Origin of the Anioma People - Onyeji Nnaji

Including Ahaba, popularly called Asaba, Anioma people are all the Igbo speaking people in Delta State, Nigeria. They are made up of communities which span across 9 Local government areas and speak different varieties of the Igbo language. Their distinct languages includes the Enuani language, Ukwuani language, and the Ika-Ibo language. The farther you go away from Onitcha after the Niger bridge and heading towards Agbor and Benin city, the deeper the dialect. For it is evident that the more interrelated and geographically connected to people in the boundary is the more one's language is being influenced. 

This goes the far to explain, without recourse, how the culture that patterns the human language is being influenced by the things that comprised the cultural environment. One finds this prominent in the differences among the variety of the Igbo version spoken by the different Anioma communities. For the more the distance away from Igboland is the more adultrated their dialects became.

The dialects of Anioma include: Enu-Ani dialect spoken in Igbo-bi-n'uzo (otherwise called Ibuza), Ogwashi-Uku, Asaba, parts of Igbodo, Ilah, Isseles, Idumujes, Onichas etc), Ika language (Agbor, Umunede, Owas etc) & Ukwuani-Aboh Language mostly spoken by the people of Ndokwa Ethnic Nationality. There are Anioma people in Edo state of Nigeria (Igbanke), Anambra state (Onitsha, Ozobulu, Obosi, Oraifite) Imo state (Oguta), Rivers state (Ndoni, Ogba) etc.

Located in the areas of the West Basin of River Niger, south-south within the present Delta state. Anioma encompasses a land mass of about 6,300 km². In the political matters of the state, Anioma is often referred to as Delta North, as against the other peoples known as the Delta Southand Delta Central in the same state. 

Anioma is bounded on the East by Anambra State, south-east by Imo and Rivers States, south Bayelsa State, south-west by Isoko, west by Urhobo people, north-west by Edo State and north by Kogi State. Anioma may therefore be regarded as highly contiguous to very many neighbours ethnic groups. The people have drawn experiences as a result of lying contiguous to numerous other towns, communities and states which characterizes the Anioma as one of the most peaceful regions in the country.

There are 25 Local government areas in Delta State, and the nine underneath make up the Anioma region:

  1. Aniocha North
  2. Aniocha South
  3. Ika south
  4. Ika North-East
  5. Ndokwa East
  6. Ndokwa West
  7. Oshimili North
  8. Oshimili South
  9. Ukwuani

These local goernment areas are further compromised of such communities and villages as Abah, Abala  Anikoko, Abavo, Abi, Abodei, Aboh, Adai, Adonta, Afor, Agbor, Akakpan-Isumpe, Ankara, Akoku, Akuku-Akumazi, Akumazi-Umuocha, Akwuku-Igbo, Alasime, Alidinma, Alihagu, Amai, Anakwa, Anifekide, Aninwalo, Aninwama-Jeta,  Aniofu, Aniogo, Anioma, Anuregu, Anwai, Asaba, Asaba-Ase,  Asaba-Ubulu, Ashaka,  Ashama, Atuma, Atuma-Iga, Azagba-Ogwashi, Azagba-Ubieni, Ebedi, Ebu, Edo-Ogwashi, Egbudu-Akah, Egbudu-Ogwashi, Ejeme-Agbor, Ejeme-Aniogo, Ejeme-Unor, Ekpecho, Ekpon, Ekwuemusana, Emu, Emuhu, Etua Etiti, Etua Ukpo, Ewulu, Ezi, Eziokpor, Ezionum, Ibodoni, Ibrode, Ibusa, Idumuesah, Idumuje-Ugboko, Idumuje-Unor, Idumu-Ogo, Igbanke, Igbodo, Igbuku, Illah, Isa-Ogwashi, Iselegu, Isheagu, Isikiti-Ishiagu, Issele-Azagba, Issele-Mkpitime, Issele-Uku, Isumpe,  Kwale, Mbiri, Ndemiri,  Ndokwa, Abbi, Inam-Abbi, Eziunm, Nkpolenyi, Nsukwa, Obeti, Obi Anyima, Obi Umutu, Obi, Obiaruku, Obikwele, Obinumba, Obior, Obodo-Eti, Obomkpa, Ogbe, Ogode, Ogume, Ogwashi-Uku, Oko Anala, Oko/Ogbele, Oko-Amakom, Okotomi, Okpa, Okpanam, Okwe, Oligbo, Oligbo, Olor-Usisa, Olu-Odu, Omaja,  Onicha Olona, Onicha-Ugbo, Onicha-Uku, Onitsha-Ukwuani, Onogbokor, Onuseti, Onya, Oolor-Ogwashi, Otolokpo, Otulu, Owa Nta, Owa-Abi, Owa-Alero,  Owa-Ofie, Owa-Oyibo, Owerri-Olubor, Ubulubu, Ubulu-Okiti, Ubulu-Okiti, Ubulu-Ukwu, Ubulu-Unor, Udumeje, Ugboba, Ugbodu, Ugbolu, Ugiliamai, Ukala-Okpunor, Ukala-Okwute, Ukwuani, Ukwunzu, Ukwu-Oba, Umuabu, Umu-Ebu Adonishaka, Umukwem, Umukwota, Umunede, Umuolu, Umute, Umutu, Unor, Unor, Unuaja, Ushie, Usisa, Utagba-Ogbe, Utagba-Unor, Utchi, Ute Aru, Ute Enugu, Utegbeje, Ute-Okpu, Utuoku.

Origin of the Anioma

One thing people do for the very place they are born, having attained certain educational height that significantly stand them taller among other members of their communities or people, is to serch and document for future generations matters bothering on their history. This was the lamentation I had against scholars like J.P. Clerk and the Nembe born archive administrator, Alagoa when I was documenting Ijaw history. In Anioma we have gurus like Zulu Sofola, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and my inestimable model, Buchi Emecheta, yet there is still conflict bothering on the history of Anioma history of origin.

Of course, they may not have got the bulk of information required for making their history of origin astute, but their boats and paddles would have served as pointers towards unravelling the truth about their history.  Another problem befuddling the narratives about our history is the unpreparedness of history researchers to question oral traditions to bring out their efficacies. Even in the era of folklore, the storyteller is always faced with two duties. One is to tell his story the way he claims he knows it; then the next job is to entertain the listeners with detailed clarifications of the answers he provides to their questions. It is where the listeners' questions are attended to that he may go ahead to ask what they learnt from the story. Researchers' lack of questioning the authenticity of the tradition they were schooled through and their inability to verify them is what kept Ijaw history till I met it.

Search through All the information bothering on Anioma history of origin, what you will find is a dominant lake of verification. To find Igbo origin, despite what other scholars have written about Igbo/Israeli and Igbo/Egyptian origin, what I did was to get what our oral tradition says. Finding out that Igbo are related to Idu (Benin) and Odudunwa (Yoruba), I sought for what I called "a cross cultural examinations and verifications"; ie. What do these other traditions say about the Igbo and how true is the issue of their familial  consanguinity. The truth is not lost; it only takes time to find.

In The Metaphysical Views of African Oral TraditionNnaji made the following assertion:

As unique as oral tradition has remained, it always gives a relative transmittal dependent figures within the generations it has lasted. In general, this transmittal agent enables the whole body of the traditions of a society under study to be placed in the framework of the genealogy or the list of Theo (in the form of theocrat or theosophist) or age groups which covers the broadest geographical area; but it does not enable the relative sequence of events to be linked to those outside the particular region. However, where there is a related historical contiguous claim (such as one historical element giving birth to others around it) such contiguousness can be vividly specified as proof of relationship but may not have indebt information bothering on the continual process that had sustained the contiguous offspring’s oral tradition

Good, Ijaw and Itsekiri claimed Benin origin, but in the true sense of history they both originated from Ilaje and Ijebu respectively, in Yoruba. Who is the fool? Now again, Ikwere and Anioma claimed they originated from Benin, but their father was "Akalaka" and "Eze Chime" respectively. Who is fooling who? Wole Soyinka says that "If the level of your civilization does not make you think diffrdiff from the rest in your village, then it is questionable." I cannot propagate or promote what I do not know the potency of it being what I call it. So, if Anioma is sure, reliably, that their progenitor bears the name, Eze Chime (it does not matter whether the name is written together or separately) common sense should have told anybody with brain in his skull that he was an Igbo man. What should be the question now is, where did he come from or how did he get to Anioma? 

I have answered these questions during my 2022 review of Igbo history @ ajuede Twitter handle. Before I reiterate it here, let us resolve the issue bothering on why Anioma takes Benin title. The video below will tell you how. Listen to it first before you continue.

The king has said it all. The Crux of the whole matter is that Eze Chime was an Igbo man. The only mistake here is on the name of the king whom Eze Chime encountered. Oba Orhogbua was not the Oba that had encounters with the Anioma father. It was Oba Oguola. Again, the name was not Ezechima, but Eze Chime.

Eze chime held from the present Udi in Enugu state. Their progenitor was an Awka Smith who travelled to Nsukka in the then iron revolution that formed the basis of Nsukka civilization. His name was "Agbaja". Eze Chime was a legend in the manner of Uto, another descendant of Agbaja before the days of Chime. Uto died of chickenpox, a disease he contacted during his mercenary fight fir an Oba of Benin. Story has it that Eze Chime had earlier been hired by the Akuko of Wukari to help them fight their enemies. Later on Eze Chime changed course and travelled to Otu (An Igbo settlement around the Nigerian river). From Otu, Eze Chime travelled to Benin to fight for Oba Oguola the son of Oba Ewodo. 

Oba Ewodo was succeeded by Prince Oguola who was describably brave. Oguola was remembered with the memorable fortification of the Benin kingdom. He dug the first and second moats to fortify his city and advised his chiefs to do same. The only challenge he was faced with was the seeming endless war against Akpanigiakon of Udo. He fought Akpanigiakon for two years before he sought for Eze Chime, a mercenary warrior from Igbo land. 

With the help of Eze Chime, Oba Oguola was able to defeat Akpanigiakon. He was finally defeated  in the battle staged at Urhezen. After the defeat, the war ended and Oba Oguola was praised in the kingdom. After the celebration of the victory Eze Chime spent 14 more days and was prepared to return. Oguola asked him to name his price. He did not hasitate to do so; he had had time enough in the surroundings to have found the boy Ojo, the grandson of a farmer from Ilaje. He asked that he be given to him to help him in the farm. The Oba gave the boy, Ojo, to Eze Chime as a reward.

Ojo lived with Eze Chime who got for him a wife  from Benin. They lived peacefully until the day Eze Chime joined his ancestors. Ojo's descendants expanded in Anioma even after the sons of Ezechime had taken territories for themselves. Therefore, as generations which had regards for them passed away, the Ojos set out for their present abode deep in the delta. Ijaw oral tradition made this aspect of Aniom history clear.


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