Anam Clan

Loading...

UMUEZE ANAM: A HISTORICAL EXCURSION

Sunday, June 8, 2008

UMUEZE ANAM TOWN

UMUEZE ANAM TOWN

(Avom Abogu Mmili Mili Enyi)

My Beloved Home Town

By

J. O. Ikebudu, MBA, MNIM, ANIMN

Geography

Umueze Anam is a major community of Anam clan in Anambra West Local Government area of Anambra state. It is located on the map along the longitude 6o49’60”E (6.833333E) and latitude 6o19’60”N (6.333333N). It is bounded on the east by Anambra (Onwumbala) River that runs southwards to its tributary in the River Niger at Ukwubili (west) and Onitsha (east). Further east of Anambra River, are Aguleri, Umuoba Anam, Umueri (all collectively referred to as Otuocha), and Nsugbe; at the south easternmost end is Onitsha. On the northern border, is Iyiora Anam, while Mmiata Anam is on the northwest. Oroma Etiti Anam, Umuenwelum Anam, Umudora Anam, and Umuikwu Anam are on the western fringes of Umueze Anam border.

Broadly speaking Anam towns are classified into two according to geographical contiguity: Ezi and Ivite. While Umueze, Umudora, Umuikwu, Oroma, and Umuenwelum constitute the Ezi, Mmiata, Iyiora, and Umuoba-Aboegbu constitute the Ivite Anam. Mmiata-Ovia-Nwagboo and Umuoba-Oboro-Igbo are outside this classification, having permanently fused with Otuocha—the headquarters of a neighbouring Anambra East Local Government Area.

Historical Survey

The progenitor of Umueze Anam was the legendary Aziam Nwavor (Avom) from Amadiaba, Ezi Nteje of the great Eri dynasty in Oyi Local Government area of Anambra State (full name: Azi-amaka), who migrated around the second half of the 17th century A.D. For this reason, the town is alternatively and more appropriately called Umueze Nteje in serious gatherings of the elders to discuss important community matters (e.g. Umueze Nteje, Ekenee-mu-Unu-o!). Aziam was the earliest settler in that area of Umueze Anam today known as Odah Anam. This gave him a special primacy in Anam. Thus, the paramount ruler of Umueze Anam naturally exercises some suzerainty over the entire Anam clan.

A hunter of great repute, Aziam about 1672 headed for his usual gaming rendezvous to escape the fury of his kinsmen who had accused him of having a hand in the killing of fellow townsfolk. He later was followed by Udora also from Ezi Nteje (Umuevi), and the progenitor of Umunnebisi comprising Umunta, Umuene, and Umuagu (Umualor migrated separately from Onitsha); then Iyiora (from Anaku) joined them, Mmiata group (from Aguleri and Anaku) followed, Umuikwu (principally from Ovianta, Nsugbe), Umuoba (principally from Awba-Ofemmili, then Igbariam, and Umudiana-Umueri), and finally Oroma (from Aguleri and Igala). Umuenwelum (from Umuatulu, Umueri) joined Anam last through Oroma at their present abode, not at Odah—hence Anam at Odah was Anam Mgbu Isaa (Anam of seven kin groups or communities).

In Nteje, Ezi, Ikenga, and Ivite denote direct descendents of children and not mere geographical congruity or expression as in the neighbouring communities hence Umueze and Umudora retain in Anam their Ezi origin.

Exodus from Adda warriors’ invasion of some spots in the Omambala area about 1891, contrary to claims from uninformed sources, could not have altered the population equation of Umueze Anam or Anam, generally, as the various villages had completely relocated from Odah on account of earlier Aboh misadventure and became totally entrenched in their new hinterland abode. At Otuocha, the Onwumbala River only proved a barrier to the invading Adda vandals, who, in total frustration, blurted out: “Anam should be thankful to the river”. This was not said in hot pursuit of any sizable victim, save the few that went to the Eke market.

The Adda menace took place in the year 1891 when the people of Awkuzu, apparently engaged in an expansionist policy, hired the war-lords of Adda against Nteje and Igbariam. The fighting that ensued was both very crude and bloody. A missionary reported having seen very many bodies of women and children slain along the pathway to the stream. The people of Nteje who could not match the force of the Addas went across the river Niger and invited the Royal Niger Company from Asaba. The company sent troops of soldiers who not only crushed the mercenaries and those who invited them but completely destroyed everything they saw on their way, and finally put the town of Awkuzu to torch.

Like most of the Igbo villages/towns, people from neighbouring towns, especially Aguleri and Nneyi Umueri, immigrated into Umueze Anam. But that was at the fifth generation of the town’s growth. From the first to the fourth generation, the genealogy of Umueze Anam was perfectly undiluted by common ancestry.

Umueze Anam has been occupying a pride of place not only in Anam clan but in the whole of Mbamili area. As the chief custodians of Ani Anam, Umueze kin group alone provides at all points in time from time immemorial the Ani Anam chief priests, thus constituting the principal community in which the sacerdotal unity of Anam has its source.

Aziam arrived Odah area with his two wives. One begat for him Agha (Ava) (his first male child) and the other begat Nwabueze (Eze), the second male child—Eze na Ava ovu isi anu—who happened to be junior to Ezumezu.

Eze (Nwabueze), equally, married two wives: Aneke (from Igbariam) and Obinando (corrupted to Ebendu), the second wife, from Achalla. These two women bore for him seven male children (Umueze), in the following seniority order:

S/No.

Child

Mother

1.

Odionwu

Obinando (Ebendu)

2.

Ndum

Aneke

3.

Amekeme

Obinando

4.

Iyile

Aneke

5.

Ogboru

Obinando

6.

Achor

Aneke

7.

Oraevunem

Aneke

These children, for emphasis, constitute what is known as Umueze. Like Agha, and unlike the other kin groups, there is no valid intra-marriage within Umueze. That is, no son or daughter of Umueze can validly marry another daughter or son of Umueze; it is a taboo! In actual fact, Umueze Anam community is by tradition grouped broadly into three quarters (Umunna) of Agha, Ezumezu, and Umueze. Administratively, however, the town comprises four conventionally structured kin groups: Agha, Ezumezu, Aneke, and Ebendu (in descending order of seniority).

The cantankerous relationship that had bedeviled the affairs of this family group (Umueze) over the ages bore its root on the avoidable, but laughable pettiness arising from the junior wife (Obinando) rather than the senior wife (Aneke) giving birth to the first male child (Odionwu) to Eze. This is the normal state of affair in polygamous marriages, more so in a culture with serious emphasis on male offspring such as ours.

Generation

From Nwavor at Nteje to the present time at Anam, we, the living offspring of Echikulu age-grade constitute the tenth generation, for example, as follows: Obugo-Ameke-Ikebudu-Okoye-Nwabude-Ezum-Iyile-Eze-Aziam-Nwavor.

Why is the Ani Anam custodianship restricted to Umueze alone?

No, it is open to all the direct descendants of Aziam. Agha the more senior child of Aziam at a certain point in time voluntarily opted out of active participation. Nothing, as elders assert, prevents Agha from changing their mind tomorrow.

Secondly, it was Nwabueze’s (Eze’s) daughter who courageously executed all the needed rituals that brought Ani Deity into reality.

The First-Class Anam Product

Prof. Augustine N. Eboatu, a professor of Chemistry, the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (2004-2007), and the first professor from Anam clan is from the Umueze (Umuebendu) royal dynasty. He remains the most outstanding and shinning contribution of St. Theresa’s Catholic School, Umueze-Anam, to Anam development and civilization. A proud descendant of Ogboru Eze in culture, character, and learning, Prof. Eboatu is an inspiration to the youth of the community and beyond, and belongs to the Mgbagbalazi Age-grade (1945-1946).

The Aboh Invaders

The Ada (Edda) invaders that had been terrorizing the communities of Igbo upland in the early days of the slave trade could not penetrate the swamps of the riverine communities. The people of Aboh on the western lower end of the River Niger perfectly fitted in to fill the gap. Times without number they had raided with their boats well fitted with cannons. To put an end to this ugly phenomenon, Anam sent a peace mission to Aboh comprising seven adult males, one each from each Anam village. These emissaries ended up founding a town between Ochiuche and Osomala in Ogbaru Local Government of Anambra state called Anam-na-nkwo, which has now changed to Umunankwo. Happily, the people of Umunankwo are fully aware of their roots in Anam and have been paying homages, contrary to the common trend among the Ibo riverine communities of Delta and Rivers states remorselessly denying their Igboness.

Above measure notwithstanding, the Abohs intensified their devilish escapades. Early in the 18th century A.D., they met their waterloo at Odah Anam. Oral history holds that it was a total annihilation of Aboh and their armada. Anam people, afraid of a possible reprisal in the face of such an unprecedented destruction of lives and property, decided to move hinterlands, away from Anambra river beach (Odah). Till today, undecayed bones and breakages of earthen pots (pebbles) that litter the Odah ferry point are eloquent testimonies of this claim.

Umueze moved seven miles north-west of Odah and named the place Aboh, the name it retains till today. Umuoba finally bounded Umueze on the southeast and named theirs Aboegbu(-nam). Mmiata moved a little ahead of Umueze on the west, while Iyiora stayed on the eastern bank of Ezichi River, from where they later moved with the help of Umueze to their present aboard. Umuikwu, Umudora, and Oroma moved westwards, close to the bank of River Niger.

It is instructive to note that apart from Umueze Anam who in 1902 and indifferent to the palpable fear of the much dreaded Aboh, courageously returned from their hideout to reclaim the abandoned Odah Anam and its environs, the other Anam communities, till date, are still fugitives in their hideouts; the Umuoba Anam, Otuocha (1910) and Ovia-Nwagbo latter-day settlements notwithstanding.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

About Us

About Us