THE OKPARA (DI-OKPARA) STATUS IN IGBO LAND

(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.

 

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