Onitsha History, Kingship and Changing Cultures

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Onitsha, an Introduction

Chapter Two: Deep-Searching Histories

  • Niger-Benue Worlds: “Nok”, Metallurgy,
    Igbo to Igbo-Ukwu, Nri
    1. Metallurgy & culture change: “Nok” et al
    2. The dispersions of Igbo
    3. “Easterly core: the Igbo-Ukwu wonderland
    4. The “Eze Nri”
    5. M. Owuejeogwu on Nri 1981
    6. 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:
      1. Human Sacrifice
      2. Cannibalism
      3. “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 traditionalists”
      • 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”

Chapter Three: The “New Nigeria,” 1960-62

  • 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

Chapter Four: A Mighty Tree Falls (February 1961)

  • 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 investigators
    • 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 announcements
    • 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”

Chapter Five: “When Our Father is Sought but not Seen” (Part One)

  • Umu-Eze-Aroli and other Royals
    • February 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, “Abomination!”
  • Parties proliferate
    • Isiokwe villagers discuss pursuing kingship
    • 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
  • Polarization
  • 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 with the 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

Chapter Six: “When Our Father is Sought but not Seen” (Part Two)

  • 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 schedule a “Mass Meeting with Onitsha People”
  • 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 candidates 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 Crowns a King
    1. Rituals performed in Onowu’s compound
    2. Processions to the Palace, crowning there
  • Onyejekwe Ije-Udo & “Crowning”
    1. Interim between installations (fix heading!) (elaborate here and previous on newspapers — regional roles)
    2. A vote 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
    7. 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
    5. Dedicating an Ofo-Eze for Onyejekwe
    6. 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

Chapter Seven: Some Chronicles of Onitsha “Style”

  • 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

Chapter Eight: Some Post-1962 Aftermaths

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

Chapter Nine: Helen Henderson on Women and Ritual

Chapter Ten: Bibliography

Scroll to Top