The herbalist spoke in an interview with the South East Voice at his palatial home at Aji, Enugu Ezike in Igboeze North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Emeka, first son of Franca, one of the wives and Onuwa Onuwa was armed with an Onward note book where names of the wives and over 200 children were listed according to their dates of birth, Emeka his first son was born on December 15, 1969.
“I was born in 1947 on the day they had an eclipse of the sun and the moon. There was darkness in the afternoon on the day I was born. I was the only son of my parents. “I was baptised as a Christian in the Catholic Church and I even became a mass servant under Rev Father Desmond McGlade. I however became a herbalist because of circumstances beyond my control. As I said, I was the only son of my parents but because some of his relations wanted to take over his landed property, they poisoned me. I contracted tuberculosis and had to be treated for years
At a point, I was even unable to walk for about five years because I became lame. “I ran to Ondo State in the South West, where I trained to become a herbalist at the age of 15, before returning to the village. I married 15 wives when my father was alive and the situation prolonged his life. He died in 1992 at the ripe old age of over 90 years.
My first son has seven children and four grandchildren. “Any of my children who chooses to become a Christian is free to do so, provided he/she must become a Catholic. I don’t like the Pentecostal churches.”
The new bride, Chidinma On feeding of his large family, Onuwa said,
“People think that I feed many of them but this is not true. Most of my children are grown up. The boys among them usually marry and go to their own houses just like the girls who marry and follow their husbands to their places.” However, my wives cook food for the whole family in turns. For example, if it is the turn of Ada or Omada to cook, she would invite five of her colleagues to assist her in cooking. One woman cooks for everybody in the house at a time but my other wives would always assist such a person.”
Asked if any of his sons has taken after him as a herbalist, he said,
“I will not encourage them to do so. I don’t want my sons to take after me because some of them will do bad things with my medicine. As a herbalist, I have never killed anybody or thought of evil against anybody but I do not trust that my children would be upright like me. That is why I will not encourage them to inherit my medicine but I may bequeath them to some of my younger children, not the old, greedy ones.”
Meanwhile, it was learnt that although Onuwa abhorred seeing his children attend churches other than the Catholic church, seven of them were ordained pastors at the Lord’s Chosen Church.
Hitherto, some of them attended Catholic and Anglican churches while many of them took after their father in his business. However, the ordination of the pastors brought about a radical Christian awakening in the extra-large family of Chief Odo.
In the past four years, there had been a simmering misunderstanding between the pastors and their father regarding his herbal practice.
The pastors were said to be mounting heavy pressure on him to repent and turn to Jesus, a demand the herbalist spurned. Odo, said to have lost one of his wives last February, had arranged for the burial programme, which his pastor’s sons rejected and rather organized a prayer programme for her burial, triggering confusion in the family.