Chief Simon Odo alias Onuwa, a herbalist, is based in Aji village, Enugu-Ezike, Igboeze North Local Government Area, Enugu State. In this exclusive interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, Onuwa, who boasts of 150 grand children, says he will not count the number of his children until he stops procreating. Excerpts:
How do you describe yourself?
My name is Simon Odo alias Onuwa in Aji, Enugu-Ezike. My nickname is King of Satan. If you go to my cars, you will see the inscription: King of Satan.
Why do you answer King of Satan as your nickname?
King of Satan means that I am a traditionalist. I’m not a Christian anymore. I was baptised as a Christian in 1956. And I was a mass server between 1959 and 1960 and the evil and wicked people who didn’t want me to live, poisoned me with ukwaranta (whooping cough) which I suffered for five years. Thereafter, somebody kept poison for me and I marched on it. Consequently, my right thigh (he pulls his trousers for the reporter to see the deep scar on his lap) got lacerated for five years and I was taken to another place for medicine. So I decided to embrace the traditional way of life and I survived the sickness. When the enemy wanted to terminate my life, I was still single. So I survived the king of Satan. What I don’t do is bad medicine. I don’t go near human blood at all. That’s why I married 57 wives. My grandchildren are 150 in number.
Did you say 150?
Yes, I said 150.
Did you pay bride prices before you married your 57 wives?
Ok. I’m coming. (He enters the inner room and reappears with a book containing names of his wives and children). You know our community has taboos, if you go into fornication or adultery in our place, your children will be condemned or you may go mad. Here are the names of my children and my wives. The names of my wives cover two pages of the notebook – Igbo women are there, Yoruba women are there, Awka in Anambra, every tribe is there. Now, coming to your question, I paid the bride price on the head of all my wives as tradition demands. Above that, there are some of my in-laws, I bought cars for and also built comfortable houses for them. Some of my mothers-in-law I built a bungalow for. The wife that is next to my junior wife, I dashed her mother Peugeot 406 car. I spend as from N300,000 upward whenever I’m going to marry. I don’t marry from big (rich) families. I marry from the poorest families so that I can help them. If I want to marry a woman and she tells me that she is from a well-to-do family, I won’t marry her again. I suffered a lot in this life. As you hear the story of Job in the Bible, I suffered like Job. This snuff I am taking now, I started taking it in the year 1960 when I was in Standard Three. The cough poison which the evil people inflicted me made me to drop out of school at Standard Three. I hope you know that Standard Three is not Elementary Three? Whatever I’m telling you is the truth because you came all the way from Enugu, which is a very far distance, to come and interview me and so I will not like to tell you lies.
People say that your wives live like sisters from the same mother. What’s the secret?
It’s not just that they live like sisters from the same womb but they eat from the same plate. They cook in the same pot. My wives don’t fight, they don’t quarrel. If any of them fights, I sack her without wasting time. And when I sack the person, I wouldn’t go asking for the things I spent on her head as bride price.
Has any woman left you under such circumstance?
If I sack my wife, I remarry. About seven have misbehaved and I sacked them. But if the wife I sacked should repent and beg for forgiveness, I remarry her.
How do you fend for a large family of over one hundred members?
Whatever question you want to ask me, don’t shy away from such question, and I’ll answer you. Don’t ask me indirect question. The way I take care of my large family is simple. Thankfully, those I saved their souls, helped to solve their numerous spiritual problems, usually come to do thanksgiving here. And they help me a lot. If you look round the compound, you will see vehicles parked inside which they dashed me after I had solved their problems. It is my destiny to help people. And it’s God that solves their problems, using me as an intermediary.
How many children do you have?
I don’t know the exact number of my children. I don’t want to count them until I stop procreation.
Are all of them going to school or do you train them in other skills?
All of them go to school. I encourage them to go to school, except if they don’t have the brain for that. Yet, you must have a skill in my family. If you don’t have a skill, that means you don’t want to be useful and I will chase you out of my family. Of course, nobody steals here. You can’t be in my house and decide to steal. Stealing is forbidden in my family. That’s why no matter the size of my family, you can’t see any member of this family stealing. If anybody from this family steals, the person knows the punishment I will give him or her – I will kill the person.
Does any of your children want to become herbalist?
None of them is showing such interest. They are not showing interest in my kind of occupation. All I need to do is to bless them so that God will help them in whatever they do. But I emphasise to them, never steal anybody’s thing. If you steal, I will denounce you as my child.
Isn’t it surprising that none of your many children, either male or female, is showing interest in what you are doing?
In the first place, I did not learn this occupation. It’s my God’s gift to me. Many of my children are pastors in The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Church. Many of my children are Christians. But I used to tell them that whatever anybody is doing, don’t allow abomination to come into it. Don’t use it to perpetrate injustice or falsehood or impunity.
Who are your patronisers?
Those I help are many. When politicians who are aspiring to positions come to me for help, I usually pray for them. But I must emphasise to them that if God helps them to get to the positions, they must govern well and they should not misbehave with the public offices entrusted in their care. But where the person gets into office and begins to misbehave, I am not to blame, I only prayed for him, I am not God who gives position, I‘m not God who controls the affairs of men.
How many bags of rice are consumed daily or weekly or monthly in your house?
Truly speaking, some of my wives are well to do, they are established and they are helping to carter for the family. But when I want to go an extra mile, I provide them with bags of rice two times or three times in a week. I am living with the young ones, I’m almost 70 years. I trained the old ones who, in turn, help to train their younger ones. Most people outside there don’t know the trick: they think I am the only person catering for the entire large family.
When you were in your 40s, for instance, how did you feed them, especially in providing source of protein to the family?
I killed three, four, five cows every month to provide meat which is a good source of protein for the family every month. If you are in doubt, I can take you to the place I kept the skull of the cows I have killed over the years, so that you see them.
Any of your sons a polygamist like you?
No, I don’t want to encourage them to marry more than one wife. They must all marry one wife each because there is no land to occupy more people. I built 15 different storey buildings to accommodate members of my large family. As my child, if you grow up, you go out and build your own house and thank God.
You married over 50 wives…?
(Cuts in) I married over 57 wives.
How old are you this year?
I was born in the year 1947, almost 68 years now.
And you decided to produce a whole community…don’t you think you are causing population problems for the country?
No. The truth is that my father was the only son of his parents, Papa bu ofu nwa. And he vowed that in his next coming (reincarnation), he was going to have large family full of his many children. And what he wished came to pass or don’t you know there’s power in the tongue, in the spoken words?
Do you have regret marrying many wives?
No. There is no regret.
Assuming any of your sons should marry more than one wife, how would you view such act?
If any of my sons marries more than one wife, contrary to my instruction, he should go and buy his own land and build his own house elsewhere. But as for staying in my compound with more than one wife, it won’t work.
How old is your oldest wife?
My oldest wife was 56 years old before she died.
What about the youngest? How old is she and how do you manage to…?
(Cuts in) Are you talking of the last one? She is 15 years. Should I call her for you so that you see her? (He goes out to call the youngest wife, Chidinmma. After this reporter photographed her, he asked her to leave). Very good of you to have asked that question -the way I used to behave when I was young is the way I behave now. I know where you are going to. I know the question you want to ask. The vigour I used to have when I was young is still in me now. I don’t have female friends! I don’t have concubines. I don’t go after other men’s wives. I face my wives only.
How do you feel marrying 15 year-old- girl who is young enough to be your grandchild?
I am as healthy as I was when I was young because I don’t bother myself with troubles of this world. I am not an enemy of progress. I don’t envy anybody. I don’t begrudge anyone. I try to go about my own way and mind my business. Sometimes I drive myself to Lagos. What I’m doing is just a gift from God. If you come here in the next 10 years, I will still remain youthful as I’m today.
What is the secret of your youthful look?
I don’t eat the kind of food you people eat these days. I eat the type our fathers ate. I eat our natural food. I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t smoke.
You have never taken alcohol since you were born?
I stopped drinking alcohol in 1998. I used to drink a lot.
Why did you stop drinking?
Alcohol destroys man’s sperm. I am careful about my life and that’s why I am alive today. I don’t eat a lot. Sometimes, I eat once or twice in a day. One of the causes of sudden deaths these days is: somebody will eat one chicken, drink a bottle of big stout, or Gulder, Star and palm wine. Such eating and drinking habit can kill early. But if you can avoid too much consumption of all these stuffs and live the way God has created you, hardly can you have health problems.
Do you go to hospital?
I do go to hospital. I go to see the doctor for check-up because I have many wives. I don’t joke with my health.
People say you use juju to control all your wives so that they will be obedient to you. Is it true?
No. There is nothing like using medicine or juju to control them. A woman is like a dog that bites. Is there any juju you can use to control a dog that bites? Tell me the name of such medicine, please, if you know of any. It is just the gift and wisdom God gave that I use in controlling them. I don’t use charms or juju to control them.
One of your young wives, Ndidi, gave birth to a set of twins. Has God blessed you with twins before?
I have been blessed with sets of twins, from different wives, almost six times. Should I call the latest set of twins and their mother, Ndidi, so that you see them? Ndidi Agada gave birth to twins – Ebele Odo and Ngozi Odo on October 19, 2014.
What will you tell young men who want to marry?
I have always told my sons never to marry more than one wife because if you marry more than one wife, how to feed them may become a big problem. I will not live in the world forever. If your father is a man who has a limited company, it doesn’t imply that the son must have few accomplices.
What lesson would you like your children or other people to learn from you?
Whatever you enjoy doing develop it and use it to help people. If your gift is to trade, you face trading, if your gift is in public service, you face it and use it to help people. If your gift is to be a pastor, then you face it and spread the word of God. Some of my children have money but when you are rich, you try and help your fellow men. Some of my children are abroad. Normally, when you go to some large families, you will likely see some deformed people – imbecile, insane people, deaf and dumb and things like that. But in my own case, God has blessed my family in such a manner that such deformity does not exist in my large family.
How do villagers see you?
They love me essentially because I’m not a liar. I don’t offend people. I stay here and people visit me. My vehicles, at times, may stay here up to six months without me driving any. I recall when one Reverend Father and Reverend Sister visited me and asked me why is it that I’m answering King of Satan regardless of the fact that I’m doing good by helping people? I explained it from the Bible.They said, please, Onuwa, leave us to rest and discuss the reason for which we are here. But I insisted they must listen to me. If anybody is answering King of God, let him answer but as for me, I will answer King of Satan. How many people did I dash cars? How many people did I dash motorcycles? I bought 96 machines which I dashed out to people and 10 vehicles which I gave out to help people. Have you seen anybody I gave motorcycle get involved in an accident with it? Or have you seen anyone I gave a vehicle and he got involved in an accident with it? The priest was nodding his head.
What advice do you have for the government and those in leadership positions?
If you are a governor, govern well. Do not use your position to suppress people, especially the innocent, poor people because if any leader decides to oppress the poor, whenever such leader leaves this planet, others will oppress his own children. People in leadership positions should not encourage nepotism. I told the vigilante people in our community that if you arrest any of my children who is doing evil, just deal with him, don’t say because he is the son of a prominent person, Onuwa, you can let him go while you punish an innocent poor person who didn’t commit any offence. Don’t use your high position to snatch somebody’s wife or land or shed innocent blood so that God’s anger will not come upon you because there is something called the law of karma which still exists.