"ORIGIN OF THE NGBO PEOPLE IN OHA-UKWU" by Onyeji Nnaji


Image result for Igbo masqueradeDiscussing the history of Nkalaha would not be complete without the involvement of the Ngbo people. The reason for this is that both communities have had different encounters in the past. Ngbo was the first community that entered into blood covenant with Nkalaha before any other community of the Nkalaha neighbourhood. This was done foremost to the proper settling of Ngbo in their present abode. For this reason, Ngbo and Nkalaha, just like Eha-Amufu, are not to spill the other’s blood.

According to the traditional story, which the Late Elder Nnaji nwa Nnaji told in the Enugu State Government House, 14th September, 1992, and repeated in the presence of delegates from the National Archive, Abuja, in 2006 at Obobochi playground in Nkalaha, the two men who entered into this blood covenant were Ofu (the first son of Onoja) and Ogudu; both belonged to the second generation from the founders of the respective communities. Invariably, it will not be wrong to suggest that both communities sprung at the same period: C11 AD. In the incantation said by the Late Elder Nnaji, it was said that,
During a hunt, after many years, Ofu came closer to a stream where he had a noise from the other side of the stream. Another thought came into him; he thought it was an animal to hunt. He moved further, getting to the bank of the stream, he saw another hunter. They explained themselves; then Ofu brought out a piece of liver from his hunting bag. They ate together and vowed to remain undivided. The other hunter, who told him of his name as Ogudu, requested that they meet the next day. As was agreed, they came and reaffirmed their covenant. That day, they set the boundary of the two communities at Amia (the very stream where they met during hunting expedition) (History, 99 - 100).
     
For this reason the both communities could not fight each other, as doing so would stair the wrath of their ancestors against the party that does otherwise.

There was however a little misunderstanding which later degenerated into war in 1933. By then, the communities were still conscious of this covenant by their ancestors. Therefore, it though resulted in a fight between both communities; the reconciliation was gained so fast. The Attempt to resolve this crisis was the first thing that brought the both communities into the history books of the colonial masters.

Responding to this obvious need, Captain W.J.W. Cheesman moved to set the boundary between Nkalaha and Ngbo (Umuogudu-Osha) on 27th November, 1933. Nkalaha and Ngbo had boundary squabble at the area called “Egu Ebele,” early 1933. It lasted long and later degenerated into war. Both communities came against each other with cutlasses and sticks until the arrival of Captain W.J.W. Cheesman and the settlement thereafter. Cheesman was the Assistant District Officer, Abakaliki Division by this time. This intervention therefore, paved ways for the creation of the boundaries around that area. He set the boundary of Egu Ebele and other areas east of Nkalaha. The arbitration panel set up to handle the boundary issues in 1933 did the survey plan and mapping. The legend, Ebe nwa Achi was the person who signed for Nkalaha in the peace treaty. This record is fund hitherto in the national archive Abuja.

History has it that, after the misconception that resulted into a little fight in 1933, the communities returned home and made sacrifices to their different deities so that nobody dies among the opponents that were injured during the strife. Nkalaha made sacrifices to save injured people from Ngbo, and Ngbo likewise for the injured people from Nkalaha. This apparently reveals that the history of one of these communities would not be complete until that of the other is incorporated. There was however, an eruption of another crisis which led to the war that are not completely resolved between the communities since 1990 till date. This war came about as a result of greed and ingratitude.

There used to be a deity at the boundary corner referred to as Onunu-Okwor. This boundary setting was occupied by members of the both communities. They had lived there for a long time together, sharing things in common as brothers; but little did they knew that there were some among them who did not like the peaceful coexistence and preferred rancor instead. Meanwhile, originally, the deity was particularly installed and serviced by Nkalaha for the purpose of maintaining the boundary peace. With the extent of togetherness among them and how closely the members of the communities inhabiting that part of land had been of help to themselves, Nkalaha became so assimilated by the oneness and unintentionally allowed what happened between the Arochukwu and the Ibibio to result into another war. This war started on Orie market day through the victimization of the children of Onuma Okarie of Amaezegba Nkalaha in 1990, there at Onunu-Okwor. This land dispute is contained in The Supreme Court of Nigeria, Suit No: SC.112/1992. www.ajude.com has the comprehensive copy and conclusion of the adjudication contained in this suit in her archive.

Many people will not feel comfortable with this clarification. But, according to Ola Rotimi in The Gods Are not to Blame, “The secret of the land should be made known to the people of the land”. History is nothing removed from the way a people came, where they live, how they settled, what they do and what they are known for. Ngbo is addressed as “Ngbo Eje Ogu”. Posterity may hear this and wonder what it means or give a wrong interpretation to it. That is why God in his infinite mercy makes people to stay longer at times. Perhaps, while they stay longer, thy may serve as the link between the past and the present to create a reliable future. I do not dabble into this rendition for the fun of writing; rather it is my intention to let us understand that, despite how strong we are, there are people we need not fight. Not necessarily that we are not stronger than they are, but because nature by its unquestionable course had placed them to be our weakness. And if such is true, then it is deliberately certain that our strength is always defiled by such a people. Ask the warriors that fought the Ngbo/Nkalaha war, this is what you will hear.

If we could understand that by the commitment of our ancestors, we are not supposed to fight, then it becomes irrevocably relevant for us to seek peace among ourselves. Ngbo, assuredly, is more populated and wealthier than Nkalaha; but both sides can attest to the fact that they did not feel better fighting each other. Nkalaha apart, Ngbo also has a long standing war with the people of Agila in Benue State. Unfortunately, very little has been achieved in the peace talk compared to that with Nkalaha. In fact, there has been less progress made today than 33 years ago when Group Captain Jonah David Jang, the sole administrator of Benue State and Captain Samson Emeka Omeruah of Anambra State tried to resolve the land issue. The joint Benue/Anambra Interstate Boundary dispute meeting held in Enugu on March 24, 1986, the two state governments resolved that “The existing buffer zone should be maintained and respected by all sides, and the police should ensure complete compliance”. Today, where the buffer zone is has become a contentious issue for the technical committee now assigned the task of looking for records for use to re-establish it.

Again, whereas the two governors directed the “Surveyor-Generals of both states to cooperate with the Director of Federal Surveys to resume the actual demarcation exercise with the help of the Army and the Police by not later than Friday, April 11, 1986”, today, what the two state governments have done is to set up committees that will help facilitate the peaceful demarcation of the boundary. As the two state governments agreed, “Permanent solution to the recurring boundary clashes can only be achieved by giving practical effect to the provisions of the Legal Notice No 126 of 1954 which was acceptable to both sides”, today, it is seen as a different thing. Perhaps, one of the parties is no longer comfortable with the legal notice and is doing everything practically possible to thwart the demarcation exercise. With this opposition to Legal Notice 126 of 1954, it is difficult for the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to carry out the re-demarcation of the boundary without the necessary legal documents. As though fortunately, for the past years, the two state governments have agreed at each meeting to jointly construct a road linking the two communities or prevail on the federal government to do so, particularly, the Otukpo-Agila-Ekwassi Ngbo road, but nothing has ever been done. This war started as far back as 1984 and has lasted till date. One untold problem is that these wars make Ngbo vulnerable for any form of attack. For instance, should the Fulani strike secretly; the attack would be assumed to have come from Nkalaha or Agila.

Ngbo shares boundaries with Ezza-Ngbo, Efiom, Agila, Nkalaha, Ezillo etc. It is worthy of note to recall that the prominent Governor (former) of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam. Ominyi Egwu held from this prestigious community. 
The community also has produced a Bishop in Methodist church, in the person of Rt. Rev. Lawson Elom. There are many other prominent men and women that time did not allow us to include here.  These are people of great value to our societies in collection.



ORIGIN OF THE NGBO PEOPLE

Unscrupulous researcher may easily, via the appellation associated with Ngbo community, conclude that the ancestor of Ngbo was Ejeogu (pronounced “Egjeogu). Such a historian may be applauded for having made an attempt towards defining a people probably not known to him or known to him philologically. But such a philological conclusion cannot be astute in any far as it is not corroboratory with the historical fact about the Ngbo people, but for one reason. Philological trace of history is often done when the analysis of such a people existence and history deeply depends on the name they are called and how they derived their name.  For instance, to understand the origin of Igbo, the Jukun and Nsukka, one needs to understand the meaning of the words originally and how they were derived. Such places and people are such whose history is verifiable through philological trace. Ngbo is called “Ngbo Egje ogu” due to her valorous lifestyle; it has nothing to do with the history of the community of people termed Ngbo in Oha-Ukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Nigeria. Egje ogu was never anybody’s name associated with the community, Ngbo.

Diving into the history of the Ngbo people in Oha-Ukwu unravels situations similar to the story of the child who rejected his mother because of her deformed body until the day he was told that the his mother took that shape in the attempt to save his life in the conflagration the took over the house when he was a baby. The reason for this is that, Ngbo is the most populated among the communities in Ebonyi central. The largeness of her population deceptively makes her inhabitants to think of having mothered many other communities instead of the other way round. The most unbelievable fact is heard when an Ngbo man is told that his community emerged from the less populated community next from his.

Two different migrations gave birth to what we have today as Ngbo community. The first should be around C11 AD. as noted above. This was the main migration wave that gave rise to greater population of the present day Ngbo. As the first movement and settlement, Ekwashi Ngbo became the oldest of the settlements in Ngbo community. That was the place that harboured the founding father; for the first man in Ngbo did not come in great population other than his sole family. The second migration wave involved more population compared to the first. This was the migration wave that brought the inhabitants of Okposi to their present abode.

The reason I said earlier that diving into the history of the Ngbo people in Oha-Ukwu unravels situations similar to the story of the child who rejected his mother because of her deformed body until the day he was told that his mother took that shape in the attempt to save his life in the conflagration that took over the house when he was a baby is that, it is apparently very difficult for Ngbo to taste the bitter peal by accepting that they could have been founded by Ezza-Ngbo (pronounced Izhia).

The founder of Ngbo was an Izhia hunter. Unfortunately the present day historians could not contain his name. Although, according to the claim of an elder in Ekwashi, Onwe Ituma, Ngbo was the name of their father; it should be noted here that there is no aspect of the Ngbo history that supports this claim. From our finding, it was also stated that Ngbo was rather an attribution pertinent to the description of the legend’s hunting style or act. This may only be true if the word, Ngbo, is verbal in the community’s language than the more clued noun that it seems to imply. History has it that he was a brave hunter who hunted alone. In one of the expeditions, he travelled far to the forest of the present Ngbo, to the place known today as Ekwashi. Arriving at that point, in his hunt, he encountered many animals. Seeing this he was left with no further option than to stay. So, he tarried, killing the animals and keeping them preserved through smoking. As was the tradition, he pitched his tent and lived there for months.
Meanwhile, at home, his people had looked for him and expected his return, as diviners had told them he would; all to no avail. 

After months of waiting, they conducted a funeral in his honour as a dead man. They mourned his passing. One faithful afternoon, they saw a man emerging from the forest side with a load of dry meat on his head. They could not believe their eyes until he finally arrived and told them his story. According to the legend, he was hunting animals and fortunately got to a place where the animals were many to hunt; seeing this he relaxed there to deal with the animals. The term, Relaxed in Ngbo dialect is Kwashie/Kwashi. Thus was how the place was called, for the man returned with his family to continue his explorations. History did not cover evidence on whether he was accompanied by his kinsmen or not.

The legend hunter lived at Ekwashi and had children. Prominent among his children were Ogudu Osha and Ogudu Akpu, names given to them in accordance with the position of the settlement where they were born. They lived together until the men were grown to have their different homes. They got married and set themselves, each, in a different settlement far from their original homes. Therefore, Ekwashi remained their ancestral home for reference anytime the need for referring to a set out home was called to mind. From them we had the children of Ogudu Osha, and those of Ogudu Akpu referred to as Umuogudu Osha and Umuogudu Akpu respectively as remains today. At an encouraging old age, their father joined his ancestors and he was given a befitting burial.

The second phase of the Ngbo historical origin points to the immigration of the much latter migrants known as the people of Okposhi. Okposhi came from Nkerefi, now in Nkanu-East of Enugu State. When these people came, they were fully accepted and allowed to settle in the land. They were given a part to live with the people of Amaezegba together with whom they lived for decades before it began to occur to them that they can outweigh the people and gained full control over the land. At this time Umuodumu’s population and strength were still with them. When Okposhi felt they had gained full strength, they came out to try their strength on the community. Their behaviour was seen as an act of insubordination, and immediately they were subdued and return to a full control.

When the turmoil ended and normalcy was restored to the land, the people of Okposhi came back and stay. This was done in the modern time. There was a sense of forgiveness. With this sense, instruction was given to someone to bring them back and they were restored. The community seemed to have seen the feeling of their mind and decided to assign them a place. This helped them to keep a close eye on them and see when their horns began to grow up again. But Okposhi was not prepared to sustain the pardon granted to them by the community. The returned with malice in their mind and the readiness to take revenge. On settling, they immediately commenced their havoc. There was a woman among the remnants after Okposhi was driven the first time by Umuonoja. When those driven were restored, the woman became instrumental to the havoc her tribal men paid the community with. As days pass by, the woman carried them from one farm land to another. Any one she discovered fertile she carried the men to it, telling them that such was their land before. Immediately the men would fest on the land; do the clearing and followed it up with cultivation.

Okposhi was very large in their population. Among other qualities, they were coordinated in their acts and were determined to follow their mind dream like adventurous ants. They continued in this evil act until when the community could not condone their acts any more. The community rose up one day and matched against them. First, they caught the woman and beat her to death, then they set out for the rest. Okposhi could not pose any restraint because the population against them was much. This time the community did not spare anything, they gathered together like broomsticks and force them out of the community. When they left the community, they went and settle in Ngbo in Oha-Ukwu. There too they still retain their name as Okposhi. Before this final expulsion, Okposhi occupied Ndiagu Oshiovu and dominantly another part of the community’s land marked as Akpoko, next to group 10 quarters of the Niger cement Company. Okposhi still have a few remnants in Nkalaha today.

Conclusion
It is important that stories are told at the time it should be told; it must not be told by a professor before it could be assigned credence. Of course, but for this research I would have as well as many others out there been convinced to accept that Ngbo shares direct historical tie with the Ezekuna and brothers as the misguide text book, The Nigerian Peoples and Culture, had inculcated into many. We do not hide history because it forms a greater part of our being. It does not matter how deformed it may have placed us, it remains our history and no one else’s. The best attitude is not rebuffing. All that we should do is consider those bad parts of our history and try to re-wright the same history by affecting it positively from our own generation. Every history has its ugly part(s); it defines the inheritors. 


We will need your contributions in furthering the discussion down to the various villages in the Ngbo community. This is the duty you owe your community.

Comments

  1. The history is very fine, and I would like to learn more

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