Thursday, December 17, 2015

HISTORY AND TRADITION OF THE PEOPLE OF IGBO- ETITI LGA ENUGU STATE (PART 1)

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 people’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 editions. 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 origins: 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 origin of the various communities in Igbo-Etiti: Ikolo, Onyohor and Ukehe trace their origin 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) origin 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 origin 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 origin 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 assemblage 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, value 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 origin 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.
                   

FORWARD
 
The book: The Portrait; History and Tradition of Igbo Etiti L.G.A is a classic example of scholarship demonstrated by some indigenes from a local government area in Enugu State. This is Igbo Etiti Local Government Area which comprised of fourteen (14) villages/communities. There are two sequence/cultural contiguous groups - Igbo Odo and Igbo Omaba. 
 There is no doubt that the knowledge and appreciation of the history tradition and other cultural attributes of a people provide the facts for socio-economic and political development planning.  These have been made available by this book in a situation of dearth of recorded history of the people. The late arrival of Western Education in the area, in the 1930s, largely accounts for the dearth of documented history and culture of the communities.
 Christianity and Western Education have very much impinged on the culture of the people. Through research conducted mainly by oral interview few materials, in the literature and personal observation of the authors, the history and the culture of the communities in the local government area, have been presented to this book. This has been made possible by the coming together of emerging young scholars in the local government area as “Igbo Etiti Writers Club”. The authors have jointly and severally made significant contributions to history, culture and development.  The achievement should serve as a challenge to other scholarly minds in the local government.
Prof. Mama Romanus Onyishi
Agricultural Education,
University of Nigeria, Nsukka
 
Chapter One

AKU TOWN

By Ezike Simon and Ochiaka Damian

INTRODUCTION
 
Aku Diewa Mgboko Odobo is one of the largest communities in the whole of Enugu state. Aku is situated in a valley of many Hills, the Ugwu Ase, Ugwu Aturu, Ugwu Ezugwu, Egbaugwu, Ugwu Omani Oshigo and Ugwu Iyi Afor.
 It is bounded on the North by Obimo in Nsukka L.G.A; on the South by Affa in Udi L.G.A; on the East by Ikolo and Ohebe Dim in Igbo Etiti L.G.A and on the West by Udueme in Etiti LGA and Akpugo in Uzo Uwani Local Government. Aku is linked by road to Enugu, Nsukka and Onitsha through Adani. Going by the population census of 1963, Aku is put at 35, 635 people. If 2.5% growth rate which is generally used for population projection in rural areas, is employed, the population of Aku by the year 2009 should stand at 100,000 people.
 Aku comprises of three quarters: Akaibute, Akutala and Ejuona. Akaibute consists of these villages; Use, Amabokwu, Mgboko, Umuezike, Ohemuje and Offienyi. The first three villages are called Ihekwuani, while the last three villages are called Ihekwuenu. Akutala has these villages: Nua, Ugwunani, Obie and Amogwu. Ejuona consists of three villages, Oshigo, Orda and Ugwuegede. With the creation of autonomous communities by the Enugu State Government in 2001, Aku has six autonomous communities Viz –Ihekwuenu, Ihekwuani, Akutala Enu, Akutala Ani, Oshigo and Ugwu na Orda autonomous communities. In all, Aku consists of three quarters, six autonomous communities, thirteen sections and sixty-three villages.

ORIGIN
 Writing on the origin of a preliterate society like Aku presents a lot of difficulties. Most authorities believe that the centuries that lie between the 9th and 19th century were the most difficult period for historian of Igbo land to write about. For the 9th century, we have vivid details of archaeological discoveries. For the 19th century we have an ever-swelling stream of evidence, both oral and documented but the thousand years which lie between, are full of obscurities. Many authors have written several materials on the origin of Aku. Each writer based his data collection on oral interview because written records came with colonial education which started in Aku in 1922 with the first Aku Magazine published in 1965 (The Aku Youth Congress Magazine) and the Okikpe of 1974 which documented a lot about Aku history and way of life. There is a genuine problem in reconciling the various versions because every oral history is subject to exaggeration, misinformation or glorification.
 According to Ocho in Okikpe “A man by name Ijija while on a hunting trip came to the present position of Aku and was enchanted by the place. Except for the present people who were living at the place we now call Use and a few others at Umudiukwu, the place were uninhabited. Ijija then went back to his place and brought his entire family to the present position in Mgboko where one of his wives Odobo gave birth to a male child – Mgboko Odobo to distinguish him from other sons of Ijija. The first son of Mgboko was Aku. Aku had three sons – Akaibute, Akutala and Ejuona in that order. These three sons formed the quarters that eventually gave rise to the thirteen sections in Aku.
 The second tradition on this asserts that Ijija was the Prince of Nshi (Nri). He went home and reported to his father that he had seen a place to live in. Having described the place to his father – Eze Nshi, the King objected to this pointing out that Igala harassment would not allow him the peace of mind in the area. According to this tradition, the prince suggested going to marry the daughter of the Attah of Igala who would then be very reluctant to fight his son-in-law. At this juncture, the King agreed and this prince went and married this Attah’s daughter –Odobo. Attah also gave his daughter and son-in-law a servant as a farm labourer. This man was called Ejike (Ezike) the eponymous father of Umu-Ezike that accounted for their being Attama Shujioku in Aku today. Continuing this tradition asserted that Ijija and Odobo had four sons–Ugwuocha, Dimotue, Dimaloke-ocha and Ayom. It was Ayom who was the father of Owerre Mgboko. This tradition claimed that other people from Aku migrated from somewhere else, and that Diewa was only an administrator from Attah Igala who came to Aku at the same time that Asebero and Asadu came to Obimo and Nsukka respectively.
 The third variant on Nshi origin postulates that Aku came from Nshi and only their dead ancestors go back to Nshi. This according to this tradition is the reason why Nshi Namoke always sends a message that Odo is overstaying at Igbo-“Nshii Namoke ezitelu Odo na- onoyalu n’ Igbo”. This was why every head Odo (Ishi Odo) has commentatory cry (iwa oka) before leaving finally “Eshim Oka no!” (I am from Awka) three times before other recitations. According to this tradition, the group from Nshi (Nri) entered Aku through a western direction of Nkpologu.
Some other informants refuted this version of Aku origin from Nshi (Nri) but claimed that Aku is Aku Diewa because Diewa who was the putative father of Aku came from Igala land. According to this claim, Diewa lived at Ohemuje and had three sons, Akaibute Akutara and Ejuona. These multiplied and increased to form the whole of Aku. The few others immigrated to Aku from other communities like Affa (Amoze) Nzue (Umuneri and Amaezi), Uvuru (Umuehelette), Ugwuamoke (Ameti) Eke Aku (Owere Mgboko and Umudikwu), Nrobu (Use-Use Nne Nrobu), Uzagba (Ohemuje), Ekwegbe (Amidi Oshigo) and so on. It is further claimed that the father of Aku (Diewa), the mother of Obimo (Asabero) and the father of Nsukka (Asadu) all came from Igala land and from one mother. It is because of this that Aku does not shed blood with Obimo.
A variant of this Igala origin claims that Odobo Igala had two issues–Asebero Odobo and Mgboko Odobo. Mgboko Odobo was married to a man. His first and only child was called Diewa. Diewa had Aku as a son. Aku married three wives and each of them had a son Eze elechi (Akaibute), Onugogu (Akutara) and Areje (Ejuona). These were the people who formed the present Aku (Quoted in the Reconciliation of the Origin of Aku by J.N. Ezikanyi, in Patriotism and Leadership Values P.27). He concluded by saying, “It is pertinent, having examined all the traditions in detail, to reconcile that Aku Diewa Mgboko Odobo, like most Igbo communities has no united and systematic tradition of origin and migration from a common place for all the people. There exists immigrations into Aku and emigration from Aku, as could be shown by the presence of Nwa Nua in Owerre Lejja when Lejja is Igbo Omaba clan and their Nwa Nua (though no Nua existed in Lejja) does the same racing (Igba Oso Nwa Nua) on the same day with Nwanua Aku. It is claimed that Owerre Mgboko and a part of Ukwu-Uvuru Offienyi emigrated to form Owerre Lejja, people in Enu Onicha emigrated to Nike to answer Nike Enu Onicha Aku. Odoachi existed today in Egari Imilike Ani even though the town is an Omaba cult area. A part of Ohemueje emigrated to Ugbene Ajima.
Ezike Amadi in Visions, a journal of Ejuona Acada Front stated that “The origin of Aku might be traced from a period before the birth of Christ. Test excavation by Professor Hartle at the University of Nigeria farm at Nsukka shows evidence of human habitation in the nature of pottery shreds. Carbon dated, the site dates back to 255 BC +_ 30, which shows that people lived there by the third millennium BC. Yet those Igbo Omaba people in Nsukka area settled after Aku in Igbo Odo cultural zone”.
In a paper: “Evolution of Eze-ship in Aku” J.A. Ezeorah gave an account of how Aku originated: “Diewa the great grand father of Aku who eventually was the great founder of the present place Aku named after him. Diewa as we are told migrated from Igala, the land of famous Attahs of Igala. Diewa who must have been a very wonderful and versatile warrior having conquered all foes and defied all barriers as he journeyed from Igala to the present place now known and called Aku”.
In his contribution to “Diewa Profile”, a publication of Diewa Research Foundation Vol. 1 B.C. Ani, a historian of high repute examined all the documented opinion survey on Aku History and came up with the conclusion that the ancient and modern history of Aku will be continuously reviewed and published from generation to generation and as long as man has eternal quest for relevance, for truth and for knowledge so long would Aku History be revisited for addition or subtraction of facts, new analysis of events and new conclusions.

CULTURE AND CUSTOMS OF AKU PEOPLE
 
 THE ODO MASQUERADE
Aku people see Odo as a link between the dead and the living. The mask is a representation of the spirit deity. The spirit refers to the ancestors and the deity refers to the gods. Odo speaks a complex language, heightened by high or deep guttural tones buttressing its anonymity. The uninitiated males must be initiated into the secrets of Odo to comprehend the complexity of Odo language. Interaction with Odo is mainly male affair. The mystery in Odo cult makes the stories about its origin vary. It is this mystery that is primarily responsible for the survival of Odo system in the face of changes imposed by Western civilization.  One of the versions of the origin of Odo stated that Origene Odo Eze, the son of Dimewa, saw a number of Odo on his way from Idah. Among these Odo, were Ovuruzo, Ahaleka, Eze-Elum and Akwari. He left these Odo and hastened home to tell his father what he saw. His father asked him to go back and lead the Odo into Aku. When Origene went back to the scene of the Odo, he discovered that Ovuruzo was no longer there. He then asked Ahaleka to go with him. But coming home with Ahaleka, he heard a distant noise of jubilating people at Akutala part of Aku. Incidentally he was told that an unknown spirit called Odo had arrived into Aku. He was told that a hunter from Nua led Ovuruzo into Aku. Another version had it that when the first Ovuruzo emerged from an unknown place, the strange shape frightened the fowls in Umudiukwu where he appeared. The noise of the frightened fowls drew the attention of the mother of Dikwu Aloke. The woman with her son Dikwu Aloke on her back came out and saw the Ovuruzo. She was so frightened that she could not call out “Odo” on the order of the Ovuruzo. Ovuruzo then asked Dikwu Aloke to call him. Since then Dikwu Aloke inherited the right to invoke Odo. From Dikwu Aloke, Ovuruzo went into the hands of his son Elechi Owuru in Ezeora Ogota family of Uwani Umundikwu.

THE ODO YEAR
 Every odd year is an Odo year in Aku. The Odo stays from February to July/August in each year. The first Odo day is the Aho Ovuruzo day. Aho Ovuruzo day is to Aku people what the famous ancient Olympic Games is to the Greeks. Its popularity remains yet to be equaled by that of another Odo in Aku. Ovuruzo typifies the emergence of an athletic champion demonstrated by its agility in races, physical endurance from pains, and a masculine survival from a whole -day toil, rough handling and endless race. The events open with the Ovuruzo on track at Amoze with a sprinter from Ejuona. After the Ovuruzo day, the Okikpe feasts continue the Odo cycle of activities in Aku. Another Odo feast that draws many participants is the Ogbeje Oshigo feast.
 Ogbeje Oshigo festival comes up about seventeen days after Odo Ogwugwu. Ogbeje Oshigo is another occasion of variety, fantasy, drama, sports and myth in Odo cultural rejuvenation. This is an occasion where all the items of culture in Odo ranging from masquerade display to music are represented. The occasion is an epitome of cultural rehearsal as well as a day for ecstatic ceremonial rejuvenation with all roads going to Oshigo. The last in the series of Odo feast in Aku is the Idu Ishi Achi in Onyagbada Nua village. Odo Achi is a single Odo which belongs to Umuigwe family but is celebrated since ages with a feast as elaborate as Okikpe feast. The feast comes up exactly two native weeks after the Egwu Ogbeje Oshigo.
 
MARRIAGE CUSTOM IN AKU
 When a man is mature enough to marry and has the fund, to do so, the relatives will begin to search for a suitable and marriageable young girl. When one is found, the relatives of the groom, if traditional religionists, will consult a soothsayer so as to find out whether there will be any obstacle in the marriage. If all is well, the process of wine carrying will begin in stages.

1. Manya okh'ke egwushi. One carton of star beer. 2. Manya ekwuokwu ne kwue 2 jars of fresh palm wine 3 cartons of star beer.
3. Manya Nna: 2 jars of fresh palm wine and 3 cartons of star beer.
4. Manya Umunna, 3 jars of fresh palm wine and 4 cartons of star beer.
5. Manya Nne: 2 jars of fresh palm wine and 3 cartons of star beer.
6. a. Iye nmichata: 9 tuberrs of yam, olh eshi ne uwa- eshi.
b. A peace of cloth, 2,000 naira, 1 carton of star beer.

7. Igba nkwu,
a. 1 jar of fresh palm wine.
b. 3 to 5 thousand naira that is shared among a group of delegates called "ndh erhi". The amount for "ego erhi" varies according to the number of delegates that are appointed to be seen as such. Note that the official take for 1 erhi is "ego ise" (50 kojo) but bc of the fact that we do not have such unit of money now, you can chose any acceptable denomination.
c. Ego otondo and echi-ogba-eha (this is debatable).

8. Ashua onyonyo (payment of dowry): A non arguable amount of 20,000 naira is placed on a new mat and the bride's family head will get up and pick the stuff after when the bride shall be officially handed to "ishi erhi" who in turn declares them dzi ne nwunye.
The bride is (as the tradition demands) will pick one of the empty keg (from which her people drank) and follows her husband and his people to their new home. Most times, they will sing an "egwu odo" song, while some experts in chanting songs (igara) would perform theirs in their various ways all in solidarity of the new couple. When they get home, the bride would be given the key to open their house and merriment continues.
Note that the bride price (ashua onyonyo) changes from time to time.
....as confirmed by Chidi Diovu on this day 17/12/2015
CUSTOMARY BYE LAWS OF A MARRIED WOMAN IN AKU
      After the wine carrying and Igba Nkwu ceremony, the Okpu Ekwu ceremony will be performed indicating that the girl is a married woman of the family subject to the following commandments:
1. Should not commit adultery.
2. Should not cook for her husband during her menstruation.
3. Should not steal people’s property or money.
4. Should not poison people.
5. Should not remove any property of the home without the knowledge of her husband.
6. Should not keep any charm within the compound without the knowledge of her husband.
7. Should not run away from her matrimonial home on an Nkwo day. If a woman runs away from her husband on Nkwo day, it signifies that the marriage has failed irretrievably.

OZO TITLE SYSTEM
      In Aku, the Ozo title represents authority honesty and wealth. Ozo titled men in Aku are called Idi while their women counterparts are called Loloanyi. Only the wives of ozo titled men can perform Loloanyi ceremonies. The non-Ozo title holders in Aku are called Oheke. The origin of Ozo title in Aku, according to oral tradition is traced from Nzue, a neighbouring community in Udi. Ezike Ogbonne from Use brought Ozo title from Nzue. After bringing the Ozo home, he invited all the villages in Aku for the ceremony. The people from the various villages brought gifts of all sorts to Ezike Ogbonne to seek a date for the commencement of the ceremony in their various villages. Ezike Ogbonne fed all and told them all about Ozo and how it is done. He then became the Oniyishi Ozo Aku. After Ezike Ogbonne had brought Ozo into Aku, other interested villages went to Use to obtain the right for initiation. The number of Ozo groups in Aku today has risen from one to about thirty-seven. Some of the notable groups include (1) Idi Ejuona, (2) Idi-eshim (3) Ozo Dimarua, (4) Idi Ekwo etc.

INITIATION INTO OZO TITLE
    Ozo title ceremonies are usually performed in a non-Odo year. In the hierarchy of the system, there are the Ishi Idi, the Okango, the Umuidi and the Eri-Idi. When a person is ready to undertake the process of ozo-title the first thing he does is to invite the Ishi Idi in his house. He entertains them and discloses his intention. The Ishi Idi introduce him to the stages of ozo title taking which include (i) Ogor-Ofor (prayer stages) (ii) Nri Ozo (iii) Ima Ani Ozo (iv) Iwa Onu Ozo (v) Mbuba Ozo (vi) Ila Ala Nne (vii) Izu Ahia (viii) Oroo-Ozo.

RULERSHIP IN AKU

The people of Aku were brought up with a system more republican than governmental in outlook and application. They had more often than not resisted monarchical institutions. They feared that their representative and consultative institutions might be desecrated and abused. At about 1910, during inter-town war with Akpugo, the British soldiers intervened and forcefully stopped the war. The British soldiers remained in Aku for a few days during which the commander got acquainted with some of the leaders of the town. During the white man’s subsequent tour, Offie Nwa Eyado was one of the people he visited in their houses. That was when he was considering which of the leaders he would make a warrant chief. When Ugwu manu Nwaidigwuogu learnt that the white man intends to pick a chief amongst the leaders, he went to Offie Nwa Eyado with a large parcel of assorted European products. He confided in Offie his desire to be a warrant chief. When Mr. Spronston offered Offie Nwa Eyado the position of chief of Aku, he accepted the offer and begged the white man that he would like his young energetic son to perform this function for him as he, Offie was ageing. The white man accepted the request and so Chief Ugwu Manu became the first Warrant Chief of Aku. Between 1912 and 1940 was a turbulent period in Aku History. Various interest groups emerged to fight the warrant chief system, which was strange and autocratic to Aku people. Chief Ugwu Manu died in 1938. He left an enduring legacy for Aku people. He was instrumental to the early introduction of education and Christianity in Aku. His policy of forcing every village to send and retain a stipulated number of young school children in school made it possible for education to be wide spread in all parts of the town. After his death, Chief Felix O.C. Manu became the Igwe of Aku. During his reign, Aku fashioned out a constitution for the traditional rulership of Aku. The constitution made the traditional rulership stool to be rotatory amongst the three quarters of Aku viz-Akaibute, Akutala and Ejuona. Igwe O.C Manu with many other interest groups in Aku advocated for more autonomous communities in Aku with many traditional rulers to equate the representation of Aku with other smaller communities in Igbo Etiti by the government. Before his death on 10th September 2001, the government of Enugu state created six autonomous communities in Aku. Ever since the creation, six of the communities have started the process of selecting a traditional ruler but were entangled with the problems of who becomes their 1st traditional ruler.
 
THE OJIYI DEITY IN AKU
The shrine of Ojiyi Deity is located at Use, the eldest village of Aku. Ojiyi is an umbrella deity that has survived the onslaught of Christianity, though it drove it to the background and almost to insignificance these days. In Aku mythology, Ojiyi deity is said to give instant justice to offenders. Ojiyi is an assemblage of carved wooden pieces and decorated with small looking glasses and pieces of cloth. In December of each year, it is carried round the town until recently that it became confined in its shrine where believers pay homage. In those days, marriageable beautiful girls were offered alive to Ojiyi Idol to own as its property. They were given out for atonement of very serious and forbidden crimes like murder or theft committed or said to have been committed by the parents or relations of the girls. They were not killed but were regarded as living property for the dreaded Ojiyi deity. In Aku, other villages also have their own deities by which they vouch for veracity their assertions of or seek for their lost properties. Oshigo has the Omani Oshigo, Ugwunani has her Aturu, Amaogbo has her Ekumaha while Nua people have their Ase, and Mgboko has her Chikerueguru.
 
FIJIOKU (The god of yam)
 History has it that Ezike Attah, the father of Umuezike was a native of Igara in Kogi state. Ezike introduced yam to Aku through his Obimo friend. Before Ezike Attah died, he ensured that the cultivation and consumption of yam is spread throughout the village in Aku and till today, Umuezike Attah is given the honour of Attama Fijioku being the first to introduce yam in Aku. Like the deity, it hears and grants requests from everyone both poor and rich. It is believed that anybody who deceives Fijioku by not carrying out the necessary operations will have-poor harvest as a reward. One may knowingly or unknowingly provoke the god of yam-Fijioku. It is the fortunetellers who find out how it is offended and what are needed to pacify it. Some of the items needed most of the time to pacify Fijioku include cock, dried fish, alligator (Owani), kolanut, wine, cooked yam and black beans. If a woman is pacifying Fijioku, other materials needed include a hen, and the head of a snake.

Abomination To Fijioku (Yam)
A woman must not sow yam and she must not harvest yam in annoyance. Fighting or battering of children is forbidden in the yam barn or farm. Passing excreta or urinating in a yam plot is forbidden. Stealing of seed yams after sowing them is sacrilegious. One must not sit on tubers of yam. It is annoying to pound yam and cassava together.
 
ADVENT OF CHRISTIANITY
 In 1885, Rev Father Joseph Lutz arrived in Onitsha to establish the Catholic Church Mission and he was received by the the King of Onitsha His Royal Highness Eze Anazonwu. When Father Lutz died in 1895, Rev. Leo Alexandre Lujeune was appointed the superior of the mission and was assisted by Rev. Father Joseph Shanahan. Father Shanahan was later appointed the prefect apostolic of Southern Nigeria and also a member of the Education Board of Nigeria in 1906. During his administration, churches and schools grew and spread to different parts of Southern Nigeria including Aku.
The pace of conversion efforts by the early missionaries in several places was initially slowed down because of the people’s belief in the dangers and powers of the evil spirits and idols. The fear of attack by the devil scared people away from joining the Christian missionaries and scholars. Thus the missionaries were given land to build churches and schools at sites regarded as home of the evil spirits.
About 1913, Rev. Fr. Muller CSSP, travelled from Aguleri to Aku and stayed with Chief Ugwumanu Idikweogu (the warrant chief of Aku). Both men discussed and agreed on the establishment of schools and churches within Aku. In those early days, school education was considered to be for only male children and as the chief had no male child to permit to go to school at that time, the agreement on the opening of the school in Aku was deferred until 1922 when a male child was born to the chief by one of his wives.
 
SCHOOL OPENED AT AGBASE IN 1922
Through the efforts of Aku community, a school built with mud and thatched roof was opened at Agbase on the 8th of August, 1922. The first teacher in the school was Thomas Ekpunobi from Umuoji. Amongst the first pupils were: Felix Offie Ugwumanu (son of the warrant chief), Micheal Atta Igata, Patrick Nsude Nwidi, Ochonwa Anigbo Offie, Patrick Ezike Omeja, Celisus Ogbuanya Dike and others.
By the turn of one academic year, many Aku people were willing to send their children and relations to school to learn the ‘white man’s wisdom’. They were desirous and fascinated by the new knowledge of reading, writing and interpreting English language. In appreciation of this ‘white man’s wonderful language’, the Aku people started sending their children to school as well as to the church. Amogst the foundation members include; Ugwu Odobo (Paul Okagu), Pius Eleamu, Peter Akubue, Jeremiah Nweze, Isaiah Offie, Patrick Ugwu Ezeugwu, James Okagu (Oboduuzu), John Diyoke, John Nwidu, Robert Ndanatuegwu and a host of other pople not represented here.
The entire Aku people, both catholics and non-catholics built the first church and it was named after the parish priest of St. James Catholic Church Aku, which was the first to be carved out of St. Theresa’s Parish Nsukka. Rev Fr. Charles Heerey CSSP, the first Arch Bishop of Onitsha gave the approval in 1952. The first parish priest was Rev, Fr. M.U. Eneja. St. James parish Aku started with 42 out- stations made up of Ukehe, Ikolo, Idoha, Onyohor, Ochima, Ohodo, Umunko, Ekwuegbe, Ozalla, Umuna, Ohebe Dim, Udueme, Akpugo, Ifite Ogwari, Igbankwu, Omor, Umunbo, Akuyi, nkume, Lekpats, Umerum, diogbe, Adada, Ogbosu, Asaba, Omasi, Umueje, Nkpunato, Nkpologwu, Ezioha, Umolokpa, Ukpata, Umulokpa and Aku.
The parish priest was automatically the manager of the catholic schools within the parish and chrisitian converts increased by leaps and bounds. Today, the old Aku Parish has split into many parishes with St. Luke Parish Ozalla as the latest. Ten years after the coming of the Catholic Church in Aku, the C.M.S established a mission station in Aku at Onuegu Obie in 1932. St. Thomas’ school/church started in the village hall of Ezelu-Uwani Obie on 23rd August 1932 and later moved to its permanent site at Ofifia Oka at OnueguObie. A group of Aku traders who were acquainted with the C.M.S church at Enugu and Onitsha met Rev. H.H Daws at St. Peter’s C.M.S church Ogbete Enugu and requested him to establish the C.M.S church at Aku. The teacher/catechist who opened the C.M.S. church and school at Aku was Mr. Benson Jideofor Ezewudo of Nnobi. Membership of the church was limited to some extent to the villages surrounding its location ie Obie, Ohemuje and Offienyi. Competition for converts and school children between the R.C.M and the C.M.S was high. This rivalry made it possible for C.M.S church to open churches at Ohemuje (St. Matthew), and at Oshigo. By the year 2000, more than 10 Christian churches were operative in Aku.


POLITICAL SYSTEM
 
THE AKU GENERAL ASSEMBLY (A.G.A.)
 Long before the British colonial system, the Aku General Assembly had been in existence. The sixty-five village units in Aku constituted the Assembly and decisions were reached by consensus. Even at the time the colonial masters introduced warrant chiefs in Aku, it did not affect the Republican nature of Aku people. The chiefs were regarded as errand boys for the colonial masters to collect taxes but do not have powers to make decision for the people. By 1920, Oha Aku came up with a more orderly administration for Aku people but not long enough, there arose a bitter struggle for leadership. The Oha Aku was split into two and there was no effective forum for Aku people meeting till 1942 when some Aku leaders formed what was called the Aku Town Council. The most important achievement of the town council was the introduction of free primary education in 1944 for all Aku school children.  The Aku Town Council continued with the leadership of Aku until the war broke out in 1966.  When the war ended in 1970, the first challenges that faced the post war leaders of Aku were revitalization of the zeal and love of Aku people for education and restoration of pipe borne water for Aku people. In pursuance of these challenges, the Aku community council was established in 1971 and the council encouraged Aku children to return home and continue with their education.
On the 8th of August 1971, the Aku General Assembly was formed which comprised of community councilors and Aku leaders. The first chairman of Aku General Assembly was Engr. Aka Ogbobe and Felix Didigwu served as his secretary. When the local government council system was introduced throughout Nigeria in 1976, the community council system was abolished and thus leaving out the Aku General Assembly as the only Governing body in Aku. The following persons served Aku General Assembly as chairman and secretaries Engr. Aka Ogbobe and Felix Didigwu, Emma Idike and Chris Okechukwu, Ngwaka Francis and Isiorji Vincent, Ezike Amadi and Ewelum Fredrick, Chris Okechukwu and Ezike Simon, Ben Ezike and Aruma Marcel, When Enugu state Government created 6 autonomous communities out of Aku, the Aku General Assembly was suspended in 2005 under the leadership of Chris Odo and Victor Odo.
 
AWAF (AKU WELFARE ASSOCIATION FEDERATED)
 
 AWAF had earlier on been started in the 1940’s but became moribund as a result of the Biafran War (1967-70). It was revived later on and federated in 1985. It comprised of Aku indigenes living outside the borders of Aku town and has branches virtually in all the states of Nigeria. It aims at bettering the condition of the Aku man in whichever branch of the association he finds himself. It also propagates educational, economic and social development in Aku as well as promotes the culture of Aku people amongst other aims and objectives of the association. AWAF, since formation has enhanced rapid development of Aku people; notable amongst the developmental projects is the Aku Diewa Community Bank, super market and petrol station. Those who served AWAF as presidents and secretaries include Amorha Kenneth and Gab Ugwuozor, Goddy Mba and GB Ugwuozor, Gab Ugwuozor and Emma Ugbor Nwani.
For limitation in space, the writer cannot exhaustively discuss the import of groups that are involved in Aku political and administrative system but worthy of mentioning is the Ndiomu Aku General Assembly, the Catholic C.M.O., C.W.O. and their Anglican counterparts.
 
AGRICULTURE
The People of Aku are disadvantaged by location in that the town is surrounded by hills and the available lands are not fertile. This compelled the people to look for fertile land elsewhere. They moved to places like Obinna, Ogbakere, Nkpologu, Opanda, Adani, Ugwu Nimbo, Ugwu Rice, Ugwu Uvuru, Daba, Adaaba in Uzo-Uwani, L.G.A Other people settled in Egbe Dagda, Iyi Ube, Odo Odum, Ugwuneke, Ujoma, Inyiopo in Udi L.G.A.
The love for agriculture has made Aku people to settle in far away areas in Kogi state like the famous Reserve and Okwuru Ogbo. The people plant a wide variety of crops like yam, cassava, maize, black beans, pigeon pea, groundnut, cocoyam to mention but a few. In animal husbandry and management, the people of Aku faired very well. Story had it that one man from Ezi-Oshigo Aku (Ezike, Nnadikwu Oparu Nwaefi) had numerous cows and calves that many of his calves were lost in the tether without his knowledge when there were many who cannot boast of a cow in the neighbouring communities. Animal husbandry then embraces the feeding, breeding, and management of different domestic animals, which include cattle, sheep, goats and domestic fowls. The animals are reared under the traditional system of management.   These animals were put to various uses during festivals and are slaughtered for food while some are sold for money. The animals are kept as mark of high economic status and serve as insurance against crop failure. Keeping of animals provided employment for some elderly people who can not be actively involved in crop production.

TRADE AND COMMERCE
Aku people are well known for their unquenchable interest in the field of trade and commerce. Aku traders had traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria. Indeed, it is a popular belief amongst the Igbos of Igbo Etiti that any town you don’t see an Aku man or woman, you better leave the place because it is not habitable.
The Aku traders of the old moved in troupes (of not less than sixty traders). The market days when Aku traders brought their wares were regarded as big market days in that community. They sold cloth (Ajima Aku) jewels, beads, soap, elephant tusk, hoes, knives and other items like tobacco, salt, fish and other food items. They travelled to market places such as Opanda, Nimbo, Omashi, Nkpologwu Ugwueke, in Nike, Onueke in Ezza, Aku in Okigwe, Atani, in Abam, Ejule, Omor, Akaiyi Umulokpa, Ifite Ogwari, Afor Eyi in Opi, Uburu in Ebonyi State, Uzuakoli in Abia, Ejule in Kogi  to mention but few. Their journey to these areas of marketing do not prevent them from attending to their local markets like the Eke Aku, Aho Oshigo, Eke Uwenu, Orie Uwenu, Orie Uwani and Nkwo Ogbede. That was Aku traders of yester years. Today, trading in Aku is more sophisticated than what it used to be. Some of the traders have gone international, dealing on computer and information technology some are transport magnet both sea, land and air transport.

EDUCATION IN AKU
A Catholic priest from Eke (Udi L.G.A) opened the first school in Aku on 8th August 1922. School education started in Aku 80 years after it was introduced in Nigeria (1842-1922). As an innovation, Aku people were skeptical about sending their children to acquire the white man’s knowledge, so the first set of Aku children to go to school were nominated and donated to the school. Aku leaders decided that every one of the 63 villages in Aku must donate at least two children to the school, which was opened at Agbase Nua. Since it was Aku people as a unit who compelled children to attend school, Aku people decided to bear the cost of the school fees. Teachers’ salaries were also paid by each of the villages in rotation.
The pioneers of the school were very few in number. A class was added in ascending order from year to year. Those who passed standard three at St. James were moved to Eke or Nsukka to complete their primary education. What is now known as nursery schools were not in existence then but primary classes were done in the following order: Infant class one (ABC), Infant Class two (Infant), standard one, two, three to six.
The population of school children grew so that by 1945, St. James Catholic School got approval for standard six while St. Thomas reached that stage in 1958. By 1950 Catholic School had feeder schools in all sections of Aku. St. Gregory’s Aku, Christ the King School (L.G.A school) Ugwunani, St. John’s School Ejuona and St. Patrick’s School Amogwu were opened. By the year 2000 AD primary schools in Aku had risen to ten viz, St. James School or Egbugwu Primary School (U.P.S) St. Thomas School or (Community Primary School) St. John’s School or (E.P.S) Oshigo Christ the king school Ugwunani or Ugwunani Primary School (U.P.S), St. Patrick’s Amogwu or (U.P.S Amogwu) St. Gregory’s School or Central School Aku, Diewa Primary School Ohemufe, Premier Primary School I and II Mgboko, Amabokwu Primary School.
 
SECONDARY EDUCATION
Most of the secondary schools that Aku people attended in the thirties and forties were located outside Aku. The pioneers of secondary education in Aku included, Hon Francis Mgbulu Amadi who attended St. Charles College Onitsha, Bernard Edoga, St. Charles College Onitsha, Joseph Okpo, Christ the king College, Isaac Ozor Edoga, Christ the king College, Josiah Okechi Amu Nnadi, Denis Memorial Grammer School, Onitsha, Isaac Nwodo, African College Onitsha Lawrence Ekwom, Christ the King College F.N. Ugwuoju, St. Charles Onitsha James Nnadi, S. Charles College Onitsha, Joseph Ezeorah, St. Charles College Onitsha, Hon. Engr. Aka Ogbobe, African College Onitsha, Prof  Lawrence Offie Ocho, St. Charles College Onitsha, Hon. C.U. Okechukwu St. Charles College Onitsha, Igwe (Bar.) B.U.M. Anekwe of C.I.C. Enugu.  When schools were opened within Nsukka zone, the number of Aku students increased in leaps and bounds. In 1956 the Elementary training college Aku was opened and was converted to grade III teachers’ college in 1958. When the East central state Government took over schools from missions at the end of the civil war, it was converted to Boys secondary school Aku in 1975. In 1976 Girls Secondary School Aku was opened. In 1992 Community Secondary School Aku was opened. A distant learning programme-the National Teachers Institute was introduced in Aku by Mr Simon Ezike on the 10th of March 2000 to award TC II and N.C.E certificates. 

HIGHER EDUCATION
It is a thing of great honour to Aku people that the first Nsukka graduate is an Aku man. Josiah Amu Nnadi was among the foundation students of the university college Ibadan. He graduated in 1952. Engr. Isaac Ozor Edoga and Francis Mgbulu Amadi graduated in 1956. In 1962, Engr. Aka Ogbobe and Lawrence Ekwom graduated in Engineering and Law. Bar. Benedict Anekwe graduated in 1967. Other early University graduates include Mr. Christopher Ozo (1963), Prof. L. O. Ocho (1966), Prof. C. A. Attah (1966), Mr. Ig. Nwani (1966), Mr. J. N. Odo (1966), Mr. B. Ani (1966), Barr. Cletus Ugbo (1967), Igwe B. U. Anekwe (1967), Engr. S. O. Didigu (1966). More of the Aku children entered for University Education when the University of Nigeria Nsukka was opened in 1960. Christopher Ozor, Sam Didigwu, Matthew Diyoke, Lawrence Ocho, Bonny Nwani, and Matthew Mba were the first set of Aku students to attend the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Many others went to other Universities within and outside the country. By the turn of the millennium (year 2000) the number of Aku graduates rose to over 2000 excluding the dead ones. (Diewa Profile 2002).Aku has many Postgraduate students and Doctorate Degrees in many field of study.
 
 The following are Professors;
1. Professor L .O Ocho - Education
2. Professor C.O Onyeji -Pharmacy
3. Professor Clement. I. Anekwe -Space Technology
4. Professor Charles A. Attah  -Medicine
5. Professor Ogbonna Alaku - Agriculture
6. Professor Dympna Ugwuoju-Social Science
7. Professor Okoro Ogbobe Polymer Technology
8. Professor Moses Edoga-Medicine/Fine Art
9. Professor Vincent Ozor -Theology
10. Professor Aloysius Attah -Engineering
11. Professor Emmanuel Egbe -Education
12. Professor Lawrence Ugwu – Agriculture
13. Professor Lawrence Ugwu - Fish Nutrition 
14. Professor Fred Okwor -Education
15. Professor Simeon Ochi- Mechanical 
16. Professor Rose Osuji- Pysics/Astronomy
17. Professor Reuben Ani -Education
18. Professor John Edoga - Medicine
19. Professor G. C. E. Mbah - Mathematics
20. Professor Samuel Obetta- Agriculture
21. Professor Ossy Okanya - Political Science
22. Professor Matthew Edoga - Chem Engineering 
23. Professor Eneje Lawrence - Micro Biology
24. Professor Melitus Ezeamenyi - Mathematics 
25. Professor Awala - Geology and Minning
26. Professor Ifeoma Okwor - Accountancy
  
 
CONCLUSION
A complete History and ethnography of Aku people cannot be contained in a 20-page-space as requested by the publisher of the portrait. However, an attempt has been made to give brief information about different aspects of Aku culture. An in-depth work of any of these aspects of Aku culture could be found within the referenced materials. No rural community in Enugu state can compare with Aku in terms of documented information about her people. The true knowledge of an Aku man should be accessed from the opinion survey and not what others think and say about the people.


REFERENCES
Ani B.C (2002), Aku History: A Critical Analysis of Existing Write Ups  on the Origin of Aku. Diewa Profile. A Publication of Diewa Research Foundation P 1. vol. 1
Attah VO and Ugwuoju F.N. (1999). The 2000 A.D Jubillee Book – A Short History of St. James Catholic Church Aku (1922-1999) Pp 1-4.
Ezikeanyi J.N (2002). The Reconciliation of the Origin of Aku. Patriotism and Leadership Values. A Publication of Ugwunani  Express Fraternity Aku Pp 21-27.
Ezikeanyi F.U (1982). Odo Ancestral System. Okikpe Vol 2. A Publication of Diewa Writers Club Pp 35-47.
Ezikeanyi F.U (1997). Ozor Title System in Aku. Okikpe Vol 3  P 180.
Ezike.C.C.Amadi (1988). Mass Mobilization in Aku. The Patriot. A Publication of Patriot Organisations Aku P 13.
Manu Pius (1982). Some Customs of Aku Okikpe Vol 2 P 48.
Mba G.C.E (2000). AWAF and Development in Aku Visions. A Publication of Ejuona Acada Front P 123.
Nnadikwu C.E (1982). Fijioku (Yam Goddess), Okikpe Vol. 2. P. 60.
Ocho L.O (2000). Formal Education in Nigeria, The Aku Experience. Vision. A Publication of Ejuona Acada Front P. 24.
Ogbobe Aka (1988). The Evolution of Aku General Assembly. The Patriot. P. 7.
Offie B.A (1997). The Warrant Chiefs of Aku. Okikpe Vol. 3, P.125.
Onu J.E (2000). Agricultural Development in Aku: The Role of Animal Husbandry. Vision P. 115.
Ugwu M.O (2000). Aku Elites and the Challenges of Leadership in Contemporary Nigeria. Vision P. 141.


Chapter TWO
DIOGBE COMMUNITY
By Hon. Victor Ilo Ushi
INTRODUCTION
A HISTORICAL SURVEY
 This paper traces the historical origin of Diogbe community, the nature of her philosophy/cultural life, foreign religious impact on the community, her socio-economic and political development as well as educational trend and development in the community. In all honesty, this study is a venture into the unknown .There is this singular satisfaction however that in spite of all difficulties in the survey, which we acknowledge, this is the first time any event worthy of note relating to Diogbe Community is being placed on record.
 We hope that the study will form the basis for further study and investigation into the history, customs and traditions of Diogbe.  This is a challenge to our budding eminent scholars.
 We would want to associate ourselves with this great town of ours – our home – the land of our forefathers.  It is significant to note that in consonance with her greatness and achievements, the town had gained in the past, glamorous names at different times and on different occasions of her history.  Whichever name there was, we feel exceedingly proud of it:  Ngalakpu – Diogbe (Ngalakpu begotten of Diogbe) (the father); and Diogbe – Ugwu (Diogbe begotten of a renowned, prosperous and majestic deity (Ugwudi elemagi).
 Diogbe people love themselves and their homeland. “The strong feeling of camaraderie and brotherliness and an irrepressible sense of humour among the people account for the extreme reluctance of Diogbe people to reside permanently in locations outside the town”.  The people themselves often claim, “We eat from the same bowl and drink with the same cup”.  This adage has always sounded incredible to the outsider but it is true.  The people maintain the same ancestral lineage having been born out of the same stock.  The stock remains more or less unadulterated because there are no immigrants into the town.
 There are historical details to indicate that our people love their custom, respect law and order and are fervent adherents to the Deity – Ugwudi.  Diogbe was very peace loving and hospitable to strangers, and so are his descendants. The author concludes that no matter the amount of disappointments and frustrations facing the community presently, the dry bones will surely rise again.
 
THE HISTORICAL ORIGIN AND GEOPOLITICAL LOCATION OF DIOGBE TOWN
 This study is based on the historical account given by our elders.  If we succeed in this venture, this will be the first recorded history of Diogbe.
Diogbe formally known and addressed as Ngalakpu1 is one of the thirteen towns that make up the present Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State. According to Janning (1963:7), Diogbe lies on a hill of about 420 metres above sea level. It is situated on latitude 702DE. It covers an area of about 30sq kilometers with a population of about 4.425 people .Diogbe is almost completely surrounded by heavy thick forests.  It is also guarded by four notable hills at the North – Western part of the town called Onuanyanwu. The hills are Ugwidi, Ugwunzu, Ugwuikpere and Ugwugburugburu. There are six quarters (major lineages) that make up Diogbe town viz: Amokpe, Umueze, Umunekwu, Okechi, Ndiugwu and Umunachi, in order of seniority. Each of these six quarters is made-up of several villages. Diogbe neighbours are Ekwegbe (Ukopi) and Umuna to the North, Ukehe to the West as well as south, and Umunko to the East.
 Diogbe is along the Nsukka – Enugu road, otherwise called “old road”, such that when coming from Nsukka, it is just after Ekwegbe (Ukopi), whereas when coming from Enugu, it is directly after Ukehe. Diogbe has three traditions of origin, but for want of space, we shall contend ourselves with the one that seems to be the most authentic.
According to Ozor Okwumanya and Chief Godwin Ushi2, Diogbe formally known and addressed as Ngalakpu, was a village in Eha-Amufu, a town in Isi-Uzo local government area of Enugu State. Sometime in the past, Diogbe (Ngalakpu) migrated westwards and later settled at its present location. He married and had six sons – that later metamorphosed into the six quarters that make-up the town.
Geographically, the soil is red-ferralitic, porous and non-gravelly sand loam with loose reddish brown topsoils. According to Janning (1963: op cit), Diogbe lies within the tropical hinterland with annual rainfall amounts of up to 150cm and five months of dry season – November to April.
 Linguistically, Diogbe according to Ikekeonwu’s classification of (1986/87), falls neatly under the Northern Igbo dialect cluster. Like any other speech community, Diogbe indigenes communicate effectively and meaningfully in their dialect. Language, greatly, influences the social ranking in Diogbe not only as a linguistic group but also as a social entity that expresses her culture through language. The Diogbe people are mainly farmers, who practice subsistence agriculture with many of these farmers performing part time tasks in fields such as trading, palmwine tapping and administration work.  In terms of livelihood, therefore, the busiest period in the town is the rainy season: from April to November, in a year of average precipitation records. Due to the consequent low status of agricultural production, and the drastic shortage of opportunities for salaried or wage employment, it is not astonishing that a large number of Diogbe’s young men and women these days prefer “hot spots” like Onitsha, Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Enugu, and Nsukka, where they spend the greater part of their working lives.  Such temporary migration is a socio-economic and geographic safety – valve, though at the same time, it contributes to the depressed state of affairs and low level of development in the town.  Closely linked to her geography and agriculture practices, Diogbe is culturally rich.
 In our society, that is Diogbe per se the family is very important.  The immediate family and the extended family system form the foundation on which every other structure is built.  The family has influence over the aspirations and activities of each individual with culture, customs, traditions, religion and education, all closely associated with the family. The society therefore is not complex but simple.
 
NATURE OF DIOGBE PHILOSOPHY & CULTURAL LIFE
Culture is one of those concepts that defy a single definition. As Hornby Gowie Gimson (1970:210) sees it, culture is “all the arts, beliefs, social institutions etc characteristic of a community, race etc”. Also Linton (1945:60) states “the culture of a society is the way of life of its members, the collection of ideas and habits which they share and transmit from generation to generation”. From the above scholarly definitions, it could be deduced that culture is the way a people live their life with what they have. One important thing about culture is that it is perpetuated from generation to generation. Therefore, Diogbe community cultural life could be seen as the totality of the people’s existence, comprising all the things they have devised to adjust to their physical and social environments.
If philosophy means having certain basic beliefs and conceptions about the universe, life and existence generally, such that constitute a worldview and which is related to the social and natural environment in which a people are historically, situated, then Diogbe community like all other towns has a philosophy.
According to Mr. Iyoke Onuoha3, “the traditional Diogbe possesses a philosophy which is traditional and customary that is handed down from one generation to another”. That philosophy he continues “is unwritten and unsystematized. It was at the same time personalistic, highly ritualized and full of myths. It was authoritarian, being an instrument of social control. It was pragmatic, meant to solve practical problems of food, security, peace, and general welfare of the community. It was thus non-systematic, less abstract in content, a bit conservative and led to some narrow-mindedness. Besides, it was religiously – oriented with an economic base. Its ontology according to Igwe D.N Aroh4 emphasized their beliefs in the spiritual nature of things and a type of cosmic harmony in which man and his actions are centred, with supernatural powers and forces supervising.
Diogbe is culturally rich. Her cultural heritages are usually expressed through festivals such as Ahiajioku, Agbi, Chukwu, Eke, Gbii, Abaridenyi, Odo, Ozo title takings and holdings. The greatest and the most highly practised of all these festivals is “Odo”, a type of masquerade cult, prevalent in some towns of Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area. The practice of Odo cult is made real by the people’s belief in polytheism and the practice of traditional religion originally, although Christianity has infiltrated into the community. The people’s religious beliefs greatly influence their social life.
 
RELIGION
 Religious beliefs control the behaviour of our people.  All actions are influenced by one or the other religious beliefs.  According to Okoro Elvis, “the whole life is entangled in the mesh of trying to satisfy one god or the other”.
 At this juncture, it becomes necessary to discuss Diogbe gods and sacrifices. Some of the Diogbe gods are, Ugwudi, Anyanwu, Ala inyi, Chukwu, Gbii, Abaridenyi. Etc.  In the pre-Christian era, Diogbe people believed in one supreme God (Ezechitooke).  This supreme god has no shrine or any definite place where sacrifice is offered to Him. “Ezechitooke” is the controller of all human beings and gods alike.
Besides this belief, every other religious idea according to Igwe D.N. Aroh5 is centred on ANIMISM.  This is the belief that certain virgin forests, thickets and trees are inhabited by souls or spiritual beings. Sacrifices are offered in the shrines instituted in or around these objects where the souls are supposed to inhabit. The time of sacrifice and place are determined by priests who are supposed to know more about these gods and how best to please them. Thus, if one meets with series of hardship and misfortune, one often consults oracles that indicate the quarters from where the mischief is being wrought. Appropriate sacrifice or sacrifices for the appeasement of the spirits of the dead ancestors or gods responsible are recommended. The articles for the sacrifice often range from cows to day-old chicks (okiko ikimgbe) and or rotten eggs.  They must relate to the power of the spirit involved; thus big gods like Ala inyi and Ugwudi may have a cow while other inconsequential mischief fairies may have a day old chick and rotten eggs. 
With the advent of Christianity, there developed more complex religious belief system giving rise to a clash in religious allegiance. According to Hon. Paul Ike Okoro, “an individual may harbour two opposing beliefs due to the acceptance of some native rites which appear right, coupled with the allegiance to his new religious beliefs”. ‘Some people still keep charms and are aware that keeping charms is essentially idolic, he concludes.’ Today, Diogbe is predominantly Christian and the advent of this Christian religion will be treated later.
 
THE ODO MASQUERADE FESTIVAL IN DIOGBE
The name Odo is a shortened form of the word Odomagala. Odo masquerade festival occupies a central place in the life of Diogbe people. Odo festival takes place every odd-number year. Thus, Odo festival makes life tick and that is why everyone prays always for heaven’s blessing to enable him once more witness and enjoy this festival.
Tradition has it that Odo is an embodiment of our ancestral spirit. However, these spirits are not worshiped rather they expect the people to regularly host, entertain and feast them to compensate for the period of time they sojourned in the land of the spirits. According to Hon. Iyoke Emeka, Odo’s demand for this continuous communion and reverence is not so much because, the ancestral spirit is an entertainer, an arbitrator, a reformer and a revealer as well as that people are always prepared to respond to his never-ending demand for Ochotocho (meat) Chaginzu (wine) kpotomkpo (kola), always asking for more like Oliver Twist. As Onyeneke rightly observed in his study of Igbo masquerades:
When the community is faced with the study and problems of religious worship (aesthetic needs) territorial and internal protection, regulation of peace and harmony, bringing the young up in discipline, correcting errant women, subduing recalcitrant men and lynching dangerous criminals, the masquerade is their instrumental symbol.    
     
 Certain customs, rules and taboos surround the masquerade institution in Diogbe. The violation of such conventions attracts the attention of Umuishi-Odo – the highest ruling body on Odo affairs, comprising of all the Dikwus and Akparas in the community. This body performs both legislative and judicial functions while the executive power lies on the masquerades themselves. The people lay serious emphasis on Odo masquerading because it re-enacts the traditional power structure of the kindred’s, legends and myths of settlement patterns. The dramatic style of the people is highly typified in Odo. According to Mr. Philip Okeakpu8, Odo is ritualistic because it brings a change from scarcity to seasons of plenty in fertility – child bearing, bumper harvest etc. It is essentially religious since it is bound up in the idea of gaining immortality, revolving round the circle of birth, death and rebirth.
 Odo festival is a celebrative event involving the participation of majority of the people in the community. The people engage in a lot of human and material activities during the Odo festival, and according to Okoro Elvis, “they do it with all pleasure because before you know it, Odo has paid back tenfold”. Diogbe people participate actively in Odo performance by clapping of hands, beating the musical instruments, singing, dancing, offering of money or gifts, engaging in dialogue with the Odo etc. Every man or woman, at one time or the other, directly or indirectly participates in Odo performance – a proof of the potency of the Odo in the life of the people.
 Masking of the Odo is a co-operative village affair to be supervised by skilled elders. Every Odo mask represents a natural phenomenon or supernatural beings that are very mysterious to human beings but such natural characters are also endowed with supernatural aura. Odo’s potency and influence on the life of the people are expressed in encomiums showered on them each time they appear. These praises are often made by both sexes – male and female. The Odo can be addressed as:
Nna m (my father)
Nna anyi (our father)
Nna di m (my husband’s father for women only)
Otegburu agbogo (exceller of girls in dancing)
Nna nwanene (my dear father)
Ndidikoko (strange creature)
Okakarakuka (the undoubtable)
Enya hee, onwu hee (dare peep, dare die)
Akpatakpa na–aha jimjim (strong in appearance, great in action)
Ike lugwo okperii azi (he who pulls out last from the battle-field).
 Different attributes can be easily seen as one moves from one part of the community to another, as some masquerades have peculiar qualities and therefore peculiar attributes. Odo festival activities are spread through the seven months of the year. The foremost activity held for the Odo is known as Egorigo. This is a ritual performance that turns the face of the Odo from its ancestral abode to the world of the living.  The rest of the activities are segmented as follows:
(a) Odida Odo: A period that ushers in the ancestral mask known as Odo Ishi aha (Odo umuamu).
(b) The returning of (Okpu) masquerade, which is the second in command.     
(c) Uhamunaasaa: This is a period that ushers in the ancestral “Odo Ishi aha” from other villages that are not involved in the two categories above.
(d) Iweri - is the fourth in command and it acts as the chief provost since it maintains peace and order in the community.
(e) Odo agu -: This marks the return of the musical troupes of the Odo as well as the return of every other Odo that has not returned.
(f) Ozi ahia = youthful, elegant and dignified masquerades entertain spectators with dances at the village square.
(g) Nri Akawo: principal officers of the Odo cult feast the Odo.
(h) Ohihe Odo: A period set aside to offer drinks, foods, meat and other sacrifices to the Ishi Odos in the community to solicit for their guidance and their successful departure to the ancestral world.
(i) Inyi Ugwu: (Ascent of the Hill) the entire Odo in Diogbe assemble at the highest hill in the community overlooking “the land of the dead” to where they descend in a couple of days. A guardian Odo called ‘Odo Ugwu” returns on this day solely to take the Odo back home on guard ensuring that every Odo leaves at the appropriate time.
(j) Ula Odo: The Odo departs in procession beginning with smallest to the greatest.
(k) Eke-Orurue: This is the epilogue of the circle. On this day, everybody including women and defaulters of the Odo taboos meet the principal officers of the Odo cult in their “Obi” for cleansing.
The return and staying of the Odo with the people create a very joyous and lively society but as the Odo departs, the people experience a lot of catharsis. On arrival at the final ‘bus stop’, the musical troupe sings sorrowful song which purgates pity and fear. The last music of the Odo is always followed by a tumultuous cry of men at the village squares. Women also observe some minutes of silence from their homes. Several gunshots hasten the Odo’s movement as Odo Ugwu’ and ‘Nche-agu’ guide them into the ancestral world after seven months of communion with their living progenitors.
 The last blessing of the Odo manifests in the October rainfall that concludes the entire festival, thus justifying their supernatural aura to the doubting Thomases.

OTHER ORACLES
 In Diogbe, we have two great oracles namely “Ugwudi” and “Ala – Inyi”.  Ugwudi according to Nsoke Owere, is the spiritual father of the Diogbe people. It secures everybody and it is regarded as the oracle of truth. The chief priest of the oracle is known and addressed as ‘OLUOHA”. (Voice of the people). He comes from Ndiugwu and he is regarded as sacred because of his purity in anything regarded as sin. The other Oracle is called Ala-Inyi, which is the central earth goddess. The chief priest comes from Umunachi.
OVUAJA (New Yam Festival)
 Yam is a kind of tropical climbing plant with tuber.  The tuber is edible only when boiled or roasted, otherwise it is poisonous (Eja) to humans. In order to render the yam non-poisonous the belief is not so much that the poisonous acid in yam is destroyed by boiling or roasting but by appeasing the god of yam – “Ahiajioku” through a form of sacrifice accompanied with feasting called “Ovuaja”. Ovuaja is a yearly feast.  This is a very important feast.  Yam in itself is held in high esteem. To steal yam is a great “sin” against “Ahiajioku”.  The punishment then is death.  The culprit is usually roped and dragged along the high streets until he dies.  According to Ozor David Anikwe9, once yam is planted, it no longer belongs to the individual but to “Ahiajioku”. Even if the yam is ready to be harvested, the apparent owner cannot do so until the day of “Ovuaja”. The Ovuaja day appears in the annual calendar prepared by the council of elders.  One important item of this feast of Ovuaja is the oblation of a cock and roasting of yam (obaranaabo) by the elders to (Ndi nweala) (dead ancestors) and to “Ahiajioku to thank them for the present harvest and to ask the ancestors and the god for good and improved harvest in the next season.
 It is a one-day feast when participants must feed on pounded yam.  Pounded yam is regarded as the most palatable and prestigious dish in Diogbe.  Today the feast of Ovuaja has been modernized and christened, “New Yam Festival” which is celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians.  The feast has ceased to have any attachment to any idol, god or goddess.

BURIAL CEREMONY
 Like in the Christian religion, human life in this world is intended to be a preparation for life after death. Our people believe in life after death especially in reincarnation. This belief, therefore, has a very important part to play in the way our people handle the dead. The corpse is highly respected and the burial ceremony for each person depends on whether the dead person is titled or not, rich or poor, male or female.  In the past, for the young, nothing worth mentioning is done. 
 When an “Ozor” titleholder dies, the death is not announced immediately. The very near kinsmen and his children will rally themselves round to decide on the form of burial.  In the past, if a very prominent person died, the young men would gather to discuss possibilities of getting a human head, which would be used to bury the dead.  Elaborate preparations are made for the burial ceremony. The preparations will include sending urgent messages to the eldest man in the village, “Onyishi” and “Umuada” (women members of the village).  They also buy large quantities of food, wine, and kegs of gunpowder, guns and cannons and purchase a host of different animals for the burial rites.  If the death occurred in the wet season, many rainmakers will be engaged to prevent rain from disturbing the activities. It is the responsibility of “Umunna” to dig the grave where the dead man will be laid to rest.
 Efforts will be made to conceal the news from other “Ozor” people, because according to Ozor Noel Ushi10, from the time a titled man hears about the death of another, the living “Ozor” will begin the “Ozor fast” till the dead is buried”. As soon as the bereaved are ready and the corpse is lying in state, the professional crier “Onye ozi” will give signal of the death.
 The corpse may lie in state for a day or two. All these time, an Ikpa” dance troupe will be performing on the top of the roof of his house. During the “Ikpa” dance ceremony, the Umunna especially the young men in a large group will carry sticks and swords and dress in fearful costumes.  They move up and down the entrance of the dead man’s house.  As they move they dance the “Ikpa” dance and from time to time burst into a crescendo of war dance and other rowdy activities. The most awe – inspiring activity among other things during the ceremony is the struggle by the male “umunna” to take possession of the “Ekwe Ikpa”.
 Another significant thing about the ceremony is the last honour before the dead is laid in the grave.  The last honours include offer of material goods like goats, fowls, money etc with which to go to the other world; incantation of admonishment which will enable him change some of his bad habits when he comes to the world again. (Ibiri Ozu Obibi Uwa).  In the mid-night of the last day of lying in state, about twenty-one gunshots are fired and the following morning, the dead body is buried.
 There are other post-burial ceremonies like cutting down his “onu egbo” and generally a second funeral ceremony aimed at preventing his spirit from haunting the living. The wives of the dead man are not allowed to move outside the house for the first “Izu asaa” (28 days) nor take their bathe.  Generally for two years they will not be allowed to go to the market or to any gathering intended for enjoyment.
 When a woman dies, the death message (Ozi onwu) is sent to the paternal family of the dead woman.  After this, the first son takes her “umakwu”– kitchen knife and “oku”– earthenware plate to his grandfather.  Grandfather is synonymous with the nearest oldest male relation of the dead woman’s family or extended family. After this, the woman’s son will return home and come back with a handful of his kinsmen for negotiation on how to get his mother’s relations to come and bury the remains of his mother. This negotiation is often not easier than the bride price negotiation. After the negotiation, a trumpet is sounded and all the relations of the dead woman gather. Minutes later, they are off to bury the remains of their sister.  On getting to the husband’s house, few rites are performed and the woman is buried in a grave prepared in the compound of her husband.
 We may add that when criminals and traitors die as well as those who died as a result of taking false oaths, they are not buried but thrown into the “Ajo-ohia” evil forest. This, according to Obodoha the 3rd of Umunachi Chief Francis Ushi11, is intended to discourage them from reincarnating since no family will welcome them.

CHRISTIANITY IN DIOGBE
 Christianity according to BBC English Dictionary is “a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and on the belief that he was the Son of God. Christianity comes to Diogbe around the year 1936 but before that year, some indigenes of Diogbe like James Okoro Iyoke, Simon Ushi, Theresa Iyoke (nee) Okeakpu, Elizabeth Anikwe, all late, had already embraced Christianity from outside the town. According to Chief Marcel Ugwumgbor, late Okoro (James) Iyoke was the first to embrace Christianity in Diogbe. The present central school Diogbe was established in Diogbe with the help of the missionaries, for then, unlike now, schools were so deeply and inseparably married to the church.
 According to Mr. Ugwuele Isaac, the protagonists of Christianity came to Diogbe with some aggressive evangelism and were conscripting people to school which later amounted to forcing them into Christianity. The unsuspecting people of Diogbe, he continues, innocently but ignorantly received Christianity and even showed the early Christian missionaries some portion of land where they built their church/school and then established their religion even though it constituted a challenge to their own traditional beliefs and practices.
 Also on arrival of the early Christian missionaries in Diogbe, they according to Okoro Elvis saw virtually nothing good in the existing religion of the people and as a result, they unrelentlessly preached against all the ways of life and religious practices of Diogbe people such as Odo cults, second burial ceremonies, ancestral worships, Ozo title takings etc. As a socio- religiously conscious people, the traditionalists in Diogbe rose in defence and thus clashes erupted among the adherents.
 Despite the shortcomings of the Christians, Christianity has been playing leading role in tackling pressing issues and facilitating developments in Diogbe. Christianity in Diogbe brought about the extension of the sole primary school in Diogbe. It goes further to point out fearlessly the societal problems, which call for attention at any given time. Christians do not stop at that, for they also suggest ways of tackling such problems either through prayers or meaningful suggestions to the central town union – in an effort to move the community forward. That our son Rev Fr Charles O. Ushi is the first indigenous Catholic Priest of St. Peter’s Parish Ukehe is enough to show the influence of Christianity in Diogbe. We still have many of our sons in the seminary school. All these efforts according to Mrs. Maria Okoro are geared towards maintaining peace and unity in Diogbe, which will form the bedrock for community development.
 It is however imperative to state that religion is a matter of the soul as opposed to matters of the flesh of the mundane. Since all true religions should preach love and peace as a means of attaining eternal glory, all our people needed is some kind of public enlightenment to create that awareness, awareness of their belief as a corporate and indivisible entity, and the inalienable right to the beliefs of the individual persons that constitute the community. Religion should not be confused with morality. According to Chris Onubuleze, while the former is of the soul, the latter is of the world, and therefore concerns every member of the society irrespective of his religion or religious denomination. That one belongs to a particular religious group does not in any way justify or condemn that individual with any moral act.
 It is therefore expected that the adherents of the varying religious interests should be made to adopt persuasive evangelism rather than the use of force, intimidation and character assassination to win converts or sustain followership.

SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT IN DIOGBE
 No written account can be traced about any traditional system of government in Diogbe. It is believed that whatever system that existed evolved from customs, conventions, and common practices which later on matured into a generally acceptable method of government.

MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT
(i)  Okpara System of Administration 
 The government was republican in nature and its administrative functions were carried on through – the family, the kindred, the village and the town through the council of elders.
(a) The family – includes the extended family system.  This is usually identified by the prefix Umu – (eg) Umu-ushi, Umu Okoro, Umu-otikpo, Umu- nwezugwu, Umu-Ominye, Umu-arigo, etc. The head of the family (Di-Okpara) is the eldest male survivor of the family.  He holds the family “ofo” as a symbol of authority over every other member of the family, no matter how highly placed in the society. He combines spiritual and temporal leadership for the family and this earns him the respect and loyalty of every member of the family group including daughters married outside the family, their children, and husbands.
 Disagreements amongst members of the family are first settled at the palace “Obi” of the family head.  Similarly, regular meetings and consultations are held in his obi to discuss problems as they arise. Such meetings are summoned by the family head on his own notion or at the instance of any member of the family.  Issues discussed often include the apportionment of family land during each planting season, allocation of a residential piece of land to grown up young men in the family, arrangement for family marriages and burial ceremonies, etc.  Families could also assemble to agree on the common stand members would take on any controversial issue at the kindred or village meetings.
(b) The kindred:  Comprises a group of families with an identifiable blood relationship within which inter-marriage is prohibited.  The assembly of all male adults in the “obi” of the kindred head is the supreme authority in all issues.
Often times, meetings are held at the obi of the kindred head to settle inter family disputes, arrange for the partition of the kindred communal land and to discuss any other issues of common interest to members of the kindred.
(c). The Village:  This is a large unit consisting of a group of kindred. At this level, a general assembly of all the people in the village could be summoned.  This situation very much resembles the system of direct democracy of the ancient Greeks. But here, a two-tier pattern of government is established;
- The general assembly of the people which is the supreme authority;
- A Council of kindred heads which meets in emergency situations to take decisions on issues that require urgent treatment. But such issues would eventually be referred back to members of the kindred for ratification.
(d) The town/the council of elders.  The highest Diogbe socio – political and judicial body is the council of elders (Ndi Oha) composed of every eldest man (Onyishi) or their representatives who are delegates from their lineage. However, they are delegates and not rulers, thus bearing the opinions of their group to the meetings and bearing the final decisions home. According to Mr. Stan Ushi16, “the council derives its power from “Onu Ugwudielemagi” (Ugwudi Oracle), with the chief priest serving as their over lord. It is at the shrine of the oracle that the council of elders discusses every sensitive issue concerning the town.
 
THE DIOGBE GENERAL ASSEMBLY (TOWN UNION)
THE SPIRIT AND PHILOSOPHY OF DIOGBE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 DGA is a philosophy, an idealism whose main tenet was and continues to be an attempt to break away from the shackles of unnecessary domination and/or misdirection by the elders.  It was an attack on the unprogressive and reactionary forces, an attempt into the orderly organization of Diogbe community to achieve good administration, economic and social improvement in the living standards of the people, in order to ensure peace, harmony and stability. The Diogbe General Assembly was fashioned out of a rebellion” of the Youth against the aged; it is a revolt against the intolerable and inept leadership of the Diogbe Development Committee formed in 1987; it is an attempt to reform leaders who lacked vision and drive; it is a war against stagnation.
 There was a clarion call arising from an innate urge to be articulate.  The call was for the youths to rise and declare their inalienable right to be free from the apparently high handedness of the elders.  The call was answered in 1992 at Enugu, the birthplace of Diogbe General Assembly.
 
BACKGROUND
DGA started as a message of hope. In the message, it punctuated high ideal and projected a set purpose, which was meaningful and re-assuring.  But the history of DGA cannot be seen from this end result.  We now see DGA as an organization of the Youth Christened in later years as Diogbe Town Union, a union that has its history 16  (sixteen) years back – 1992.
 Thus, “Ndiabrod” were no longer at ease with the state of affairs at home. Under the auspices of Chief Okegbe CC, Okoro Ike Paul, Igwenagu Francis, etc, they proceeded to organize a development union, which later became known as Diogbe General Assembly.  The Assembly was hatched at Enugu and then brought home in 1992.  Her first chairman was Chief Okegbe CC.  The Diogbe General Assembly is now known as Diogbe Town Union. The present Diogbe Town union, under the leadership of UWAKWE OKEGBE as a matter of fact has been described as the most pragmatic, most humanistic, most liberal and most God – fearing since the inception of town union system in Diogbe.
 At least Diogbe under this union has successfully completed and still undertaking several projects among which include developing the Orie market, attracting World Bank counterpart project for the renovation of the central school Diogbe, acquiring a secondary school site for the community, pipe borne water project, reconciliation of different groups etc.
 Without being told, one knows that these projects attract enormous fund to carry out. But the source of generating revenue has been on self-help method as the community has from time to time organized launching ceremony where reasonable amount of money would have been realized but for the non-challant attitude of some cabals who swore never to see anything good for and from Diogbe.
          This association, since inception in 1992 has piloted the affairs of the community creditably. It is described as the “last bus stop” for the unity and progress of the town by Mr. Okwelu George and according to Mr. Emmanuel Nsoke, the union’s secretary general; accountability is the watchword of the association. And following this spirit of patriotism, the people of Diogbe are equally followers provided good leaders are leading them.
 So far, construction works have been in progress and others have reached advanced stages as the secondary school site has been cleared and other works concerning the school are improving. If not for logistic problems, the water and electricity projects would have reached appreciable stages.
 It is therefore expected that Diogbe people should heighten their efforts toward these projects. Diogbe people should develop and cultivate the spirit of contributing one’s own quota in one way or the other in pushing the town forward and not backward. Above all, leaders of the town union should not arrogate powers to themselves and should not see the association as their private company where they do whatever they like. In other words, there should be room for constructive criticisms to pave way for better performances.
 All said and done, it has been noted that Diogbe under the auspices of the town union has taken up lots of projects, which are being handled gallantly and with utmost seriousness. It is advocated therefore that the leaders of the town union should imbibe and enshrine in them the spirit of forward ever backward never.

EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS
Finance:  Neither the town nor any of its component units had a standing fund or a treasury.  As a result, there was no definite system of taxation.  Instead funds were raised as the need arose through levies “utu” on all adult males and at times females.  Other sources of fund included fines, and income realized from the sale of property communally owned. For collection of fines and enforcement of communal labour the “Diogbe Task Force” is employed as the local police.  The presence of the members of the task force in a man’s compound for debt collection is not only feared but abhorred.  Consequently, the task force always succeeds in collection of difficult fines and debts, and affords the most effective police action against any recalcitrant member of the community. 
Social Welfare: Most significant   here is the maintenance of roads “Ibo-Uzo”.  This is an annual event arranged at village levels.  Each village once a year, during the dry season, announces the day on which all roads in its area would be cleared.  On such a day, all hands in the village are engaged on this job, elderly men direct the operations, male adults clear the roads and foot paths, while the adolescent male sweep away the rubbish.  Any person who fails to participate in this exercise without reasonable excuse is liable to a fine.  The work is rounded off with feasting and merriment.

JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS
Settlement of Disputes:  A traditional court system existed from the family to the town level, which decided both civil and criminal cases.
 In civil cases, the aggrieved party sued the defendant at the court of the kindred head with a given sum of money.  The kindred head would invite the defendant to pay to his court a sum equal to that paid by the plaintiff. The court was constituted of all adult male in the kindred.  The parties would be summoned to air their grievances.  Both parties would leave the court when the members would confer amongst themselves to arrive at a decision.  When the parties were recalled, the kindred head through the “Onye Oke”– the sharer would deliver judgment.  Thereafter, all the members of the panel would share the sum paid by the parties.  The judgment could involve fines levied on the guilty party, declaration of title in land disputes or “Igbu ewu, nkita or okuko asiri maasi” in case of slander.
 Criminal cases are regarded as an offence against the community.  Where for instance a thief was caught red handed, he receives the wrath of the people by public beating and disgrace.  Crimes range from stealing minor goods, seduction of a relation’s wife, adultery, pre-marital pregnancy without a proposed husband,  “Ime mkpuke” and abortion, to such heinous crimes as arson, house breaking, leaking official secrets to the enemy (sabotage) and murder (Igbu ochu).  From the list of crimes one would observe that the community was anxious to maintain a high moral standard and acts tainted with immorality were invariably regarded as criminal.
 According to Mr. Stan Ushi, where in the settlement of any dispute it was difficult or impossible to discover the truth, the community would decide upon consulting the oracle “Ugwudi” or swearing to an oath as the last resort”.  The effect of oath swearing could not be determined until after 28 days “izu asaa”.  If within this period the person on whom oath was administered did not die, he would celebrate his discharge and innocence with funfair, Mr. Ushi concludes.
 In all civil cases, an appeal system existed from the kindred to the village and town levels. A council of representatives for the whole town – the council of elders “Ndi oha” was the final court of appeal.

ARBITRATIONS
 Since native tribunals are by law denied all civil and criminal jurisdictions, Diogbe citizens can only settle their local disputes through arbitration at the request and with the consent of the parties.
 At the family kindred, village or town levels, women of the family, kindred, village or community married outside “Umuada” or their issues “Umudiala” at times play a mediatory role in the settlement of local disputes.  There have been matters, which proved almost impossible of settlement by members of a family, kindred, village or the entire community, which were resolved by either of the said groups.
 Worthy of mention is the peculiar way in which “Umuada” can impose their decisions on both or either of the disputants. They at times intervene in family feuds uninvited, their concern being the unity, peace and harmonious living by their kith and kin.  It is believed that they are incapable of taking sides in a dispute or giving biased judgments.  The confidence reposed in “Umuada” in peace making during family disputes, according to Mrs. Cordelia Ushi (Nee Ugwu) “is thus shrouded in the myth of their being sacrosanct and incorruptible in handling such matters”. They give their verdict impersonally, and if any of the parties fails to comply with their recommendations, their only sanction is to refrain from visiting their home families and if such a person dies, they would not attend his funeral nor keep their traditional vigil at his death. Hardly can any person withstand such a sanction and as a result, in many cases, their intervention, which is rare, usually succeeds in reconciling the parties.
 Today, as in yester-years, the machinery of government is a marriage between the traditional systems and the government institutions.  The traditional systems are on a continuing basis modified to suit the requirements of the day but they have not been modified out of existence.  The native courts have given place to customary courts, which are now completely abolished.  Native or local and county councils have been replaced by community and divisional councils, yet most of the features of our indigenous systems, the family, kindred and town assembles remain constant.  This is an evidence of a people with a stable traditional pattern of authority, which has proved durable in spite of the influence of modern government institutions.
 
EDUCATIONAL TREND AND DEVELOPMENT IN DIOGBE
 Education has been identified by all nations as an instrument for development. The national policy on education (1981) confirmed this when it stated “the federal government of Nigeria has adopted education as an instrument par excellence for effecting national development and that education will continue to be highly rated in the national development plans because education is the most important instrument for change. According to Uwazurike (1991), “we are sure of the potency of education for development when we credit it with power of socialization, transmission of culture, skills, knowledge and social norms as well as inculcating desirable moral values and attitudes”.
 It is therefore clear that human skills and knowledge more than anything else determine the rate of economic, social, cultural and political development of a nation. The development of human skills and knowledge is effected through education. The national policy on education (1981) succinctly stated that any fundamental change in the intellectual and social outlook of any society has to be preceded by an educational revolution. Looking at the individual and the society as the focus of education, it will become clearer that the main responsibility of education is to remove the area of conflict between the individual and the society and then harmonize their relationship. The family or the home is the first classroom of a newborn baby. This baby is a cultural barbarian and strongly needs to be groomed into the folkway of the people. To achieve this task both parents must be actively involved in nurturing the baby.
 It is a common knowledge that in Diogbe, most of our children are offsprings of illiterate and semi-literate parents whose families are not properly organised for preparing children adequately for inculcation of the Western type of education. Western education is alien to ours as most of our people are peasant farmers and traders. Without mincing words, when it comes to education, Diogbe could be classified as among those communities that woke up late from a deep slumber when their counterparts have as a mater of fact covered a mile race.
 According to Mr. Nsoke Donatus, crisis of attitudes and values stand above most of the problems of education in our community. Improper value judgement and orientation tend to destroy the very fabrics of acculturation already laid down during childhood. The manner any society, at any given time, interprets meaning of life and reality is the sine-qua-none for any level of educational achievement in that society, Mr. Nsoke concludes.
 To be precise, Diogbe realized her educational problems too late and is poised to tackle them within the shortest possible time. That a lot of her people are now pursing different degrees in the universities, while so many have graduated and more still struggling to gain admission into various high institutions is a pointer to this fact. This notwithstanding, there is the need for the community to embark on a programme that will ginger and encourage the youths to further their education and abandon the quest for “quick money”. If no energy is spent on this, it will have a long-term adverse effect on the community, hence the adage, “a stitch in time saves nine.”
 It is acknowledged that ignorance, fear, superstition and apathy constitute the greatest obstacle to community development. Education is a powerful instrument for breaking the shackles of poverty, ignorance, fear and superstition. Poverty and ignorance breed fear and superstition. If poverty and ignorance are expelled, fear and superstition disappear. To dispel ignorance, proper enlightenment and education is very important. The weapon of education, therefore, can destroy negative aspects of tradition such as ignorance, superstition, envy, and backwardness and pave way for development in Diogbe.


DIOGBE COMMUNITY AND HER NEIGHBOURS
 Diogbe has close relation with her neighbours.  Diogbe is closely related to Umunko, Ukehe, Ekwegbe and Umuna on account of marriage affinities. Diogbe is very peace loving and hospitable to strangers.  It was her non-aggressive nature that made it possible for the surrounding towns to crowd her into the present small living space.  This does not mean that Diogbe as a town did not take part in the inter-town wars in the days of yore.  Some of the external wars were Diogbe versus Umuna, Diogbe versus Umunko, Diogbe versus Ukopi and Diogbe versus Umuofiagu.
 From the account of these wars, one will see a confirmation of the earlier statement that Diogbe people were not aggressive.  They fought many of these wars as retaliatory measure against the enemy who provoked them.  Worthy to mention here is the diplomatic immunity accorded women married from outside the town – “Nwanyi Mba”. Such a woman by custom is treated with utmost care because if she was ill-treated and she ran home, it could mean recrimination from her people.  In extreme cases, if she was seriously wounded or killed by her husband or a member of his family kindred or town, an inter-clan warfare could result.  But even where there were wars, these were later settled amicably. This was an evidence of her good diplomatic relations.
 
THE WAY FORWARD
 Traditionally, one could say that Diogbe people are a happy people. This is witnessed in the cherished place given to festivals and rituals in her culture. They are also a peaceful people who have respect for culture and potent values.
 Diogbe culture is communalistic. Members of each village are tied together with physical and metaphysical knots that anyone who riffs the communion is considered to be a cheat. Villagers worked together, suffered together and gloried together. To speak like Senghor, Diogbe people reasoned by embrace.
 Unfortunately, today, Diogbe seems to be loosing one of the central aspects of her culture and unity – COMMUNALISM. As it stands, it has not been too easy for many to divest the factors of this loss from the many problems affecting Diogbe today. With time, people have developed pungent individual ideologies and visions, which cordon off all communal affiliations. And it has reached to the extent that no one considers the other. This has gone a long way to risk the issue of patriotism. Since no one thinks of the other, the other soon becomes a material to be exploited for individual gains. But because of the difficulty of exploitation, there is a resort to mutual suspicion and attendant accusations and counter – accusations. The scenario produces a chain reaction that gives room for wide disunity.
 Diogbe community therefore has the basic challenge of uniting together to harness her resources with one mind. The Diogbe Town Union should help us here. It will be a very heady task to accomplish but not an impossible one. This task is hard because not all has agreed that we have a problem. Attempt should be made in different villages to see that there is a general reclamation of the communalistic value. In this case however, communalism will not be as crude as it will be tolerant to accept other modern alternatives.
 Different experiences, says K.C Anyanwu, produce different people. Even though there are multifarious interest pressure groups in Diogbe with different experiences and people, those experiences and people can be harnessed to push Diogbe forward. Actually, it is not that the concept of UNITY was alien to Diogbe, hitherto; it is just that collective historical experiences left her with a big chunk of the ill of disunity. And there is no way real development in Diogbe will be a possibility if things continue as they are, says Brother Kevin Nwodo. Therefore, the challenge of developing Diogbe lies in our eradication of hatred by imbibing our traditional communalistic character in defiance of Western psychological individualism. This will start from the minutest unit of our community. This is very necessary since it is only from the mysterious equations of love can any logical reasoning emerge.
 We can right these wrongs, difficulties, setbacks and worries can be salvaged. Even though our bones are dry, they can rise again says Brother Kevin Nwodo. Every trouble or disappointment is a stepping-stone for greater success. Where there is greater evil, there is the possibility of greater good. Paul who was formally Saul proved this right. The Israelites passed the desert before they reached the Promised Land.
 Love is possible in a world of hate: victory is possible in a world of defeat; sacrifice is possible in a world of selfishness; virtue is possible in a world of vice; appointment is possible in a world of disappointment; joy is possible in a world of sorrow. It is the possibility of saying “No” that gives charm to the heart when it says “YES”. We do not walk out of a theatre or film show because our beloved actor/ actress is shot in the first scene. Let us not loose hope because of initial disappointment. It is the final scene that crowns a play. God also will crown our life and town’s dramatic scene with victory. However, in order to achieve victory, we must look up to God and not concentrate on our problems cautioned Brother Chibueze Ushi. According to him, “a child offends his parents but the father concentrates on the crime whereas the mother concentrates on the child. Mary is that woman who concentrates on the welfare of God’s children irrespective of their prodigal ways”. Let us turn to her. She will wipe away our tears, comfort us in our difficulties and present our prayers to his Son, concludes Rev Fr John Chibueze Ushi.
 Conclusively, the troubles of this world may be many but we have a steady support.“The troubles and disappointments, frustrations and worries are limited. They cannot cripple love, they cannot corrode faith, they cannot eat peace away, they cannot destroy unity, they cannot damage confidence, they cannot kill friendship, they cannot invade the soul, they cannot silence courage, they cannot shut out memories, they cannot quench the spirit of oneness, and they cannot lessen the power of resurrection. The dry bones will surely rise again!


REFERENCES
Anthony Onyika and Ogbonna C. Ushi “Change of Name” (Advertisement) Daily Star (February 24: 1977) P. 19
BBC English Dictionary (2004). “A Dictionary for the World. London: Harper Collins Publishers. 
Bjork R. and Adams D. (1969).  Education in Developing Areas. New York: David  Mckay
Federal Republic of Nigeria (1981).  National Policy on Education. Lagos: Federal; Ministry of Information Publications.
Ikekeonwu C.I (1980). A Lexico – Phonotactic Study of the Northern Igbo Dialects. Ph. D Thesis: U.N.N
Janning (1963). Elements of Map Interpretation.  USA Macmillan Co.
Uwazuruike C.N (Ed) 1991).  Educational Planning and National Development: A Nigerian Perspective Awka:  Meksluk Publishers Nigeria.
Chapter Three

EKWEGBE COMMUNITY
By Thaddeus Chidi Onyeke
INTRODUCTION
 The above article can be discussed under two sub-headings:
1. The historical origin of Ekwegbe community and
2. The geo-political location of Ekwegbe community.
 
THE HISTORICAL ORIGIN OF EKWEGBE COMMUNITY
 The historical origin of Ekwegbe Community dates back to the Pre-Colonial period i.e. before 1500. According to Ani, (1999), “This period had no recorded history”. In the same vein, Ekwegbe Community of that period had no recorded history of origin due to reasons given above. The history of the people was preserved mainly through oral tradition and folklore.
Name: The name ‘Ekwegbe’ was given to the earliest emigrants to the Community by the people of Umuna Community. According to (Igwe Ezeani, Igwe Chiduabo and Simon Attama), the earliest ancestors of Ekwegbe were Odika and Nome. Odika was a man and Nome was his wife. They were descendants of the great Attah of Igala who settled at Aku Community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area before they moved eastwards through Umuna to their Promised Land, Abaegbedu, the current Ohumofia quarter in Ekwegbe Community. Like the Biblical Moses and the Israelites, they journeyed to their promised land, which they could not easily arrive at due to interruptions and interrogations by the Umuna people with the following questions, among others: What are your names?, Where do you come from?, Where are you going?, Are you dumb?. The response to every one of the above questions was continuous nodding of their heads until they were asked the last question. Are you Ekwebe? (Ekwebe meaning continual affirmation). This sounded like Ekwegbe. They also nodded in response. They were finally allowed to pass through Umuna Community and settled at Abaegbedu near Umuna, a place assumed to be the present Ohumofia quarter in Ekwegbe Community- their promised land. They were influenced by the natural fertility of the soil capable of sustaining them in agricultural activities, the earliest and only occupation at that period.
 Odika and Nome, the first parents of Ekwegbe, gave birth to their first son-called Ugwumbitima whose other name was Igboke Odika Nome and a second son called Ugwuapi-Ekwegbe Odika Nome. They had only one daughter called Ada-Oha.
 At Abaegbedu, their first place of settlement, they established the following: Their Land goddess, Onu Ani-Ekwegbe; their god of creation, Onu Okike Okechi Abiama-Ekwegbe; their god of harvest, Onu Fijioku-Ekwegbe. From Abaegbedu, Ugwumbitima, the first son, moved eastwards to settle at the present Umuorogu Uwelu-Ohumofia quarter. Ugwuapi, the second son, moved to settle permanently at Umunshionyugwu of Ishameleokpe in Amudu Ekwegbe. Ugwuapi was described to be so bold and popular. He was a giant, strong with imposing physique, which earned him a war hero. He bluntly left his parents and his only brother Ugwumbitima to settle at the foot of the highest hill at the centre of the community (Ugwuologwu). As a war captain, he decided to settle at a strategic position where he could easily have an overview of the security of the entire area presently occupied by Ekwegbe Community. He lived and died there. It was believed that he transformed into a Lion –the most famous animal on earth (Agu-Ugwu). Even the entire area where he settled is called Agu-Ugwu. During his lifetime, he was believed to be in charge of the security of life and property of the community. He grew to be more popular than his elder brother Ugwumbitima. Many tributes were dedicated or paid to him. For examples, any extraordinarily large sized tuber of yam harvested in the community by any farmer was taken to him. The same applied to extra-ordinarily sized lobe of kola harvested in the community, and palm wine tapped from palm trees that yielded three-in-one (Nkwu gbara-ato). After his death, the succeeding Chief-Priests continued to enjoy such rights as Ugwuapi. Of course, when Ugwuapi is to be worshipped, all the wine tappers must surrender their palm wine yield to the worshippers. The same applied to Ugwumbitima, his elder brother.
 Odika and Nome, the ancestral parents of Ekwegbe, lived and died and were buried at Ishamelu Ohumofia village where an Egbu tree was planted in their memory. The EGBU tree is the tallest tree at the village square of the current Ishamelu-Ohumofia. Every Omaba or Okango Music must salute Odika’s graveyard before displaying in the village square each time they should touch the village.
Ekwegbe has a population of about 26000 people (1991 census figure) and a landmass of about 54 square kilometers. If 2.5 % growth rate for population projection in rural areas is applied, the population of Ekwegbe Community will hit 32,500 by the year 2009. Ekwegbe Odika Nome was very strong in that she engaged eighteen communities in warfare and defeated them. Ama Ominye Odobo from Uwenu in Umuezenavu of Ozeachalla Ekwegbe was the strongest man of his time. He was so excessively strong that he even prayed Ejarija deity in Ozeachalla to give him what he would wrestle with in order to test his strength. When he was going to his farm at Agu Ekwegbe, a wild bull stood by his way. Ama Ominye became happy and thanked Ejarija for having given him what he asked for and the wrestling started. The match ended one score apiece.
 .
EKWEGBE AS A COSMOPOLITAN COMMUNITY
 Apart from the earliest settlers in Ekwegbe community, there were other immigrants from time to time to build up the earliest population of the people. There were people who migrated from West, North, Northeast and Southeastern parts of the present Ekwegbe community to make up the earliest settlers. For instance, some immigrants came from Akpugo in the present Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area to make up the earliest settlers at Ohumofia, which gave them the name-Umu Akpugo Dim-Okoro while their earliest name was Ohumofia Dieze Oka.
From the Southeast: According to oral tradition, some came from Ibagwa-Nike and Ibagwa Okwe to make up the earliest population of Ukopi quarter in Ekwegbe community of that period.
From the North: Ekwegbe was classified as members of descendants of Ideke Arumona like Nsukka, Obukpa, Okpuje, Edemani and Ibagwani.
 From the neighbouring town of Opi, North-East of Ekwegbe, were descendants of Ugwobo Ogazi-Idi-Opi who immigrated to Ekwegbe and increased the population of the earliest settlers at Amohu quarter specifically Umueke village. That was the origin of Ugwobo Ogazi of Umueke-Amohu’s ancestral god. In Amonucha quarter, the eldest village, Ezama-Aram was believed to have immigrated from Ikem in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area.
 Also believed to have immigrated from Ikem were a section of Ishamele Okpe called Umu-Ugwu from where they brought a god called Ora-Ikem. A village called Amolu-Ozi traced their ancestral origin from Mbu-Amolu in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area. From there, they brought their god called Mkpume (stone) Amolu.
 Agulu Ugwu Eriom, the earliest settler of the present Agulu village, migrated from Agulu -Awka in Awka, Anambra state. He established a deity called Agbuyi Agulu Ugwu Eriom for protection against invasion, incursion and hostility. He was a blacksmith.
 The chronological orders of seniority of Ekwegbe community according to six quarters that make up the community are as follows: Ohumofia, Amonucha, Amohu, Amudu, Ukopi and Ozeachalla. This order is strictly emphasized and rigidly adhered to in sharing communal things in the community. For instance, the councillorship position that rotates among the quarters started from Ohumofia, the eldest quarter.
The six quarters have various villages arranged according to seniority at Ekwegbe level, viz;
OHUMOFIA: -Amaeshilagwo, Ishamelu Ohumofia, Amaduloka, Umuokparanzu, Umuorogu, Ogbodu, Ishamani, Amashieke, Umungwoke. Ohumofia is divided into two Aka-aya groups: (Umuorogu, Umungwoke, Amashieke, Amaduloka, Umuokparanzu, Amaeshilagwo, Ogbodu) and (Ishamelu Ohumofia, Ishamani).
AMONUCHA: - Ezama-aram, Umuerombele/Amairagu, Amaoshim, Ezamagu, Ewenu na Uwani (Amadilebo and Amezi), Aniagogwu, Ndiagu-Akwashi. Amonucha is divided into three groups: Ezama na amonucha (Ezama-aram, Ezamagu, Amaoshim, Ewenu na Uwani, Aniagogwu); Umuerombele/ Amairagu and Ndiagu-Akwashi.
AMOHU: - Umugwacha, Umuchima, Uwani Amohu, Ama-ogbodu, Umuezenoba, Umueke, Umuwarama, Etiti Amohu. Amohu is divided into two groups:  Eshi Amohu (Uwani Amohu, Umugwacha, Etiti Amohu, Umuezenoba, Umuwarama) and Uwenu na uwani (Umueke, Umuchima, Ama-ogbodu).
AMUDU: - Amoluoshi, Eshiamudu, Ishamele okpe, Agulu, Amolu Uwani, Umuibe/Umunweshi. Amudu is divided into two Aka-aya groups: (Eshiamudu, Ishamele okpe, Umuibe / Umunweshi) and (Amoluoshi, Agulu, Amolu Uwani). 
UKOPI: - Amadulu, Amuke, Amangwu, Amaezike, Etiti, Ishamele (Umuevunike), Ezegbani, Ishiokpo. Ukopi is divided into Amokofia (Amangwu, Etiti and Ezegbani); Eshi Ukopi (Amuke, Ishiokpo, Amadulu, Ishamele (Umuevunike) and Amaezike)
OZEACHALA: -Umuezenavu, Amugwu, Ibegama, Amauwenu, Amegbu. Ozeachala is divided into Uwani Ozeachala (Umuezenavu and Ibegama); Amugwu n’ ato (Amauwenu, Amugwu and Amegbu).
 
THE GEO-POLITICAL LOCATION OF EKWEGBE COMMUNITY
 According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the word ‘geo-political’ is ‘the study of the effect on a country’s politics of its position, population etc’ while ‘location’ is defined as ‘a place or position’.The geo-political location of Ekwegbe community can be discussed in two ways namely: The internal and the external (modern) geo-political locations.

THE INTERNAL GEO-POLITICAL LOCATION OF EKWEGBE COMMUNITY
 The internal geo-political location is traditionally designed. According to (Igwe Ezeani and Simon Attama), Ekwegbe community traditionally divided herself into two main groups using North and South poles called Akama-Enu and Akama-Ani. Akama-Enu is made up of three quarters namely: Ohumofia, Amonucha and Amudu and is located at the Northern part of the community. Akama-Ani is located at the Southern part of the community and is made up of three quarters namely: Amohu, Ozeachalla and Ukopi. The Eke market is at the centre as well as the early Churches, the Roman Catholic and the Anglican Communion currently St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Ekwegbe along with their mother schools -Central school and Community primary school Ekwegbe respectively were located at the centre of the community.
 Akama-Enu has common boundaries with Opi in the North and Northeast, Ohodo in the Northwest, Ozalla in the West. Akama-Ani zone shares boundaries with Umunko in the Southeast, Diogbe in the Southwest and Umuna in the West.
 At Agu-Ekwegbe, which is located in the Eastern part of the Community, the community shares common boundaries with Opi-Agu in the North, Neke in the North -East, Nike in Enugu North in the East and Ukehe in the Southeast
 Traditionally, the community was also geo-politically structured into two main groups called Aka-Aya, which filled the gap created by the early North and South division. These were East and West divisions for security and unity of the community. Aka-Aya balanced up the sharp division that would have been created by the Aka-ma Enu and Akama-Ani pattern. The Aka-Aya structure is as follow: Ohumofia, one of the minority quarters, was merged with Amohu and Ukopi, the majority quarters as Aka-Aya zone ‘A’ located in the Western part of the community.  Aka-Aya zone ‘B’, is made up of Amonucha, a majority quarter, Amudu and Ozeachalla, another minority groups, was located in the Eastern part of the community. Ekwegbe community was blessed with natural features/physical features that create natural boundaries between her and her neighbouring communities for examples Obara-River is the natural boundary between Ekwegbe and Opi communities. Their names helped to minimize internal disputes on the ownership of particular areas/places in the community. For example, Obara-River is owned by Akama-Enu, Ukopi owns Idodo River. Others whose associated names pinpoint their owners are: - Ejiyi Nwansisa (Lake Nwansisa), Ejiyi Adehe (Lake Adehe). Ejiyi Elemutu (Elemutu Lake), Ejiyi Oroko (Oroko Lake), Ejiyi Umuero (Umuero Lake), Ejiyi Amolu (Amolu Lake). Others are Iyi-Uzu, Okpote, Ishi-Ozi to mention but a few. Other physical features like Ugwuegele hill, Ugwuologwu, Ugwu Idodo, Ugwu Aku, Ugwu Oroko, Ugwu Ugolodu, Ugwuiketaku, Ugwu Akpoti, Ugwu Amolu, Ugwuodu, Ugwuanyanwu, and Ugwu Agboaputu are self-pointers to their respective owners in the community.
 
THE EXTERNAL OR MODERN GEO-POLITICAL LOCATION OF EKWEGBE COMMUNITY
 In the current political map of Nigeria, Ekwegbe was one of the six communities that make up Igbo-Etiti North Federal Constituency created in 1979 namely: Diogbe, Ekwegbe, Ohodo, Ozalla, Umuna and Umunko. Ekwegbe is also one of the autonomous communities in the old Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area created in 1976. In the current map of Igbo-Etiti geo-political zones, Ekwegbe is one of the three communities that make up Igbo-Omaba zone namely: Ekwegbe, Ohodo and Ozalla. Presently, Ekwegbe is in Igbo-Etiti central development council created by the government of Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, the former Executive Governor of Enugu State. The current map of Ekwegbe shows Ukopi as an autonomous community but for the purpose of history, which deals with the past, the history and location of Ekwegbe community will be incomplete without including all the quarters that made up the community in the past. The map is skipped because of insufficient space.
 
UGWUAPI EKWEGBE
 Ugwuapi Odike Nome (the second son of Odike and Nome) lived and died at Ugwuologwu, a place located at the foot of a hill (Ivu Ugwuapi) behind Eke Ekwegbe market. Due to the fact that he protected Ekwegbe from incursion, aggression, invasion and hostility when he was alive, it was believed that his spirit could render such services to the community from the spiritual realm. His grave was therefore designed and worshipped as the God of the community (Ugwuapi Ekwegbe).
 Ugwuapi, the most popular god in Ekwegbe, is invoked to save the people from the scourges of pandemics, famine, acute draught, warfare etc. The invocation is through communal chanting across the community and beyond (Igba Agbo Ugwuapi) and/or sacrifice. It is incredible that any sacrificial cow of whatever size is slaughtered single-handed by the chief priest without the cow resisting.
 Any victory recorded by Ekwegbe people in any warfare or competition is attributed to Ugwuapi Ekwegbe. It was also believed that Ugwuapi is the brain behind any exotic fortune in Ekwegbe but failures are never attributed to it. The name is commonly exclaimed in the event of excitement, surprise, fright, unexpected and unpleasant situations. Ekwegbe people also saw Ugwuapi as the last resort whenever unusal phenomena and temptations are experienced for security and perseverance respectively. This was evident on 21st May, 1947 eclipse of the sun when Ekwegbe people in reaction to the unprecedented and wonderful event started chanting ‘ululu uu’ (meaning Ugwuapi ee) to invoke Ugwuapi for intervention as darkness suddenly enveloped the day. It was jubilation galore and songs of praises to Ugwuapi when the eclipse was over which they believed were the handiwork of Ugwuapi. Ekwegbe people root their children’s names to Ugwuapi for security of their lives.  The Ugwuapi shrine (onu Ugwuapi or onu Ugwu) is a monument.
 
ONYISHI EKWEGBE (THE ELDEST VILLAGE IN EKWEGBE)

 According to (Vincent Ezike, Ugwoke Madu et al), the original eldest village in Ekwegbe was Ogbodu in Ohumofia. It happened that an Onyishi from Ogbodu called Attama Neze Nwa Ishiali Ada, who used to bring the Onyishi Sceptre (Arua Ivom) to Ekwegbe assembly or to Onu Ugwuapi, became old and sick. A man therefore escorted him to those meetings from Amaeshilagwo called Evuru Ugwuegu. The mother of Evuru Ugwuegu was from Ogbodu and in such a situation, customarily, it is such a relation (Nwa-Nwunye) that does such a job. Then at a point, he (Attama Neze) told Evuru Ugwuegu that he should not stress himself anymore by coming to collect him each time there was a meeting and therefore handed over the sceptre to him to be presented on his behalf. Then Evuru continued that way until Attama Neze died. It is interesting that Evuru Ugwuegu took possession of the sceptre and started to present it to the meetings in his own capacity. Ogbodu people saw this as an usurpation of their right and had a feud with Amaeshilagwo people in order to recoup their property but could not succeed. That was how Amaeshilagwo of Ohumofia became the eldest village in Ekwegbe community till today.
 Other seniority arrangement (chronological order) among quarters and villages in Ekwegbe came to be with such events, stories and drama.
   
THE HISTORICAL LINK BETWEEN AKU AND EKWEGBE
According to folklore, the Aku hill popularly called the Ugwu Aku which situates in the outskirts of Uno Ekwegbe and along Akamenu,   Agu Ekwegbe road is believed to be the reincarnation site (be – oluwa) of Aku people therefore they do not go there otherwise they would die. It is also believed that any time there is a landslide in the hill; the people of Aku may die en masse. This is why Ekwegbe people wedge the hill with big trees and rocks to prevent the landslide from occurring and safeguard the lives of the Aku people.
In times past the Ekwegbe people alerted the Aku people of impending health pandemic e.g. influenza, measles, chicken-pox etc, which they inferred from the happenings in the hill. To this end the Aku people were asked not to wear traditional bangles (eriri eka) or put traditional indelible ink (Uri) on their bodies. They were also asked to place Ikpere Odu, Eriri Agwo or Ntu (ashes) at the entrance of the compound in order to deflect the diseases mentioned above.
Available history has it that the immigration and settlement of Aku and Ekwegbe were somewhat done interchangeably, that is while Aku, who originally settled near the ‘Ugwu Aku’ before migrating to their present Aku, Ekwegbe people migrated from Useh village in Aku to the present location of Ekwegbe. It is strongly believed that Ekwegbe people do not go to Useh village in Aku community. 
    
CULTURE
THE ORIGIN OF OMABA 

 According to (Igwe Ezeani, Pius Ezugwu, Ugwoke Madu et al), Omaba masquerade was first brought to Ekwegbe community by one Mr. Agada Nwachara of Umuezugwu Okoko in Umuokparanzu. This earned him the nickname: ‘Agada Nwachara Wetara Igba Dara Ogogo’ in the traditional folklore. This Omaba was given to Ekwegbe community by the said Agada Nwachara to bind them together.
 The said Agada Nwachara of Umuezugwu Okoko brought it from the neighbouring community, Ozalla. Mr. Agada officially handed Omaba over to Ekwegbe community in general. Ekwegbe in turn decided to get the Omaba secured at Idenyi Shrine at Ogbodu village, popularly known as Onu-Idenyi Anama Ogbodu in Ohumofia quarter in Ekwegbe. The Omaba which was kept at Idenyi Anama Ogbodu Shrine was later taken possession of by the Idenyi Shrine located at Ogbodu at Ogbodu village-Ohumofia which earned her Onyishi Omaba while Umuezugwu Okoko of Umuokparanzu remained Ishi-Omaba of Ekwegbe. Ishi-Omaba is one and only Omaba that is not owned by a single Village or quarter but the entire community and it is called Ishi-Omaba Di-Ekwegbe. The Omaba masquerade music is a melody so fascinating that no average Ekwegbe man or woman can afford to miss it.

THE OMABA YEAR
 The Omaba homecoming takes place every even-number year, therefore 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 etc are Omaba years. It comes home in February and goes back to the spirit world in October / November (nine months).Each is a very grand festival in Ekwegbe Community in that people do invite their friends (Oke Omaba) from other communities. During home coming, the people are very excited to receive Omaba in that they buy delightful wears, slaughter cows, rams, goats etc for the occasion. The droppings of these animals are put on palm fronds and openly displayed at the compound’s main entrance conspicuously on the eve of Omaba feast. This is called ‘Ichipu Ebuba Igu’. Gunshots do boom in the air throughout the period. The going back of omaba to the spirit world (ula maa) seems to be more costly.more boisterous and more convivial than its coming home (uda maa) in Ekwegbe.   
 The first and foremost impression about the returning of Omaba is the communal chanting (Imioru maa) signifying that the home coming of omaba is around the corner. This is done within the month of Fijioku Festival. Eight days after the month of Fijioku, Omaba stakeholders shall gather at a square called Obodo-Egwu on Eke day to solicit for the home coming of Omaba. The highlights of the meeting are the performing of some incantations by the chief priest that do not involve rituals and cultural displays that elicit ovations from spectators whereupon the chief priest announces to the gathering that ‘Irenya ga nwe ozi’ meaning that ‘The Irenya has the message’.  The next day (Orie), the first Omaba music (Iwa-onu) by the Irenya (Ekpo di Ogbodu) of Ohumofia is heard and the home coming day is therefore the 29th day. Other quarters shall perform the Iwa-Onu and Ibata-uno events with strict observance of the quarter seniority order by Omaba viz: Ohumofia, Amonucha, Ukopi, Amudu, Ozeachalla and Amohu. The two stages do overlap across the quarters in the sense that when Ohumofia is at the stage of Ibata-uno, Amonucha is at the stage of Iwa-Onu; when Amonucha is at the stage of Ibata-Uno, Ukopi is at the stage of Iwa-onu etc. There is an interval of four days between adjacent quarters. The women folk do not see it at the two stages. The nocturnal and anonymous cuttings of banana stems (Efi ita Jiarua) and its preparation at omaba groove (uham) for use during the period, rebuilding and cleaning of Omaba house (Okiti) are preparatory exercises. When Amohu concludes its own Ibata-uno, the next four days (afor day), Omaba will come home with the first port of call being at various squares for the six quarters for people to see and appreciate before they retire to their various houses called Okiti.  Virgin palm fronds (Omu Nkwu) are cut down and prepared and tied at the entrance of Omaba house as a sign that Omaba has returned and so it is out of bounds to the female folk. Each Okiti has a name by the Omaba. The next Eke day, the masquerade shall aggregate at the Eke market square for the masses to see and appreciate the allure and glamour.  This is Izu-afia. The masquerades are: - Ovuruzo, Okokoro, Oriokpa (Ugwokeoku or Perere), Ujamezigwoke, Eburuebu, Egbe, Ogiriugwunedem, Odukwe (Edi), maa – eruro etc.
 Odukwe (from ogbodu), by virtue of its position as the oldest masquerade, first announces its day of merriment called ‘Nkaji’ or ‘mmaji onu okachi’ on the 4th day of Omaba’s return and celebrated on the 8th day (Afor).It is an opportunity for the masquerade that did not return on the very day of Omaba’s return due to one reason or the other to do so on this Nkaji day after which none can return again. Women do organize welcome party for Omaba variously when it returns. Omaba beats its music for four days in honour of a man who dies during Omaba year.
 After twenty-eight days of homecoming, Omaba Ogbodu of Ohumofia will announce its special day of merriment called Obu-Egba-maa. Next month, Ejuona of Amonucha will announce its own day, then Ishamele of Ukopi, then Ishamele okpe of Amudu, Umuoyida in Umuezenavu of Ozeachalla and Umueke of Amohu. They would come out for people to see and appreciate them. The eldest masquerade in Ekwegbe, Ishi Omaba di Ekwegbe in Umuokparanzu, will make announcement of its own day which is the last in the series. All these happen in intervals of one month. At this point, all other ones including memadi of Amonucha can now announce its own day and demand food from the male ones that have not taken the Nrimaa title (Ogbodu) and the female ones that have neither married nor living with their husbands (Nri-Mgboto). Each day is an occasion for feasting and dancing the music of the particular Omaba masquerade.  Then the Uhere of Umuokparanzu will finally announce its own day and that concludes the stage. On the Uhere day, all masquerades shall appear naked and move in files around the community with songs (Igba Oto). After that day, only Edi and Oriokpa can come out with or without palm fronds. The aim of using palm fronds is to cover their selves so that their admirers will not recognize them, as they are now more serious in pursuing and catching them.
 After eight days, Omaba will go to Ugwu (Onyinyi Ugwu). This entails all the masquerades aggregating at a common square called Ikpogwu- Omaba with their musical instruments. At the Ikpogwu, it is difficult to easily distinguish the music of a particular group from that of the other as each group is enthusiastically beating its own music. Then the next eight days (orie day), Omaba will go home. ‘Otoma bu na Omaba alagu orie’ meaning ‘It is a blatant falsehood that omaba did not return to the spirit world on orie day is a popular statement of certainty or firm decision in Ekwegbe community.  The virgin palm fronds are therefore dismantled. On the day of its going home, normally in the night of the Orie day, wives do give their husbands fowls (Igo Ukwu) to show love on one hand and in appreciation of the totality of the house hold helps rendered by the husbands during the period on the other. Omaba disappears to the spirit world with the technical and pathetic songs ‘Iwerere iwelee’, ‘Nuwe nuweo’ etc in the night. After twenty eight days, the men that escorted the masquerade to their homes (Ogbanukwu) will feast for having survived the Omaba home going period because if any of them died before the end of twenty eight days, it is believed that he was killed by the Omaba and therefore cannot be accorded any funeral rite till after one year of his death. The over whelming socio-cultural functions of Omaba in Ekwegbe make the people grieve for its departure to the spirit world (Ula maa).
 Apart from comedy and cohesion, an outstanding social importance of Omaba masquerade is its ability to checkmate women excesses.

ABOMINATION TO OMABA (IKA MAA)
 Internal affairs of Omaba masquerade are exclusive things for the men folk. Stripping the masquerade naked, fighting or cursing Omaba masquerade, women entering the house or going to see the music, wearing attire peculiar to Omaba etc are taboos to Omaba and are regarded as revealing the sacred secrets of Omaba (Ika Maa) in the traditional context. In the event of any of these, the people or person responsible shall provide a cow and a goat for appeasement. If it is a woman, her parents or the people of her parents are liable to provide a cow and a goat but not her husband or the people of her husband.

AGALABA
 This is an Odo masquerade and the biggest masquerade so far. It comes out during fijioku festival and at any other days for people to see. 

ESUSU OF ISHAMELU OHUMOFIA
This is an Omaba masquerade with a difference. It comes home sixteen days after that of Omaba and goes home together with Omaba. It operates alone.

UDELE UGWU DEITY
 This deity is a unique Omaba masquerade. It is from Ishamele Okpe in Amudu quarter. It is unique in the sense that it has a very great occult power more than other deities in the community and it is called Udele Ugwuezugwu Oshimiri. People who are indicted of complicity or atrocity take oath by it to prove their innocence. Women take oath by it squatting at a distance. If a calamity befalls a person who took oath by it within twenty-eight days of the oath, it is believed that the person actually committed the offence and he/she will be ostracized by the people till some appeasements and fines are made. If the person dies within the period, the deity will confiscate his/her property. It has its chief priest that carries the movable instrument of the deity to who requests for it for oath taking or property security etc. Some non-Omaba deities are Iyiokoro Ozeachalla (a goddess), Ejarija Ozeachalla, Ugwegede Ukopi, Idodo Ukopi (a goddess) etc. 

THE AKATAKPA MASQUERADE
 This is a harmless and liberal masquerade whose main function is to keep the Nri-maa party lively. During Nri-maa party, it is the duty of Akatakpa to exorcise, with mild lashings of cane, the Ogbodu-ness in the aspirant to a vibrant Nwa-maa. Unlike Omaba masquerade, it has neither house nor music but the secrets of it are not divulged to the women folk. It always carries canes. Akatakpa Ishasha Ogoro is hostile to commercial sex workers (prostitutes). It throws its canes to youths (male ones) and gives them a hot chase thereby training them in sprinting and agility. It stays shortly when it returns in September / October period. 

MARRIAGE SYSTEM
There are five officially recognized and practiced stages in Ekwegbe traditional marriage system, viz:-
1. Iju-ese / Iweje Oji-eha (official inquiry / taking of kolanuts to the family of the fiancée).
2. Igo nna n’ ili (Appeasing the fore fathers)
3. Iwe-Oji  (the marriage proper)
4. Marube / Ogo marube (official visit by the parents and relations of the fiancee to the house of the suitor).
5. Oririo (Request for the release of the wife to the husband).
However, there are informal transformations and fusions of the traditional stages due to infiltration of the Western methods (Wedding and Biology) into the traditional marriage system. There are therefore two unofficial stages in the contemporary marriage system in Ekwegbe community, viz: -
FIRST STAGE- THE CONFIDENTIAL STAGE
 This includes courting, coming together of the intending couple, who must have no blood relationship, at an agreed venue for identification and the conduct of biological compatibility tests.

SECOND STAGE – THE OPEN STAGE
This consists of four substages, viz: -
i. Iweje Oji eha: - Taking of 13 seeds of kolanut (large size), a carton of large stout, a crate of maltina, a carton of star, 6 gallons of palm wine and some amount of money officially to the family of the fiancée through the go-between who must be a male person and must have blood or social relationship with the two families. If there is acceptance, the suitor has to go to the family with his relations and friends to celebrate it by feasting with them for the acceptance.
ii. Igba-Nkwu: - This involves carrying various stipulated items to the family of the fiancée like 13 tubers of yam (large size), 20 seeds of kolanut, 3 fowls, 24 gallons of  palm wine, 2 kg of detergent, 2 crates of mineral, a crate of malt, a carton of large stout, a carton of star, 2 bars of soap, 2 rolls of toilet soap, a bottle of hard drink, a bottle of cream, a head of tobacco and some potash and an amount of money (which depends on what the suitor can afford to provide). The kins of the fiancée do give some items like cutlass, kolanuts, rolls of toilet soap etc, collected in a tray, to the suitor through the go-between as gift of appreciation. 
iii. Marube /Ogo Marube: - The family / relations of the fiancée will officially come to the home of the suitor for the first time. The suitor shall host them to their satisfaction and gives them a purse (which depends on the much the suitor can afford to provide) and officially informs them that it is his intension to wed their daughter.
iv. Wedding: - This is the western method that involves the exchange of nuptial vows and wearing of wedding rings by the couple before the two families / relations, the congregation, the officiating priest /Pastor / Iman, friends and well wishers as witnesses. A reception party is usually organized by the couple in consummation of this with cutting of wedding cake, bridal dance and giving of gifts from the families, relations, friends and well wishers as high lights. 
 
CUSTOMARY BYELAWS OF A MARRIED WOMAN IN EKWEGBE
Byelaw 1  She should live in peace and harmony with her husband.
Byelaw 2  She should not have extramarital relationship
Byelaw 3  She should not embark on any costly project without the expressed permission of the husband.

VIOLATIONS AND PENALTIES
 If a married woman violates byelaw 1 by being the source of quarrels in the house, she shall be subjected to tight counseling pressures from the people to change for the better. Her continued obduracy may earn her the chances of being asked to leave the house by the husband for eventual replacement. If a married woman contravenes byelaw 2, the husband shall sanction her until she presents a hen that shall be used to appease the gods of the land. In the event of matrimonial disputation and the wife leaves the house of the husband for her father’s house or elsewhere, it is the customary duty of the husband to look for her for reconciliation. If the woman violated byelaw 2 while she was away, she has to return to the house of the husband with a hen that should be used to appease the gods of the land. However if she did not, she has to pick kolanut part placed on the ground with her mouth and eat to prove her innocence.
 If a married woman violates byelaw 3, the husband has the right to abort the project at any stage and inflicts commensurate punishment on the wife.
These byelaws are not exhaustive. 
DIVORCE
 Acute insubordination, unguarded extra-marital relationship and other nefarious attitudes on the part of a wife that have defied counselling efforts can earn her repudiation from her husband. In this case, the husband either uproots her personal god (chi) and gives to her before the go-between or gives her a calabash plate ‘agbugba’ before the go- between with or without such remark that he has brought back the breadfruit from where he collected it (Idu Nwanyi). If this happens, the husband has no customary right to demand whatever he spent in the course of marrying her and no condition can re-establish the marriage.

DEATH AND FUNERAL RITES
 When a man dies, the information is duely passed to the Onyishi of the clan/village. The Onyishi will therefore invite his people at his house for the arrangement and for the information dissemination to those concerned including the descendants, relations and inlaws (if any) of the deceased. The Umuada (native women) on hearing this will aggregate at the place to take care of the corpse till burial. The men will arrive at the place, collect the corpse with a casket or an improvised and lay him to rest. Gunshots shall boom in the air signifying his demise. The men will display kolanuts in small containers at their hall (Obunube) for four days excluding the day of burial for the commiserators to pick. The Umuada shall stay at the scene continuously for eight days before dispersing. The descendants and the immediate relations shall be visiting there during the day for the next twenty days. The wives of the clan and relations will give food to them all along. There is head – shaving event (Iwe-ishi) on the twenty eightieth day. His wife (if any) has to stay indoors in black apparel for one year always holding a kitchen knife (Uma-ekwu). She neither talks loudly nor goes out alone because it is believed that the ghost of her husband is around and will attack her if it sees her alone or hears her voice.
 When it remains four days for the year to elapse, she will paint her body black and go to a nearby market or road junction with a small basket into which an item must be dropped by another widow planted in the market or road junction. Then she will go back crying. The journey is such that she will never turn while going or returning. When she returns, the apparel, the basket and the contents are both burnt. In the morning of the last day of the year, a widow shall shave her head and she takes her first bath since the mourning. She organizes a survival party for her friends and relations who then give her some presents like raw yam, plates etc. She is now emancipated to engage in out of doors activities. She shall use her changing gown for the next one year. She will now stage the first visit to her parents place called Igbashi manu. This requires ten tubers of yam, a jar of palm wine and some palm oil or whatever she can provide for the purpose.
 If a woman (married one) dies, the information shall first be passed to the Onyishi who then calls for the men of the clan/village for burial arrangement. Normally the clan will send the eldest son or daughter (if she has no son) with some individuals to go and inform the kins of the woman about the episode. Any person can be sent if the woman has no child. The Umuada shall go to the place and take care of the corpse. The men from the deceased village/clan shall go to the place to lay the woman to rest. The co-wives shall perform the breaking of Oke-ekwu function on the fourth day of burial. The men shall gather at the Obunube to display kolanuts for four days. The husband will be at the Obunube receiving sympathizers without displaying kolanuts. He shall be holding kitchen knife (Uma-ekwu) and he neither talks loudly nor goes out alone for twenty-eight days. This is because it is believed that his wife’s ghost will attack him if it sees him alone or hears his voice. He shaves his head (Iwe-Ishi) on the twenty-eight day.  He can invite his age group to take him to the market for celebration as the concluding rites.
 The funeral rite of a deceased is a thing that involves the relations and descendants to organize. The funeral rite of a man is consummated with the presentation of a cow by the relations / descendants to the clan with big ceremony. The sons- in-law shall prepare their wives in gorgeous attire and all shall proceed to the scene with accompanying dance group. Cow is used or its equivalent in cash pinned and displayed on palm stick as their major contribution to the occasion and it is called Ije-utu.
 The funeral rite of a woman (married one) is organized in such a way that the descendants and relations etc. dance along the street leading to their mother’s home in jubilation believing that their mother has died a good death and has lived a good life. Food, wine and other consumables do flow like water, as they shall invite groups, associations, individuals etc. It is  believed  in Ekwegbe that he who come must go back, the woman shall therefore be taken back to where she came from by the use of a piece of cloth to stand in place of the woman . This cloth is followed with a cow. The cloth belongs to the eldest man (Onyishi) of the clan of the woman.  The woman’s kins shall be ready to receive the mourners with some customary presents.
 It is a customary demand in Ekwegbe that a complete funeral be accorded a person otherwise the descendants must be denied it when it is their own turn. It is an abomination for a widow to die within one year of the death of her husband. If this happens, there will be no funeral rite for her. On the other hand, if a widower dies within one month of the death of his wife, he will not be accorded any funeral rite.
 Any funeral that was not done for the deceased within one year of his / her death graduates to a more elaborate one called Onwu Okochi.
 A son who has not accorded full funeral rites to his deceased father pays a little fine to his clan / village yearly (Ndurunye) until it is done.
 
IWA OJI (KOLANUT BREAKING)
 In Ekwegbe General Assembly, kolanuts are presented by each eldest man (Onyishi) from villages or any other person and collected in the traditional saucer called Nkpukpu. The Onyishi Ekwegbe shall be given kolanut from the lot to offer prayers with. The sharers are Umunwenyi in Amaogbodu of Amohu representing the first Aka-aya namely Ohumofia, Amohu, Ukopi and Amegbu in Amugwu n’ato of Ozeachalla representing the second Aka-aya namely Amonucha, Amudu, Ozeachalla. These are the two contextual Aka-aya (Akama Oha) grouping. If people from these Villages (Umunwenyi and Amegbu) are absent, any other persons from other villages in Amohu and Ozeachalla following their seniority order can equally perform the function. Also if people of Amohu and Ukopi are absent so that it remains Ohumofia people, any person from them, though they are the eldest quarter, can still participate in the breaking and sharing to maintain the status quo.
 After breaking of the kolanuts, a seed and a piece of it, depending on the quantity, are given to Ohumofia in recognition as the eldest quarter (Ichi Onyishi). Half of what was given to Ohumofia is given to Amonucha as the second eldest quarter. Some pieces of it are given to all Attama maa persons (chief priests of deities) by hand that is they do not pick from the saucer.
The Attama maa’s (chief priests of deities) are: -
1.     Attama Idenyi - Ohumofia (Ogbodu)
2.   Attama Ugwumbitima  –  Ohumofia    (Umuorogu)
3.   Attama Ugwuegele - Amonucha  (Aniagogwu)
4.   Attama Adehe   -  Amonucha (Ezamagu)
5.   Attama Iyikwu   - Amohu (Amaogbodu)
6. Attama Ezebem   - Amohu (Uwani Amohu)
7.  Attama Ururo  -  Amudu (Umuibe)
8.  Attama Ugwuapi   -  Amudu    (Ishamele okpe)
9.   Attama Idodo    - Ukopi (Ishiokpo)
10. Attama Ugwegede   -  Ukopi (Ishiokpo)
11.  Attama Ejarija  - Ozeachalla (Umuezenavu)
12. Attama Iyiokoro   -  Ozeachalla (Umuezenavu)
 A chunk of it is given to the Igwe of the community in recognition of his position. If eventually a woman is around, a piece of it is given to her that is she does not pick from the saucer. Such is done to non-indigenous persons. The sharers shall collect some pieces for their own use called Aka-Oke and announce that they have finished breaking the kolanuts.
 It is now ready for general picking according to seniority across the Aka-aya (Akama Oha) grouping, starting from Ohumofia till the kolanuts are exhausted or when every one has been given or collected.
 If the onyishi share is given to a person from Amaeshilagwo, then it is the right of another Amaeshilagwo man present to start off the picking. However, if there is no Amaeshilagwo person again, then the next eldest village in Ohumofia starts off the picking. As those given in the process of ichi onyishi do not pick, the rule stipulates that any village, which has picked gives chance for the next village in the same quarter to pick in the ensuing round. For instance, if it is the turn of Ukopi in a round and Amadulu village has already picked in the previous round, then it is the turn of the next elder village, Amuke, to pick in the round and so forth. Picking starts afresh in this order if the kola nuts still remain after each person has been given or picked. There is also seniority observance by people inside villages such that the elder picks kola nut before the younger.
 In a situation where Ohumofia people are absent in Ekwegbe general assembly or any other gathering, Amohu quarter automatically becomes the eldest and therefore should be accorded recognition as done to Ohumofia if they were present and the system continues.

LAND / LANDED PROPERTY OWNERSHIP
 It is the custom in Ekwegbe that the girl child does not inherit both movable and immovable property of her parents and a man has all the customary rights to take over the property of his late wife.
Now, if an unmarried man dies, all his property goes to his immediate brothers or other relations (male ones) if he has no brother. If a Childless married man dies, his landed property would be under the wife’s supervision and use for one year only after which she relinquishes them to the male relations of her late husband.  If a man that is married to one wife or many wives and with male children dies, the eldest son acquires his landed property. His land is made use of by the other sons under the permission of the eldest son. If he married many wives with many male children from both wives and his property are to be shared, the number of his wives determines the number of shares. Each wife then goes to her own child / children with her own share. If a man decides to share out his property, both movable and immovable in his lifetime to his children, what each one gets is at the man’s discretion. 

OMUGO
 The birth of a child is a happy occasion in Ekwegbe.When a child is born, the father normally goes to his inlaws himself to break the news. There shall be jubilation galore by the members of the family and even beyond. The mother inlaw shall first of all go to her in-laws place to confirm the news. She now returns and starts to inform her relations of this and her intention to present condiments (Ikpaje abubo) to the inlaw. That day, the father inlaw will present a goat (or sheep etc.) with some wine. The son inlaw will treat them to a party. After the occasion, they will go home without the mother inlaw who stays back to offer some assistance to the daughter such as bathing the daughter and the child. There is circumcision of the child on the 8th day. There is also ‘Nku Omugo’ event by the inlaws.
  The child is called Obochi (if he / she lives, we see) till the sixteenth day when the naming ceremony will be conducted. This is done by consulting a diviner. Palm fruits are collected from palm trees of the clan members called Igbu Ekwu Omugo
  On the twenty-sixth day, the mother inlaw shall present her own Nri-omugo, which includes food and condiments. Those consumables belong to the Nrimaa and Nriekwu titled ones in the clan. The relations of both families shall present their own Nri-Omugo on the twenty-seventh day. This also belongs to the Nrimaa and Nriekwu titled ones.
 The twenty-eighth day is the final day of the Omugo period and it is occasioned by official introduction and outing of the child to the members of the clan.  On this day, the son inlaw shall give some cloths to the inlaws, the wife, his mother and other relations. He shall treat every one to a party. He shall also present a jar of palm wine to the clan members to show appreciation for the Ekwu-Omugo he collected from them. The men members of the clan do donate money to the child called Itinye Nwa Ihe N’ aka on this day.
 
THE OHA TITLE (OHA EKWEGBE)
 The Oha council (the collection of Oha title holders) is a revered institution in the community. It is an exclusive investiture for the native male folk in the community. Normally, an Oha titleholder should be wealthy, gentle, responsible, charismatic and a star in oratory. The heir to an Oha titled man, who must be a son of the deceased Oha man, can inherit his title through the process called “Ina Aka Oha”. This requires a low-keyed hosting of the Oha titleholders to renew the title of the deceased and the consequent initiation of the heir.
Oha Title Taking (Ichi Oha) has neither age nor place of birth limitation. The basic requirements are interest and the ability to host the titleholders and provide the requirements for the investiture to their satisfaction.
The steps are: -
First Hosting the Onyishi, Ebonebo and Oha title holders in the village of the aspirant to formally announce his intensions (Igo Ama).
Second Hosting the Oha titled ones only in the village.
Third Hosting the Oha titled ones, the eldest men and youths of the quarter. The aspirant announces his Oha title name at this level and receives the staff.
Fourth Hosting the Oha titleholders in the Akama Oha (Aka-Aya) where the aspirant comes from. This is Akama Oha.
Final  Hosting the Oha Ekwegbe titled ones at Ekwegbe level that culminates in the confernment of the Oha Ekwegbe title on the aspirant.
The investiture is consummated with the aspirant receiving the title staff and announcing again his same or different Oha title name.
NOTE:  The participation of Oha titled ones in the different stages of Oha investiture is a function of the stages they are. 

FUNCTIONS
• Wades into land disputations and infightings voluntarily or on invitation.
• Custodian of the provisions of the customs and traditions of the community.
• Offers complementary functions for community governance.
• They represent Ekwegbe in the settlement of inter-community clashes.
 
NDI ONYISHI (THE COUNCIL OF THE ELDEST MEN)
 Where as Ohaship position is a function of wealth and interest, the Onyishi position is a function of age and divinity. An Onyishi is the eldest person / man in a village. Ndi Onyishi is therefore the collection of all the eldest men from villages across the community. The council of Ndi-Onyishi is also revered. Onyishi position is not achieved but inherited. Each Onyishi holds “OFO” of his village/clan.
 
FUNCTIONS
• The chief custodian of the customs and traditions of the community.
• Wades into land disputes and infightings etc voluntarily or by invitation.
• Offers complementary functions for community governance.
• By virtue of their position, they give definitive decisions on some important issues
 
ICHI ONYISHI
 Irrespective of the fact that the Onyishi position is not achieved but inherited, the person who has inherited it must treat his people to a party to formally institutionalize his/her position. By this, he/she is qualified to be accorded all his/ her entitlements and recognition from his/ her people as their Onyishi.

NRI-MAA TITLE
 This is an exclusive title for the male folk in Ekwegbe community. When a male child is born and after some birth ceremonies are done, it is a customary demand that the child must go through the process of initiation in the clan to be regarded as a full-fledged member. This is done through the organizing of Nrimaa party for the male members of the clan who are equally the Nrimaa titled ones.
The procedures are: -
1. Presentation of   an agreed sum of money to be shared by the Nrimaa titled ones.
2. Hosting of the Nrimaa titled ones with the provision of the agreed items for the party.
The title can be accorded a male individual at any stage of development preferably the childhood stage. A person who has been accorded an Nrimaa title is called a Nwa-maa (son of the god). An Ogbodu is the one that has not taken the Nrimaa title.

IGEDE TITLE
 This is the smallest and staffless title in Ekwegbe community. It is open to men as well as women. The requirements are interest and the ability to provide the agreed amount of money to the village/ clan in question. The aspirant, after presentation of the money, shall dance the Igede music at the square on the appointed date after which he or she is addressed as Obo-Igede of that village/clan. This is unlike other titles in which the holders do have some share in the subsequent hosting by aspirants. Igede and Echo music are beaten during deaths and funerals etc.  

NRI-EKWU TITLE
 This is the title for the married women in the community. When a woman is married to a man, it is a customary demand that the woman takes an Nri-Ekwu title for her to be socially installed in the fold of her married women counterpart in the clan who are Nriekwu titled ones. It is therefore the duty of the woman; her husband, her parents, her friends, her mother inlaw, her father inlaw etc or a partial or total combination of them to organize the Nriekwu party to the Nriekwu titled ones.
The procedures are
• Presentation of an agreed sum of money to be shared by the Nriekwu titled ones.
• Hosting of the Nriekwu titled ones with the provision of the agreed items for the party.
A woman who has taken the Nriekwu title is called Nwa-maa (daughter of the god). A married woman who has not taken the Nriekwu title is called Ogbodu. 
 
UMUEZUGWU TITLE
 This title is for the women folk only and equivalent to Oha title.  The aspirant hosts Ndi Onyishi, Ndi Oha and youths to take the title if there are no Umuezugwu titled ones. She is given a carved calabash as the title staff. The titleholder is an honourable one and regarded as a woman leader therefore handles feminine matters in her Village. The Umuezugwu titleholders cannot be chased by Omaba masquerade and can visit Ndi Oha during Oha title taking. Palm oil collected yearly from the six quarters of Ekwegbe belongs to the Umuezeugwu tittle holders. 
 
NKWA IKE
The heroic sounding music is beaten by Aniagogwu, Umuorogu, Ishamele Okpe and Ukopi because of Ugwuegele, Ugwumbitima, and Ugwuapi and Ugwegede deities the dancers are lion killers, ancient warlords and the chief priests of the deities mentioned above. It is beaten when any of those chief priests or dancers dies and other matters that need urgent attention. It is also beaten at Onu Ugwuapi or on Igba-Agbo day /period.
 
AGE GROUP (EGU)
 Men and women group themselves by age into social sects called ‘Egu’.
 
FUNCTIONS
? Celebrate fortunes with members
? Mourn the deaths of members and their parents etc.
? They used to fight wars in the past.
? Check community abominations among members.
? Offer assistance in community development and upkeep.
 
BLACKSMITHING (IKPU UZU)
 This is the practice of subjecting metal materials to high-level heat intensity to make it malleable for reshaping and repairing. It is here that some farming implements like hoes, cutlasses, spades etc are made and repaired. Agulu Ugwu Eriom in Amudu and Etiti-Amohu provide the service in the community.
 
RAIN MAKING (ISHE IGWE/MIRI)
 It is the peoples belief that the rain is made and controlled with some mystical powers. That is why the people that are believed to have such powers are consulted so that rain will not disrupt people’s ceremonies.  In severe drought during which crops and animals die, the community usually approach the rainmakers to make rain. Those, it is believed, that provide the services are Okpuhu and Umuezealoke both in Ukopi, Ede-Idenyi of Ogbodu in Ohumofia, Ede Ugwuapi of Amudu and Amonucha. It is also believed that Okpuhu people do make hamattan.

RECREATION
 When farm work is concluded, Ekwegbe people do engage themselves in some indoor and outdoor games to while away the time and avoid idleness. One of these leisurely games is the native draughts called ECHA. It is a two-man game. It is normally played on a bar of hard wood on which forty rectangular and similar shallow holes, twenty on each side, are grooved (Ugbo Echa) with ninety ball-like dry seeds called ECHA. The people also gather at the recreational centre (village square) called ‘Obodo’ and stay on stairs–like hardwood construction (Igbe) for interactions and relaxation.   Wrestling takes place at various squares and mostly during Eja festival. Odabara, Okango, Echo, Ode, Obobo-Igwe music, Abuga, Ajibo, Nwangwu, Anama (Ikorodo) etc. are recreational music in the community.

CLAIMS AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION BY OATH TAKING

 Accusation cases are left for the gods to prove as well as unravel some mysteries in Ekwegbe community. If a person is accused of heinous abomination like murder, poisoning, stealing etc, the accuser is finally asked to take the accused to a deity or idol for him/her to take oath by. If she/he takes the oath, a 28 – day grace is given to the accused in such a way that if a calamity like death or accident etc befalls him/her within the period, it is taken that he/she actually committed the offence. He/she faces sanctions by his people; age group and other social organizations his/she belonged.  However, if no calamity befell him/her within the time, it is taken that the accused did not commit the offence and the accuser must treat the age group of him/her to a party as a cleansing approach. New clothes are given to the accused (females only) by the accuser as a concluding event.
 
TEN – CHILDREN CEREMONY
Ability for mothers to give birth to many children is revered in Ekwegbe. If a woman gives birth to nine children, a sheep is used to celebrate the achievement for her personal god (chi). A cow is used in the respect if a woman gives birth to ten children.

FESTIVALS

AMA: - This is the period when married women visit their native homes for ancestral and heritage re-discovery, enjoyment and affection. This is during the month of March/April every year. The women do take to their parents some presents like fowls, yams etc for subsequent Ama visits or ten tubers of yam and a goat or ram etc if it is the first Ama visit (Ama Odii). Umuanwugma in Umuokparanzu gives official date for Ama festival (Ika-Ama).
EGBA CHUKWU: - This is a feast celebrated annually in Ekwegbe in recognition and honour of the creator. It is divided into two parts:-
CHUKWU-UYA:-It is a feast in which it is the customary duty of the wife to host the family. It takes places in July. 
CHUKWU-UDUMIRI: - Here, the father of the family hosts the members of his family. It takes place in November.
EJA: - This signifies the end of food scarcity period in the community. The festival ushers in the period of harvest and the eating of the new yam. It is an offence before the god of yam to eat new yam before the festival. That is why some farmers who collect new yams from their farms hide them by covering them with grasses, leaves or whatever. New yams are neither sold nor bought in any of the Ekwegbe markets before the Eja festival. It is an abomination to organize any funeral rite for a person who died within the Eja period until it is over. Okpuhu people in Ishamele Ukopi are the Eze Nri (Eze Uha or Ovua m afo) in Ekwegbe. They therefore handle cases of food, food crops, economic trees abuse and damages of crops by domestic animals. They give the official date of Eja festival.
The most outstanding high light of Eja festival is the wrestling competition called Ote-Eja. The selected able-bodied men from different age groups engage each other in wrestling matches amidst supporters and spectators in squares called Ozuobodo in Amonucha for Akamenu zone and Obodo Amaogbodu for Akamani zone respectively. The grande finale is at Obodo-Egwu in Ohumofia between the two zones. The rule is that one of the wrestlers will make a small heap of sand and his opponent levels it down and the game starts. Eja takes place in August. Black beans meal (Akpuru akidi eja) is specially prepared that day.
EKEPUTU – This is an honour-oriented event in which men carry big tubers of yam to give in respect of their forefathers at a place called Onu-Ndi-Ushi. The eldest of the kindred takes the yams.  It takes place in October.
EGBA UGWUAPI – This is a feast observed in honour of Ugwuapi Ekwegbe. Exotic harvests are offered by Ekwegbe people at onu Ugwuapi on this day. It is ushered in by Nkwa Ike music, which is beaten early in the morning at onu Ugwu on that day. Youths run round the community chanting and drumming on this day (usually Eke day). Heroes drop their catches at onu Ugwuapi when they return. Igba Agbo Ugwuapi comes after this occasion. Egba Ugwuapi takes place in October of every year.
DIOBI – It is a special day in which sons inlaw with their wives visit their fathers and mothers inlaw for feasting together. It takes place in October / November of non-Omaba years (odd -number years like 2005, 2007 etc).
FIJIOKU – This is the god of yam. The feast signifies the completion of the native calendar year. It is a feast in which the people express their appreciation to the god of yam for the previous farming season and solicit for her blessings in the next farming season they are about to set out. This prayer is accompanied with the killing of cock or goat etc and sprinkling of the blood on the farm tools gathered together at the god of yam shrine called Onu-Fijioku as sacrifice. The next farming activities commence after the festival. It takes place in the late December of every year. The Ugele music beaten by Ezamagu in Amonucha consummates the fijioku festival. 

HEALTH CARE
Diseases are cured with the administration of some herbs collected around, viz:
CUT: - liquid squeezed out from the fresh leaves of Eupathorium odoratum is rubbed on the cut or application of earth on the cut or mere placing the back of an oji-azu-eje leave on the cut etc.
STOMACH UPSET: - The patient drinks palm oil, warm water with salt etc.
MALARIA: - Ogere (a bitter herb), Onugbu-agu, Ogwu-akiri, Egbu etc are used.
ACHES AND PAINS: - The patient gets near the fire for the body to get heated or lies on the bed that rests on fulcrums above the fire.
MEASLES: - The patient drinks fresh palm wine and rubs it all over the body for rashes to appear on the surface of the body. Then the cooked oil bean leaves are used to bath the patient. The black liquid substance (Uri) is rubbed round the eyes to prevent it from infesting the eyes.
SNAKE/SCORPION/CENTIPEDE BITES: - The very first aid is to kill the creature. The position is tied against the entire body to prevent the poison from getting into the brain or heart of the victim. The point is cut open to squeeze out the contaminated blood in the area. If it is scorpion, the patient will eat it roasted, eat raw onion. Some herbs including Aramjila leaves are collected, mixed and rubbed at the point. The patient is asked to go and sleep so that the spirit of the scorpion will think that it has killed its victim and therefore goes. Unlike the snakebite in which the victim is not allowed to sleep because it is believed that the venom may enter the brain or heart while asleep. Ibodo, made with Ikpereodu, is tied round the ankle or wrist as a sign of security of the patient.
CHILD DELIVERY: - If a pregnant mother experiences labour, a traditional birth attendant is sent for. She comes and takes her into yam barn. She then concocts a mixture with herbs and gives her and she delivers.
DISLOCATION AND FRACTURE: - An assembled device of plant material called Mgbaji-Okpukpu is tied round the point. Some herbs are also administered and the damaged or dislodged bones set and strengthen. This is done by Umu igiri ogu in Umuezenoba of Amohu.
 In alternative to the above medications, Ekwegbe people do consult diviners to disclose to them the cause of their life failures, temptations or sicknesses etc. The diviners use a device made of plant and animal materials called Eha or a tortoise carapace with some preparations called ‘pipi’ etc to perform the magic. It is their believe that whatever they tell them is true and therefore do not hesitate in conducting any appeasement as they direct them. They even approach herbalists in some situations.
 Other ailments that are not mentioned above have ever–defied traditional cure methodologies with indigenous herbs.
 
EDUCATION

 Ekwegbe people did not enjoy the dividends of early education. This was because of some social impediments, value system, ignorance and culture conflict resulting from culture contact. However, Ekwegbe community has done creditably well in education as she has produced a considerable number of graduates and postgraduates in various disciplines. Ekwegbe community is yet to produce a professor.
There are currently nine primary and five post primary schools in the community, viz:

PRIMARY SCHOOLS

1. Central School, Ekwegbe.
2. Community Primary School, Ekwegbe.
3. Community Primary School, Agu-Ekwegbe.
4. Hill top Primary School, Ukopi.
5. Amonucha Primary School, Amonucha.
6. Migrant School, Ozeachalla.
7. Migrant farmers’ Children’s School, Ugwugolodu, Agu-Ekwegbe.
8. Primary School of Nomads, Agu-Ekwegbe.
9. Ohayi Memorial Primary School, Amohu-Ekwegbe.
 
POST PRIMARY SCHOOLS

i. Community High School, Ekwegbe.
ii. Community Secondary School, Ukopi.
iii. Success Comprehensive Secondary School, Amonucha, Ekwegbe.
iv. Royal College, Amohu.
v. Brain Field Standard Secondary School, Ekwegbe.

CHRISTIANITY

 The first church to be established in Ekwegbe Community is The Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.) now The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion in 1931. The Igede misunderstanding that existed between Oha-Ama and Oha-Eze groups brought about the coming of the second one, The Roman Catholic Mission (R.C.M.) in July 1933. These two are the first generation churches in the community. Other ones are second-generation churches, which arrived at the community in the recent past.
 The Oha-Ama and Oha-Eze politics brought about the introduction of The Roman Catholic Mission in Ekwegbe. According to (David Agbo et al), Ekwegbe community government forbade Oha-Ama group from beating their Igede music but permitted Oha-Eze group to be beating their own. This group   (Oha-Ama) disobediently beat their Igede music and squabble ensued between Oha-Ama and Oha-Eze groups. Then the Oha-Eze group, supported by Ekwegbe government, went to Opi customary court and instituted the case against the Oha-Ama group. The case could not be decided at this court and it was transferred to then Igbo-Etiti district court at Nsukka.
 One of the white men, who was the presiding judge, asked the two rival groups to come with their Igede music and beat for him to see them practically. After seeing the music, he asked both groups to continue to beat their Igede music the way they liked inasmuch as it is nothing but music. This was the verdict. The Oha-Eze group was not satisfied with the judgment. They returned and started campaigning against the Oha-Ama because of their indiscipine and excommunicated them in everything especially going to school and church together with them at the C.M.S., the only church by then in the community.
 The Oha-Eze group with the support of Ekwegbe government went to Rev. Father Millet at Nsukka and requested for his church to establish at Ekwegbe When the church was brought, it was established first at Ezamagu village in Amonucha before relocating to Agu–Owere Amonucha. The Oha-Eze, in conjunction with Ekwegbe community, mounted a heavy campaign against the Oha-Ama group and branded C.M.S. “the church of Oha-Ama group who were not in good terms with Ekwegbe”.  The present location of the R.C.M. at the heart of the town near Eke market was made in the recent past.
The campaign resulted in some people who were already members of C.M.S. withdrawing and declaring for R.C.M. Even some non-Christians started to troop out in their large numbers and joined the R.C.M. This diminished the number of the members of the C.M.S. adversely. This is the origin and one of the reasons why the R.C.M. members are greater than that of the C.M.S. by population today in Ekwegbe.Ekwegbe com munity did not hesitate in jumping on the bandwagon of accepting the western religion hook, line and sinker. There are only eight western religious denominations in Ekwegbe presently, viz: -
i. The Church Missionary Society now Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion.
ii. The Roman Catholic Mission–RCM.
iii. The Redeemed Evangelical Mission–TREM.
iv. The Deeper Life Ministry- DLM.
v. Christ Holy Church (a.k.a Odozi Obodo).
vi. Assemblies of God Church.
vii. Born Again Christian Church.
viii. All Christian Prayer Band, Ekwegbe.
 
IMPACT OF FOREIGN RELIGION

 The presence of foreign religion is felt both positively and negatively in Ekwegbe. As a matter of fact, about ninety-eight percent of Ekwegbe people are Christians. The remaining percentage is an admixture of etheists and non-Christians without commitment. For short, it has almost deadened the practices of idol worshiping and patronage in Ekwegbe community.
 Foreign religion has contributed in no small measure in deteriorating and debilitating the dexterity with which our people participate and patronize other liberal and acceptable customs and traditions like Omaba, Ama festival etc just like the proverbial tenant who came and displaced the landlord. Village square clearing and sweeping which are by custom the exclusive duties of married women have been virtually stopped across the community. This is because they (the women) claim that there are icons of idols in the squares and not idols themselves. Ama festival which is a period when married women visit their families of origin with presents for ancestral and heritage re-discovery, enjoyment and affection had been put to rest in the pretext that they are diabolic and unclean and therefore against their faith let alone Omaba masquerade and its comedy and uncommon power of cohesion has lost its potency.
 The age long method of consummating the funeral rites of deceased member of a family by the presentation of a cow by the immediate relations or descendants to the entire members of the bereaved clan/village has been contemptuously disorganized. This is because, in the event of this, the cow is diverted to the members of the church to which the deceased belonged when he/she was alive instead of the customary and rightful owners.
 
AGRICULTURE

Ekwegbe is an agrarian community. She has an expansive and fecund arable land at Agu Ekwegbe where her men and women engage in agriculture and food production with some agricultural mechanization. She produces yam, cassava, banana, cocoyam, water yam, maize, pumpkin, okro, pepper, cotton wool, palm produce, kola nuts, timber, leguminous crops, fiofio (Cajanus cajan) etc in large quantities. To make farm work easier, men and women do organize themselves into work groups and rotate group farm work amongst them called ‘Igba Ohu Oru’. Ekwegbe people also engage in wine tapping, hunting and livestock.
From February to May is the planting period while from August to January is the period of harvest. Ekwegbe people do not practice irrigation system. Virtually an average Ekwegbe man is a potential farmer. 

TRADE AND COMMERCE

 Trading business is a new generation occupation in Ekwegbe community. It is interesting to note here that despite that Ekwegbe people did not enjoy the early moving advantage in trade and commerce, the sector developed far beyond other sectors in the community. Ekwegbe people engage in various commodities merchandise across the country and in diaspora.
 This sector presently constitutes the bulk of wealthiest people in the community who have contributed immensely in the development and upkeep of the community. 
 
KINGSHIP IN EKWEGBE

 Kingship is associated with dignity and respect. It is more of dignity than status. Kingship originated from Igala dynasty. It is related with power, prosperity and richness. It goes by name EZE in our area. In Igbo context, the king is regarded as the highest man in the society but varies from place to place or community to community. King (EZE) has special attire. In Ekwegbe, it is known as AWURU EZE. In Ekwegbe, kingship originated from Ishamelu Ohumofia in Ohumofia. The Onyishi EZE hails from there. The significance of EZEship in Ekwegbe depends on the family who performed it. It is by the ceremony (Echichi EZE). During this time, many cows, yams, goats, etc are provided as a mark of the ceremony. The kingship in Ekwegbe is very exclusive to certain people. The only king (EZE) who took title of EZEship in Ekwegbe dated as far back as 1902 was Okenyi Nechi from Ezamagu in Amonucha. After the costly ceremony, he assumed the position of EZE. Okwoka Nwezema, from Ishamelu Ohumofia, later purportedly assassinated the man, Okenyi Nechi, in the same year, 1902. The purported assassin, Okwoka Nwezema, later fled the community to Nike now in Enugu East local government area of Enugu state (Ekwegbe Archives Records, 1902-1906).
 In Ekwegbe context, the highest in nature of custom is Onyishi Ekwegbe from Amaeshilagwo of Ohumofia, but by Ekwegbe constitution of 1976-1977, the Igwe is regarded as a leader hence the entire community gives him the highest honour and respect. The Igweship in Ekwegbe is not hereditary but rotatory.
THE IGWESHIP
 The Igweship is the transformation of Ezeship and so IGWE is the aberrant EZE. The Igweship is the most revered elective post in the community. The person (male one only) that occupies the position is called ‘Igwe’ of the community. He is by virtue of his position the first citizen in the community and regarded as such.
 By Ekwegbe constitution of 1976, the position is not inherited but rotatory.
 
FUNCTIONS

? He is the Chief of the town.
? He represents Ekwegbe community.
? He represents Ekwegbe together with Ndi Oha in settlement of inter-community clashes.
? He presides over EGA meetings in conjunction with the Onyishi Ekwegbe.
? He sees that his subjects live in peace, tranquility and cohesion.
? He is the chief custodian of the customs and traditions of the community.
? He makes peace amongst his subjects who are in dispute.
? He constitutes and commissions outfits for aspects of community governance.
? He is the security boss of the community.
 
IGWE’S CABINET

This is a collection of responsible people across the community who meet as a group to make decision or advise the Igwe on community governance. The constitution is based on the Igwe’s discretion with particular reference to distributive representation across the six quarters in Ekwegbe community. The choice of members of the cabinet is therefore relative and may vary from Igwe to Igwe.
 
POLITICS

Modern political development has not yet reached sophistication in Ekwegbe community like what obtains in other communities. Politics and political participation appear to be new to our people. Nonetheless, Ekwegbe community was able to secure some meager political appointments/positions in the recent past, viz:
In 1979-1983, Ekwegbe produced a member of the then Anambra state house of Assembly, representing Igbo Etiti North Federal constituency comprising Diogbe, Ekwegbe, Ohodo, Ozalla, Umuna and Umunko.
In 1984, Ekwegbe produced the majority leader of the same house, which lasted for three months only.
In 1992-1993, Ekwegbe produced a member of the Federal House of Representatives.
In 1994-1996, Ekwegbe produced a member of the Igbo-Etiti Local Government Caretaker Committee.
1n 1999-2003, Ekwegbe produced a member of the Federal House of Representatives comprising Igbo-Etiti and Uzo-Uwani Local Government Areas. 
 During the tenure of Dr. Chimaraoke Nnamani in the PDP led government, Ekwegbe indigenes occupied some political posts/appointments like a State Commissioner, Supervisory Councilors, and Education Secretary of Igbo-Etiti L.G.A. Education Authority etc. But till date Ekwegbe community is yet to occupy the exalted chairmanship seat of the Igbo Etiti Local Government Area.
 
EKWEGBE GENERAL ASSEMBLY (EGA)

 This is an aggregation of the Ekwegbe men at Obodo Ekwegbe It is the highest ruling body in Ekwegbe community. One thing that is peculiar to this assembly is that nothing is ever done in haste because all the customary provisions of doing things in the assembly are strictly observed and adhered to. The snail speed of the Kolanut presentation, breaking and picking always appears to be more important than the issue to be discussed however urgent, pressing or sensitive.
 Another peculiarity is that where as other bodies can hold their meetings at any venue of their choice, this one is always at Obodo Amaeshilagwo in Ohumofia  The town crier is the medium through which notice of the date and time of the meeting gets to the six federating quarters.
 The moderation of the meeting is by the Igwe of the community in conjunction with the Onyishi Ekwegbe who must be the eldest man in Amaeshilagwo village in Ohumofia Ekwegbe.
 
FUNCTIONS

1. Ratifies other bodies’ resolutions and projects proposals for implementation.
2. Defines rights, responsibilities and roles of other governing bodies.
3. Receives fines from defaulters of community byelaws.
4. Makes byelaws for the community.
5. Settles disputes when invited to.
 
EKWEGBE DEVELOPMENT UNION (EDU)

 This is the Ekwegbe Town Union. This body is made up of the democratically elected literate representatives from the six federating quarters in the community. The constitution of the body is such that all the operative posts/offices of the body are shared out to quarters and in rotation arrangement for each quarter to elect and present its own official as it pleases to ensure equity, equal representation and participation. Normally the constituting of the new officers is when the previous ones have completed their tenure of three years only.
FUNCTIONS
1. Offers some complementary functions in the governance of the community.
2. Conducts the oversight functions in any project embarked upon by the community.
3. Acts as the buffer and integrator of the other bodies like Ndi-Oha, Ndi-Onyishi, the Igwe, the Igwe’s cabinet etc.
4. Organizes sporting activities through a committee during yuletide.

POLITICAL GROUPS

 There are presently two different but complementary political outfits in Ekwegbe Community. They are:-
1. Ekwegbe Awareness Forum (EAF), the sole publisher of a monthly Magazine, “The Awareness Magazine”.
2. Ekwegbe Solidarity Group (ESG).
 
OBSERVATION AND CONCLUSION

 Custom is an established socially accepted practice of the society. Tradition is the body of principles, beliefs, practices, experience etc passed down from the past to the present. Custom and tradition are therefore inextricable and constitute the totality of people’s way of life. Aberle et al defined culture as the totality of life of the people: the tools, implements, technology, skill, norms, values, ideas and beliefs prevalent in a place which a people learn, share and transmit from generation to another.
 In the course of this project, the researcher observed that what is obtainable presently as regards people’s way of life in Ekwegbe community has undergone some changes as a result of cultural dynamism. The envisaged result is that in the near future, the life of our people would muddle along and probably get stuck inasmuch as the customs and traditions that define it are in extinction.
 It therefore behoves on the patriotic, responsible and Godly individuals in the community to mobilize the people to revitalize and reactivate our customs and traditions because a cultureless fellow is synonymous with a sheep without a committed shepherd.  

REFERENCES
 
Ani. (1999), Nigerian People and Culture.  A lecture note.
Clement, H.A. (1954), The History of the Ancient World.
Ejifugha, A.U. (1998), Fundamentals of Research In Health Education.     Barloz publishers
Ekwegbe Community Archives Records, (1902-1906).
Hornby, A.S. (2000), Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary New York: Oxford University Press.
Obasi; E.(1988), Introductory Sociology for Nigerian Teachers.  Nigeria: KayBeeCee Publications Ltd.
Obasi, E. (1988), Understanding Education and Society in Nigeria.             Nigeria: KayBeeCee Publications Ltd.
Okoro, J.I. (1992), A frincan Humanities.   Nigeria: Mekslink Publishers.
Procter, P. (1978), Longman Dictionary Of Contemporary English. Great Britain: The Pitman Press
Samuel, Edet (2003), Historicworld Publicaion. Samuel Ventures (Rc 117218), Ebute Meta (West), Lagos.

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