By Dora Obi Chizea, M.D.
Ada Omu Ahaba
Asaba National Association (ANA) USA, Inc. Gala to benefit Medical & Educational Missions in Asaba
Duluth, Georgia USA. May 24th 2014
People who are familiar with Shakespeare’s Plays will remember that King Richard III in one of the final scenes came screaming;
“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”
According to Urban Dictionary (1) “It was the heat of battle and King Richard’s horse, Surrey had just been killed, forcing Richard to fight on foot. Unable to escape or gather more troops around him, he was killed by the Earl of Richmond who then became King Henry the VII.”
So, indeed his kingdom went to his conqueror because he had no horse on which to fight from or flee with.
That sounds so sad. “What tragedy?” we say to ourselves. “If only he had his horse he might have had a better chance of surviving and keeping his kingdom.”
But would he?
It is obvious that a kingdom is more valuable than a horse but for that moment in time, “the item (or horse) needed appeared invaluable.” (1)
Or was it?
If King Richard III had won the battle, would he have outlived his kingdom? Probably not, so maybe the greater good of the kingdom, should have come before the value of the horse to him.
Moving forward in reading the title of this presentation, is another Impressive word: Porridge.
A famous Bible Story about twin brothers Esau and Jacob says that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a “mess of portage” [Wikipedia (3)] Story has it that Esau was a hunter and a man of the field while Jacob was more homebound.
One day, according to Jon W Quinn in Exposition Files 10.7 (4) “When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, “Please, let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished. Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright” – Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die, so of what use is the birthright to me?” And Jacob said, “First swear to me,” so he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright” [Genesis 25: 29-34]
Most people’s reaction and definitely our Nigerian colloquialism would be:
A beg, leave the man alone
You wont make hunger kill’am?
Wettin e go take birthright do
If e don die finish?
Still we ask, “If Esau had endured the hunger, would he have kept his birthright and passed it on to his descendants?”
As with Richard III, may be the greater good for Esau’s Descendants, which God promised his grandfather Abraham, should have come before the value of a lentil meal gratification for him.
But more significant is the way Esau’s horrendous choice was brought home by the last sentence which says; “Thus Esau despised his birthright.” [Genesis 25:34]
You despise or profane something when you disrespect it or treat it with levity. Jon W Quinn, of The Exposition Files, puts it this way; “If one takes something holy and good and treats it with contempt, they have profaned it.” And that is what Esau did.
Wikipedia calls it ‘a mess of pottage or porridge’ when, “Something immediately attractive or desirable, but of little value is taken foolishly or carelessly in exchange, for something more distant or less tangible but immensely more valuable.” And that is what Esau did.
Do we do that?
Esau is regarded as a profane person because he foolishly squandered his life and the blessings of God for expedience; and because of his inability or unwillingness to appreciate and to be thankful for the things he received by virtue of his birth! (4)
Are we like that?
Do we give little value or respect to who we are by virtue of our birth because we take it for granted?
In one of my books, — I introduced myself as;
Dora Obiajulu Ngbo’Inneh Chizea
From Asaba the Beautiful on the Niger
A People of White Cloth
Symbolic of Our Heart of Love
That was over twenty years ago.
Are we still the Asaba Ndi Oma [The beautiful People.] or have we given “Our Kingdom for Porridge?”
Are we still the Bia Nwa Di n’mma [Come my beautiful child]
Nwa Eze [Royal Child]
Keh ka ndibe unu meh, ndi oma [How are your good people?]
The Asaba heritage is classic:
The way we are birthed
Clean and unblemished
[Asaba na amucha nwa amucha]
The way we grow up
Everyone looking out for one another
[Onyena Nwanne ya yi ejeh]
[Bia nwa’m ebu nwa onye na Asaba ‘a]
Come my child who are your parents here in Asaba
What is your Root and Heritage?
It goes further in the way we feel self restraint from shaming ourselves and our families. Even when no one knows it. Chukwu ekwe kwa ka nwanu nan mu nasi asi! Onu gi ka nga eji gwa Nnem kobu Nnam na ezum oshi. [God forbid that they should hear I am a liar! With what lips shall I tell my Mother or my Father that I am a thief.]
Our Heritage goes further in the way we honor our Parents in Life and in Death. The elaborate ceremonies and taboos we observe to keep our purity.
Ichu Ulo – Cleansing our Selves and our Town
Under the Atonement Priest- Ayiwe
Agba kulo, Agba kulo (Agbakwulo, Agbakwulo) (2)
Let Evil and Abomination depart from
Our Land of White Cloth
And our People of Clean Heart
Give our ‘Heritage for Porridge’? Have we done that?
If cleanliness and goodness systematically evolved and inherited from our Ancestors do not matter because of current expedience, what is left after The Bell has Tolled?
Some may turn their nose up saying, “It’s all nostalgia about glories past. Really? Is it not legacy that our Ancestors, Parents and Grandparents, did so well Asaba became the pride and envy of many:
-Men from far and near clamored to marry Asaba Daughters because they are Totally Beautiful Inside and Outside
And I mean ‘Totally’
A famous Military General and Head of State can testify
– Women from home and away also sort the Chiseled Asaba Men because they are better than trophies; The Black that dazzles over White. ‘Onye nji ka onye ocha n’mma’
Heritage for Porridge?
What porridge to exchange for the magnificent Law and Order, our Ancestors left for us? For the respect for one another, for our Elders, Visitors, and Strangers alike? And what about the very Dignity of the Asaba person? ‘Abum Onye Asaba’ or ‘Hapu’a na nwa onye Asaba ka obu.’
All these heritage from our forbearers are attributes that some, like Esau, now despise and sell for a pot of porridge.
Is that what we want?
Will History, our neighbors, visitors and guests , even our progeny say of you or I , as was said of Esau, “… he ate and drank and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright” [Genesis 25:34]
Do we despise our birthright?
Is exchanging or trading our inheritance, customs, traditions which make us the Asaba people we are, in exchange for the ludorum and expedience of the moment, not what Esau did?
“What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Mark 8:37] That which you are birth with, your inheritance, is your soul.
When it is abandoned, rejected or sold for a meal of porridge, it becomes homeless, lost, wandering endlessly in oblivion, with no home to rest his head or mind.
“N’Mmadu adi agbanashi onwe’a osoh!”
The fate of Esau and the Edomites, his descendants, paint an unpalatable picture for those who will sell or trade their birthright for a bowl of porridge. “Maka onye ni maho onye obu –bu onye n’mmoh”
The good news is that one can always choose by an act of self and collective will, to change. “Nwata si tata mali ife…”
It is never too late to stop the wrong and careless choices one has made or is making; and do the right things, even if it seems arduous and less tangible at the moment because they are immensely more valuable in time. 
The challenge to every listener, or reader of this presentation, is to privately examine and identify, on individual (as well as collective), level the inheritance (birth, religion, language, education, wealth, talent, whatever) you are selling and what porridge you are eating like Esau, “…and going your way!”
There are consequences for expedient, careless and frivolous choices.
In conclusion, it would probably earn me applause if I ended this presentation caressing everyone’s ego but that is not a job I choose. It is a great privilege for me to address this incredible group of my Beloved People and I am very grateful.
However, by any world standard, I am now, at my current age an Elder, qualified as “Nneh Oha” [Mother for All the Community] so I have to be forthright. I am, therefore, obliged to challenge you and myself to undo our willful errors, where we can, and to keep the ‘Good of our Progeny’ in mind. Every time we are hungry for something and the pot of sweet smelling porridge tempts us, let’s have the courage to say;
“No, My Kingdom
Not for Porridge!”
‘Who has ear to hear, let him hear. Onye nwe nti ya’nulu.’
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION.
Dora Obiajulu Chizea, M.D.
Ada Omu Ahaba
- Urban Dictionary. el.urbandictionary.com/elefine.php? term.
- Ndili, Augustine N. Asaba 1875- 2006 Reflections on Her Growth and Development. His Bride Ventures, Asaba. 2008
- Wikipedia. En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_III_/play ExtractedMay 1, 2014
- Quinn, Jon W. The Exposition Files; 10.7 July 2003. Extracted April 22, 2014
- Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV) Student Bible; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 USA. 2002 www.zondervan.com