Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Biography of Late General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (Ikemba Nnewi)

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was born on November 4, 1933 at Zungeru in northern Nigeria to Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu Ojukwu, a businessman from Nnewi in southeastern Nigeria. Sir Louis was into transport business; he made a wise use of the business boom during the Second World War to become one of the richest men in Nigeria when he passed in 1966. So it could be rightly said that Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was born into wealth.                        
Emeka, as he was fondly called, began his educational career in Kings College, Lagos in southwestern Nigeria. He got into trouble by participating in anti-colonial demonstrations with such seniors as Anthony Enahoro. At 13, his father sent him overseas to Great Britain to study at Epsom College, England. He left Epsom at 18 for Lincoln College, Oxford. At Oxford University, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in modern history. After graduate studies, he retuned to colonial Nigeria. This was in 1956.
Expected to take his father's business, he instead joined the civil service in Eastern Nigeria as an Administrative Officer at Udi, in present-day Enugu State, where he was exposed to the beauty of Waawaland.  In 1957, within months of working with the colonial civil service, he left and joined the military as one of the first and few university graduates to join the army: O. Olutoye (1956); C. Odumegwu-Ojukwu (1957), E. A. Ifeajuna and C. O. Rotimi (1960), and A. Ademoyega (1962). In his case, he joined as an infantry recruit  because the colonial officers would not let him into the officer corps, no thanks to his father's pulling of strings to keep him out of the army. But no one lights a candle and puts it under the bed. Odumegwu-Ojukwu soon got his way and went on to undergo required military training in Ghana and later back in England.
Officer Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s popular background and sound education guaranteed his promotion to higher ranks. Besides, as at 1956, the Nigerian  Military Forces had 250 officers and only 15 were Nigerians. There were 6,400 other ranks, of which 336 were British. It is not surprising that he is N/29 and that the army found in valuable training resources in the young man. (W. U. Bassey was N/1, while JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi was N/2; the first Nigerian to be commissioned as an officer, Lieutenant L. V. Ugboma, left in 1948) Odumegwu-Ojukwu has an understandably fast rise in the military, eventually becoming the Quartermaster General.
Ojukwu came into national prominence upon his appointment as military governor in 1966 and his actions thereafter. A military coup against the civilian Nigerian federal government in January 1966 and a counter coup in July 1966 by different military factions, perceived to be ethnic coups, resulted in pogroms in Northern Nigeria in which Igbos were predominantly killed. Ojukwu who was not an active participant in either coup was appointed the military governor of Nigeria's Eastern region in January 1966 by General Aguyi Ironsi.
In 1967, great challenges confronted the Igbos of Nigeria with the coup d’etat of 15 January 1966 led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu who was widely considered to be an outstanding progressive and was buried with full military honours when killed by those he fought against. His coup d’etat was triggered by political lawlessness, and uncontrolled looting and lacing in the streets of Western Nigeria. Unfortunately the Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello; the Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Tafawa Balewa; the Premier of the Western Region,Chief Ladoke Akintola and the Finance Minister, Chief Festus Okotie Eboh (among others including military officers) were killed in the process. The pogrom of Igbos followed in Northern Nigeria beginning in July 1966.Eventually, then Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu declared Biafra's Independence on 30 May 1967. (Biafra- 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970).
He took part in talks to seek an end to the hostilities by seeking peace with the then Nigerian military leadership, headed by General Yakubu Gowon (Nigeria's head of state following the July 1966 counter coup).  
Colonel Odumegwu-Ojukwu never lost faith in a peaceful solution of the crises, even though citizens of Eastern Nigeria were so traumatized they generally wanted nothing more to do with their fellow citizens-turned-killers. Yet he persisted on the path of peace. First, he insisted that the military hierarchy must be preserved; in which case, Brigadier Ogundipe should take over leadership, not Colonel Gowon. But Ogundipe no longer had the stomach to deal with a riotous army; he was easily convinced to step out and into the Nigerian High Commission in London. On September 29, the final phase of the planned Pogrom was executed, marked by its brutal bestiality. Still, while coping with the mass return of maimed and bruised brethrens from the North and West, Odumegwu-Ojukwu persevered; even when it had become obvious to his people that the basis for unity had been irreparably eroded, he still talked with whomever would listen. He never lost faith in seizing the moment to fashion out a lasting legacy for generations yet unborn.
And so they ended up in Aburi, Ghana on January 4, 1967 for a peace conference hosted by General Joseph Ankrah. The brilliance of Colonel Odumegwu-Ojukwu was apparent throughout the talk. He succeeded in convincing his colleagues to sign off on what became known as “Aburi Accord.” Just when everyone thought that Nigeria was back on the path of peace, Colonel Gowon reneged and proceeded to split the Eastern Region unilaterally into three states on May 27, 1967! Three days later on May 30, 1967 and based on the mandate of the Eastern Nigerian Constituent Assembly, Colonel Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign state to be known as BIAFRA:
On July 6, 1967, Gowon declared war and attacked Biafra. And the Nigeria-Biafra War ensued. It was an international war, NOT a "civil war"; Biafra was already a sovereign state.  Besides, there was nothing civil about wars.  This war was  most brutal and even barbaric.  For 30 bloody months, the war raged on. Now General Odumegwu-Ojukwu knew that the odds against the new republic was overwhelming, but he preferred to fight for what is right and defend the sovereignty of Biafra against what was obviously an illegitimate regime of General Yakubu Gowon. The unholy Anglo-Soviet alliance, using rogue Egyptian mercenaries fresh from the war with Israel, pounded Biafra and Biafrans with armaments big and small, including the use of hunger as a weapon of war – which resulted in the ravaging kwashiorkor.
Biafra lasted for 30 eventful months during which a potential, indigenous African superpower almost emerged. But the forces against Biafra were enormous. On January 9, 1970, General Odumegwu-Ojukwu handed over power to his second in command, Chief of General Staff Major-General Philip Effiong (now late), and left for Côte d’Ivoire, where  President Felix Houphöet-Boigny -- who had recognized Biafra on May 14, 1968 -- granted him political asylum.
By January 12, 1970, Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo -- who was hell-bent on capturing the Biafra leader alive, so as not to make him martyr and to avoid continued conflict, he claimed -- had to deal with General Effiong. Obasanjo accepted the instruments of cessation of hostilities in Owerri. These were ratified at a formal ceremony in Lagos, presided over by General Gowon. Obasanjo went on to become the head of state, following the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed on Friday, February 13, 1976. On October 1, 1979, Obasanjo stepped down for an elected regime.
After 13 years in exile, the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari granted an official pardon to Odumegwu-Ojukwu and opened the road for a triumphant return in 1982. The people of Nnewi gave him the now very famous title of “Ikemba” (Power of the people), while the entire Igbo nation called him “Dikedioramma” (Beloved hero). He was indeed a beloved hero.
General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu is a quintessential Igbo man: proud, ambitious, and intelligent... even arrogant, as many would accuse. Here is a young man who at 33 had the fate of a nation thrust onto him, and he did not disappoint. He is a rare gem, the unconquered spirit of the Igbo personified. It is not surprising albeit ironic that in 2003 the Igbo once again turned to the same person, who had led them in a war to get out of Nigeria’s gyre, to lead them in a political battle back to Nigeria's now-centralized center in Abuja.
The political foray ended in the now called "4/19" fiasco, a complete corruption of the electoral process. In the aftermath of the rigged elections, Odumegwu-Ojukwu teamed up with other parties, including General Muhammadu Buhari, who had jailed him, to fight the result of the reelection of President Obasanjo in the courts of law. This latest fight still drags on, and the patience of the people is running on low.
Following the sudden success of the 26 August sit-at-home protest by the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the Federal Government of Nigeria took a harder look at the organization. First, the Attorney General declared the action treasonable. Many legal experts disagreed. The Vice President weighed in and condemned the media for giving the group publicity!
Ikemba Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s open support for MASSOB did not sit well with the federal government presided over by the man who thought he had ended Biafra for ever.  Through its State Security Services (SSS) it sought to haul in Ikemba for questioning. At first, it appeared as a routine invitation to Abuja, the federal capital territory. But events soon took a turn for the worse.  In a press conference at his home in Enugu, capital of the southeast region, Odumegwu-Ojukwu revealed that the Feds were after him and the founder/leader of MASSOB, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike. He revealed that the SSS had sent him a one-way economy air ticket for the one-hour flight to Abuja. The SSS was quick to counter that the Ikemba must show up for a chat, calling his stance cheap blackmail and labeling him a coward. Odumegwu-Ojukwu and his supporters were quick to remind Nigeria of the many politically motivated murders that remain unsolved. They posit that if the SSS wanted to chat with the Ikemba, they could do so
in Enugu or go to court and obtain an arrest warrant. Then again, what would be the charges? For exercising his fundamental right of free speech
But that was the jaw-jaw part. The fact remain that the SSS wanted to interrogate the Biafra hero and that the Biafra leader would not bulge. In fact, Odumgwu-Ojukwu reminded the media that former heads of state Muhammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida had refused to appear before the Oputa Panel of human rights violation and the heavens did not fall.   The question on everyone’s lip was: Who wants the Ikemba killed? Why is the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) being subjected to such disrespect from a retired colonel (head of SSS) whose boss (the President) was Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s junior in the Nigerian army?
What next? The SSS waited for him to make his annual trip to the United States for medical checkup. On Tuesday, night of November 16, 2004, on Zik's 100th birthday (posthumous, that is), the SSS seized his passport at Murtala Muhammed International Airport. And so began another phase in endless saga of Emeka vs. State, a rebel with a cause versus a state looking for direction.
As a committed democrat, every single day under an un-elected government hurts him. The citizens of this country are mature enough to make their own choices, just as they have the right to make their own mistakes".
Ojukwu had played a significant role in Nigeria's return to democracy since 1999 (the fourth Republic). He had contested as presidential candidate of his party, All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA)for the last three of the four elections. Until his illness, he remained the party leader. The party was in control of two states in and largely influential amongst the igbo ethnic area of Nigeria
Odumegwu-Ojukwu is married to a beauty-full Waawa woman, Bianca Onoh, the Nigerian 1989 Miss Inter-Continental Pageant. He was the presidential candidate of APGA in 2003 presidential elections.  He still maintains primary residence in Enugu.
Odemegwu Ojukwu and Wife bianca
On 26 November 2011, Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu died in the United Kingdom after a brief illness, aged 78. The Nigerian army accorded him the highest military accolade and conducted funeral parade for him in Abuja, Nigeria on 27 February the day his body was flown back to Nigeria from London before his burial on Friday, 2 March 2012. He was buried in a newly built mausoleum in his compound at Nnewi. Before his final internment, he had about the most unique and elaborate weeklong funeral ceremonies in Nigeria besides Chief Obafemi Awolowo, whereby his body was carried around the five Eastern states, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, including the nation's capital, Abuja. Memorial services and public events were also held in his honour in several places across Nigeria, including Lagos and Niger state his birthplace.
                farewell the irriplaceble hero of Igbo land and Nigeria, your memories will never be erased!

Urhobo People and Culture

Urhobois a group that belong the people whose written history is largely undocumented. There is almost an absence of European record in their history. The early European were preoccupied with economic interest on the coastal communities. However, in 1505, Pereira observed that in the hinterland beyond the Forcados River, lived the Subou or Sobo a name that is corrected to Urhobo in 1938. It is significant to note that the traditions of origin of the various Urhobo groups do not contain any specific reference to their ancestor other than that ' we are or we know are Urhobo' . The history of  Urhobo people generally began from Edo territory where the ancient town of Udo and Benin City are currently located. At the end of the Ogiso dynasty, many Urhobo and Edo-groups left Udo in different directions, each at its own pace, in search of more peaceful territories. It was natural that in those compelling circumstances, peace loving and less powerful Edo-groups had to leave the territory to seek fortunes in less populated but more economically resourceful territories.
Historically, Urhobo people's origin is rooted in their oral tradition.They believe in migration from Aka -present day Edo territory. Although all 22 kingdoms have distinct dialects and traditions that reflect slight variation in origin and migratory patterns, there is a universal Urhobo language.
Continent: Africa    Region: West Africa    Area: Western Niger Delta
Area: 5000 Square Kilometers Climate: Humid subequatorial
Natural Vegetation: Rain and swamp forest. A significant percentage of which has been destroyed by pollution and other petroleum related activities. 
Natural Resources: Urhobo people left  their Petroleum and Natural Gas  under separate leaders in different directions to find white colar jobs in different governmental organization. When some of the emigrant left Benin, they found in their destinations in Urhobo territory some Edo-speaking settlers. Each 22 socio-political unit was called a "clan" by earlier writers especially by British Colonial Officers in their various intelligence/assessment reports. The word Urhobo is used to describe the Urhobo group
Traditions among the Urhobo are replete with assertions of original dwellers and owners of their territory. These tradition is without documentary or archaeological evidience.The distinctive characteristics of the various Urhobo and Isoko tribes are a result of the super imposition of Ijaw, Ibo and later Edo immigration upon on aboriginal strata already speaking Edo-type dialects'  
Population: 2.0 - 2.5 million people in Nigeria while allowing for the absorption of immigrants and their language as well as for the impact of routes and group sojourns on the history of the Urhobo. Linguistic evidence provides a strong principle for integrating and validating other traditions of Urhobo origin. The absence of archaeological and prehistoric evidence give credibility to the above traditions of Urhobo origin. The structure of Urhobo ideas and language as well as their culture and other institutional forms imply historical links between them and their neighbours, particularly the Edo-speaking peoples, and other socio-linguistic groups in some yet undefined areas in the Sudan/Egypt
Main Towns: Abraka, Effurun, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri
Main Rivers: Distributaries of River Niger including Kiabodo, Ethiope and Warri 
Urhobo has always strived to maintain good relations with her neighbors from the North-East is Ndokwa, to the South-East is Isoko, to the North is Bini, the West is Itsekiri and the South is Ijaw's. All of them share a common origin according to tradition.
The 22 clans of Urhobo with their cultural headquarters and official administrative affiliations are shown on the Table below.
Urhobo 22 Kingdoms And Headquarters
As Well As Official Administrative Affiliations
(Local Government Areas [LGA]) As of 2004 
L. G. A
The Urhobo people is located in the present Delta State of Nigeria. They occupy the southern portion of the Benin lowland and the floodplains and swamps of the petroleum-rich Niger delta. With a population of some two million people, the Urhobo people are the 5th largest ethnic group in Nigeria and constitute the largest single ethnic group in Delta State. Their population density in Urhoboland is about 660 persons per square kilometer.
In traditional African political organization, the Urhobo people consists of twenty-two autonomous republics or "Kingdoms" with a common ancestral origin. The Kingdoms are: Agbarha, Agbarha-Ame (Agbassa), Agbarho, Agbon, Arhavwarien, Avwraka, Eghwu, Ephron-oto, Evwreni, Idjerhe, Oghara, Ogor, Okere, Okparabe, Okpe, Olomu, Orogun, Udu, Ughelli, Ughievwen, Ughwerun, and Uvwie. The earliest political system in Urhoboland is a mixture of the kingship system and the rule by elders. Depending on the clan and the system of administration, the king or clan head is called the Ovie or Orodje or Osuivie, Okobaro, Okpako or Okpara-Uku and such title may be hereditary in some clans.
The discovery of petroleum in Urhoboland in the 1960s has been a mixed blessing. While the oil has enriched the modern Nigeria nationstate, it has hardly benefited Urhoboland and people. It has also brought about massive ecological devastation which has, in turn, hampered the Urhobo traditional occupations of farming and fishing. This has resulted in the neglect of agriculture and mass emigration of our people to urban areas and to other rural areas, especially Benin and Yoruba lands of western Nigeria, where hundreds of Urhobo villages could be found. Today, the Urhobo migrant farmers in these villages form the backbone of the food production in those areas.
Like many people of the world, the Urhobo people are undergoing a cultural and political renaissance. The need for the various Urhobo people to assert their nationhood and to preserve their culture led to the creation of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) in 1931. Similar realties of the modern world led to the formation of The Urhobo National Association (TUNA) in 1993 as an umbrella organization of the over 10,000 Urhobo people resident in North America. In 1999, TUNA was split into two factions called TUNA and UPUNA due to internal administrative problems. However, in the year 2003, TUNA and UPUNA reunified after a reunification meeting convened by Urhobo Association in Chicago and Environs. The reunified national body adopted a new name called Urhobo Nation Association of North America (UNANA).
Though the Urhobo people speak a universal Urhobo language, some clans speak different dialects which may not be understood by other Urhobo people. Urhobo culture is unique and distinct from other Nigerian cultures. The beliefs of the Urhobo people are based on spiritual forces which govern the harmony of the universe and their culture is characterized by strong extended family ties, respect for elders, and taboos against stealing, incest, murder, dishonesty and so on. Many Urhobo customs have influenced other ethnic groups around them just as it has been influenced by them also through cultural interaction and inter-marriages. These ethnic groups around Urhobland include: Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko, Bini, and kwale.
The Urhobos live very close to and sometimes on the surface of the Niger river. As such, most of their histories, mythologies, and philosophies are water-related. They have an annual fishing festival that includes masquerades, fishing, swimming contests, and dancing. There is also an annual, two-day, Ohworu festival in the southern part of the Urhobo area at which the Ohworhu water spirit and the Eravwe Oganga are displayed. The king in an Urhobo clan or kingdom is called the Ovie. His wife the queen is called Ovieya and his children Ọmọ Ovie (child of the king also known as prince and princes). Nowadays, these names are also given to children without royal heritage by their parents. A number of Urhobo sub-groups have other titles other than Ovie, for example, the Okpe called their traditional ruler Orogie and Olomu called theirs Ohworode and Okere-Urhobo theirs Orosuen.
Marriage is the union between man and woman which is culturally and morally acceptable in a society. Before marriage in Urhobo culture is said to be properly contracted, prayer's must be offered to the ancestors(Erivwin) and God(Oghene). The marriage ritual known as Udi Arhovwaje takes place in the ancestral home of the girl or a patrilineal relation of the girl as agreed by the family.

On an agreed day, the fiance goes with his relatives and friends to the fiancee's father's home carrying drinks, salt,kolanut and things required from him by the girls family for the marriage ceremony. It is on that day that the girl's parents give their formal approval to the marriage and pour the gin brought by the fiance as libation to the father's ancestors to bless them with health, children and wealth. It is only after this marriage rites that the husband can claim a refund of money (bride price) if the marriage breaks down. It is believed that the ancestors were witness to the marriage. It is only the physical body that is sent to her husband in the marriage, her Erhi(spirit double) remain in family home. This explains why she is brought back to her family home when she dies. In the ancestral home of the man, the wife is welcomed into the family by the eldest member of the family.Here she was expected to confess all her love affairs during and after her betrothal to her husband (if any) and she can now be absolved from all her wrong doings. Henceforth, she becomes a full member of her husband's family and is now protected by the Erivwin. This rites symbolizes an agreement between the wife and Erivwin. If the wife later proves unfaithful she will be punished by the supernatural(Erivwin) and this is believed to be the reason why married Urhobo women are very faithful to their husbands.
Where Gods and Mortals Meet: Continuity and Renewal in Urhobo Art is the first comprehensive presentation of the arts of the Urhobo peoples of Nigeria, whose experience in today's Africa is emblematic of a rapidly changing world. The exhibition is organized into sections that consider the forms and underlying aesthetic values of Urhobo society: personal images that offer protection and advancement; images of women at various stages of life; masquerade arts; and at the grandest level, communal shrine art, awesome in scale and form. Integral to the exhibition are works by contemporary Urhobo artist Bruce Onobrakpeya. Inspired by his traditional culture, his art offers a particularly poignant perspective on Urhobo traditional art.
As the title of the exhibition suggests, Urhobo ceremonies, masquerades and sculpture establish realms for gods and mortals to meet. Their continuity and renewal in a contemporary context extend their relevance to the present day and project them into the future.This exhibition is organized by the Museum for African Art and curated by Perkins Foss.The exhibition has been made possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Urhobo calendar
Urhobo Okpo (week) is made up of four days which regulates market cycles, religious worship, marriages and other community life. The four day's of the Urhobo week are:Edewo,Ediruo,Eduhre,Edebi. In Urhobo mythology, Edewo and Eduhre are sacred days to divinities, spirits and ancestors. Most market days are held on these days, ancestors are venerated on Edewo. Most traditional religious rituals are held on Eduhre.
Divinities(spirits) are believed to be very active in the farmlands and forests on Edewo and Eduhre. Therefore, farmers in most Urhobo communities rarely go to farm so as not to disturb the spirits. The twelve months of the Urhobo calender year are equally significant.
  • Ovuikpe -----------------January
  • Ava ------------------------February
  • Arha ----------------------March
  • Ane -----------------------April
  • Arhiori -------------------May
  • Asa -----------------------June
  • Eghwre ------------------July
  • Orianre -------------------August
  • Urhiori -------------------September
  • Ehwe --------------------October
  • Ushovo ------------------November
  • Ururuowe' ---------------December
Most of the annual festivals are held during the months of Asa,Eghwre,Orianre and Urhiori because these are the months of crop harvest and farming activities is at its lowest. Most farmers are free to partake in festivities. These are also periods to honour the spiritual forces that brought good harvest and the gods of the land. Religion controls life style in traditional communities in Urhoboland.
As with most tribes in Nigeria, a certain food is considered to belong to or originate from a particular tribe as in pounded yam and egusi soup from the Igbos, Eba and Ogbono soup (sometimes referred to as Ogbolo soup by people of Esan or Etsakor descent). For the Urhobos there are two foods considered Urhobo in nature. They are: Ukhodo (a yam and unripe plantain dish sometimes cooked with lemon grass and potash) and Starch (actual name of this staple is not often used) Ogwho soup (palm oil soup). The starch is made from cassava plant. It is heated and stirred into a thick mound with palm oil added to give the starch its unique orange-yellow colour. The Ogwho soup is composed of smoked or dried fish, unique spices, potash and oil palm juice. Other palm nut oil soups include amiedi pr banga, which is also eaten with starch and or garri. Banga soup is also a delicacy made from palm kernel.
There are approximately 1,000,000 Urhobo people.Some sources put the number at approximately 1.5 million.
The main focus of Urhobo traditional religion are the adoration of Oghene (Almighty God) the supreme deity and recognition of Edjo and Erhan (divinities). Some of these divinities could be regarded as personified attributes of Oghene. The veneration of ancestors, believe in diverse spirits, apart from those of the major divinities and the ancestors. The Urhobo also worship God with Orhen (white chalk). If an Urhobo feels oppressed by someone, he appeals to Oghene,who he believe to be an impartial judge, to adjudicate between him and his opponent. Urhobo divinities can be classified into four main categories, which probably coincide with the historical development of the people. These are guidian divinities, war divinities, prosperity divinities and fertility and ethical divinities. It should boe noted that the fundamental factor and manifestation of all divinites in Urhobo religion is Oghene.
Erivwin which is the cult of ancestors and predecessors (Esemo and Iniemo) is another important element in Urhobo belief system. The dead are believed to be living and are looked upon as active members of the family and watch over the affair of the living members of their family. Urhobos believe in the duality of man, i.e. that man consists of two beings:
  • Physical body - Ugboma
  • Spiritual body - Erhi
It is the Erhi (spirit man) that declares man's destiny and controls the self realization of man's destiny before he incarnate into this world. Erhi also controls the total well being(Ufuoma) of the man.Oghene(GOD) is like a constitutional Monarch who set his seal on the path of destiny set by a man's spirit (Erhi).
In the spirit world (Erivwin) man's destiny is ratified and sealed. In the final journey of the spirit man(Erhi) after transition, the Urhobo believe the physical body (Ugboma) decays while the spirit man (Erhi) is indestructible and goes back to join s the ancestors in the spirit realm. The elaborate and symbolic burial rites are meant to prepare the departed Erhi for happy re-union with the ancestors in the spirit world.
However, the influence of western civilization and Christianity is fast becoming an acceptable religion in most Urhobo communities. Epha divination, similar to the Yoruba Ifá and practiced by many West African ethnic groups, is practised with strings of cowries. Urhobos also practice Christianity, with many belonging toCatholic and new evangelical denominations. There are 1,261 ejo (deities), including the one-handed, one-legged mirror-holding whirlwind-god Aziza.


Okomu national park which is formerly known as Okomu wildlife Sanctuary is a forest block that covers 1,082km2 land square kilometers. The park is in Ovia South- west Local Government Area of Edo state. It is 60 kilometer north –west of Benin City and it also holds a small fragment of the rich forest that covers the region where the last habitats of endangered species are found.
Historically Okomu national park holds a remnant of the Nigeria lowland forests that has formed a continuous 50-100 km wide belt from River Niger west to Dahomey Gap in Benin and to the south and southeast the forest is being separated from the coast by mangrove and swamp forests, while to the north it merged into the Guinean Forest-Savanna Mosaic eco-region. The Park has an extensive layer of charcoal and pottery below the forest, indicating that it has been cleared before and then regenerated over the last 700 years, 200 km² wildlife sanctuaries, a rainforest ecosystem which is the habitat for many endangered species of flora and fauna, was gazetted from the Okomu Forest Reserve in 1935. 
By the start of the 20th century the forest survived only in disconnected blocks, which is under intense pressure from human activity. A survey of southwestern forests in Nigeria in 1982 led to a recommendation for a determined effort to conserve the sanctuary. The state government formally defined the sanctuary in 1986, with an area of just 66 km2. The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) took over management of the sanctuary in 1987, and extended it to 114 km2 by adding a one-mile wide buffer zone. NCF has diverted their attention toward assisting migrant farmers in the surrounding areas, so that the villagers will find alternative means of living without encroaching on the forest. In 1997 it was discovered that several NCF employees had been involved in illegal logging within the sanctuary. In May 1999 the sanctuary was taken over by the National Parks Service for proper management and guide of the park.
Okomu National park has diverse fauna, with 33 species of mammals including African buffalo and endangered African Forest Elephant, White-throated Guenon, chimpanzees, Other animals found in the park include Dwarf crocodiles, Red river hog, Sitatunga, Warthog, Civet cat, Maxwell's Duiker, Grass cutter, Mona monkey, Thomas's galago and Tree pangolin.  
Birds are not left out because over 150 species of birds is found in the park which include Angolan Pitta, Grey Parrot, Wrinkled Hornbill, Fish Eagle, hawks, woodpeckers, Great Owl, Grey Hornbill, Cattle Egret, Black-casqued Hornbill, Yellow-casqued Hornbill, Sabine's Spinetail, Cassin's Spinetail, Black Spinetail, White-breasted Negrofinch, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Pale-fronted Negrofinch and Yellow-throated Cuckoo.
Another distinctive feature of the park is the Okomu River that runs through it. It is from the river that the park derives its name. Though there are other rivers and streams, such as Osse River and Arakhuan stream within its space, the one that appears most captivating and holds potential for a number of water leisure activities, is Okomu River.
 One thing a tourist or even a first time visitor to the park would not forget in a hurry is the rich flora and ecosystem of the park. As a rainforest park, God has endowed the park with very rich and awe-inspiring flora. The beauty of the park is something that beckons at you the moment you walk into the wild. The air, the green luscious expanse of wild that stretches ahead of you is most luxuriating and captivating

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

igbo people and culture

Where the Igbos migrated from has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The ancestry of the Igbos has bothered many people for a long time. Many historians, philosophers, sociologists, archaeologists and anthropologists have raised a lot of dust on this issue. A lot of views have been proffered but yet the origin of the Igbos remained a mirage.
Suffice it to say that the Igbos have found themselves in Nigeria and indeed they are Nigerians like every other tribe. This tend to support the claim of an elderly Mbaise man from Imo State of Nigeria, whose name remain anonymous, in a book by Dr. Elizabeth Isichei titled “History of the Igbo People”. The elderly Mbaise man maintained that the Igbos did not come from anywhere. But the fact remains that the Igbos must come from somewhere beyond the limited knowledge of the Mbaise elder. Another claim seek to establish that the ancestors of the Igbos originated from the area they inhabit, presently known as Awka-Okigwe. Hence, the communities known as Umu-Nri regard themselves as the descendants of a hero called Eri, who along with his wife, Nnamaku, was sent down from the sky by Chukwu, the Igbo supreme God. While another version said that Igboland is the home of the Igbo people and it covers most of Southeast Nigeria. This area is divided by the Niger River into two unequal sections – the eastern region (is the which largest) and the midwestern region. The river, however, has not acted as a barrier to cultural unity; rather it has provided an easy means of communication in an area where many settlements claim different origins. The Igbos are also surrounded on all sides by other tribes (the Bini, Warri, Ijaw, Ogoni, Igala, Tiv, Yako and Ibibio).
The origins of the Igbo people has been the subject of much speculation, and it is only in the last fifty years that any real work has been carried out in this subject: any group of people, they are anxious to discover their origin and reconstruct how they came to be how they are. ...their experiences under colonialsim and since Nigeria’s Independence have emphasized for them the reality of their group identity which they want to anchor into authenticated history. (Afigbo, A.E.. ‘Prolegomena to the study of the culture history of the Igbo-Speaking Peoples of Nigeria’, Igbo Language and Culture, Oxford University Press, 1975. 28.)
Analysis of the sources that are available (fragmentary oral traditions and correlation of cultural traits) have led to the belief that there exists a core area of Igboland, and that waves of immigrant communities from the north and west planted themselves on the border of this core area as early as the ninth century. This core area – Owerri, Orlu and Okigwi – forms a belt, and the people in this area have no tradition of coming from anywhere else. 
Igbo culture (Igbo: Omenala ndi Igbo) are the customs, practices and traditions of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. It comprises archaic practices as well as new concepts added into the Igbo culture either by cultural evolution or by outside influence. These customs and traditions include the Igbo people's visual art, music and dance forms, as well as their attire, cuisine and language dialects. Because of their various subgroups, the variety of their culture is heightened further.      

The Igbo people have a melodic and symphonic musical style, into which they incorporate various percussion instruments: the udu, is essentially designed from a clay jug; an ekwe, which is formed from a hollowed log; and the ogene, a hand bell designed from forged iron. Other instruments include opi, a wind instrument similar to the flute,igba, and ichaka.MUSIC
Igbo Art is known for various types of masquerade, masks and outfits symbolising people animals or abstract conceptions. Igbo art is also known for
its bronze castings found in the town of Igbo Ukwu from the 9th century.[2] Igbo art is any body of visual art originating from the people of the Igbo.
Alusi, also known as Arusi or Arushi, are minor deities that are worshiped and served in Igbo mythology. There are a list of many different Alusi and each has its own purpose. When there is no longer need for the deity it is discarded.
The yam is very important to the Igbo as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iwaji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam.
The New Yam festival (Igbo: Iwa ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop.
Traditionally, the attire of the Igbo generally consisted of little clothing as the purpose of clothing then was to conceal private parts, although elders were fully clothed. Children were usually nude from birth till their adolescence (the time when they were considered to have something to hide) but sometimes ornaments such as beads were worn around the waist for medical reasons. Uli body art was also used to decorate both men and women in the form of lines forming patterns and shapes on the body.


Women carried their babies on their backs with a strip of clothing binding the two with a knot at her chest. This baby carrying technique was and still is practiced by many people groups across Africa along with the Igbo who still carry their babies this way. This method has been modernized in the form of the child carrier. In most cases Igbo women did not cover their Bobbie areas. Maidens usually wore a short wrapper with beads around their waist with other ornaments such as necklaces and beads. Both men and women wore wrappers.


Males would wear loin cloths that wrapped around their waist and between their legs to be fastened at their back, the type of clothing appropriate for the intense heat as well as jobs such as farming. Men could also tie a wrapper over their loin cloth.
Highly accomplished men and women are admitted into orders for people of title such as Ndi Ozo or Ndi Nze. Such individuals receive certain insignia to show their stature. Membership in these orders is highly exclusive, and to qualify an individual needs more than mere material accomplishment or gallantry. They need to be highly regarded and well-spoken of in the community, and most importantly, they must be a person of the greatest integrity, truthfulness and sanity.
Before the rise of Christianity in Igboland during the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Igbo considered the birth of twins (and other multiple births), like neighboring groups such as the Ibibio, as against nature and inherently evil. Multiple births were believed to be only what animals should produce, and humans were believed to be meant for single births.The reason behind this belief may have been that, because it was a rare occurence, it was considered wrong.
The community generally killed twins by abandonment in the community's evil forest, or by direct attack. After the birth, the mother of the twins went through cleansing rituals to purify her from the birth. This practice has ended.
Kingship Organization
An Igbo offspring is a product of his father's lineage and therefore the chi is patrilineal in outlook.
When one attains the age of puberty, then one is introduced to both the mother's mother's lineage and the father's father's lineage. When one marries, his wife's lineage plays a very important social role for his children. In fact, in the entire society of Igbo people, there exists a series of Agnatic groups. For inheritance and succession, a person takes the lawful right property from the lineage of his father.
Kola-Nut -- Symbol of Hospitality
At any village function, the titled man or a village head is presented with kola-nuts, which play a very important social and ritual role in the Igbo culture. The kola-nuts are the highest symbol of Igbo hospitality. Whenever a kola-nut appeared in a gathering, the matter to be discussed at that particular time was regarded as very vital. The offering of drinks, food and meat are not regarded so important in Igbo culture as the offering of kola-nuts. When an important guest visits the community, kola-nuts are brought out and handed to the elder person or the priest. This symbol of Igbo hospitality has three steps and anyone who fails to follow these steps is penalized by the village elders.
  1. The first step is the presentation of the kola-nuts
  2. The second is the breaking of the kola.
  3. The third is the distribution of the kola-nuts.
Igbo Marriages
Marriage in Igbo land is an arrangement which enables individuals (man/woman) to live together and cooperate in an orderly social life. A marriage in Igbo land or any African country goes beyond sexual union. "The type of family organization is the extended family.
Ohu/Domestic Slaves
The Ohu status originated in the early period in Nigeria. The great demand for laborers on European plantations in the Americas led to the development of an immensely profitable export of slaves. The slaves were traded mainly on the coast of the Niger River. Slaves were regarded also as subordinate to the Diala in this society, but they could marry the Diala (free-born) children. This was a kind of slavery already established in Africa. It was forced service within the African tribal or state system. Men captured in war were forced into what may be called "domestic slavery," that is, they became the servants of those who captured them.
  • The ingredients consisted of four wrappings of slightly fermented oil beans locally called "Ugba" or Ukpaka.
  • A cigarette cup of fresh local salad fruit known as anara seeds
  • About two small bundles of local salad leaves "leaves of solanium family
  • Two cigarette cups of sliced and dehydrated cassava locally known as achi or abacha, or jikpu or nsisa, a pinch of potash
  • Four table-spoons of palm oil, salt to test, three table spoons full of water
  • Half a cigarette cup of dehydrated and powdered shrimp or lobsters, and a teaspoon of powdered pepper
  • Wash the local salad fruits and leaves thoroughly in luke-warm water containing a pitch of salt or few drops of milton, drain in a colander also wash the sliced dehydrated cassava achi and leaf in a colander to drain a get soft, slice the drained fruits and leaves to reasonable sizes, roast the oil bean wrappings in open fire for about five minutes, grind the pepper and potash to be mortar done, add desired level of water and oil to the mortar powdered products while stirring vigorously with the addition so as to produce a nice, smooth mixture of orange color stuff called ncha add salt to taste. Put the sliced cassava, sliced local salad leaves and fruits, roasted oil beans, and powdered shrimps to the ncha, mix thoroughly to get the finger licking, saliva-watering, anti-kwashiokor Biafran salad.
Birth, marriage and burial are considered the three most important family events in most cultures, and Igboland is not an exception to that.
It is common to get invited to a traditional marriage (Igbankwu) and certainly worth witnessing one. Marriage in Igboland is not just an affair between the future husband and wife but also involves the parents, the extended family and villages. First the groom asks his potential partner to marry him. Assuming that this is affirmative, the groom will visit the bride’s residence accompanied by his father. The groom’s father will introduce himself and his son and explain the purpose of his visit.

The bride’s father welcomes the guests, invites his daughter to come and asks her if she knows the groom. Her confirmation shows that she agrees with the proposal. Then the bride’s price settlement (Ika-Akalika) starts with the groom accompanied by his father and elders visiting the bride’s compound on another evening.
Months (nwa)
Gregorian equivalent
nwa Mb
(3rd week of February)
nwa Aba
nwa Ife Eke
nwa An
nwa Agw
nwa Ifejik
nwa Alm Chi
(August to early September)
nwa Ilo Mmụọ
(Late September)
nwa Ana
nwa Okike
(Early November)
nwa Ajana
(Late November)
nwa Ede Ajana
(Late November to December)
nwa z Als
(January to Early February)
An example of a month: nwa Mb

Naming after market days

Newborn babies were sometimes named after the day of the week when born. This is no longer the fashion. Names such as Mgbeke (maiden [born] on the day of Eke), Mgborie (maiden [born] on the Orie day) are commonly seen among the Igbo people. For males, Mgbe is replaced by Nwa or "Okoro" (Igbo: Child [of]). Examples of this are Solomon Okoronkwo and Nwankwo Kanu, two popular footballers.
There are two basic types of masquerades, visible and invisible. The visible masquerades are meant for the public. They often are more entertaining. Masks used offer a visually appeal for their shapes and forms. In these visual masquerades, performances of harassment, music, dance, and parodies are acted out .the invisible masquerades take place at night. Sound is the main tool for them.