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Friday, July 24, 2020

How power tussle between South-East monarchs/town union presidents obstructs development

VANGUARD Nigeria, Wednesday, July 22, 2020
By Anayo Okoli, Dennis Agbo, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Peter Okutu, Ugochukwu Alaribe & Chinoso Alozie

Town unions are vital administrative units in Igbo land. They are indeed the elected government at the grassroots. They are recognized by state governments in the South East as necessary channel for rural governance, maintenance of peace and security and a vehicle to drive and engender developments in the communities, working together with the traditional rulers.

But in many communities, the union leaders, particularly, the Presidents of the town unions are at loggerheads with the traditional rulers over power tussle. This had denied some of the communities government projects and other benefits.

Some traditional rulers and Igbo leaders have expressed worry over the issues even as they trade blames, with some accusing state governments of sowing the seed of rancour. Traditional rulers accuse the town union leaders of usurping their powers.

Town Unions PGs usurp our functions -Abia monarchs
In Abia State, the power tussle has manifested openly that some traditional rulers in Abia State have come out to accuse town union Presidents of usurping their roles as monarchs, leading to a clash of interests and confusion in the communities.

The monarchs under the aegis of Christian Royal Fathers of Nigeria, CRFN, have gone ahead to ask the state government to invoke relevant sections of the "Traditional Rulers Autonomous Communities Law of 1991", to stop the alleged usurpation of powers of monarchs by Presidents of town unions.

According to the monarchs, the town unions Presidents are under the control of traditional rulers of their various communities, hence their authorities as monarchs should not be undermined by any of their subjects under any nomenclature.

Recognition of town union PGs is an aberration-Eze Ofoegbu
The national chairman of Christian Royal Fathers of Nigeria, Eze Nnamdi Ofegbu, who is the traditional ruler of Umudiawa, Ohuhu Clan, Umuahia North Council, see the recognition being accorded the leadership of town unions as an aberration of the law that should not be allowed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Ọka Civil War, November 1901 to June 1904.

The picture below shows the grim face of an Ọka warrior, posing for a photograph around 1911 for the Colonial anthropologist, Northcote Thomas. The war ‘helmet’ on his head was called okpu mpoto and was made from the dried stems of cocoyam plants. Okpu mpoto is actually tough enough to be resistant to machete cuts. This warrior’s identity is unknown, but he probably took part in a civil war that ended 6 or 7 years before this picture was taken: The Ọka Civil War, or the Amikwo-Agụlụ War.

Ọka Town consists of 7 quarters: Ayọm-na-Ọkpala, Nkwele, Amachala-na-Atọ, Ifite-Ọka, Ezi-Ọka, Amikwo and Agụlụ. But the war was only between two quarters: Amikwo and Agụlụ. The other quarters sat by and looked, or helped with relief materials for the destitute and took care of some of the wounded and the children.

What led to the war? Short answer: business rivalry. The men of Amikwo were specialised in medicine and blacksmithing; but the men of Agụlụ had only one specialty – blacksmithing. Both groups made their living among the Ịjọ people of the Niger Delta. In time, they began to lock horns in Ịjọland. Agụlụ claimed that they started going to Ịjọland first, and that therefore that field of operation belonged to them by right; that competition from Amikwo smiths there was hurting their business; and that Amikwo should either leave smithing and focus on medicine, or find their own field of operation, or stay back home in Ọka and do their thing there.

There was uneasy tension between the two quarters until 1898 or 1899 when the incident that ignited the flame of the civil war happened. It happened in far-away Agberi, near Nembe in Ịjọland. One Amikwo doctor-cum-smith whose name was Okeke Egbe was treating a sick Ịjọ girl. The girl got worse and died. Fearing the anger of the Ịjọ people, Okeke Egbe sneaked out of Agberi and ran back to Ọka.

Finding Okeke Egbe gone, the Ịjọ people vented their anger on all Ọka people in their midst, both Amikwo and Agụlụ, demanding that they produce the doctor or leave.

Okeke Egbe refused to go back to Agberi to face the wrath of the Ịjo, and his Amikwo brothers stood by him. Agụlụ people grew furious and declared that Ịjọland was now off limits to all Amikwo men, both doctors and smiths; either that or war. Amikwo people in return said they’d keep off, if Agụlụ agreed never again to plant a single seed in the soil by way of farming. Agụlụ laughed at the ‘joke’.

Each side began making preparations for war. They picked out their war generals. Okeke Omeligbo was elected war general for the Agụlụ side. Ezekwem Okafọ-Amarị was elected war general for the Amikwo side.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

How Awka lost its fame as blacksmith city

By Vincent Ujumadu
VANGUARD Nigeria. Saturday, February 16, 2019

AWKA, the Anambra State capital, is known as the 
blacksmith city because the town used to excel in manufacturing such items as guns, gongs, pots and metal wares of all kinds. In fact, the traditional ruler of Awka bears the title of Eze Uzu (the blacksmith king) and many title holders in the town attach 'uzu' (blacksmith) after their names.
Obiorah Okafor, Chairman, Awka Blacksmiths Association

But the blacksmiths themselves are bitter. They are bitter because government has neglected them and they therefore look at anyone who comes to make inquiries about their trade with suspicion. Blacksmith used to be somehow exclusive to Awka people, but things have changed as not only Awka people are in it currently.

The environment where they operate is also an eye saw and, as many of them told Saturday Vanguard, they are still in the trade because they could not find an alternative job to do. The place where the blacksmiths occupy in Awka used to be a beehive of activities and customers used to come from many parts of the country and even beyond to buy the short guns that were synonymous with Awka. However, after the Nigeria civil war, production of guns, the most lucrative of all products manufactured by the blacksmiths in Awka, became illegal such that security operatives were often carrying out raids in the area. Out of fear, many of them withdrew and learnt other trades.

Do you know the story of The Awommili Women of Öka?

 Written by Emmanuel Anizọba 

Emma Anizoba
Öka women had a governance organization whose central committee of thirteen was known as Awommili. My free e-book “Who Are the Öka People?” contains a summary of Awommili’s birth, its achievements and its shameless disbandment by a cabal of Ozö men, who cleverly took over governance in Öka. A disturbing question pops up in the mind of the attentive reader:

Since the subversion of Awommili by the Özö men, has Öka moved forward meaningfully in terms of development?

My answer is NO!

In terms of meaningful development, Öka has been in the doldrums ever since the Özö men disbanded the Awommili women’s group and took over governance in Öka.

The conflict between the Awommili women and Özö men was a continuation of the battle initiated by the votaries of patriarchy, with a view to destroying matriarchy. The demise of Öka matriarchy took root with the entrenchment of title-taking, a process that starts with the young-man-making Amanwülü initiation at the base and ends with the Özö title at the apex of the Öka social power triangle.

Currently the Gods are angry, Öka is on the verge of implosion and the Özö men should atone for the accumulated sins of their Society against the Land of Öka by yielding governance power to the youth via republican institutions. We must value truth above authority and age.

More on the Awommili Women of Öka

For more details on the subject please refer to my e-books “Who Are The Öka People?” and “Nne-Üzü: The Mother of Smithing and Lunar Timekeeping”. We are now able to fathom the source of the power wielded by Ümü-Ada and Ümü-Ökpü of old. A daughter of the clan is called Ada anyï (our daughter). Even in today’s Öka patriarchal society, we may ask:

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Awka At A Glance - A satellite Footprint.

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Culled from the book:   THE DWINDLING AWKA CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE LEGACY OF HER VOLATILE STATUTES Written by Engr. Victor Chinweze Pho...

THE AWKA PEOPLE, a book by Amanke Okafor

Oyibo ka mmadi, Ma na Oka kacha mba! (The Whitemen is creative above all men, But the Oka man comes next to him!) --from an Oka war chant (okili) This is the story of the Oka people, the fathers that begat us. It is the story of the Oka people as they were before the British came into their lives and seized control of their country and their destiny, and later merged their city – state with the great body polity known as Nigeria.
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