Any historical study on Ekwe society, without credible attention first to the earliest period of Ekwe as an independent culture based Igbo Community, is apt to be an exercise in futility. The present study examines the level of development in Ekwe in 1960 and after the colonial rule. This work unveils the extortion and underdevelopment the British people led Ekwe people into. This work reveals the unity of Ekwe people both male and female, home and abroad and how their leaders provided unity and development. The work highlights the continuity of some indigenous customs and traditions and the adoption and continuity of British-imposed customs in Ekwe. The researcher stressed and went extra-miles to show the relationships between Ekwe and other neighboring communities, especially Okwudor. Moreover, this work examines the customs and traditions of Ekwe, the History, norms and post-colonial period in Ekwe, Chieftaincy, Ozo, Ezeship titles, festivals, roles of her women in Nigeria/Biafra Civil War, Infrastructures and the women. In order to achieve viable results, extensive use of both primary and secondary sources of materials was done. Subsequently, qualitative and quantitative approach were adopted during sieving of the enormous information available, in order to aid historical objectivity.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page i
Table of Contents vii
List of illustrations ix
CHAPTER ONE- INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study 1
1.2 Statement of Problem 3
1.3 Purpose of the Study 3
1.4 Significance of the Study 3
1.5 Methodology, Sources and Organization 4
1.6 Scope of the Study 4
1.7 Literature Review 5
End Note 8
CHAPTER TWO- THE LAND AND ITS PEOPLE (POST-COLONIAL)
2.1 Location and Geography 9
2.2 Origin, Migration and settlement 16
End Note 20
CHAPTER THREE- CULTURAL AND SOCIO-POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS
3.1 Taboos and Abominations 22
3.2 Kolanut among Ekwe People and Igbo People at Large (Oji) 25
3.3 Festivals in Ekwe 32
3.6 Kindreds in Ekwe Community 44
3.7 Political and Traditional Institutions 46
3.9 Ezeship Stool and Covenants in Ekwe 50
End Note 52
CHAPTER FOUR- POST-COLONIAL EKWE TOWN
4.1 Brief History of Ekwe from 1960-2000 54
4.2 Ekwe Development Union (EDU) 1963 55
4.3 Roles of Igbo/Ekwe women in Nigeria/Biafra war 1967-1970 57
4.4 Brief Crises of 1996-2000 63
4.5 Infrastructural developments 63
End Note 66
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
5.1 Summary 67
5.2 Conclusion 68
1.1 Background of Study
Ekwe is a community in Isu Local Government Area, Imo State, Nigeria.
In Igboland, Ekwe people work mostly as craftsmen, farmers and traders. The most important crop is the yam. Other staple crops include cassava, three leaf yam and cocoyam. The Igbos are also highly urbanized, with some of the largest metropolitan areas, cities and towns in Igboland being Onitsha, Enugu, Aba, Owerri, Orlu, Okigwe, Asaba, Awka, Nsukka, Nnewi, Umuahia, Abakaliki, Afikpo, Agbor and Arochukwu.
Ekwe people have similarities and continuities from prehistory to contemporary time. Before British colonial rule in the 20th century, the Igbo were a politically fragmented group, with a number of centralized chiefdoms such as Nri, Arochukwu, Agbor and Onitsha. In the wake of decolonisation, the Igbo developed a strong sense of ethnic identity which Ekwe was one of the communities.1
After the colonizing from Ekweland, the community is mostly interested in human relationships and cooperation. They have the zeal of coming together and doing things as one body. The colonial era did more harm than good. The old nature of Ekwe Ancient Kingdom some years ago did not allow them to know what to do. It has been a burden of knowing what they can do to come together after the British exit. It is also a tough task on how to reason together and their self-questioning led to these questions.
1. How can they make laws that will be guiding the community?
2. How can they stop ills and evil deeds that are becoming too many?
3. How can they join the race for development and modern civilization?
4. What is their work?
It was the inquisitive minds of many illustrious sons and daughters of Ekwe that made them consider togetherness which led to what they know today as the Ekwe Town Union.
Town unionism was very important during the post-colonial period in Ekwe because it solved the problem of leadership which the colonizer were not interested in Nigerians, but they were interested in exploiting natural resources.
Community Development is not left out.
However, a thorough research into the Ekwe ancient Kingdom starting from Ekwe in time and space through the origin till the achievements of the town union will show the level of development Ekwe had attained. There was very rapid development counting from the independence period which was from 1960 to 2000 compared to the colonial era. Ekwe has not been fully developed; therefore, one cannot say it is developed. Rather it has passed the formal stage of its old and is pursuing modern civilization in a great way. Based on this fact, it is concluded that Ekwe is developing.
The kind of development that helped Ekwe to attain the height it has today started immediately after her freedom from colonial rule. There were in two ways:
Infra-Human Development: Ekwe first started its development with human beings believing that when produced, capable beings will help in contributing to the infrastructural development.
Infrastructural Development: Economic development during that period improved in no small measure. The Colonial era was a fraud because the Europeans dominated the economic sector. They chose to exploit her natural resources for their own selfish gains and also refused to use them to develop Ekweland. It is after their exit that Ekwe citizens started enjoying their resources and many markets were established in Ekwe in order to boost economic activities.
1.2 Statement of problem
This work seeks, among other things, to discover the key elements that shaped Ekwe society and its people prior to the colonial period. It identifies Ekwe as one of the Igbo communities that have similarities in culture, leadership system, festivals and traditions. Also, it seeks to analyse the impact of British colonial rule in Ekwe to identify how it caused the society more harm than good. It will also analyse how the post-colonial leadership in Ekwe, in ignorance, allowed the errors of colonial legacies as a reflex which hindered development in the society.
1.3 Purpose of study
The purpose of this study is to, among other things situate Ekwe in the historiography of micro societies in Igboland. It will also provide a platform for the furtherance of academic research on Ekwe community.
1.4 Significance of the study
This work seeks to provide knowledge that will not only break Ekwe society out of the liabilities of colonial legacies, but also to improve the quality if leadership synonymous to the development of an African society. It also seeks to identify the post-colonial development stage in progress and the indicators for their sustainability. It will be an important source material both to academics and political leaders of Ekwe society.
1.5 Methodology, Sources and Organisation of the study
Qualitative and quantitative methods were adopted in the course of the study. Primary and secondary sources constitute most data for historical reconstruction. Primary sources include oral tradition granted by reliable informants through the random sampling mode. Also Intelligence Reports and other valuable documents collected from the National Archives, Enugu. Secondary sources include books, journal articles, and other relevant works both within and outside the study area. Available facts will be analyzed historically using qualitative research methodology. The work is organized in five chapters, Chapter one introduces the research study and presents the preliminaries, theoretical background, statement of the problem, purpose of study, significance of the study, scope of the study, Literature review, organization of the research and definition of terms. Chapter Two focuses on the land and its people, location and geography, History of Ekwe, the traditional Ekwe society. Chapter Three highlights cultural, socio-political Ekwe society, which includes the taboos and abomination, kola nut, tourism and hospitality, age grades, festivals, kindreds, political and traditional institutions. Chapter Four presents the History of Ekwe from 1960-2000, Roles of Ekwe women during the Nigeria Civil War and the Infrastructural developments at the time of research. Chapter Five contains the summary and a conclusion before the relevant Bibliography.
1.6Scope of study
The scope of this work is fourteen villages that make up Ekwe community in the Isu Local Government Area of Imo State. Though this work appear to begin in 1960, sincere efforts has been made to uplift and mirror Ekwe’s past and continuities, with the aim of side tracking, uplifting and bringing forward those vital condiments that has continued to give Ekwe community it’s robust identity over the years. Year 2000 was chosen as the terminal year as it marked the end of the twentieth century and the end of leadership turtles in Ekwe hence peace was restored.
Sincere effort was made to consult widely and to peruse through the works of the following authors, who have contribute generally on the issue of the dynamics of Igbo developmental studies, most especially from the paradigm of the many facets stemming from the pre-colonial, past the post colonial and up to the present. Though relatively informative as regards their view points, it is the duty of the present study to address and fill up their short comings.
Elizabeth Isichei took time to elucidate the intricate evolutionary nature of the Igbo, in her book- History of Igbo People. Immense time was given to details with regards to the many facets of Igbo culture and tradition. This work, a trail- blazing discourse on the subject matter, exposes the importance of objectivity in historical research and writing. However, in trying to draw-up a generalized and compact conception about the Igbo, it missed certain delicate primordial details particularly in individual Igbo enclaves. This uniqueness helps to build, maintain and identify one community from another. Embedded in the cultural history of a people, the present study is poised to expose these aspects of Ekwe community.
By the same token, Anenechukwu Umeh in his book- Igbo People, their Origin and Culture Area, took time trying to wholistically study and assess the Igbo. Generalizations many a time breed faulty assumptions and information. Research and study into certain aspects of Ekwe community demands and requires a selective endeavour of those incidents which indelibly have contributed towards enhancing its survival and development even up to the beginning of this millennium.
To assuage the hunger towards understanding Ekwe community through the binoculars of balanced historical method, Uzoma’s unpublished project work Changes and Continuity in Ekwe, 1960 – 2011. This work serves as a true and closer reflection of the present study strives to identify and discuss certain cardinal issues which enriched the history of Ekwe community starting from 1960 to 2011. The missing link or lacuna is simply in the fact that this account simply lacks background information from the earliest pre-colonial past of Ekwe. Interestingly, the present study, seeks to link it with the present.
On the other hand, S.N Nwabara in his book – Iboland: A century of Contact with Britain, ventured to create an important insight into the cumulative effects of British rule on Igboland from conquest to colonial domination. Is not in doubt, that many viable and powerful indigenous institutions in Igboland were eroded and subsequently replaced with the contraptions of exploitative and imperialistic colonial hegemony. While flowing with clarity and orderly sequence of certain important incidents and turning points the book does not highlight certain fundamental factors which favoured the development as of the Igbo as an ethnic group.
There is need to widen the perimeter of one’s research field and garner more information, by Ikechukwu Odigbo and Onyema Ocheohaet al- Aspects of Igbo Culture and Traditions, From the Perspective of Umulumgbe Town. This book centers on the history of the Igbo traditions and cultures.
Archival reports by G.I Jones-Leadership of intelligent report on ORLDIST 14-1-1, Leadership of intelligent report on ORLDIST 14-1-3, Appedix (111) of Jones report 1935, Intelligent report on the Isu Clan, Okigwe Division, Owerri province, ADO MILGOV 1930, all from Nigeria National Archives Enugu highlights the leadership positions, warrant chief systems, tax payers roll, and they outlined the kindreds in Ekwe.
Kingsley Ejimmadu, I love Ekwe, outlined the location and geography, demography, tourism, and some traditions in Ekwe having similar connection with other Igbo societies.
Chinedu Nwosu, History of Ekwebearing the major literature used in this work, detailed every information on prehistory, colonial and post colonial Ekwe. It gave every facts that Ekwe society is a major Igbo society which faced similar hindrances and developments in times and present.
F.C Idigo, Igbo history; Hebrew exile of Eri Kingdom traced the Igbo history from the founder of Igbo to the disintegrations of Igbo micro societies up to Hebrew descendants. Cultural heritage, changes and continuities and nothing more pretentious about the Igbo is in connection with the Hebrew.
Fabian Ukaegbu, The Igbos; The African root of Nations categorizes Igbo people as the best race in Africa. Igbos in their peaceful coexistence, unity and industrious minds have self determined in developing nooks and crannies of Africa. They excel in business, renovations and modern developments without the assistance of any third party.
Dike Azuka, The resilience of Igbo culture, a case study of Akwa town, this book reveals the cultural heritage, traditions, changes and continuities among the Igbo people and in relations with Akwa town. Ekwe have such similarities and continuities.
These books and related literatures lifted and reviewed above , have not only provided a credible preview of what maybe envisaged or seen in micro Igbo indigenous community. Enough guidelines and information are accruable from these works, but the present study is apt to provide indebt information obtained through the application and use of professional historical tools, hence it is the by end product is bound to be balanced and objective. This is a solid step towards the reconstruction of Ekwe history in particular and the larger Igbo history in general.