History and Tradition of the People of Igbo- Etiti

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  HISTORY AND TRADITION OF THE PEOPLE OF IGBO- ETITI PREFACE In preparing mankind for the emerging world of the next century and beyond and for the inevitable global interdependence, researchers on history, ethnography and anthropology should not overlook the differences among people and cultures. The heterogeneity and homogeneity of people and their environments need to be seen against the backdrop of shared traits  –  our common biological and mental heritages as members of the human race; members of the same country, the same state and the same local government. Although we have certain cultural attributes in common, we differ in certain fundamentals, philosophy and outlook. For example, to an outsider our dialect is the same but among us the differences are clear. Thus, this work aims to x-ray the differences in our pe ople’s way of life and culture. Before I leave you to judge for yourself the merits of this work, I must say the least that this work has not been an easy one, not only on the account of its scope but on the account of the newness of it’s character. According to an Italian philosopher “nothing is more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take a lead in the introduction of a new order of things”. This is in view of the fact that very few of the communities in Igbo -Etiti LGA can boast of documented accounts of their history and way of life, thus majority of the communities required tedious exercises to gather/translate information from oral sources into legible form. On July 1, 2004, circulars for an inaugural meeting were sent out to fourteen communities in Igbo-Etiti LGA. The inaugural meeting was held on August 1, 2004 and those present registered; the name of the club was approved and it was also agreed to be an academic group, non-political and non-religious and is, dependable and research oriented. Later on the venue for the meeting was shifted to Central School Igbodo in Ikolo from C.S.S. Ohebe Dim, on March 6, 2005. Members also agreed that the venue of meetings be rotated from one community to another, on monthly basis. Research in a rural community is a difficult task especially when it touches on the history and culture of the people. We made sufficient effort to sell our mission and needs to others, yet people were suspicious and ignorant. Even members who started the race could not reach the end. We invited two members from each community, but we could not succeed in some communities. We invited write-ups from different intellectuals from some communities, but what we met was general apathy. It is very ironical to observe that those that failed us are intellectuals. How can we progress if intellectuals do not support research efforts on their people? Readers are likely going to discover some errors but we request our readers to bear with us and make their input in subsequent edition. These writers will surely come your way again. We thank those who contributed in no small measure to see to the success of this work especially our members and Editorial Consultants and other “big brothers” of ours who supported financially and morally throughout this serenade in adventure. We have tried to demonstrate that if the people of Igbo-Etiti should use the foregoing principles of the Writers Club and attend to other socio-political problems of the citizenry, their development will not only be based on a solid foundation but also will be accelerative in its tempo. If you are ready to learn, then let’s move together.  Simon Ezike Editor-in Chief Jan. 2009.  FORWARD  I am very pleased to write this forward to the most outstanding literature on the history of Igbo Etiti people of Nsukka Senatorial Zone, Enugu State. The PORTRAIT is a novel and illuminating attempt to record the diverse history and culture of the various towns that make up Igbo Etiti Local Government Area. It is a well-researched, incisive and educative compilation. Indeed the materials contained in this book could have been used to publish serial books but for the zeal, altruism and commitment of Igbo Etiti writers Club to leave a book of reference and identity for our people. As I recommend this book to our Universities, researchers and all lovers of history, I pray that it will provoke further discussions on the subject matter of its discourse and lead to more publications. John Nwodo Jnr “Ike Nsukka”   FOREWORD  It is a thing of joy that our young men are developing interest in life around them, they are asking questions about their srcins: who they are, what makes them what they are and why they are. Curiosity leads to the desire to investigate. While investigation may throw up more questions than answers, it is a useful beginning of the road to the land of progress, development, cooperation and unity. I am delightfully surprised that young men of Igbo Etiti were able to bring themselves together to write a book on the communities that make up the local government. It takes courage, determination, excellent organizational ability, discipline and conviction to get over twenty young men from thirteen out of the fourteen communities that make up the local government to sit down and engage in the difficult and very demanding exercise of writing something worth reading. It did not escape me that no females were involved. This is a serious oversight that needs immediate remediation. The more we write and the more we read, the more we discover ourselves, our strengths and weakness and the more we extend ourselves into others and thereby influence them positively or negatively. Think of Chinua Achebe, one of whose books is so popular that it has been translated into more than fifty languages. All those who read and studied the book know Achebe without ever seeing or touching him and he must have influenced all of them probably positively. Igbo Etiti has everything to gain if our young men continue to cooperate in carrying out meaningful projects of cultural and aesthetic values. Such interaction may lead to project cooperation such as in business, research, technology, social and religious organizations, all to the advantage of the area and its people. This book of about 400 pages and which I would like to call, The Shadow, Smoke and Candle Light of Igbo Etiti is interesting and worth reading. The first thing that catches one’s attention is the struggle, the exertion of effort of the authors to express a perfectly understood phenomenon or story in a cultural setting quite unrelated to the culture of the foreign language of expression. It is a daunting task especially to non-experts in history and anthropology. One of the engaging topics in the book is the gallant attempt made by contributors to trace the srcin of the various communities in Igbo-Etiti: Ikolo, Onyohor and Ukehe trace their srcin from communities in present Udi area. Onyohor and Ikolo are said to be descended from  Ugwunye and therefore blood relations of Affa, Egede and Nike, while Ukehe is one of the seven children of Ojebe Ogene (Ebe, Abor, Ukana, Awhum, Okpatu, Umulumgbe and Ukehe). Udueme claims Igalla paternity while Aku and Ekwegbe claim to be a mixed race of Igbo and Igalla. A majority of Aku are said to be of Nshi (Nri in Awka) srcin while some Ohemje people are said to be of Igalla. In the case of Ekwegbe, part came from Akpugo, Ikem, Agulu (Awka) and Igalla. It is instructive that the black-smiting village in Ekwegbe answers Agulu (Eguru) while all black smiths are called Umu Eguru (Agulu). Diogbe and Umunko claim to come from Eha-Amufu and Ikem (Isi-Uzo) respectively. Ohodo claims to be blood relations of Obimo and Ogbodu Abba while parts of Ozala claim to come from Nkitiba Udueme. Ochima claims to be the father of all Igbo people so that Ochima is the central locus of dispersal of all Igbos. Very interesting! Belief and acceptance of blood relationships among communities can be exploited fruitfully for political, social and economic ends. The very influential Nwodo family of Ukehe exploited the Ojebe Ogene identity to win overwhelming votes in the area during the governorship elections of 1990. The relationship between Aku and Ekwegbe needs to be further explored. It is claimed that Ekwegbe formed part of the Igalla descendants of Aku from where they moved to their present position through Umunna. In fact there is a special relationship between Aku and Ekwegbe in which it is believed that all people who die in Aku pass through a special road in Ekwegbe on their way to the land of the spirits. While Ekwegbe people use the road, no Aku person has ever walked on the road. By listening to the conversation and instructions from such dead people using the road, Ekwegbe people are able to inform and warn Aku people to observe or desist from certain behaviours or songs. Twice in the life of the writer, Ekwegbe had sent word to Aku to stop certain popular songs and dances. Within a few days of the recept of the news, the songs and dances were discontinued throughout the length and breadth of Aku. The Odo masquerade cult is a dominant cultural feature of Igbo Etiti area. With regard to the srcin of the Odo, there is a puzzling unanimity. All the contributors on this topic claim that Odo appeared first to a woman with a male child on her back. If so, why are women not eligible for initiation into the cult? Another question is why the ten Odo towns represented in the book point to a woman as the first to see the Odo on its first apparition? It is worth investigating whether other Odo towns outside Igbo Etiti such as Neke, Ikem, Eha-Amufu and Ojebe Ogene Zone have the same story of srcin of the cult. This book is a must for every Igbo Etiti person. A person who does not know where the rain started to beat him will not remember who gave him shelter from the rain. Wisdom is all around us but only disciplined intelligence know how to exploit it to advantage. A good orator is one who treasures and learns from the thoughts of others including those of mad people. There is life only in the past, the present is in the process of realization and the future is only a dream which, when realized, becomes the past. This book is our past helping us to dream. Prof. Lawrence Offie Ocho (KSM) Okwesirieze, Enyiduru  FORWARD  The portrait, a book on Igbo-Etiti people of Enugu State, is the result of a painstaking and praiseworthy research effort which has been conceived, supported, managed and collated by a patriotic group in Igbo- Etiti LGA that rightly calls itself “The Igbo - Etiti Writers Club”. The book is an assemblag e of research results from earlier documented accounts on Igbo-Etiti people, oral or written documents from Igbo-Etiti elders/traditionalists and preserved records from colonial administration, government and religious missionaries. As far as records show, the portrait is the first-hand effort of Igbo-Etiti, as a cultural group, to produce a record of its historical, cultural, economic and political life. Producing this portrait under a culture that has up to the recent past relied heavily on oral transmission of its history and way of life from one generation to the other is a very difficult task. Naturally, the oral transmission of historical facts from one generation to the other has the disadvantage of losing details of the historical account and/or corrupting the authentic historical account. As a result, what is contained in the portrait as the pre-colonial history of each of the 14 communities in Igbo-Etiti LGA constitute a skeletal but relatively exciting historical information on which more accurate details derived from future intensive and coordinated archeological research, can be built on. Over the period of British Colonial rule and post-Colonial rule, the portrait contains fairly interesting information on Igbo- Etiti people’s culture, val ue systems and development. This colonial and post-colonial information includes the Odo cult, Omaba cult, religious beliefs and practices, traditional title taking, funeral rites, marriage rites, traditional festivities, community administration including bye-law enforcement and the administration of justice, educational development, agriculture and commerce/trade. Building on this valuable information, the contemporary cultural and historical record of Igbo-Etiti can be made richer and more accurate through increased and sustained effort in organized and effective research toward the realization of a continuously refreshed book on the history and general way of life of Igbo-Etiti people. Therefore, the Igbo-Etiti Writers Club, by producing the first encompassing document on the culture, history and the development of Igbo-Etiti communities has thrown a noble challenge to Igbo Etiti people. In response, Igbo  –  Etiti people and beyond are called upon to give all necessary support to the club to continually improve and expand the historical and cultural portrait of Igbo Etiti people. The impressive work (in the form of a book on Igbo Etiti people) which the club has produced is a rich treasure which all groups, families and individuals of Igbo Etiti srcin should add to their libraries. Each Igbo Etiti community is called upon to mobilize its people to contribute fund, information and ideas towards the correctness and improvement of subsequent revised publications of the portrait. Prof. Marcel U. Agu Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
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