practiced , when an igwe dies, the his first son(okpara) then automatically mount the throne no matter his age. Also in the business circles , the first son(First son) is usually the heir apparent to the business empire of his father where he is expected to take the business to the next level when his father retires or dies.
PRIVILEDGES ENJOYED BY THE OKPARA (DI-OKPARA)
They own their fathers house and other personal properties like automobiles, in some cases Okparas inherit their fathers younger wives.
They are always allowed to choose a big portion of the family’s land at his own choice location.
In the olden days the father marries the first wife for his first son(Okpara) and initiates him to the Ezeji society.
Whenever you hear the world “okpara’’ or Di- Okpara , it simply means a first son in the Igbo society.