Home » Headlines » Picture: 500-year-old Iroko tree falls, kills 18-year-old boy

Picture: 500-year-old Iroko tree falls, kills 18-year-old boy

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

• The root of the tree
 

For the Anatogus of Amawbia in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State, it was one mysterious death too many as their 18-year-old son, Bernard Ikenna Anatogu was killed by an Iroko tree that fell on him. Ikenna was one month away from his 19th birthday and had got admission into the university to study Applied Microbiology when death came knocking hard.

He had just lost his elder sister also in a mysterious circumstance. The family members were still grieving over that when he also died. Four days to the botched Saturday, April 2, National Assembly election, Ikenna had come back from Kogi State, where his mother, Uzoamaka Anatogu, was residing.
He had told his mother that he was going home to work as an agent for one of the political parties in the elections.
But as the elections were postponed, Daddy as Ikenna was fondly called by family members and friends, decided to wait in his maternal grandmother’s house, which is about two poles from his father’s compound.

In a little farmland separated by a bush path close to Ikenna’s maternal home stood an old Iroko tree said to be about 500 years old, and which has given sign of falling by tilting to one side.
Unknown to the family, the tree had been dead for some time and was just waiting for the ultimate push to fall.
Daily Sun gathered that at the stroke of midnight, on April 2nd, a strong gale blew, which the residents of Awka metropolis had not seen for a long time.

On that fateful night, Ikenna was sleeping under a wooden shed outside their house after complaining of the stifling heat in the house.
As the family was sleeping peacefully, the combined strength of the wind and the force of the rain sent the tree crashing on the young man who was sleeping on his belly, crushing his lower torso and the rest of his legs. The youths of the town tried to save his life, but they sadly lost the battle as he died two hours later.

According to the father, Mr. Ilora Anatogu, “I was asleep, when I heard a mighty crash around few minutes past 12:00 a.m. that Monday morning. I wondered what it was briefly, and was struggling to go back to sleep, when people came knocking on my door, and shouting my name. I opened up our gate and was told that my only son was lying under an Iroko tree standing beside my wife’s place. A minute later, I saw my son crying out for help, asking his friends, ‘Is this how I will die?’ Ikenna saw his death with his own eyes, which is something I don’t wish for anybody.”
Meanwhile, Ikenna’s mother, who hurriedly rushed back from her business in Kogi State, was being restrained by fellow women. She burst into tears when this reporter wanted to commiserate with her over her son’s demise.

“I don’t know what to say. See, I have lost my first child and now this, they have killed him. Daddy got admission to study Microbiology at the Madonna University, Okija, but because the money is not yet there, we have been contemplating on what to do.
“He told me he was coming down to work as an agent here in his home town, Amawbia, and I said okay. He would have returned to me, but the elections were postponed, so he decided to stay back and finish the first one before coming back. Now, he is dead. What will I do?” she queried.

The 18-year-old man who became so popular at death made his mother to lament thus: “Look at what my son could have become, he cleared all his papers and was set to take whatever hand life might deal him, but he never expected this. We never expected this.”
Ikenna’s paternal aunt, Ms. Katherine Anatogu, blamed the owners of the farmland where the ancient Iroko was standing all these centuries for the mishap, claiming that they knew that it was dead and partially out of the ground, but refused to cut it down despite all entreaties by villagers to do so.
Hear her: “The family which had this tree in their family for generations simply refused to cut the tree for undisclosed reasons they won’t divulge to people. But, the problem is that the tree has been rumoured to be a witch’s coven. Many years ago, a man named Akwuniko tried to cut it, but ended up somewhere else far from the tree and also, his new born son came into the world without a nose”.

When Daily Sun traced the families, who were said to own the tree, it was confirmed by a male member of the clan, Mr. Olisa Nwokoye, who after accepting that the larger extended family owned the tree, denied any other knowledge of the matter. Old men of the clan were nowhere to be found when the families were visited. 
An elder of the town, Mr. Tony Okafor from Ngene, another village in the town, however, told Daily Sun that the tree was in no way bewitched.
“We have serious deities here. There is the Ngenekolobia, and the rest of them. But this tree, right from my childhood has stood on its own. Nobody has worshipped it,” he said.

But in a swift retort, a youth from the village, Igwebuike Nzekwe, claimed that the tree had been worshiped in recent times by fraudulent priests, who sought to dupe gullible people of their hard earned money. He however pointed out that the white clothings tied to smaller trees near the Iroko was a recent development, not worthy of mention.

-Sun

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Posted by on May 17 2011. Filed under Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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