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The Rising of Ikenga connects past-life epic love to real-time love story – Iwunwa



Dr Uba Iwunwa (Ugobeze), a Nigerian-Canadian artist, actress and international bestseller author and quintessential African Queen, takes immense pride in her cultural background. She unabashedly devotes her life and creativity to the promotion of African cultural diversity and heritage.

The young writer believes that the mutual exchange of cultures through such mediums as music, books and performing arts opens the gateway to a deep understanding of one another’s soul, views and sensibility which yields appreciation and respect for human dignity, rights to individuality, collective respect for all, especially the youth population whose generation poises to inherit the world in front of them. In this interview with OLISEMEKA SONY, the African Royal Queen-Mother and World Peace Diplomatic Ambassador of Canada speaks on her latest best-seller book: The Rising of Ikenga (Love Beyond Death), her acting career and other issues bordering on women’s emancipation, other. Excerpts:

Your new book, The Rising of Ikenga (Love Beyond Death), is set for release. What actually is the story you set out to tell in it?

The book is a story of love as the most powerful healing tool to redemption. Embracing the gift of unconditional love is a turning point in reclaiming your divine power. This is a journey of humanity’s search for true love, the challenges, the courage, the faith, the endurance, the patience, and the determination to let go of the barriers to consummate love in marriage all in one. Often times, one’s heart yearns for that high level of soulmate to feel complete. This is the magical and mystical journey of Ikenga and Chiamanda finding that euphoric Adam and Eve dynamics of the ‘bone of my bone and the flesh of my flesh.’ It is a test of the power of forgiveness that leads to eternal love. An ancestral vibrational message of reconciliation and identification of true love as a sword of divine justice.

To what extent would you expect this book to help a reader connect with the past and contemporary love tangles in African society as it is currently being bashed and eroded by Western culture?

I am a born-and-bred Igbo woman based in Canada. A woman armed with ancestral wisdom is an unstoppable force, even across the miles. Love is love everywhere in the world. However, there’s a need to blend the African epic love story with the Western culture, for our generation and generations unborn. I take pride in promoting the epic values of Africa through creativity. Uplifting the cultural heritage of Igboland through writing of this epic love story is like an ancestral libation. Ikenga is a symbol of strength, a warrior mentality to fight for true love even with the last drop of his blood. It is an inspiration to protect and defend your own against all odds. The rising of Ikenga is an embodiment of the natural flow of nature. In the African setting, one does not marry one’s partner only; one marries the in-laws and, even, the whole community. Thus, managing one’s partner also means managing a community; their gossips, jealousies, fears, hatred and love. Ikenga and Chiamanda’s experiences brought that aspect of relationship into focus in the book, The Rising of Ikenga (Love Beyond Death), bringing epic love story to the forefront of cultural diversity as a catalyst for change in how we should preserve the epic, revered values of our heritage and the folklore as dutifully conveyed to subsequent generations by our grandparents. Africans should be proud to showcase Africa to the world.

What are the underlying messages or lessons one can draw from the characters in this book?

Sometimes, things are not what they seem. A person’s character flaws can be influenced by trauma. It is an inspiration to see beyond the veil of how someone’s toxic energy can bring out the worst in people around the person and how jealousy generates hate in our society. As the saying goes, ‘rumours are started by haters, carried by fools and accepted by idiots.’ One’s talent can expose one to hidden trauma caused by jealousy against who they are. Jealousy is a complex discrete emotion of human dynamics that encompasses a delusional feeling ranging from suspicion to fear, to rage and humiliation that can be overpoweringly intense, even compulsive in some instances; it motivates certain behaviours, including violence, and several forms of rivalry. It may also motivate a desire to excel competitively despite the threat to relationships. Oftentimes, jealousy is the root cause of most shattered marriages. Jealousy, in some cases, can hold a person’s mind captive in a state of insanity where someone you love can turn into your worst nightmare at the sight of your growth or prosperity. Jealousy can tear down a person’s life, so much that they can be harmful even to themselves and, of course, others. The main character in this book journeyed through life encountering life’s bitter challenges and hard lessons to the realisation that the power of true love and forgiveness leads to soul healing and inner peace.

What styles did you use in this book and why?

The Rising of Ikenga (Love Beyond Death) is a romance fiction, a fantasy that connected a past-life epic love to real-time love story. The message is powerful to uplift the vibrational energy of creation. God is love. My dreams are the voices of my ancestors.

How did you find time to write a book amidst your busy work schedule?

Writing is very therapeutic. No matter how busy my schedule and workload, I use writing as my grounding tool. It is a structure that I built into a daily routine to keep a journal. When what you do resonates with your soul and defines your purpose, it blends into who you are naturally, like the air you breathe. A hereditary influence of my roots has made me a showcase of cultural diversity in Canada.

I preach the epic of Africa because I want every African child to be comfortable in their own skin and be proud of being African.

Were there new things you learned about yourself during this book project?

Writing this book, The Rising of Ikenga (Love Beyond Death), was a trailblazing experience that opened my eyes to see beyond the veil and sow the seed for my soul’s purpose in life. Messages sent into the universe are seeds planted on the soil of destiny. There’s a purpose for every soul that crosses your path. Discern by standing in your divine power and authenticity when the universe is nudging you to speak your truth, no matter whose ox is gored. Truth is the doorway to change; be courageous to shine your light on someone’s path. Sometimes, your truth will cost you heavily. You may be hated, attacked, bullied, threatened, intimidated, harassed, blackmailed, abused and slandered with a smear campaign to silence what you preach. Walking in the light of God is more rewarding than pleasing man. Always remember that every step gets you closer to the finish line. Truth is a light that shines through the cracks of the soul. Truth is a divine weapon that prevails at the end, no matter how long that truth is covered.

They may hurt you in a million ways to cover your truth but, once spoken, that your truth will germinate and torture the soul for divine transformation. Surrender your will to the forces of nature and allow the divine will to vindicate you by karma. Walk in the spirit and not by the flesh. I believe that, after the storm, the wave of God’s right hand unveils the rainbow.

Many Igbo people don’t fully understand the concept of Ikenga and its spiritual place in the sociocultural parlance. Can you offer your own insight?

My journey as a showcase of cultural diversity in Canada has given me the audacity to shine a light on the impact of culture and the ways culture weaves into the collective consciousness and fabric of every nation. I did not write The Rising of Ikenga (Love Beyond Death), on the grounds of what Ikenga represents in Igboland but the word Ikenga holds ancestral energy of my heritage. No matter where you are, overlooking or ignoring the altars of your ancestors is a spiritual recklessness.

As a Christian, however, you can’t give power to the idol but shine the light of God by being a Jerubbaal. In my book, Ikenga is the vibration of the forces of nature. Growing up, I learned that Ikenga is a deity. As a woman, with due respect, I wish not to talk about something very traditional that I don’t know much about, as I’ve been in Canada for twenty-four years. However, my late father taught me the virtue of a born Eze-Nwanyi. One thing in particular that he hammered on was a category of men known as Ikenga in Igbo culture. Despite his strong Christian values, he also raised me to value Igbo customs and traditions, and to uphold the ordinance upon my life with pride and dignity. On that note, I salute any man who sees himself as an Ikenga.

Who inspired you amongst Igbo literary icons and why?

The legendary writer, Chinua Achebe (of blessed memory) whose epic writing skills and African folk stories resonates with me, even from childhood till this day. The connection between my godfather, HRH Sir Pete Edochie, The African Movie King, The Lion of Africa, the Ogadagidi 1 of Nollywood, ‘Onye Ozo’ is a constant inspiration from the days of Okonkwo Ebubedike.

If I may address him directly, I’d say “it’s been long we saw you in movies. What is happening to your acting career? I am still an active actress with a recent movie “I CAN’T BREATHE,” shot in Canada by Ugoeze and BI Productions Canada. The movie directed by Dr. Love Nwaigwe officially premiered in Canada in November 2022 and February 2023.

Which veteran actors did you start your acting career with?

Actually, my acting career started in Canada in May 2004, playing Adoram, the Samaritan Woman Actor alongside the Canadian born Veteran Actor, D’Arcy Browning (Jesus Actor) at the Amphi-Theatre, Canadian Badlands Passion Play. However, my first Nollywood production in Nigeria starred Veteran actor Sir Pete Edochie, Joy Helen, Late Lawson Maduike, Joy Kanu in the movie “TRIBAL WAR” and “TEARS IN CRISIS” Produced by West Coast Entertainment Nigeria and Ghana, directed by Mac Collins Chidebe, premiered 2014.

What do you think about the Nigerian movie industry presently?

The Nigeria movie industry is still an entertainment magnet in African entertainment and I’m happy to be part of it, even if now from the diaspora. I am a great supporter of Nollywood.

Tell us about your growing up back in the days?

My upbringing is the foundation of who I am and everything that I could be. A day has never passed that I don’t look in the mirror and see a reflection of my late father, Elder Sir Josiah Achinulo Chinyere (Omeonu) of Nkwerre in Imo-state. My mother who’s living with me in Canada is my greatest ally. I was raised with pride and my childhood days have given me reason to give a voice to women empowerment globally. The epic memories of my childhood constitute the beacon of my mission because I want every African child to be comfortable being an African.

You speak so much as a woman who has the potential of being in government and I ask: are you thinking of going into politics?

No. Each and every one of us came into this world with a purpose. What I do as a Peace Diplomat spreading a message of peace through creativity is my soul purpose. My voice for global woman empowerment, human rights and equality is a clarion call.

Can you tell us about your fashion and style?

My role model and fashion style is late Princess Diana but my signature style is usually earth tone with striking leopard prints any time any day. The cat rules in fashion.

Women celebrated International Women’s Day recently. What do you think women can do more to guide the girl-child?

Creating women empowerment initiatives and being the loud voice against gender inequality. By being catalysts for the change that we wish to see in the world.

What message are you sending to other Igbo and Nigerian women concerning using their creative skills to promote indigenous art and lifestyle?

Our history begins before we are born. We represent the hereditary influences of our race, and our ancestors virtually live in us. Our dreams and aspirations are the voices of our ancestors. By believing in your life purpose, you are the missing piece that completes the puzzle of this universe. The sacrifice that our ancestors made to bring forth our generation has enabled us today to rise and spread a message of peace and fight for freedom even through creativity for the generations unborn. This is by speaking our truth with one voice, as one people and being the ambassadors of our heritage. In sum, women shout not give up the fight; rather they should be the light.

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