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ETITIGBO: People of the Heartland of the Igbo People – Paper presented at the 2015 Ezumezu Obowu Colloqium

(Paper presented at the 2015 Ezumezu Obowu Colloqium; Etiti and Mbaloha in History. Otoko, Obowu. 14 August, 2015)

Chidi G Osuagwu, PhD
Department of Biomedical Technology
Federal University of Technology, Owerri
Imo State, Nigeria

Owumowu (Ikenga na Ihitte), Mma-mma nu!
Uboma (Onicha na Nsu), Unu anwula o!
Mbaloha (Umuopara na Ohuhu), Mma-mma nu!
Igbowuigbo (Epekele na Edime), Kwezuo nu o!

Agawala m, agawala m; ije nwamgberi.
Agawala m, agawala m; ije nwamgberi.
Ga ruo (Ihitte; Uboma; Mbaloha) o; ndi mu na ha wu o.
Mu n’egberi je o; ije nwamgberi!

This ‘ije nwamgberi’; slow-and-steady adventure, started in 2001. The Obowu Development Association (ODA) regime of Dr Hemeson had instituted the Ezumezu Wiyi as a modern rendition of the Mbomuzo Wiyi; traditional New Yam festival, of Obowu. As innovation, they had also instituted the Ezumezu Lectures, a forum to remind the people of who they are, to go with the main festival. I was privileged to be honoured with the invitation to deliver the first lecture. That was appropriate for a Dibia’s son.
At that first lecture, I had observed that the name Ezumezu Obowu was inappropriate for the occasion. Ihitte-Obowu was absent, and only Ikenga-Obowu people were present. One-half of Owumowu could not constitute Ezumezu Obowu. At the end of the lecture, our great leader; Governor S O Mbakwe, had hugged me and commended the observation about Ihitte’s absence. Twelve years later, 2013, the absence of Ihitte was significantly solved; with their participation in the colloquium, which came instead of the lecture. The experience was exhilarating.
A fractured identity is a sick identity, and the healing of same; like all healings, makes life whole again. All around us are fractured identities of peoples; resulting from the abominable European imperialist invasion of Africa. Our Etiti District, too, was fractured as a result of Nsu-Uboma being transferred to Ehime, through colonial machinations. We decided to address that in 2014. We had speakers from Ikenga-Obowu, Ihitte-Obowu, Onicha-Uboma and Nsu-Uboma in the 2014 colloquium. Again, it was a wonderful experience.
In my 2013 lecture; Ndu m Ikenga, Ndu m Ihitte, I had mentioned that even though Ihitte was present, I was still missing my Umuabazu kinsmen at Amachara and Umuikwe kinsmen at Ogbodi; on my father’s side and Ehume-Umuopara people on my mother’s side. I was also missing my kinsmen from Ohuhu; like the children of Nwayiha of Umuawa-Alaocha, and others. I was also hoping we will re-link-up with them.
The thought of kinsmen across the Ancient River;Imo Mmiriochie, was definitely a two way affair. Sometime in the late 1980s, the former Provost of, then, Alvan Ikoku College of Education; Professor Sunday Nnanta Nwosu, of Umunwanwa-Umuopara, was interviewed on the then Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) on the origin of the Umuopara people. He had answered that Umuopara people came from Obowu. And sometime in the early 1990s Mr. Gabriel Ukabiala, of Okahiauga-Ohuhu, had come searching for me; after listening to me on the same IBC. It turned out that his father Ukabiala (of Dr MI Okpara’s ‘proper foolish’ fame), was the popular with us; children, Dee Ukabiala that used to visit our Umunachi home in the 1950s. After exchanging confirmatory tales, Gabriel invited me to his then 15 Onitsha Road, Owerri, home and introduced me to his children as their kinsman from Obowu. So, the consciousness and intense sense of kinship between Etiti and Mbaloha people and the goodwill to pursue leads was always there. It is within this context that when the Ohuhu Council of Ndieze sent to see me, November 2014, to discuss our peoples’ relationship, I was not surprised, but exceedingly delighted. How this came about is worth some mention; as it looks staged by Nnamehie; the Spirit-of-ancestors-that-shadow us.
I had gone to visit a friend at Olokoro. When I arrived, there was a simply dressed, but dignified, person already seated with my friend. This could be a traditional leader of some sort, but that was not clear. The introductions were not elaborate. I started telling my friend that was one of the few times I had visited Olokoro. I further said we, Obowu people, did not have much interactions with Olokoro people who are proper Old Bende, unlike our kinsmen; Ohuhu and Umuopara, who though in Old Bende Division of the colonial era have their real kinsmen across the Imo River. I elaborated, pointing out how my own very family lives on both sides of the Imo River and our plans to revive the consciousness of our true relationships. As I explained, the dignified gentleman listened with rapt attention.“I am interested in what you’re saying!” Eze Bobby Aguocha, of Umuohuru-Okahiauga, finally, interjected and more properly introduced himself.
I found that very interesting, as I was designated ‘Onyeisi-nkwoegwu’,long before the Eze was crowned. That’s the name I was called, by other pupils, till I left primary school; for missing my road in my first attempt to rendezvous, and relieve, my mother who had gone to Nkwoegwu, which was considered one of our local markets. It was my fault. I had, on my way to the Nzu, stepped off the road at Ekenobizi. I went in to inspect the Church tower and organ; which I had not seen before. I missed my mother, who had passed by, going home. By the time I came back to the road, and continued to Nkwoegwu, I only met ndieze-ahia and it was nightfall already. That is why I got called ‘Onyeisi-nkwoegwu’; chief of the market wardens, Ndieze-ahia. I came back the next day.
My children would be surprised to hear that Obowu people thought of Nkwoegwu, in Abia State, as a local market. Well they will do well to note that their grand-father, 112 years old Benjamin O Osuji, of Umuihi-Ihitte had been a migrant to Okaiuga-Ohuhu; after his age-grade lost a war to the Whiteman and his warrant-chiefs. He only reverse-migrated when his father enticed him with the option of going to school. So, the migrations we talk about were ongoing till recently, in historical terms.
But Nkwoegwu, in Ohuhu; Nkwoha, in Umuopara and Ekeikpa in Obowu were more than markets. They were also rendezvous for kinsmen from both sides of the Imo. That is also why I, and all my younger siblings, were born at Methodist Maternity Hospital Amachara, instead of the one at Amainyi. Our Umuabazu and Umuikwe kinsmen were at Amachara and across from them at Ogbodi to synergize with. And this was true for many families across the Imo River.Eze Aguocha arranged the meeting with the Ohuhu Council of Ndieze.
I had observed in my 2009 Ezumezu Lectureand 2013 Colloquium, how critical the military intervention from Mbalohain 1911 wasin confounding British imperialist forces who were invading Obowu (Osuagwu, 2009; 2013).As British records show “Seizing opportunity of the low morale within the rank and file of the British troops, the people of Obowo launched their attack. This time, the people were said to have “shelled” from the towns east of the Imo River …” (Chuta, 1984). Towns east of the Imo River are of course Mbaloha (Umuopara and Ohuhu).It was a big risk the Mbaloha people had taken; to allow attack on the British, from their territory, in defense of kinsmen. As we specially, thank our Mbaloha kinsmen for this historic solidarity, we wish all to take very strong notice of it, as we have slid apart, all round.

We have introduced the term Mbaloha. What does it mean? Mbaloha is the name that holds Umuopara and Ohuhu together as an Organic Community. My 2013 Ezumezu paper; Ndu M Ikenga, Ndu m Ihitte, had observed that this binary structuring of society is a universal societal design motif of the Igbo. Hence we have Obowu organized as Ikenga and Ihitte, while Uboma has Onicha and Nsu. Mbaloha being organized in two segments as Umuopara and Ohuhu is, therefore, not unique in the neighborhood.
The oddity would have occurred if there were not two moieties. But like many youth of Ikenga and Ihitte did not know, until 2013, that the two segments make up Obowu; as the youths of Onicha and Nsu did not know they are Uboma, until 2014, many youth of Ohuhu and Umuopara do not know they are Mbaloha.
Sometime ago, there was struggle for chairmanship of the, then, Umuahia LGA Council of Ndieze; between Eze Amaechi of Umuopara and Eze Ihuoma of Ohuhu. At the Safari Club, Owerri, the nephew of Eze Amaechi; who is my friend, was complaining that an Obowu man (Ohuhu man), was struggling to be chairman of a Council of Ndieze of Umuahia people. I was stunned to hear him say this of his kinsmen.
I asked him whether Umuopara were not also mostly Obowu people. He vehemently denied any such thing.
I then asked him “You are from Ogbodi”, he said yes. “Are you sure?” He said yes. “Do you know Ogbodi people called Umuikwe?” He, suddenly became excited. “Ikwe; my friends, Aba business people, brilliant!” That sounded like an apt description of my great Dibia ancestor’s; Ikwenemenri (The Great Provider!), descendants. Ikwe is the ancestor of one of the nine villages of Avutu Obowu; whose descendants are now settled in Umuabazu, Umunachi; and here and there in Umuopara, including Ogbodi and Umuabazu Amachara. I told him I would have been an Umuopara man, today, had my grandfather Osuagwu Nwuku (Uku is the mighty tree that yields the Orammiri-ukwa seed, that symbolizes the deity of Avutu people), not felt obligated to bring Mpi-okpu Ikwe back to Obowu. And so back-migrated.
I told him that as I went to the Nwangele stream, as a child; to fetch water for my grandmother, Uzoaku Adadiele of Ehume Obowu, I passed the vacant land called Uhungodo. No member of the Ngodo Community is in Ehume Obowu now. But, they are the Ngodo of Ehume Umuopara; as the two Ehume are one Community. I asked him whether he had listened to the IBC interview, I mentioned a while earlier, in which Professor Sunday Nnnanta Nwosu, former Provost of Alvan Ikoku College of Education, from Umunwanwa, had said Umuopara people came across from Obowu to settle? Etc.! My friend ought to have saved himself the misery, as the Club members came down hard on his lack of knowledge of his own people. But he is not alone; as we see the same lack of self-knowledge among Obowu and Uboma youth.
This social fracturing, and associated identity confusion; under European imperialist pressure on Igbo and other African societies, is the real meaning of Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. In 1911 Mbaloha (Ohuhu and Umuopara) intervened militarily to save their Obowu/Etiti kinsmen across the Imo from total British destruction. Three short generations later, the one sees the other as alien. And the reason? The Eluwa-Amaechi Scholarship Affair split Mbaloha. An Umuopara man thought he had won a scholarship, an Ohuhu man got the scholarship. Foul-play was suspected, and a people fell apart. Not much different from how Obowu fell apart; the Konkwo-Konkwo Affair. Konkwo Anowi won election for chairmanship of Obowu Native Court, Konkwo Olujie alleged Ikenga gang-up; and the clan fell apart. Just like Uboma fell apart because Nsu lost their bid to have Etiti Treasury built at Oriagu, and maneuvered, in frustration, their way into Ehime Court and exile. In each case, identity decay followed the falling apart.
There are serious lessons to be learnt here. Etitigbo people, traditional devotees of Ogbunorie (Justice-must-be-done! Spirit), are hypersensitive about injustice; perceived or real. Therefore, anybody that wants to lead or rule them must be JUST or he will destroy the Community he claims to lead. Once Etitigbo societies fall apart, the constitutive elements construct new identities and do not much bother about the past. This leaves a permanent social scar on all parties concerned, with loss of synergy. So, it is best not to let it happen.
An interesting thing about theories of Umuopara origin that is worthy of note is the repetition by every author that studies the issue of the observation “A recurrent name in these theories is Obowo” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umuokpara). All the intriguing tales of our network of kinsmen in Umuopara clan told to me by Dadam Adanta (My elder cousin and mother’s age mate, Ikonna; daughter of my father’s elder brother Konkwo Osuagwu and mother of Emmaand Ikokwu Iwegbulem of Ekenobizi), would be consistent with this conclusion.

The term Etitigbo was just used. What does it mean? Two people inspired the adoption of the term Etitigbo; to describe the related peoples of Etiti (Obowu; Ikenga and Ihitte and Uboma; Onicha and Nsu) and Mbaloha (Ohuhu and Umuopara). First person of the two is Ida Ward, the linguist, who established that the Central Igbo dialect is the one spoken in this area (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ida_C._Ward). She named it after one of the clans of this area; Ohuhu. Translating Central Igbo from English to Igbo, literally, turns up as Etiti Igbo. Then there is Dr Timothy Uboegbulam, a geographer. He came to the studied conclusion that Etiti was the cultural geographic Centre of Igboland. So, he would call out “Etitigbo!”, whenever we met.
Geographically, Etitigbo is made up of the Mbaloha Crescent (which is the ‘half-moon’ shape of the area as it follows the curvature of the curvy Imo River at this point) and the Etiti Peninsula (the pocket of land created by Imo turning 1800 and Umummiri River running, perpendicular, into it, inside which Etiti is inserted).

Many people interested in the case, with their ears in the air, would know that Mbaloha people are, predominantly, Etiti migrants. Scholars have noted this (Talbot and Mulhall, 1962). But people with their ears at ground level would, also, hear more than that. They would hear, among other legends, one that says that at an earlier time, Ikenga-Obowu came from the Mbaloha side with his Ihitte-Obowu kinsman to settle.
Thinking, with better historical knowledge of the wider world, one better realizes the true meaning of tales (History creates contexts to better understand historical stories. For instance, to link the Aba Women’s Revolt of 1929 in Eastern Nigeria to the Great World Economic Depression of 1929, is to better understand both events). Ethnically, we understand within context, Etitigbo people are products of migrations and reverse-migrations from the Mbaloha Crescent and elsewhere into the Etiti peninsula; integrating into autochthonous populations, and then out from Etiti back and forth.The Etiti peninsula is historically, the most important natural stronghold in Igboland. It served as sanctuary during the slave trade, last place standing during colonialism and was last safe-haven and headquarters of Biafra. Physical geography; more than any other factor, is responsible for the historic role of Etiti peninsula as sanctuary/strong-hold of the Igbo heartland in times of conflict (Osuagwu, 2014). Most of these Etitigbo migrations occurred during and within the context of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. A time-frame of about 300 years (circa 1600-1900) can be assumed for these events:
1. Rise of the Aro as Trans-Atlantic Slave traders… 1600s AD (Dike and Ekejiuba, 1990). Mass evacuation of indigenes of Mbaloha Crescent into Etiti Peninsula sanctuary and stronghold; in search of refuge from mass enslavement. Integration of Mbaloha people, by Igbandu, with Etiti peninsula autochthons to form a new people; organized with mutual trust for mutual defense.
2. Aro invasion of Isuama; core Igbo, territories … 1700s AD. Migration of the Nso Groups into Etiti peninsula sanctuary (Nso Obowu mainly from the Orammiriukwa-Otammiri basin area and Nso-Uboma mainly from the Orashi River Basin). Nso Groups settle, as to form defensive ring-of-fighters around the Etiti Peninsula. A totally new Etiti people formed by the integration of the Nso Group with the indigenes; made up of the earlier integration of Mbaloha refugees with Etiti autochthons. Synthesis of Etitigbo People and Culture as we now know them occurs.
3. Haitian Anti-slavery Revolution and Decline/Abolition of Transatlantic Slave trade … 1800s. First wave of Etitigbo people; larger in number and militarily better prepared, cross east of the Imo to repopulate Mbaloha.
4. Rise of British Colonialism and bitter anti-colonial War for Etiti Peninsula …early 1900s. Second wave of migration of Etitigbo people to repopulate Mbaloha, e.g. Umuihi group.
Is there any material evidence to support the rough scheme of Etitigbo population dynamics history outlined above? Name-tracking and Deity-tracking are two ways we can track people’s origins within the Igbo culture area. Igbo people tend to take names that reflect their environment/circumstance, and take along their deities when they migrate. Let us consider these!
Today in Mbaloha, there are places called okpuala; ancient land;relic homestead. This suggests of a resettlement of a much earlier settled place. The term ‘Umuhu’ has the same connotation. The more recent ‘Nso’ (Joiner groups) immigrations into Etiti peninsula have, predictably, more obvious evidence along this line.
The Nso-Uboma group (Nsu) have Orashi as their deity (Nwajiuba, 2014), and so came, mostly, from the Orashi basin. Avutu of the Nso-Obowu group have Orammiriukwa and Amadioha (Ameke-Avutu; who claim Eche origin); so, they came mostly from the Orammiriukwa-Otammiri basin; as, probably, most Nso-Obowu group.
On a personal level, I can track my origin; along my father’s line. As a descendant of Ikwe, one of the nine founding fathers/villages of Avutu, to the Orammiriukwa valley (Umunachi and Avutu used to be one Community, and still share one unit kolanut). I can confirm this by observing that my great-grandfather’s name is Nwuku (my grandfather is Osuagwu Nwuku). Uku, as indicated above, is the mighty tree that yields the Orammiriukwa seed; symbol of the deity. This observation would apply to all Umuikwe; whether now in Obowu or Mbaloha.
Can I now claim to come from a named placed in the Orammiriukwa basin? Not necessarily! Osuagwu’s mother and Nwuku’s wife; Nwanyiafor, was an Umujiriji-Ehume woman, of most ancient Obowu stock. My mother’s side tracks from Ehume, through Umunachi into Umuariam of earlier Obowu stock; which might track across the Imo to Mbaloha. So, Obowu was already Obowu man; not to talk of me. Greater details beyond this is difficult to track. Future genetic science will help unravel greater details, but even at that I will end up Etiti man. Integration and intermixing just created a new Etiti people.Part of these later poured across the Imo, as Etiti people, to repopulate Mbaloha. This, when the trans-Atlantic slavery had abated, and they had become strong enough to fight-off, as Isichei’s book (1977) records. For those who now populate Mbaloha, origin is the sanctuary/stronghold of the Etiti peninsula. Origin of the demographic raw-material with which current Etiti people were generated, is a different issue altogether.

About 1870 Osuagwu, with other Umuabazu people, migrated to Mbaloha. We note from above that the Osuagwu that migrated was an Obowu man; even though his father, Nwuku, bore a name that reflected Orammiriukwa basin origin. About 1890, he reverse-migrated back to Obowu; to bring back Mpi-okpu Ikwe (This was possible because his Ehume kinsmen enticed him with offer of land to settle on). My father, Kafor Osuagwu, was born 1904. So, if Osuagwu had stayed, I would be an Ohuhu or Umuopara; Mbaloha man today. On the other hand, anybody that migrated from Obowu/Etiti to Mbaloha, like Osuagwu, did so as Obowu/Etiti person; even when they might have Orammirirkwa, Orashi basin or any other origin in their background.
For my children, it is even more interestingly complex. Their grand-mother is from Umuada-Avutu. So, they have Avutu lineages on both sides. But their grandfather (112 years old, in this 2015, Benjamin O Osuji) is from Umuihi, Ihitte-Obowu. Osuji is a total Etiti man, whose lineage networks into Uboma. He is the last surviving member of the Amagideuwajooji (Make-believe; because their manhood had been compromised by their loss of war to the British, according Obowu code of valour) Age Grade. When this age-grade lost a colonial-resistance war to the British and their warrant-chiefs (hence their name), they mass-emigrated to Umuihi-Okaiuga, Ohuhu and elsewhere. B O Osuji was only enticed to reverse-migrate by his father, later, with an offer of support to go to school at St Silas Old-Umuahia, which he craved. If he had stayed, my children would have been part Ohuhu people today. Etitigbo people are ethnically coiled all over each other.
Osuji coming from Ihitte-Obowu (which has noNso/Joiner/Follow-after group) would make my children, potentially, have more ancient Obowu/Mbaloha bloodline in their veins. This might also explain the preponderance of the Ihitte Ajala deity in Mbaloha); and no Orammirukwa or Orashi Nso deities.
Again, this deity and name-tracking; because of recency, is much more ubiquitous in Mbaloha (Umuopara and Ohuhu). Ajala (Ihitte-Obowu deity is all over the place), indicates significant Ihitte-Obowu origin of the people. And Communities retaining the Communal names (Ehume, Umuihi, Umuabazu, Umukabia, Umuikwe, Umuagu, Umuekwuleetc. etc.), is signifier of links, as Opara Asonye; MI Okpara’s father, observed (Agwu, 1978).
Then there is the question of the common devotion to Ogbunorie (Justice-must-be-done) deity (Chuta, 1984). Devotion to this Oracle of the Isuama; Igbo Heartland people, is one of the key things that mark out Mbaloha as none old Bende territory; but culturally and politically bound to the Etiti peninsula, as historical evidence imply.
There are, of course, alternate legends, myths and theories of origin of Etitigbo people. But this is the age of science. Any theory has to start off from some facts. Like written in 2013, looking for origin of Ihitte –Obowu outside Obowu; outside known and lived cultural, anthropological, historical and geographical facts of Igboland, is not the best approach to scientific inquiry. Same goes with trying to explain Umuopara by way of myth of Mazi Ibe Eku; to whom Umuopara is first son, without explaining away Ibeku-Okwuato, Mbaise, or Ibeku near Opi junction, Nsukka (from these Ibeku is a self-contained Igbo name, with discrete meaning. It is not, necessarily, Ibe-so-of-Eku). The same goes with a theory that goes without reference to who the constitutive communities say they are.
Many of these theories of self-denial or redefinition, I suggest, originated in the identity crisis resulting from struggle-weariness. The phenomenon that made Obowu youth decide to drop the name; which succeeded in Ihitte-Obowu, but was aborted in Ikenga-Obowu by the intervention of Biringa Odiotu (Osuagwu, 2013). The same phenomenon that made Nsu-Uboma switch and assume a false Ehime identity, to avoid the problem they said Obowu was creating; starting fights with the Britishimperialists that end up involving them. The same phenomenon that made some Ika and Riverine Igbo start struggling with identity, for security reasons, after the Nigeria-Biafra War.
The best thing is to understand what happened that split Mbaloha in 1949 (the Eluwa-Amaechi scholarship affair), and the adverse consequences. Then, articulate a reconciliation and healing protocol for the synergistic good of all concerned, instead of manufacturing confounding identity myths, that would confuse my Ehume, Umuabazu and Umuikwe people, as well as Umuihi and others that know who they are.
To think of it, the name Mbaloha (Everybody’s Country; Settlement for All) has deep meaning, for those that understand nuanced Igbo. This would explain why migrants were moving back-and-forth without anyone objecting, as land lord. So does Umuopara; ordinarily children or descendants of the first son, but could mean first settlers (Nsi puru uzo daa ogwe wu opera nsi!). And this would make this sense if one considers what the Ngwa tell us is the meaning of Ohuhu; those that delayed and crossed to the east side of Imo, to settle,much after others who did not so much care forroasted yam had done so. This is the age of science; facts and logic drive valid theories!

The dynamics of migrations and cultural mixings; mutual corrections and flaw-editing, within the Etiti Peninsula created the most representative, and clearest expression, of Igbo culture; not only in language, but in other areas of culture, too. This, logic suggests, is what General Emeka Odumgwu-Ojukwu observed; as he said others did too, and classed, in 2002, as ‘Okachamma n’Alaigbo’.
Examples follow. The Igbo term for colloquium is ‘Onugaotu!’ Onugaotu was popularized by the Nguru-Uboma public intellectual; Gaius Anoka through the Ahajioku lecture series. ‘Onugaotu!’ is a sacred injunction to us by Igbo-African ancestors to ‘Seek consensus!’ as the ideal mechanism for political decision-making, as well as the shrine to the ‘Spirit-of-consensus’ that goes by the same name. The end-product of onugaotu as decision-process is ‘Onuoha’; the voice, the WILL of Oha. Oha is ALL-THE-PEOPLE. There is an Onugaotu or an Onuoha shrine in every Etitigbo Community. It is Onugaotu for my Obowu and Onuoha for my Umunachi. The density of the Onugaotu/Onuoha shrines and the intensity of the concensual mentality is why Etitigbo people say ‘Ohanawueze!’ when other Igbo might say Ohanaeze.
Ohanawueze; sovereignty lies with ‘All-the-people’ is the most efficient definition of ‘Republicanism’. Just like Onuoha; the consensual ‘Voice-of-all-the-people’, is the most efficient, all-inclusive’ definition of democracy (contrast this explicit ancient rendition of ‘Ohacracy’, to Abraham Lincoln’s recent implicit, but loose framing; ‘The People’, that allows ‘some people’ to run a plutocracy; such as obtains in America, in the name of ‘All-the-people’.
How can a part, appropriately called Party, represent All; the Whole? Note: Lincoln’s speech came more than seventy years after the Igbo-inspired Haitians had decided, 1791, on their revolution by onugaotu/consensus decision of all the ‘Guinean Nations’). Etitigbo people are, by culture and from ancient times, hyper-republicans and hyper-democrats. And more so than any other people in the whole wide world.
The very advanced political culture is only but the political aspect of a very advanced social culture across the board; all encased in the Erima social philosophy of the organic community (Osuagwu, 1989). Even the British; who Etitigbo people treated with disdain as abominable, marauding armed robbers, had, reluctantly, recognized the very just core of Etitigbo culture (Mackenzie, 1933). Sometimes, some non-Igbo ask me what I think Igbo want in Nigeria. I would normally answer “Igbo want a just world with free Africa and Igbo as Igbo”. Sometimes, their already; and significantly erroneously, formed notions of what the Igbo are makes it difficult for them to comprehend. If they spend an Izu; four days in an Etitigbo village, they are likely to sense what I mean.

Like said elsewhere, the Ijenwamgberi that let us to this day started in 2001, when Obowu initiated a journey of self-rediscovery. As the Igbo say:
Ekwensu wu amaghi ihe!
Devil is Ignorance!
Amaghi ihe wu oria!
Ignorance isa Disease!
Oria wu onwu!
Diseases are Death!
The worst of all ignorance is ignorance of the self. As the Igbo say ‘onye n’amaghi onwe ya wu ozu’. Whoever lacks self-knowledge is a corpse; dead! That is why, as pointed out in 2013, imperialism aims to strip people; their victims, of their identity … to make them living-dead.

Imperialism is Identity-stripper!
Imperial colonialism is an identity-stripper! It strips people of their clothes, strips them of their food, strips people of their style, strips them of their minds, strips people of their tongue, strips them of their will.
Imperial colonialism is an identity-stripper! It strips people of their spirit, strips them of their purpose; strips people of their name and strips them of their land, strips people of their ancestry and strips them of their history.
Imperial colonialism is an identity-stripper! It strips people of their rites of passage; rites of birth and rites of adulthood, rites of marriage and rites of death; strips people of their world and strips them of their Life.
Imperial colonialism is an identity-stripper! It strips people of their games and strips them of their dance; strips people of their friends and strips them of their loves; strips people of their dreams and strips them of their songs.
Imperial colonialism nobodies a people; so, they be ‘born again’ as child easier to spin. When identity stripping-machine is heaven-made, as religions are, identity-stripping is most effective; a holy Zombie is born! Imperial colonialism is an identity-stripper! Identity-stripped is personality-warped!

To REALY re-gain our independence from European imperialism, we need to recover our true identity. That is the justification for our ijenwamgberi; slow-and-steady, but purposeful, walk towards reconnection with our Etitigbo kinsmen, who help to properly define us. The joy I felt when the Ohuhu Council of Ndieze invited me to discuss what they heard me saying about our kinship cannot be written down on paper. I saw the same kind of joy on the face of our 90 year Dee Bob Ogbuagu, when Okenze Bernglad Okonkwo and I went to invite him to this occasion. His reminisces about the Uko Orchestra that his Umukabia, Amanze-Obowu, kinsmen would bring; for a week, to Umukabia-Ohuhu Iriji festival when he was a boy was electrifying. When we know who we are, we are alive!
When we know who we are, we will rid ourselves of Ochichi-iwi British(Britiwi) and its Warrant-Chiefs. Then, we will restore our Uko music and dance it. For those who do not know Iwi; the Spirit of despoliation and deprivation, she is the evil spirit that makes ‘Things Fall Apart’ in people’s lives:

Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!
Unu si o ga je ikwa-kwa; unu si o ga emechaa di mma?
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Beke ji ‘ozioma’ na ghajighaji bia; Beke ji akwukwo na ohi-egbe bia.
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Ofeke, isi kpuru, chighazi okwe Afa; efulefu, obodo ma, wuzi onyenze.
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Agbugba ka nsi, irobi ka nsi; Ojuju ogu, a ya wu ikpe mmuo!
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Uwa ojoo wu Igbo ekughiume-araghiume; Uwa ahuhu ji Africa n’ute oria.
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Ajo mmadu eleghe anya wu ajo mmuo; mmadu, ahuru anya, wu njo ala:
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Onye anwuna, ma ibe ya fuo; egbe bere, ma ugo ebele?
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Iyi si na isi-ngele gbaruo, anacho ncha e ji asa Imo?
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Omekome, mere ikwu mee ibe, wu onyendu; onye aruruala ji ofo-ala?
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Etu mba di, ka ha dowere onwe ha; Nwa kere ndu ya hiri!
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!
Unu si o ga je ikwa-kwa; unu si o ga emechaa ihe adi mma?
Iwi; a muta ekughi, akpata ejighi; Iwi!

Etitigbo, Iwi y’ewile anyi oo! Iwi, ya ekwule anyi n’uzo nkwu; ka o n’ahu anyi n’uzo ngwo! Iwi, ahula anyi n’uzo iyi; ka I laekwu anyi n’uzo ahia. Ihaa!
History shows that of all African peoples, the Etitigbo people have survived 500 years of Iwi;that spirit of despoliation and loss that came with the Whiteman, better than most. Many people qualify, indeed, as what Igbo call Ozu; walking corpses. But our ancestors have left us the instruction; that, in the long journeyIjeuwa, that is life, whoever wakes up first, should call-up the others (Onye tete n’ura, ya kpotee ibe ya o!). Etitgbo must stay awake; so as to wake up other Igbo, and wake up other Africans.
So, our Ijenwamgberi Imaonwe, is not a tokenistic attempt to meet and say to each other ‘long-gone kinsman, how do you do?’ then, eat the roasted yam and drink palm-wine that we love and be gone our lost ways. No, it is the first critical step for the land that gave Ndiigbo and Africa MI Okpara and SO Mbakwe; Okachamma n’Alaigbo, to stand up again and resume the leadership of the journey away from Iwi’s realm.Back home to true freedom, dignity and Ndu-juru-afo that Olaudah Equiano described our land as availing her children. The true re-awakening of renascent Africa starts with us who, though sleepy, are still awake.

Etitigbo, by God, geography, character and luck;shielded from direct impact of Nri plutocracy, Aro mercantilism and Britiwi;which still haunt Igboland, is the essence of the Igbo African Spirit, as people, left from years of vicissitudes. A people who believe in and call their children Ndukaku; Mma-ndu-ka-aku (Maduka), Nduwuisi; Life-is-the-supreme-value, and enshrinedUzi to worship Ezi; Truth. A people who saw the marauding Whiteman come and, alarmed, drew the cosmologic conclusion “Bekee biara ikpuwe Uwa ihu n’ala!”; ‘The Whiteman has come to upturn the world!’ And went to battle against the Whiteman with the battle-cry “O wughi otu nwoke na ibe ya!”; ‘Are all men not created equal?’ For this ‘truculence’ the Whiteman pronounced; through the pen of British Captain Hicks, that “they would pay a heavy price by way of blood
Bloodied, but fairly preserved, after five hundred years of imperialist euro-toxification, through the trans-Atlantic slave trade,colonialism and their vicious wars.A people, from diverse Igbo origins, who gathered in the natural sanctuary of the Etiti peninsula, which is the child of the meeting of the Udi-escarpment with the Atlantic basin, in search of security. Here they built a stronghold for; Life, Truth, Justice, Freedom and Dignity, for all who cared for those values. And here they ended as raw material for the synthesis of a more whole, and representative Igbo people (Central Igbo Dialect, as Ida Ward pointed out, is example of this). History calls on our generation to, in due honour to our ancestors that paid with sweat and paid in blood, continue to secure that Spirit.For the life, freedom and dignity of our future generations we must fulfil this duty. And that not in alien places, but within the Mbaloha Crescent and Etiti Peninsula that are held together, and daily baptized, by the sacred ancient River;Imommiriochie,must we awaken an old dormant Spirit to lead our people and the African Renascence. Our People’s Spirit and Will must; full of Umendu and led byOma, in Avutu Force synergistic co-ordination, return ourupturned World ‘Upside-up’!

Umunne m; Ikwunaibe:
Owumowu; Ikenga-na-Ihitte, ehile!
Uboma; Onicha-na-Nsu, ehile!
Mbaloha; Umuopara-na-Ohuhu, ehile!
Etitigbo; Igbozaraigbo, ehile!

Ya gazie!

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