Black People : The Spell of Oral History: A Case Study from Northern Igboland

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    The Spell of Oral History:
    A Case Study from Northern Igboland


    History in Africa - Volume 33, 2006, pp. 39-52

    A.E. Afigbo

    Ebonyi State University
    Abakaliki ​

    My case study is taken from the northern Igbo of Nigeria and focuses on the village-group of Ihuwe, which name is today rendered as Ihube—thanks to its Anglicization during the period of colonial rule. This notwithstanding, the people still call themselves "Ihuwe," the form I use in this paper. The Northern Igbo area, especially the area around Awka, Orlu, and Okigwe, is commonly regarded as the heartland of Igbo culture and civilization. Ihuwe, in that portion of old Okigwe Division known today as Okigwe Local Government Area (LGA), lies in a region of southern Nigeria that has been identified as having witnessed human activity from very early times, at least from the period of Acheulean culture.2 It also lies on the geographically and historically prominent Nsukka-Udi-Okigwe cuesta, which archeology tells us entered the Iron Age quite early in African history, no later than about the eighth century BCE. We are thus dealing with one of the areas of ancient human occupation, as well as an area known for its dense demographic profile. It is these features–early human settlement and occupation with its attendant consequence of severely attenuated oral history, dense demographic profile, and being the cradle land of Igbo culture—that help to define the Northern Igbo and mark them out from the Western, Eastern, Southern, and [End Page 39] North-Eastern Igbo, believed to be relatively more recent descendants from them.3

    Perhaps another feature that calls for mention here is their political culture. Although, like their other Igbo kinsmen, they could boast of having evolved only micro-, and therefore weak, states (what social anthropologists of the colonial period refused to refer to as states), they had their own special model of these micro-states. The distribution of authority in each of these states was more or less fairly balanced between the lineage or kinship system on the one hand, and achieved status deriving from membership of title lodges or colleges (e.g., ozo), which conferred nobility, on the other. In this system there was also scope for individuals of intelligence or genius exhibited in the pursuit of the professions to play an important part as occasions and circumstances determined.4

    Like their other Igbo kinsmen they had two state systems–the regular state and the "occasional state."5 The regular state was what colonial anthropologists called the village-group or town. This functioned continuously through its lineages and lineage heads, its title societies and age-grades, its professional associations and trade guilds to regulate the life of its citizens in the municipal and external domains. The 'occasional state' was any aggregation of village-groups, which usually came about through the need to meet an emergency or some other special situation and which more or less dissolved at the end of the emergency. The largest state of this type was what the colonial authorities called the clan, at times the sub-tribe or even the tribe, but which some Igbo called umune.

    Today in Igboland, what we called the regular state, that is, the village-group, remains very much alive and well although in some areas the politicians, in their maneuvers for favorable electoral geometry have Balkanized these into smaller communities which they call autonomous communities. Over each of these they put a tin-pot Eze that they can manipulate as they like. Meanwhile, the occasional state of yesteryear and yestercenturies is today largely a vague romantic memory. The special occasions and emergencies that periodically gave it life ceased to exist from the time that Pax Britannica was introduced, followed after independence by Pax Nigeriana, whatever it is worth. It is partly in this broad context that Ihuwe oral history and its deadly grip on Ihuwe citizens should be understood. [End Page 40]

    II
    The Northern Igbo may be taken to divide into two main sub-groups–the Nri-Awka sub-group and the Elugwu sub-group.6 Ihuwe belongs to the Otanchara clan of the Elugwu Igbo. Otanchara comprises some eleven distinct village-groups, all of which accept Ihuwe as their 'father' or at times as their 'elder' brother. Otanchara is said to have been founded by an ancestor named Ora or Uram who, according to one tradition, migrated from the Nri-Awka area or, according to a rival tradition, came from Enna on the Cross River to the east. But there survives no element of Cross River culture in the life and ways of the Otanchara. The important point here, however, is that all the village-groups which claim to be Otanchara believe they descended from one man and thus are kin-groups or 'brothers' as they prefer to see themselves. However, a close analysis of their history and ethnography gives little credence to this belief. Their very name "Otanchara" gives them away as no more than a defensive federation/confederation that built up sometime in the past to ward off attacks on the territory they occupied. Otanchara simply means those who paint their shields (ota abo) in the color of nchara (reddish brown) when they go to war.

    Ihuwe structure and oral history are each a microcosm or version of Otanchara's. Ihuwe, the eldest son of Ora, is said to have migrated from Ikpa Ora to the present place the community occupies. He is said to have married a wife, Eriaba, who gave him seven sons: Eziama, Nkoto, Ozara, Ogwuo (anglicized Ogube), Agbala, Ugwuntu, and Akpugo, as well as a daughter, about whose subsequent history nothing appears to be known. These brief, simple, and entrancing histories of Otanchara and Ihuwe appear to be micro-versions of the bible story deriving all mankind from Adam and Eve, and that they tell us next to nothing about the actual origin and subsequent development of these communities. What has been designated here and elsewhere as their oral history falls perfectly into the category of what anthropologists have learned to call social charters—that is, theoretical constructs arrived at over millennia to explain, legitimize, and cement social structures, processes, and actions that guarantee the communities in question law, peace, order, and stability in the management of their life.

    Perhaps, if there is any history in the accounts summarized here, it can be grasped by reading each tradition upside down or downside up, whereupon one can behold a succession of unions and amalgamations from the extended family level through the ward or kindred to the village and from [End Page 41] there to the village-group and then perhaps to the clan level.7 The names of the villages and village-groups do not suggest descent from an ancestor. While some of them mean nothing in the language (e.g., Nkoto, Ogwuo, or Agbala), others refer only to geographical and environmental features. Examples are Eziama (the right or genuine or good playground/square/ street), Ozara (scrubland/savanna land), Ugwuntu (hill/mound of ash), Amagu (leopard street or square), and Akpugo (eagle silk cotton tree). In the language and culture of the 'race,' those who are believed to be genuine descendants of a historical figure bear a name that is usually a compound word in which one of the following prefixes would invariably appear–umu (children of), okoro (descendants/children of), ndi (people/ descendants of), etc. Groups with such nomenclatures are found for the most part at the lineage/extended family level. In the Aro settlements outside Aro Chukwu, however, there are large communities bearing names with such prefixes (e.g., Ndi Imoko, Ndi Eni). However, such names refer to the lineages of the original Aro settlers who were later joined by large aggregations of slaves and other strangers to make up the communities in question.

    Ihuwe Ama Asa (Ihuwe of the seven villages/streets/squares) as a community was, as we described earlier in this paper, a regular state with a political system that functioned twenty-four hours a day to create and maintain the socio-political umbrella under which law-abiding citizens worked to earn their living, married and procreated, pursued their hobbies and leisure, worshipped—in short, lived and died. On the other hand the larger canopy provided by Otanchara was an occasional phenomenon, thus marking out Otanchara as an occasional state in the form also described earlier in this paper.

    Elsewhere I have worked out a typology of Igbo political systems showing that what earlier scholars, especially those of the colonial period, regarded as a uniform stateless society was indeed politically variegated.8 In that effort three major types were identified. Ihuwe, like many other communities in what we know as the Igbo heartland, belonged to type III. This type refers to an arrangement

    in which government and politics remained, for the most part, in the hands of the lineage and its head. But concessions had come to be made to associational groups–title societies, secret societies, professional [End Page 42] groups–whose claims derived from individual achievement and whose organization cut across lineage cleavages and loyalties.9

    This was particularly so with communities of the heartland area (Okigwe and Orlu) that were by and large sheltered from direct contact with non-Igbo peoples. Consequently, their government and politics remained firmly in the hands of the lineage heads, who formed the core of the amaala (village-group assembly) and held the ofo (the ritual symbol of office and authority endowed with the sanction of the gods and the ancestors) without which no decision could be legitimized or be valid. In these communities title and secret societies, as well as age-grades, existed as social clubs rather than as marked agencies of political control and decision-making. Their membership might confer respect and status, but not necessarily political leadership. In other words, if these communities had developed into polities ruled by kings, or as the Igbo would say ruled by Ndi Eze, such rulers would have emerged from among the lineage heads rather than from among those charismatic personages who spiced the socio-political life of the area from time to time; except of course if such change happened by a process of revolution rather than by evolution. Again, it is important to bear these points in mind in order to understand the story and analysis in the next section.

    III
    Ihuwe socio-political culture and practice shored up by the above oral history, which ranked the villages in order of seniority and situated the royal lineage of the group in Eziama, the most senior village, came to face a series of challenges from modernity with the onset of more or less effective British rule in Igboland from about the end of the British military expedition against the Aro and their oracle (1901-02). But it was not until about 1907, when the British opened an administrative headquarters at Umuduru, that people in and around Okigwe actually began to feel the impact of the changes that had been going on in the Bights of Benin and Biafra since about 1885. The administrative headquarters was moved two years later from Umuduru to Okaigwe (Anglicized as Okigwi/Okigwe) and situated on a stretch of land said to be owned by Ihuwe, but today disputed by Ubahu, another member-village of the Otanchara clan.

    Meanwhile, in 1908 the British had appointed a local agent of their rule, later known as a warrant chief, from the Umeojiaku family of Ogwuo in the person of Ogujiofor. He was apparently a personable and [End Page 43] strong charismatic man. But, perhaps, it was not exactly these qualities that made his star shine at this critical point in the history of his people. More important was the fact that he had longstanding links with Awka, where the British had established themselves earlier than they had at Okigwe. One tradition has it that his family were fugitives from Awka. But whichever was the case, Awka itinerant smiths, traders, and native doctors/priests used his family as a staging post for their business. Thus, when a British military expedition sought to be led to the king/chief of Ihuwe, Mr. Nwobu, their guide from Agulu Awka took them to the head of their host family at Ihuwe. When the latter helped to guide them to the surrounding villages and village-groups for "pacification," they chose him as their local representative and later gave him a warrant that made him the chief or ruler of Ihuwe on behalf of the colonial authority and entitled him to sit as an assessor in the native court established and run by the British.10

    With this development the seed of a revolution—indeed of a serious crisis and conflict—was laid in the socio-political life and affairs of Ihuwe. But at the time no one knew that this was what had happened. The royal family in Eziama, that is, the family that had for generations come first in Ihuwe affairs by virtue of having the hereditary custody of the community's ofo, did not know or at first care. Everyone, including Eziama, was cowering for safety and cover from the white intruders, whose intentions for the people and their way of life were unknown. It is not clear that if Ogujiofor Umeojiaku himself had a choice, that is, had not been 'given away' by his friend/kinsman, Mr. Nwobu, he would have accepted the burdensome new honor. But there it was, and he and Ihuwe had to get on with their lives as best they could until the intruders were expelled by their ancestors and gods, who were being mobilized by their powerful medicine men for the purpose. Attempts were made to reinforce that hope by means of secret rituals and sacrifices. But the British proved immune to everything psychic and occult that the people hurled at them. The situation was similar in most communities in Igboland.11

    IV
    For Ihuwe, and for many other communities in a similar dilemma, the only hope for peace and political respite was that the elders would either adjust, that is, revise the inherited oral history to agree with the new situation, [End Page 44] or at the earliest opportunity renounce and discard this new situation, or accept both the new and the old and clearly delimit for them areas of influence, thus making them complementary and congruent. But this was not to be, as we shall see. By the end of the second decade of British rule in Igboland, many royal villages that found themselves in the same situation as Eziama in Ihube had recognized what blitz had overtaken them in the strange happenings of the previous decade. Some of them had in fact gone to court to try and recover what they saw as their hereditary rights. The point was that it had been demonstrated that to be appointed a warrant chief under the new dispensation was not a sentence of death or enslavement, as most people at first thought or indeed believed. It was, on the contrary, an elevation to a new situation that brought with it rich political, economic, and social dividends.12

    It is on record, however, that Eziama in Ihuwe was not one of those royal lineages that went to court or took any other overt action to recover what they saw as their inalienable right. It waited patiently until the death of Ogujiofor Umeojiaku in 1928, when its surviving head, Okereke, the rightful onye-new-ala of Ihuwe, stepped forward and asked the colonial authority to make him the warrant chief of the town, and thus successor to the dead chief. But Onyeakagbusi, also of the Umeojiaku family, had staked his claim to succeed Ogujiofor Umeojiaku. The result was a chieftaincy struggle in which Eziama found itself outmaneuvered. In the first place, the Umeojiaku family used the wealth that Ogujiofor had amassed as a warrant chief to buy the loyalty and support of the heads of the other villages of Ihuwe, of the other member-villages of Otanchara, and of the influential African staff of the Native Court. In the second place, Ogwuo used the immense advantage it had (and still has), for instance, in population, over Eziama to intimidate and terrorize it.

    On occasions it would use force to prevent Eziama's delegation from reaching the Native Court whenever the matter was scheduled to come before the Divisional Officer. When in desperation the Divisional Officer called on the village heads of Ihuwe to swear on a local arusi or juju that the Umeojiaku family was in truth the royal family (the onye-new-ala) of Ihuwe, they backed out and fled. This told the Divisional Officer where the truth lay, but then his administration was concerned with appointing to the post a man who could command the respect and cooperation of the village heads and their subjects, as well as the respect of the other members of the Native Court at Okigwe. On these grounds Eziama's claims [End Page 45] were swept aside, and Onyeakagbusi from the Umeojiaku family was appointed to the Native Court.13

    This was papering over the cracks of course, rather than solving the problem. Ihuwe had not been made to come out unequivocally in favor of one of the alternatives facing them which we spelt above: that the new situation had swallowed up the old and thus extinguished it; that the old situation had re-emerged triumphant and vanquished the new; or that the two situations had been reconciled and made congruent and could now exist side by side through declaring the Ogujiofor family Ihuwe's go-between in matters involving dealings with the uncomprehending colonial administration and Okereke's family of Eziama, the head of Ihuwe in traditional matters. The sore, therefore, went on festering, only to burst out into the open once again in the 1970s, some fifty years or so later.

    V
    The occasion was an attempt in 1977 to fill the vacant position of Eze Ihuwe in accordance with regulations contained in an Edict of the newly-created Imo State government. Those regulations derived from a report to the defunct East Central State government (the State out of which Imo State was created) by a committee headed by me, which sought to bring some order and sanity to the chaotic welter of claims and counter-claims to traditional rulership in post-civil war Igboland. One of those conditions stipulated that in presenting an Eze-elect to the Government for recognition, each community was to submit a document—called an organic document—containing all the rules and regulations under which the candidate was chosen, and therefore under which all his subsequent successors would be chosen as well, and may be removed where the situation warranted it. The hope was that through such written constitutions by means of which the government would adjudicate the choice or removal of Ndi Eze, much of the political and social tension and crisis in Igbo communities would be drastically reduced, if not completely eliminated.14

    In an attempt to meet this condition, the Ihuwe Patriotic Union (IPU), the organization of Ihuwe intelligentsia that had presided over Ihuwe [End Page 46] affairs since about the 1940s, appointed a committee with the sonorous title "Ihuwe Eze Organic Document Committee."15 In carrying out its assignment, the Committee included a section in its report under the following title: "The Organizational Structure of Ihuwe town and the Historical Background to Ihuwe Chieftaincy." This section, which ran into no more than five brief paragraphs, resurrected in all its stark realities the fundamental issue in dispute between Eziama and Ogwuo in 1929, when Onyeakagbusi succeeded his father, contrary to the pre-1908 tradition, but in keeping with the new tradition set up by the British when they preferred men whom they thought could deliver the expected dividends over men whose claims went back to the days of Methuselah.

    It is here that we come to the main meat of this essay: that nearly eight decades of the novel tradition, with all its rich documentation and its imposition by the heavy hand of the colonial overlord, had not succeeded in killing the nice brief account of Ihuwe history as the history of the descent of seven villages from one fecund ancestor, which order of descent determined not only seniority among the villages and the order in which they take shares, but entrenched in the socio-political culture of the group the principle of hereditary succession to the ancient symbol of office, ofo, to which was attached ritual, religious, and political leadership. Indeed Ogwuo did not dispute this delightful little story, nor did the renegades from the other six villages that supported its untraditional claim.

    Instead of denying it, they tried to rearrange the items in the story by claiming that it was Ogwuo and not Eziama that was the first son of Ihuwe and thus the royal lineage. But since it would have been serious sacrilege to claim that Ogwuo's ofo is the senior ofo of Ihuwe, they left the senior ofo where it was–in Eziama–but stripped it of all political significance, arguing that it was merely for religious and ritual purposes and thus irrelevant as a proof of claim in the matter in dispute. This was either ignorance or bare-faced banditry, since it is well-known that in Igbo society virtually every activity and established institution was rooted in religion and ritual. How could there have been, therefore, political authority that was bereft of religious and ritual underpinnings or such a major religious and ritual institution and position as the ofo that was bereft of all political influence and authority? [End Page 47]

    Since 1977 this matter of how to harmonize practical politics and the government of Ihuwe with this undying, this immortal little account of its origin and development, has remained in the front burner of Ihuwe affairs, growing more complex by the day and ending up in the high court in 1989, where it has been ever since, despite the fact that two or three judges are said to have ruled that this is not a matter the courts could settle using the powers they have under the Nigerian judicial system.

    VI
    Since the first draft of this paper was written in 2002, two other developments have taken place that further illustrate the power of this history in the thinking and actions of the leaders of the town. According to the unadulterated version of this oral history, the seven villages of Ihuwe fell into two moieties–Ikenga and Ihitte with Ikenga being the senior moiety and Ihitte the junior moiety. Eziama and Ogwuo happen to be in Ikenga, the senior moiety. But senior or junior, these two moieties are rated equal in status and responsibility in the matter of sharing whatever there was to be shared–work or reward. The only point is that on each occasion Ikenga would have to take its share before Ihitte.

    Now, as part of its continuing effort to pour oil on Ihuwe's affairs, the Imo State government created a total of four autonomous communities in Ihuwe. By the theory and practice of the old order, this should have worked as two autonomous communities for Ikenga and two for Ihitte. But what happened was that Ikenga got three of the autonomous communities whereas Ihitte got only one. The people allege that this happened because at the material time a son of Ikenga was the Deputy Governor of Imo State and that he took the opportunity to hit Ihitte below the belt. Whatever the explanation might be, the germane fact is that there is intense fury in Ihitte against all those believed to be behind this open infringement of the theory and practice of the ancient constitution. It is also expected that the gods and ancestors would visit the transgressors with condign punishment. In the meantime, every effort is being made by Ihitte to secure justice from the Government for itself.

    The second development is even more fascinating and even more illustrative of the central point of this paper. This is the rise of a movement more or less to reverse all the developments that had taken place in the structure and functioning of Ihuwe since 1978 through restoring the ideological and functioning unity that Ihuwe enjoyed under the old dispensation–the creation of multiple autonomous communities notwithstanding. There has even been talk of converting Ihuwe into a clan, or what we referred to earlier in this paper as the "occasional state." How this would [End Page 48] work, no one has said, or indeed knows. Nor has it been considered what impact this would have on the time-honored occasional state of Otanchara, of which Ihuwe is the undisputed head, or how the gods and ancestors of Otanchara clan would look upon this attempt to rend the supposedly seamless coat of the clan. Appropriately the leader of this movement happens to be a "born-again" Methodist bishop, a member of that new crop of Igbo intelligentsia who believe it is the mission of the Christian churches to eliminate all ancient cultural landmarks in Igboland.

    VII
    What it remains for us to do is to draw out those main points that will help us to explain the power, indeed the spell, of oral history on the kind of community we have been dealing with here. In this regard, the first point we should draw attention to is the kind of society we are dealing with. This is a community that was until very recently in the agrarian phase of socio-political and economic evolution. Not until the dawn of British rule at the beginning of the last century did some effort begin to be made to introduce elements of modern industrial and mechanical culture into Igbo society. Such a community as Ihuwe is largely inward-looking and focused on land, which was more or less the dominant economic capital and whose influence thus permeated every aspect of life.

    Indeed the occupant of the position being contested for in this case, the Eze, is known as onye-nwe-ala–literally, the owner of the land, the dignitary with the overriding voice in the deployment and disposition of the land on which the community sits. In this capacity he is, despite such modernizing trends as Christianity, commercialism, and urbanization, the surrogate of the ancestors and the local gods. Such a society is strife-prone according to the students of human society.16 It was partly to keep a tight control on this feature of the society that the oral account was invented, mapping out in advance the order of precedence, hierarchy of rights and status, and so on. The result is that not even those who find themselves driven to challenge the history are prepared to contemplate casting it completely overboard. Rather, they would amend it this way or that way by rearranging the constituent counters or by introducing one or two new ones, as Ogwuo did in this case.

    A second important point that should be taken into account is that the story or history is anchored on such conservative institutions and practices [End Page 49] as religion, ritual, the occult, and primordial cosmology. Those who tamper with it even ever so lightly are believed to run a very serious risk–the risk of being struck down with dangerous illnesses or even killed outright by the ancestors and the gods. In the case under discussion, most of those who took a prominent part in the dispute, especially on the side of Ogwuo, happened to die soon after. Popular opinion and belief is that they died because of the discreditable roles they played in rending the seamless coat bequeathed to the community by the all-wise and all-knowing ancestors. The belated attempt now being made by some of today's leaders of the town to reverse the trend toward further disintegration can be explained at least in part with reference to the fear of committing the same sin of the immediate past leaders of the town and suffering their fate. In this kind of climate of opinion and belief even those who by design or default find themselves working against the inherited oral history are usually loudest in their protestations of commitment to its preservation in its pristine form. But it is said—and believed—that the all-seeing ancestors cannot be hoodwinked.

    To the social scientist and historian, this delightful little account might be categorized and dismissed as myth or fiction or both. But to the people whose life it is designed to regulate, it is history of the purest water–proof of sonship, paternity and free-born status (amadi). The decision of the Imo State government in 1996, which sought to settle this matter once and for all by giving Ogwuo an autonomous community status under that name, while the other six villages remained an autonomous community under the old name of Ihuwe turned out to deepen rather than heal the division in the town. It also made the Government into an oppressor of Ogwuo in the eyes of the latter, who saw it as expulsion from their ancient heritage. To them this was simply an attempt to turn them into bastards–a people without a founding father.

    One of their elite sons, an Archbishop Emeritus of the Methodist Church, apart from being one of many signatories to a general petition on the matter, wrote one by himself pointing out that that decision was a grievous error and that it "denied his section the use of the common ancestral name thus severing them completely from their historical past." Further down in the same petition he wrote:

    Search your conscience and determine whether there is justice and honesty in your position that I, Most Rev. (Dr,) J.N. Dimoji, Emeritus Archbishop of Methodist Church Nigeria has no history and no past. How does the position of Deputy Government [sic] confer on you the right to banish me from Ihube.17 [End Page 50]

    I found the fact that the respected Archbishop could append his signatures to these positions one of the most telling bits of evidence of the sinister spell which this little story cast over the minds of his fellow townsmen. For it would appear that even conversion to Christianity, instead of weakening the hold of this story, actually reinforced it–perhaps because of its similarity with the story in genesis that Adam and Eve were the original progenitors of all mankind. Thus educated minds in Ihuwe do not find it absurd that a certain man was the father of the thousands of men, women, and children that constitute Ihuwe's population today. And in this genealogy this ancestor is only some seven or eight generations back from them.18 By the same token, each of them could become the founder of a village-group or even a clan eight generations hence.

    One more point helps to explain the fact that this oral history continues to exert its power over the people virtually unchallenged. The colonial authorities used to describe the Igbo (then spelt Ibo) as litigious and addicted to contention. Many neighbors of the Igbo, who find them tedious and tiresome, quip that the anglicized form of their name "Ibo" means "I Before Others." Some may even think it means "I know Better than Others." Writing on the Igbo, R.N. Henderson gave his work the title The King in Everyman. The average Igbo man is king in everything—king in his social status, king in material wealth, king in intellect, king in spirit. At the time the controversy burst into the open a second time in the 1970s, Ihuwe had produced a fairly large body of intelligentsia among whom there was only one historian and no social scientist of any note. But they would not listen to this historian, who could have helped to focus their attention on the available options with a view to their making a conscious choice in favor of or against the old orthodoxy.

    In a similar manner the uneducated and the semi-educated majority would not listen to the intelligentsia. The common cry was: "This is not a matter for 'long grammar' or 'dogo turenchi'," as those of their sons who had lived in Hausaland put it. For the average Igbo, "long grammar" is the standard derisive term for dismissing any knowledge higher than that which he has. In consequence, since about 1977 Ihuwe has been a Babel of voices, in which everyone speaks and no one listens or appears to understand, [End Page 51] with the intelligentsia speaking with their pens. With Ihuwe thus incapable of taking a binding decision on the challenge before them, the ancient historical orthodoxy continues its unhindered reign with and without modification over the minds of the people–the modified version in Ogwuo village, and the unmodified version in the other six villages.

    Those who know the Igbo would remember that by and large the story of modern development among them has been the story of self-help promoted by the development unions, which have been the engines of growth in the local communities since about the 1940s.19 Since 1977, when the conflict over the succession to the ezeship broke out a second time, tearing the town union, Ihube Patriotic Union (IPU), to shreds, not one single development project has been implemented in Ihuwe. In this case the spell of oral history has been nothing but tragic.

    Footnotes
    1. An earlier and shorter version of this paper was presented at the XIIth International Conference on Oral History held at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 24-27 June 2002.

    2. V.C. Chikwendu, "Igboland in Prehistory: Technology and Economy" in A.E. Afigbo, ed., Groundwork of Igbo History (Lagos, 1991), 61-95.

    3. E.E. Okafor, "Early Iron Working in Nsukka: Information from Slags and Residues" (Ph.D, University of Sheffield, 1992); A.E. Afigbo, Ropes of Sand: Studies in Igbo History and Culture (Ibadan, 1981); idem., Igbo Genesis (Uturu, 2000).

    4. A.E. Afigbo, "The Indigenous Political Systems of the Igbo," Tarikh 4/2(1973), 13-23; idem., "Southeastern Nigeria in the Nineteenth Century" in J.F.A. Ajayi and Michael Crowder, eds., History of West Africa II (London, 1987), 429-84. See also M.A. Onwuejeogwu, Iguaro Igbo Heritage Inaugural Lecture 2001 (n.p., n.d.).

    5. This is the first time that I am coining the concept of "occasional state" in my study of the Igbo-speaking peoples.

    6. Daryll Forde and G.I. Jones, The Igbo- and Ibibio-Speaking Peoples of Southeastern Nigeria (London, 1950).

    7. A.E. Afigbo, "Igboland before 1800" in O. Ikime, ed., Groundwork of Nigerian History (Ibadan, 1980), 73-88.

    8. Afigbo, "Indigenous Political Systems"; idem., "Southeastern Nigeria"; I. Nzimiro, Studies in Igbo Political Systems: Chieftaincy and Politics in Four Niger States (London, 1972); Onwuejeogwu, Iguaro Igbo.

    9. See the sources in note 8 above.

    10. A.E. Afigbo, The Warrant Chiefs: Indirect Rule in Southeastern Nigeria, 1891-1929 (London, 1972).

    11. A.E. Afigbo, "Patterns of Igbo Resistance to British Conquest," Tarikh 4/3(1973), 14-23.

    12. Afigbo, Warrant Chiefs, chapters 5 and 7.

    13. National Archives, Enugu, File no. EP.9387 Intelligence Report on the Otanchara Clan, Owerri Province by Mr. F.A. Goodliffe, ADO, CSE 1/85/4844A. Also oral information from Chief Mbabuike Ogujiofor of Ogube (Ogwuo) who had in fact been a Native Court Messenger before succeeding his father Ogujiofor as chief, and from Mazi Irechukwu Agriga of Ugwuntu in Ihuwe. The information was collected in 1962, by which time each was over seventy years of age.

    14. Report of the Committee on Chieftaincy Matters in East Central State of Nigeria (Enugu, 1975).

    15. The information for much of this section comes from the reports of the committees set up in 1977 and 1988 to work on the Ihuwe Eze Organic Document, as well as from the memoranda submitted to those committees by different personalities and villages in Ihuwe. Most prominent persons in the town have these in their archives. I also have them in my private archives. This was supplemented by information collected from such elders and members of Ihuwe Intelligentsia as A.U. Nwankwo (JP) and members of the Customary Court, Okigwem and a citizen of Agbala village; Elder Nwafor Irogbori (now deceased) from Ozara village; Mazi S.O. Udeagu from Ozara village; Mazi Nwafor Ihemekowe from Akpugo village, and others.

    16. T. Stonier, "Science, Technology and the Emerging Postindustrial Culture" in James C. Coomer, ed., Quest for a Sustainable Society (New York, 1981), 76. Here it is mentioned that the agrarian society in making the transition to the mechanical and industrial phase of development exhibits different kinds of features, including "internal strife."

    17. Petition dd 9 December 1999 with contact address as Methodist Church Nigeria, Ihube, from Archbishop J.N. Dimoji and addressed to the Deputy Governor of Imo State. See also the group petition dated 25 October 1999, with contact address c/o His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. J.N. Dimoji, addressed to the Executive Governor of Imo State, Owerri.

    18. The spokesman for Amalator, which includes Eziama, Mr. S.O. Udeagu, in fact says the foundation of Ihuwe took place five generations before the onset of the colonial era. This would make eight generations by the time he was writing. See his letter of 30 July 1990 to the Peace Mission, Ihube Patriotic Union, Lagos Branch entitled "The Plain Truth About the Ezeship Tussle in Ihube." On the other hand. the account from Ogwuo, put forward by its main spokesman, Sunday Uzu, suggests six generations before the onset of colonial rule, making nine generations by 1990.

    19. M.O. Ijere, "Communal Labour and the Development of Rural Igboland" in Afigbo, Groundwork.
     
  2. Ikoro

    Ikoro Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Country:
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    Why isn't Silent-Ra here anymore? :( Yes, I am aware he is banned.

    In any case, don't sleep on this.

    Peace,

    - Ikoro
     
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