Origin Of Various Igbo Clans - part 4

History of Otolo Nnewi
by Onwutalobi Anthony Claret

Nnewi was founded in the fourteenth century, and consists of four Quarters (large villages) and these four Quarters of Nnewi are Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim, and Nnewichi. Otolo, a premiere quarter of the four quarters in Nnewi has been outstanding in all aspect of human endeavors. In it seated the mantle of leadership that governs the other quarters for the past decades. Its central success is figured in commercial trade but not limited to it, as its cultural heritage has always been the beacon of light to other neighboring village.

Digbo, one of the sons of Nnewi, had two sons – Otolo and Ikwuabo. It is a custom in Nnewi that a married woman who has no child belongs theoretically to the woman – husband but practically to the man – the husband of that woman husband. One of the wives of Digbo had no child and she therefore married another woman who gave birth to a male child known as Ukwabo.

Otolo the first son of Digbo had many sons – Enem the first son followed by Nnofo, Eziogwugwu alias Eziegbelu, Diaba whose descendants are generally known Umuzu and Nnangana alias Nganaga. Before Otolo begot these, he himself was one. By Otolo originally is meant the descendants of Otolo. Later as consequent upon the success of Eze Agha, Ezekwuabos came under the umbrella of the name. Later still, Amilibas followed suit and so did the rest at appropriate times. It was in this way that Otolo as a quarter was made up

Otolo is the premier quarter in Nnewi. This is true in terms of population, seat of political power and, apparently even, concentration of wealth. There are facts recognized by the other three quarters of Nnewi. These factors have perhaps influenced it in its attitude. In Nnewi affairs, Otolo conduct is one of a leader and a bully. Otolo people have in them a belief that every Otolo man is infallible. Because of this belief, an Otolo man defends his fellow Otolo men in the face of obvious culpability.



The Abiribas are part of the Agunaguna sub-tribe of the main Ekoi group. They are part of the larger Yakurr group that can also be traced up to Ikom and other parts of the upper Cross River basin. The present Yakor (Yakurr) Local Government Area of the Cross River State includes Ugep, Agunaguna, Nko, Usukpam (Urukpam), Ubaghara and others. In these areas are such other settlements as Ebiribara, Ebom-Ebiriba et cetera. As a matter of fact, the Ebom-Ebiribas in Yakor simply changed their name to Ebom because the present Abiriba (Ebiriba) was virtually eclipsing them such that even mails meant for them found their way into Abiriba of Abia State. The Abiribas are said to have lived in that part of Enna clan where there were plenty of Uda trees (xylopia aethiopica) hence the name Ena-Uda. The shrine of the Abiriba royalty is still standing at Usukpam-Ena. From events and available data, the Abiribas were said to have crossed the river at Usukpam, hence they are often referred to as Usukpam-Etete, a nostalgic name for that ancient home. Usukpam (Urukpam) as called by the natives there now is part of Akpaa-Erei clan of the larger Ena clan. The Abiribas lived here for long when they left mainland Ena-Uda under the leadership of Nnachi-Oken, hence the nomenclature, Ebiriba Enachi-Oken. From here they travelled through Okon-Ohafia and settled at Udara-Ebuo, a stretch of land between Amekpu-Ohafia and Okagwe-Ohafia. This long sojourn in the present day Ohafia area explains the numerous relationships between this area of Ohafia and Abiriba.

Equally the Abiriba-Ena royalty have affinity with Akanu Ohafia. Nnachi Oken died at Udara Ebuo and Ntagha continued the journey to Uranta where much later he too died. After the demise of Ntagha, Igbokwu became the leader. From here, Udara-Ebuo, the Abiribas now led by Igbokwu passed by Nkwu-ebu (Nkwebi) Ohafia to Uranta near Oboro en-route OzuAbam. Nkwu-ebu is the Palmyra palm, botanically/scientifically known as Borassus aethiopum which grew abundantly here. From here they moved right (north) and found their way into Ihe and Agboha about 1700. These two communities are near the present Binyom village of Abiriba. Agboha up till today is referred to as Agboha-Igbokwu, after the leader Igbokwu. This date of arrival is well estimated from later recorded events of early European visitors and estimating backwards from the number of Abiriba Kings remembered in our history. It is interesting to note the name Binyom which sounds Ekoi and has no Igbo meaning. The Abiribas brought their gods from Ekoi, the main god being the Otisi, (Otusi, Otosi). The Otisi is the royal symbol of authority over the Abiriba people. Otisi, Otosi is Ekoi name and many other Igbo Cross Riverine communities equally have this name and as gods too. The name is common in Afikpo areas, Edda, Ohafia, Aro, Abam, Item and others. In these areas, the royal families are referred to as Ndi-Otisi, that is, the people of Otisi. It is so too in Item and some other places. It is also equally noteworthy that one of the feared juju gods is Otisi Binyom of Abiriba. Apart from this god, we have Kalu, the god of war or thunder. One of these gods is at Ozua-elu (Kalu Ozua Elu) after Amamba village on the road that takes and brings back men who have made journeys, be it war or trade on that route.

The other is at Ndi Ebe, Kalu Ndi Ebe of Umu e'Chuku Amogudu. These Kalu gods are sacrificed to with cocks and rams.The Abiribas lived for long at ihe and Agboha from where they fanned out to establish modern day Abiriba villages and city. The Abiribas developed Agboha and built up a big market here. Because of their mercantilism, blacksmithing, weaving, crafts manship in ivory et cetera, Abiriba attracted marketers from neighbouring communities that stretched all the way to Ozuitem, Ozuakoli, Ahaba-Imenyi, Item and others. When the current and new market (Afia-nkwo) was founded people still referred to the portion on the western flank of Binyom, namely Agboha, as Afiankwo-ochie that is, the old market place. After several years of sojourn at Agboha, the royal group moved to the part of Umueso village called Amelunta today. The compounds that make up Amelunta are Ndi Ekpe, the main royal compound, Ndi Ezema and Ndi e'Mbaeku. The kings that ruled Abiriba and from Ndi Ekpe, Amelunta, were Ekpe, Itu, Uduka Oko (Uduka uku) Egbara uku and others. One of the sons of the royalty, Oko Uduka, alias Okonta Ogba-enwo (Oko the monkey shooter) in later years in his hunting expeditions located the valley after Isi-Olara and thought it was a natural fortress and also attracted by the water moved the royal compound there while retaining the majority of the royalty at Ndi-Ekpe.

This new compound is known as Ndi Oko-ogo, that is, the people of the home of Oko. The new royal compound not only accommodated the royalty but other sojourners that sought refuge in Abiriba for protection by the Abiriba King. From Ndi Okogo and Ndi Ekpe, the royalty developed Ameke Echichi and the other Ameke villages. The royalty installed the first Nkwa in Mgbala Ekpe at Ameke Echichi. Nkwa is a wooden carving in a compound hall of the royalty or in the Ekpe cult hall of the royalty. Nkwa is an arm of the Otisi god. In the olden days a replica of this carving formed part of the equipment given to a princess as a wedding gift and placed in the small hall, Obu, of the compound where she is married to. There are among others recently two such compounds where replicas of the nkwa small effigies, child bearing goddesses, were given to daughters married at Ndi Okoronkwo and Umuaga compounds both of Udanta Amogudu. The whole idea of these human-looking replicas, large dolls, is that the daughter may by the grace of the goddesses produce children. Umuaga compound at the end of the civil war sought permit from Ndi EkpeAmelunta to replace this wooden replica at their Obu compound, having been destroyed by the recently ended civil war. This was granted and the accompanying traditional ceremonies and rites accomplished. The expansions of the Abiriba people from Agboha to Amelunta and the new king's fortress compound, Ndi Oko-ogo as well as the other Ameke villages were not smooth ones. In their expansions into the current city, the Abiribas encountered other settlers, Umuhu, who were at Ihebu and Amamba, Nkporo At Kirii of Umueso and part of Item were near Ogbu, each group moving towards more fertile terrains.

The Abiribas expanded to found the villages of Ameke, Amogudu, particularly Umu -e’Chukwu, and Agboji under Ebiri. In later years when parts of Amelunta needed expansion, the then Enachioken, Oko Uduka -requested Egboji, now under Nwagu Efa to provide present day Amaukughukughu, (the place of the owls) for that purpose. Because of this gesture, the king rewarded Egboji with Nkwa-Otisi and that is why the Mgbala Ekpe of Ama-Ebia of Egboji has Nkwa. Ama-Ebia is the home of the Egboji village head.


Igbuzo (Ibusa) people

Igbuzo is a city in Delta State, south-south, Nigeria with an estimated population of 452,300 people in 2007. The Ianguage of the people is referred to as Enuani. The community forming the process of Igbuzo can be linked to the first wave of the movement of Igbo migrants into the West Bank of River Niger, this adventure which took place in the 15th century resulted in the settlement of Ibusa people led by Edini from Nshi (Nri) The second of the two waves of the migrations that resulted in the formation of Ibusa was led by Umejei from Isu.
Pre-colonial history

Pre-colonial history of Ibusa indicates that the name Ibuzor is more precisely accurate as regards to the location of the town 6 kilometers west of the Niger River than the view which holds that the pre-colonial name of Ibusa originated from the whimsical view that the initial settlers are Igbos who live by the road side.

Igbo historians such as Emeka Esogbue (of Ibusa origin) and C. N. Ugochukwu (Nnewi origin) share the opinion that groups who left Benin with Ezechima and journeyed Eastward might have settled in Ibusa considering the geographical location of the town. The implication of this therefore is that this new set of settlers could have been sick or generally lacking in interest in furthering their journey, this could also have resulted in their final settlement in not too distant Onitsha. This new group of settlers in Ibusa might have become assimilated by the Umejei and Edini groups.

Oral history
Ibusa is a federation of two units known as “the Umejei and Ogboli Factors. According to the oral history of the town, Umejei Nwa Eze Isu (Prince Umejei of Isu) at Isu in the South-Eastern region of Nigeria killed his opponent in a traditional wrestling bout, an act considered “Alu” (Abomination) in the land and punishable by death. However, his death was commuted by his father who was also Eze Isu) the king of Isu and he was encouraged to go on exile with a gourd prepared and given to him by his father. Umejei was emphatically instructed to settle wherever the pot dropped, he thus set-off with friends, relations and symapathizers who accompanied him. The gourd however dropped at the present site of Ani-Oshe in Omeze (Umueze) where he founded Ibusa.

The Ogboli factor has it that at Nshi (Nri) Odaigbo slept with one of his father’s wives but rather than face the mandatory death sentence Eze Nshi commuted the death sentence to exile. His father, mother and younger brother, Edini voluntarily opted to accompany him. Odaigbo and Edini were given one pot each and charms by Eze Nshi with the instruction to settle wherever the pot fell and on crossing the River Niger, Edini’s pot fell at Ani-Oshe (Umueze) the present site of Ibusa while he founded Ibusa. Odaigbo’s pot was to fall at the present site of Ogwashi-Uku where he also settled. The groups (Umejei and Edini later became one and known as Ibusa) The Ogboli of Ibusa are thus regarded as part of the larger Nri (Nshi) community.

The Igbo and Anioma people of Delta state, regard and praise Ibusa as group of people who often refuse food in other to prosecute wars (Isu (Igbuzo) fu ogu ju nni). This statement authenticates the bravery of these people in wars. Igbuzo historians are currently conducting researches on the history of wars fought by the Igbuzo people especially in the homes of their Isu kiths and kin in Nnewi, present Anambra State.

"Ibusa" is an Anglicisation of "Igbuzo" and/or Ibuzo by the early British missionaries and visitors to the town as a result of difficulty in pronunciation. The Anglicization of the name of the town may have been effected in the 19th century following the Ekwumekwu Wars that the community led. The "Ibusa" was considered more distinctive by the British thus adopted as the official name of the town and made to appear in all the official documents of the colonial government. The name "Igbuzo" (Igbo bi na uzor) meaning the Igbo living along the way or road is however the native name of the town as used today.

The nickname of the town is however "Isu Na Mba Ogu" (Warriors from Isu) or colloqually Igbuzo-Isu (The Igbo-uzo(r) from Isu). Ibusa is uniquely addressed with different names and even made noticeable with different spellings such as Ibusa, Igbuzo, Igbouzo, Igbuzor, Ibuzor, Ibuza and Ibuzo. This is believed to have been necessitated by the strategic location of the town along the busy roads and the history of the settlement of the people.

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