DR. EZOEM, NWANZE IGNATIUS
FCE (T) ASABA
Book Title: HISTORY AND TRADITION S OF
Author: Chris O. O. Biose
Publishers: BOLD Publishers Ltd, 8 Fadipe Street,
Ijaye- Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos State.
Year Published: September, 2019.
COVER PRICE: N10,000.00
If one does not know where he is coming from, it will be difficult for him to know exactly where he is going to because he definitely does not belong to where he is. James Kegyir Aggrey, Ghanaian renowned scholar once said “I am proud of my colour, whoever is not proud of his colour is not fit to live. In the whole wide world, Africa my Africa comes first”. The book we are about to have a glimpse of, is a veritable historical discourse that showcased the obstinate reality of the origins and cultural evolution of the people of Idumuje Clan in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State.
The compendium with 503 pages has three parts that were clustered into 50 chapters. In Chapter One, the author gave a methodological overview of carrying out his study and data collection. In the second chapter, we are enlightened with the cradle, the geographical location and historical origin of Enuani people, of which Idumuje Clan is a part.
In this chapter, we are meant to know that Ikeke was the progenitor while Ikeke and Isagbeme formed Imeogbe Village as early as the 13th century. This chapter also showed how other villages and cultural practices evolved.
In Chapters Three and Four, the book concentrated on the cultural set up and practice of Imeogbe-Ihunmor, Idumude-Unor and Imeogbe-Isagbeme village. The history of how Isagbeme came to meet Ikeke and they started what is today popularly known as Idumuje-Ikeke was well established. Their sojourn from Iduu, their cultural practices and Apotheosis were also well covered.
From Chapter Five, the book opened with a discourse into the spiritual foundation of Idumuje civilization. Here we see how Ikeke arrived his settlement with two deities – the Ohai (male) and Nnemonicha (female). Shrines were erected where the god and goddess were kept and worshipped. These and others latter became sacred places in the land. Sacred places and trees were later set up by these two founders. The deities had their separate priests.
In Chapter Six, the emergence of Okwunye Village was showcased. Okwunye arrived in the 14th century. Although it is indisputable that Imeogbe-Ihunmor is the cradle of Idumuje, the arrival of Okwunye in the 14th century and his interaction with Ba-Iyi descendant of Ikeke, eventually proved to be the most momentous event in the historiography of Idumuje people. Ba-Iyi and Okwunye were the founders of Idumuje as a distinct political entity. Ba-Iyi had spiritual powers while Okwunye held sway at the political administration of the evolving kingdom.
In Chapter Seven, we see the origins of monarchical Institution in Idumuje Clan rulership by a king. Idumuje land was a state-less society for over a hundred years. There was no centralized political authority but only a few homesteads. The union of Ba-Iyi and Okwunye signaled the commencement of monarchical authority in Idumuje that then became a kingdom. As core founders of Idumuje monarchy, two symbolic trees (egbo), one for Ba-Iyi and one for Okwunye marked the Ihu Ani Ukwu Idumuje; literary, the face of the great land of Idumuje.
A royal palace was put in place, shrines also set up. There was the famous Okwute Uwatuwa surrounded by three egbo trees at the King’s Palace in Idumuje-Unor..
Chapter Eight gave a historical pact between Ba-Iyi and Okwunye which became the cradle of cultural development of Idumuje Clan. The author also gave a brief history of the administrative organogram of the clan.
Chapter Nine gave a history of the Idumuje Unor Royal Family. It is indisputable that Okwunye is the sole Royal family in Idumuje Unor. The royal lineage from Eze Okwunye up to Obi Anyasi III is captured and discussed in this chapter. At present, the Obi of the town is Obi Charles C. Anyasi III; traditionally enthroned on Sunday 5th May, 2013.
Chapter Ten gave a history of the origin of Idumobu village and dates back to the late 15th to early 16th century. The founder, Obu, was reputed to possess magical powers. He was invited by the King of Idumuje to help defend the territorial integrity of the fledging kindom against external invaders. Obu came and later settled in Idumuje with the gift of a wife by the King for his (Obu’s) exploits. He was also given a land to settle. Kindred’s later sprang up from this union. The traditional title bequeathed to Idumobu village is Iyase – next to the king.
Chapter Eleven is on the origin of Atuma Village. The kindreds that constitute Atuma are believed to have arrived from various places at different times. A lot of versions exist as to the original founders of the village. The chieftaincy title of Odogwu-Atuma belongs to Idumu-Okohu. Odogwu-Atuma is next in rank to Odogwu-Ani (Odogwu of the whole town) which is held by Imeogbe-Isaagbeme and Imeogbe-Ihunmor in rotation.
In Chapter Twelve, the history of the sixth village, Ogbeakwu, is told. The founder was Isede who migrated from Onicha-Ugbo to join Obu’s descendants at Idumobu. Ikoko Iyala is the cradle of this new village. Uwolo is the chieftaincy title for this new village: this village was also reputed as the first to embrace Christianity in Idumuje Unor in the early 20th century. The first church in Idumuje Unor is St. Matthew’s Catholic Church founded in 1905 while the second is St. Luke’s Anglican Church founded in 1907 all in Ogbeakwu.
Chapter Thirteen gave a story of Aniofu village. This is a village founded during the reign of Obi Adonoje who retreated into the forest due to escalation of Ekwumekwu war of resistance to white domination. When the war ended after many years, the Obi retuned but the cluster of people from diverse backgrounds and villages brought by the Obi remained behind. The head of the village is known as Diopka – the eldest man. It is worthy to note that the villages and kindreds in Idumuje-Unor, are replicated in Aniofu.
Chapters Fourteen to Nineteen gave a history of how one Nwoko, a descendant of Erhabor kindred in Imeogbe-Isagbeme, Idumuje-Unor, founded Idumuje-Ugboko with his family members in the later decade of the 18th century. Nwoko was later excused from paying homage to the King of Idumuje-Unor and became autonomous. He later acquired and replicated the major shrines of Idumuje-Unor in Idumuje-Ugboko. The Royal family of Idumuje-Ugboko was also discussed in chapter fifteen. The present Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko is HRM, Obi Chukwunonso Nwoko IV. The administration, cultural practices and chieftaincy development of Idumuje-Ugboko are contained in the chapters.
Chapter Twenty marked the beginning of Part Two of the book. Here the cultural identitiy, significant cultural symbols, structural pattern of the traditional government, traditional functions of kings, as well as succession/installation of Obis and chiefs, traditional privileges and symbol of unity in Idumuje Clan are captured and x-rayed in detail.
In Chapter Twenty-Five, the institution and function of Omu as well as the Omu society is discussed. Chapter Twenty-Six talked about the chieftaincy institution as well as the distribution of traditional cchieftaincies in various villages in Idumuje Clan.
In chapters Twenty-Seven and Twenty-Eight, the book discussed various title-making societies and special groups such as; the Ikpala (Ichi-Nmor). It discussed the process of Iba-Nzu and some paraphernalia used during the ceremony, including Okpulukpu, Okwa Nzu and a host of other paraphernalia of office of okpala title holders. It also discussed special groups such as Ndi-Ogbu and Ndi-Idelima.
Chapter Twenty-Nine wrote on the traditional rights and obligations of indigenes in Idumuje Clan. In Chapter Thirty, we read about Okika (traditional calendar) in Idumuje Clan.
Chapter Thirty-One talked about Iba-Nzu, Iwaji, Ogbainbge and Ine festivals. All these are traditional festivals of purification, social solidarity and merry-making.
The family institution in Idumuje Clan is captured in Chapter Thirty-Two. Here we see forms of traditional marriages and marriage rites up to child birth and naming as well as processes. The history of Idumuje Ontology/Religious institutions are well documented in Chapter Thirty-Three. Funeral rites (Ini-Ozu) in Idumuje Clan – types and process, dominated the discussion in Chapter Thirty-Four.
In Chapter Thirty-Five, economic philosophy of Idumuje people is discussed – how their resources, technology and environment are harnessed to satisfy basic need of life.
Chapters Thirty-Six and Thirty-Seven are on educational institution in Idumjuje Clan. Traditional forms of learning, Apprenticeship, Technology, Arts and Crafts of the people of Idumuje were discussed.
Chapter Thirty-Nine wrote on traditional process and social control. Here you see the place of the philosophy of indigenous legal system and traditional approach to settlement of disputes.
Chapter Forty wrote on the Egwugwu (masquerade) institution in Idumuje Clan, its origin, attributions and its over-riding efficacy in social control.
In Chapter Forty-One, the book wrote on esoteric traditions of Idumuje Clan. Some of these institutions are not usually for public consumption and their modus operandi is shrouded in secrecy. Some of these are Ime-Ohai and Igba-Afa (Divination), rain makers, incantation, Ikpai, to mention but a few.
Part Three of the book starting from Chapter Forty-Two, gave an account of the advent of colonialism in Idumuje Clan and the Ekwumeku onslaught. Arrival of colonial masters, missionaries, resistance against foreign domination and reasons for resistance, incessant arrest of natives as well as the impact of forced rule on the political and judicial Institution in Idumuje Clan from colonial, post-colonial and the military era were chronicled. The book gave an account of the impact of these historical forces on social institutions in the clan. In the view of the author, these external influences changed drastically the nature and constituents of traditional institutions in Idumuje Clan. The colonialists introduced special organs of government specifically devoted to distinct aspect of administration of the society.
In Chapter Forty-Four, fundamental changes in the prestigious culture of Idumuje Clan were documented. Many traditional sites/trees/practices/rites have become seriously brutalized if not completely obliviated.
In Chapter Forty-Five, the book chronicled the impact of foreign rule on the economic structure of Idumuje Clan. The exogenous factors in cultural change, traditional festivals and family values constitute the focus of Chapter Forty-Six while Chapter Forty-Seven dwelt on paradise lost – changes in social relations, class structure and cultural values. These changes created an emerging chaotic society.
Part Four of the book contains Chapters Forty-Eight to Fifty. Chapter Forty-Eight dwelt on advances in education and health in Idumuje Clan. The first formal educational institution is now known as Nkeze Primary school, founded by the CMS in 1902 at Idumuje- Ugboko and St. Matthew’s Primary School, Idumuje-Unor established by the Catholic Mission in 1905.
The first and most notable among the Developmental Unions in Idumuje Clan, is Idumuje Patriotic Union of Nigeria (IPUN) founded in 1936. The union later establish the Patriotic School in 1945 and by Januarys 17, 1955, the school was taken over by Western Region Government Universal Primary Education (UPE) Programme. The Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union (IUDU) was the next. The IUDU helped in establishing educational and health centers in the clan. From 1970, communities in the clan contributed funds to provide electricity and with the giant strides of the town unions, the communities have been linked to the National Grid.
Chapter Forty-Nine dwelt on defence of indigenous culture. Traditional religion was compared and contrasted with borrowed religion in this chapter.
The concluding Chapter of the book (Chapter Fifty) talked about the need for self-re-discovery in Idumuje Clan and revival of traditional values and practices that have gone moribund if not into oblivion. For ages, long before the coming of Europeans with their version of of civilization, our fore fathers/ancestors established, cherished and treasured their independence and communal living. The displacement of indigenous culture created a situation whereby we are neither birds nor animals (confused generation). There is need for serious mental re-orientation and attitudinal re-programming.
The book which is written by no less a scholar, an intellectual giant, literary icon and ebullient historiographer, Chief Chris O. O. Biose, is a must read for all Idumuje sons and daughters. It is also for all inhabitants of Idumuje-Odiani clans, Aniocha North Local Government Area, Anioma and even Nigeria scholars as a whole. It is a good source of reference materials also for students of History and Anthropology. The readership-friendly language used by the author makes the book a must-read to all and sundry. The book also contains a list of discoveries needed by future researchers in related literatures and studies. I am very convinced that this well researched book will stand the test of time as it remains an intellectual mahogany for good people of Idumuje Clan and scholars at large.
Dr Ezoem N. Ignatius (FCIA, AAA, Minae)
Provost Emeritus, FCE (T) Asaba, Delta State, Nigeria..