Onitsha History, Kingship and Changing Cultures

Table of Contents Structure


"Instabilities"  (Ancient, Modern)
The Geographical Grounding of Cultural Contrasts
A pastward look:  Robert McWhirter’s Onitsha 1905-11
Brief look at “Otu-Onicha” (Onitsha Waterside)
Brief look at “Enu-Onicha” (High Onitsha)


Igbo language roots and (Pre-) History
    1. West Africa: Pleistocene-Holocene
    2  Major subdivisions of Niger-Congo language
    3.  The Volta-Congo languages
        1. West Volta-Congo
        2.  East Volta-Congo
    4.  Expansion-zone contexts
        1. Chadic speakers
        2.  Nilo-Saharan speakers
    5.  Expansion zone contexts, continued
    6. West Benue-Congo languages (including Igbo)

Niger-Benue Worlds:  “Nok”, Metallurgy, 
Igbo to Igbo-Ukwu, Nri
    1.  Metallurgy & culture change:  “Nok” et al
    2. The disepersions of Igbo
        “Easterly core:  the Igbo-Ukwu wonderland
        The “Eze Nri”
        M. Owuejeogwu on Nri 1981
        Aboh and Aro expansions

Slave Trade and persisting Stereotypes
    1.  Western vs Eastern Igbo & stereotypes
    2. The “Warrior-migrant people” stereotype
    3.  Modes of killing others:
        Human Sacrifice
        “Eating” by slave export (Aro-Chukwu et al)

European-organized Intrusions
    1.  The Landers’ brothers account of 1830
    2.  Laird-Oldfield 1832-35
    3.  The Trotter Expedition of 1841
    4.  Laird-Baikie et al 1854-6
    5.  Crowther & associates invade Onitsha
            Crowther’s initial descriptions
6. Further sketches regarding this history

Early & Colonial Ethnicities
    1. Postlude: The “two-hearted city”
    2.  Hendersons lived at the “Inland edge”
    3.  Capsules of late 19th-century history
            Intense inter-group & inter-personal conflicts
            Some interactions bear productive fruit
    4.  Ndi-Onicha negotiate colonial worlds
            “Modernizing tradtionalists”
            Kola land tenure & descent groups
            Onitsha “sons”:… disoriented youth
            “Whereas the….Ibos fill … vacancies
            A 1948 Administrative Report
    5.  Nnamdi Azikiwe:  the “Transformer”
        The West African Pilot
        The Nigerian Spokesman
        The “Non-Onitsha Ibos” become a force 

Cultural Politics and the OIU
    1. Certificate of membership
    2.  European lifestyles and Kingship
    3.  The OIU faces the Age-grades
    4.  Strategic defeat at Ime-Obi
    5.  Peter Achukwu & Agbala-na-iregu
    6.  Pivotal triumph for the OIU
    7.  The ”meanings of Igbo”

Approaching “Independence”


Nigerian Independence Day, Onitsha 1960
Otu (Onitsha Waterside) 1960-62
Enu-Onicha (Inland Town) 1960-62
Byron Maduegbuna, a Native Anthropologist
Visits “Abroad”:
    Witnessing an Aguleri Ofala festival 1960
    Visit to Nnobi
    A visit to Nsugbe:  Igwe, Nne-Mmanwu, and Ijele
    The “Black Juju” at Nkwelle
    Visits to Awkuzu (Orizu the Native Doctor; Ijele, Mmanwu))
    Visit to Opobo, Christmas 1961
Newcomers’ Experiences, Wider Realities
    Visitors learn:  Ndi-Onicha, Ndi-Igbo
    Ndi-Igbo presence via the “Black Juju”
    The Obosi-Igbo confrontation:  Otu-Obosi “Horrors”
    The opposition is stark (but moderated)
Power and Paradox in Enu-Onitsha
    Obi Okosi II in 1960
    Owelle title-taking at Ime-Obi
    Owelle’s “outing”, Meanings of “War Dancing”
    “Great Crowns” and Ghostly Ones
    Okosi II Ofala for 1958
    The Episode of the “Bleating Heart”
    Public rituals: violent-conflict models inside  & out                   
Leadership symbolism in Onitsha Igbo Crowns & Ijele     
The Ancestral House (iba) in Onitsha,1960-61
    “A Hallowed Onitsha type”
    The Okpulukpu
    Iba-related activities within & outside
    Details of Ozi’s Iba
    An Historical question


The Iron is Broken
    February 2, 1961, at 24 Mba road
    The traditional requirement of gradual dying
    ritual secrecy and the Nigerian press
    Some meanings of “the Obi Lives”

Kings, Nation-States, Killings
    A second ritual secret is mooted
    Moral dilemmas stun naive invesstigators
    Alternative interpretations are available
    Real murders on a more distant stage, February 14,          1961
    Lumumba reactions (a Lumumba cult appears)
    Social distances and death

Obi Okosi II, Death and Burial
    Formal announcments
    Obi Okosi II;  Final Ofala
        Dancings by Daughters & Wives
        Killing Three Cows
        Right and Left flanks of the throne
        To the inner chambers
        Afternoon rituals
        Backstage moments, observations
    Aftermath:  Onitsha market traders defy “fitting            tribute”


Umu-Eze-Aroli and other Royals
    Feb ruary 1961:  first soundings
    Umuezearoli & Okebunabo
    1900 UEA loss to Okebunabo
    Land disputes restore unity to UEA
    1934-5 Interregnum
    Okebunabo presents another Okosi
    Reorganizing UEA in the 1950s
    UEA leadership in 1960
    UEA reacts to Okosi death:  Enwezor wins vote
    Ethnographer meets Enwezor
    Some voices say, “Ab omination!”

Parties proliferate
    Isiokwe villagers discuss pursuing kinghsip
    Isiokwe calls “all Umu-Eze-Chima’
    Isiokwe seeks a candidate of their own
    Dr. Uwechia vs. Byron’s side
    Isiokwe proposes Moses Emembolu
    Mbamali Ajie redefines Umu-Olosi
    Ofo-Diali of Ogbeozala speaks out
    Peter Achukwu, Age-grades, OIU enter the game
    Stirrings in Umu-Ase (non-royal clans)
    Measuring oppositions

Obiekwe Aniweta, Protean Man
Newspapers and Cultural Brokers
    1,  “The Ajie presents an interesting history”
    2,  Okebunabo J. Orakwue rebuts
    3. Ajie responds
    4. Renegoation oral traditions:  tactics
    5. Aniweta transforms the dispute
            The Issues at hand
    6. Some cultural entrepreneurs of the Inland Town
UEC Crises and Resolutions
    The April 29 meeting
    The issue of Secretariat
    The resolution and its impact
    Okebunabo seeks control
    May 13 meeting
    May 23:  forming “The Committee”

Religion Matters:  From “Sin” to “Alu”
    1. “Religious politics” in Onitsha Urban: Otu focus
        Madam Ob inwe confronts the Reverend Fathers
    2.  “Religious politics” in the Inland Town
        Obiekwe Aniweta exposes RCM support of Odita
        RCM denies involvement
    3.  Lamentation, Ozo title, and the RCM
        Odita mourned late wife; can he take Ozo Title?             
        Discussion: relations between christianity and ,,,          4. The Holy Gost Fathers’ Anti-Juju Crusade in Nnewi              
    5.  Moses Odita performs his Ozo Title rituals
    6.  Devout Christian commits pagan ’Sin”
    7. Performing Ikpu Alu
        Nigerian Spokesman:  Odita’s Ozo Row ends in  Ikpu Alu              
    8.  Ideologies of discipline/rebellion

The UEC “Special Committee” at Work
    1. Assessing the Membership
    2. Committee task assignments
    3. Candidates’ “conditions to be satisfied”
    4.  Site for a “Permanent Palace”
    5.  What is the “True Genealogy of Ezechima”
        The position of “Dei” within Okebunabo
        Ambiguous positions of Oreze and Olosi
        Implications of the research process

The Conference Final Report
    1. Development
    2. New moves by Enwezor’s side
    3.  Secretary Onyechi changes tack
    4.  The “Special Committee”’s final report
        Comparison withthe 1935 “Eight Age Grades”
        Some major social innovations
    5.  The Conference submits the report to the Chiefs
        The Conference (and its assisting secretary)                become important players
        Some reflections


Igwe Enwezor Petitions Ani-Onicha
    (the full ritual described in pictures and text)

“Mass Meetings” and prospective “Competition”
    1. “Mass Meeting of Chiefs and Onitsha Indigenes”,              August 4, 1961
            Odu Mbanefo II
    2.  “Mass Meeting of All Onitsha Commoners”                 (August 6)
    3.  A Resolution for the Chiefs, August 8
    4.  The Onya’s “Meeting of all Umu-Eze-Aroli Elders”                August 10
        Candidate Joseph Onyejekwe
    5.  UmuEzeChima Confefrence announces a                 Competition
    6.  Some Chiefs sechedule a “Mass Meeting with          Onitsha Peopple”

The “Manifesto Competition”
    1.  The Ajie sets a tone
    2.  Onyejekwe outlines a program
    3.  Onyechi improvises
    4.  Akunnia Emembolu does his best
    5.  Other candidatges perform with variable results
    6.  The urgent task of assessment

Umu-Eze-Chima Selects
    1.  Enwezor’s group declares:  the contest is               completed!
    2.  The Special Committee of UEC Conference votes
    3.  Announcement to “All Onitsha”
    4.  Reflections:  aftermath of the Presentation

Who Bestows Ofo?
    1. Umuato in Umuase:  Byron interrupts the ritual
    2.  August 27;  the Prime Minister calls all Ndichie
    3.  Newspapers discuss the selection
            The O’Connor Memorandum of 1935
    4.  Non-royal Clans confront the Conference
    5.  The Conference makes a conciliatory response
    6.  Problems now facing the Prime Minister and              Enwezor
    7.  Some pervasive contradictions are now manifest
    8.  Higher-level politics intrudes on our “Searchings”

Major Elections Intervene
    (there is considerable text here, but this needs to be          written properly)

Umuezechima Conference “Presents a King”
      The Event

Ije-Udo Enwezor
    1.  Onyejekwe has been “Painted in White Clay”
    2.  The Newspapers respond
    3.  The two factions openly polarize (two “palaces”)
    4.  The nature and location of “Udo” is disputed
    5.  Enwezor Ije-Udo
        (see details of this:  some relevant comparative                info)

Onowu Crownds a King
    1. Rituals performed in Onowu’s compound
    2.  Processions to the Palace, crowning there

Onyejekwe Ije-Udo & “Crowning”
    1.  Interrim between installations (fix heading!)
        (elaborate here and previous on newspapers —                regional roles)
    2.  A votge of “no confidence” in Onowu
    3.  Onyejekwe goes to Udo
    4. Procession to Ajie’s house
    5.  “Domestic services” at Ajie’s house
    6.  The act of enthronement
    5.  Competing assessments, problems of publicity            (see number error here)

Bestowing Ofo; Egwu-Ota
    1 The prospects of support from Umu-Ase
    2. Disposition of the ancient “Anvil Ofo” (ofo-otutu)
    3. Egwu-Ota at Iba Enwezor
    4.  The Umu-Ase-Iyawu vote, and its consequences
    4.  Dedicating an Ofo-Eze for Onyejekwe
    4.  Presenting Ofo eze to Onyejekwe)         (see               number errors here)

Mobilizing Support
    1.  Indices of commitment in the Inland Town
    2. Mobilizing supporters in the Waterside
    3.  Attempts to influence the Onitsha Urban County Council
    4.  Frustrating relations with Regional and National Government
    5.  The Royal Clan Conference undergoes a final transformation
    6.  Moses Odita reappears
    7.  A sense of impasse arises

Harding Commission & Report, et al
    1.  More avenues into documentary research
    2.  The Harding Commission of Inquiry:  inception
    3.  Initial testimony of Enwezor’s group
    4.  The Commission:  Onyejekwe and the Royal Clan               Conference vs. the Chiefs
    5.  Some aspects of ritual performance compared
    6.  The Commissioner’s general evaluations  (note:                  fix the heading!)
    7.  Commissioner Harding’s recommendations as               Western Modernist value expression


    On the significance of “Style”
    Consecrating a new Ikenga 
    Byron Maduegbuna, a Native Anthropologist
    On Peter Aniweta Achukwu (Ochanja)
    Obiekwe Aniweta, Protean Man
    Barrister Emejulu’s Ichi Ozo
    The Death and Burial of Akukalia Obiozo
    In Memory of Odu Mbanefo
    M. Ogo Ibeziako, the Onoli of Onitsha              
    Odoje Village and “African Internal Frontiers”
    Samuel Crowther, Missionary/Ethnographer


Nigerian Spokesman 1964-65
Nigerian Spokesman 1966
Nigerian Collapse and Transformation
Onitsha 1992;  Brief Encounters in a Very Different Place



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