For the family of Mr Ogbonnaya Ani in Umuose Urobo in the Uburu area of Ohaozara LGA of Ebonyi State, life can’t be more cruel to 7 members of the household now afflicted with madness one after the other. The Ani family is being ravaged by the spirit of madness.
The sad story of the family of Mr Ogbonnaya goes thus:
Ogbonnaya Ani’s elder brother’s daughter is mentally challenged. His younger brother’s son is in the same condition. Three of his own children, a male and two females, are equally afflicted. His daughter-in-law is not left out. So, there are six mentally ill persons in the family and, perhaps, still counting. Worst still, one of Ani’s mentally challenged daughters is heavily pregnant and no one seems to know who impregnated her...
And before his first wife died, she exhibited some signs of madness.
Recently, Mr Ogbonnaya told the stranger than fiction story. There is no doubt that the madness ravaging his immediate and nuclear families have left its toll on the old man. Sadness is evident in his sunken eyes. He looked frail and his voice quakes in palpable agony as he spoke. But for the magnanimity of a relation, Mr Ani and his household would not have had a place to lay their heads. This is because his mentally challenged son, Igwe Ani, alias Martin Martin, set his house ablaze. And before help could come, the structure had been reduced to ashes.
So, currently, Ogbonnaya and his family are squatters somewhere in Uburu, Ohaozara LGA of Ebonyi State.
When the reporter visited the family last Wednesday, Ozieme, his beautiful but insane daughter, was hanging around. With her tummy protruding as a result of advanced pregnancy, she looked vacantly into space, perhaps unaware of her environment and condition. A few times she smiled and muttered to herself. When asked to pose for a photograph, Ozieme obliged.
Tale like no other
“This place we are is not my house,” Ogbonnaya began. “My place is further up, after Oriebe. I relocated to this place because of the problem that I’m facing. I had a small mud house and I made it good enough for people to stay in before the problem started through my son, Igwe. It first started with Igwe and his sister, Ozieme joined later. While Igwe’s problem started at home, Ozieme’s started from outside the community. When she travelled and returned, she began to behave abnormally.”
In an agony laden voice, Ogbonnaya continued: “I don’t know how it started but we suspected or thought that Igwe joined his mates to smoke all sorts of things. I cautioned him to stop it if he was indulging in such act but there was no difference. We used to beat him to stop smoking to know if he would but to no avail. He started manifesting madness about eight years ago. He was still in primary school when it started; he was in Primary Four when he broke loose. Because of the problem, he couldn’t continue with his education. I cannot really say if he brought it upon himself by smoking certain substances or it is a problem destined to come”.
He said that the problem reached a crescendo when Igwe burnt down his house. “He used to pack all sorts of rubbish and dump in the house. It was impossible to chase him out of the house because he used to wield cutlasses and wood, threatening to harm anyone who gets close to him. At a point, he had outgrown everybody. On a certain day, he set the house ablaze and before people could come to fight the fire, things had got out of hand. That was how the building containing two rooms, a parlour and big verandah were razed down. Thereafter, we became homeless, so I brought my wife and kids to stay in a relation’s place. That was how we relocated.”
Like brother like sister
Ani said that his daughter was okay until a certain man from Nsukka in Enugu State came to seek her hand in marriage. According to him, the man eloped with the girl, adding that by the time she returned home, she had lost her mind even as she nursed a baby.
His words: “In the case of Ozieme, there was a time she travelled to Enugu to stay with her brother. There she started a relationship with one man from Nsukka and they agreed to marry. She brought the man home and introduced him to us. After meeting with us, the man said that he was going to prepare and come back for the formalization of the relationship. She insisted on going with the man; we asked her to wait for the man to go and come but she refused. We didn’t see the man again.
"When she was coming back, she came with a baby and started behaving in a manner we could not understand. We tried all we could to deal with the situation to no avail. This thing happened about five years ago and we have not set eyes on the man ever since. She didn’t have the soundness of mind to breastfeed and properly care for the baby and she died. Right now, she is heavily pregnant, she will be putting to bed anytime and we do not know who is responsible for the pregnancy.
"Again, another of my daughter who is married and a seamstress is also behaving abnormally.
"I cannot explain how this problem came into the family. From our parents, we did not experience any such thing. It did not happen to my eldest brother, who had died.”