ORIGIN, MIGRATION AND TRADITION OF EZIAWA PEOPLE

ORIGIN, MIGRATION AND TRADITION OF EZIAWA PEOPLE

 

 


ORIGIN, MIGRATION AND TRADITION OF EZIAWA

Geographical location of Eziawa Community

Eziawa is located in Orsu local government of Imo State. Eziawa is bounded by Umuhu in the East, Assah in the North East, Ihitenansa in the North, Orsu Ihiteukwu in the West and Awo Idenmili in the South. It occupies an area of about 5,530km2 [2,14o sq. miles] with a population of about 10,000 people.

Historical Background of Eziawa

There are more than one account about the origin and historical background of Eziawa. One account argues that Eziawa was begotten by a man named Awa who had two sons from two different women. However, he doubted the paternity of one of his sons because he was said to be lazy and not like Awa his father who was hardworking. He was also arrogant and is said to not resemble his father who was both enterprising and humble. He also did not take after Awa both in charisma and Physique. The unrepentant son of Awa stole from his father and went to a separate land where he was said to have died without bearing a child. It is assumed that he was cursed by Awa his father. The good son who took after Awa and was his replica was beloved by Awa and this made Awa to call him Eziawa   [Ezi Awa] which when transliterated to English means “True Awa” or “upright Awa” Just like the phrase “a chip off an old block”, Awa flourished and soon took over his aging father. He founded the Eziawa community.

As it often is to oral accounts, there are many tales to one event. One of the complexities of oral account is that one word which has many local meaning can suggest another completely different story. For instance giving the word “Ezi” another pronunciation would give it another meaning and would now alter the first account of the origin and historical background of Eziawa. The word “Ezi” in Igbo language can mean “outside” or “Compound” or in a broader term “household” and this could mean like other accounts suggest that Eziawa could mean Awa’s “compound” or “household”. This could therefore discredit that Eziawa was Awa’s on. Whatever be the case however, one factor seem to be common and generally accepted and it is the fact that the name Awa is real and not fiction and that no matter the pronunciation given to the word “Ezi”, Awa existed for real and either he or his son founded the Eziawa community.

In furtherance to the story, Awa begat three sons [he also had daughters whose names were not recorded]. Awa’s sons were named Uruala, Akama na Ubaha and Amaapara. Uruala was the first born child and his name written in full would be “Uru ala” which when transliterated to English would mean “the profit or gain of the land or soil”. This literarily means that since Awa [Eziawa] was known to be a skilled farmer, he named his first son “Uru ala” which could also mean “sweetness or fruit of the ground’. His second son who he named “Akama na ubaha” when written in full would mean “Akam na ubam ha” and when transliterated would mean “my hand equals my wealth”. It could also mean that Awa through the name suggests that hard work which is seen as the “work of hands” is equal to wealth. That means that hard work [hand work] brings wealth.

It was more like Awa himself was a historian. Preserving history through the names he gave his sons. The names are coterminous with the fact that he was a hard working farmer. His third son who he named “Amaapara”  was also another masterful hint to Awa’s believe and love for farming, hard work and wealth. Amaapara when written in full becomes “Ama na aparam aku” which when translated to English would mean “my land or compound brings wealth for me”. This definitely suggests that Awa recognized the essence of agriculture and how to make a fortune off it. Right in the very fabric of these names lays history carefully placed by Awa himself. With these names one can detect that Awa was a farmer and a very successful one at that and he was very wealthy too.

Another historical account suggests that Akama and Ubaha are not one. This account argues that they are not brothers and that Akama and Okabia are brothers. It also agrees that Awa was the first settlers and that all others came after him and were under his rule. Uru ala, Amaapara and Akam na Ubaha are seen here as subjects of Awa who were only migrants.

In general therefore, Eziawa has made their sharing of lands and assets into three portions representing Awa’s three sons or subjects and this has remained so till date. Awa’s three sons represent the three villages in Eziawa.  However these villages are further sub divided into kindreds and clans. The three villages consists of kindreds which are outlined as follows

a)       Uruala [Eleteghete]--Umuanwu Umuizobule, Umudurungwo,  Umuezearo, Okwuamaudara, Uhuala Uruala, ikpor, Umueze/Abor, Umuorji

b)      Akama [Ugbele na ojukwu]—Umulome , Umueze, Umuogbafa , Umuofomanne, Umudim Okorie, Umuonyero.

c)       Ubaha [Isiorji na okpoko –Umunnabuike, Umunuatome, Umume, Umudara, Umu Okeke, Umu Okarafor, Ihudim.

d)      Amaapara [Umukaebile]—Ezieke, Owere, Aro, Ezeala, Ezike, Ekpe.

The people of Eziawa are also referred to as Umuerighi Mgbada which means “children who do not eat antelope meat. As regards to this, there are many stories that claim to be the reason why the people of Eziawa do not eat antelope meat. One source claims that it caused sickness to the early men so Awa advised his children to abstain from it. Another claims that antelope was used for sacrifice to the gods and so should not be eaten as it is the food for the gods not men. Another account stated that a young man hunted an antelope but couldn’t taste it because he was killed by his friends who were greedy and jealous of him. After killing him, his friends ate the antelope and suffered severely before dying and thus antelope meat is seen as a food that brought greed and division amongst brothers. Whatever be the real story behind it, till date, Eziawa people abstain from antelope meat as it is sacrilegious to eat it. Anyone who eats it is said to have defiled the gods and have committed a taboo and he must be cleansed and purified before forgiveness can be granted him. Although it may be seen today as a superstitious believe, the people have made it part of their culture and tradition. 

The people of Eziawa are hardworking and peace loving. They are their brothers' keeper. Whenever a brother or any other Eziawa man is attacked by a stranger, the other citizens will run to his rescue, their personal differences at home notwithstanding. They will put these differences behind them in order to ward off a common enemy. The citizens live simple and decent lives. They are naturally endowed with physical prowess. This natural gift helped them to maintain their territorial integrity the population of their surrounding neighbors notwithstanding. They are never quick to provoke anybody but if you provoke them you will bear the brunt of your action such names as Ogbuokwachie, Ogbamgbo, Ogbunugwu, Ogbunuzor and Ogbukwago to testify their prowess for they ruthlessly deal with their aggressors.

Eziawa people are sociable. They organize wrestling contests, masquerade, Dances. They exchange visits with their friends and relatives but ore characteristic about them is that nothing interests them for too long. There's why most of their dances don't last. Hardly can you see an Eziawa man overstaying in your house. He will drink with you, chat with you but when he wants to go there will be no need persuading him to stay.

Eziawa people do not go to work on Afor day. One legend has it that the titled men used to try cases on that day, and when they were away non-titled people continued working in their farms so In order not to lose farming advantage to the non-titled men of the community,, the titled men made a bye law forbidding work on Afor day. It was not done in honor of any idol. Another legend has it that Afor is a holy day for Eziawa. It is a day set aside for the god of the farm. Eziawa does not work on Afor day nor go to battle on Afor day 3. Another account agrees that Eziawa people do not work on Afor day because of a market they own which is called Afor Okorie The market only sell on Afor day and thus all work is suspended on that day so as to meet up with the market.  The truth can be found in between the different legends.

 

Migration and Settlements in Eziawa Community

There are many accounts concerning the migration and settlement of Eziawa community however, the most accepted one is the account that suggests that Awa who is said to be the founder of Eziawa was an astute farmer who migrated from the Umuhu region to the present place known as Eziawa. Umuhu is located east of present day Eziawa. It is said that Awa migrated in order to further expand his farming frontier and discover new crops. While in the present place which later became Eziawa, he settled there with his wife and they became the first settlers. Before Awa migrated to the region, it was said to have been occupied by local nomadic hunters who were said to have later moved southward.  Awa continued to cultivate the lands and soon became so successful and powerful. It is said that the nomadic farmers passed down the idea that Antelope “anu mgbada” was food for the gods and therefore forbidden as food thus, the name “Umu erighi mgbada’.  Awa and his descendants and other migrants like the “Uhuala Uruala” settled in the region and developed a culture which was a mixture of that of the local nomadis hunters and the Umuhu people. 4

 

 

Cultural Festivals in Eziawa

Annual festivals in the years begin with Ito Ede: This festival is kicked off by the following people - Obidike, Obegoro, Ozokudu Egonokwu and Udeagwunobi. Four days later the 2nd batch will perform their own. These second batches are the holders of Ozo ulo while the holders of Ozo oha will form the third batch in the next four days. The last batch will be non-titled men - Efeke ka Nze. From the date of this last batch, the next festival will be in the next 24 days (Izzu asaa) that festival is Agwunsi Three days later will be Ime Chi na agu while ite otite will be on the following day. Immediately following otite ihe following day will be Ite nsi festival/- So called because of un-refined language. This festival was observed for two basic reasons:

(a) Farm work is full of thorns, sufferings and toils. After all these, a day is set aside for rejoicing and to thank the gods that led them through. (b) The early men regard "Ahiajoku" as poison and before they could take it they would appease the gods to neutralise the poison in the crops and also the poison that might have been planted in their farms by enemies. That gives it the name Itelu Nsi (Act of neutralizing the effects of poison) after this festival everybody is free to harvest and eat his crops; but some still abstain from eating new yam till later thus:

(i) Umuagwunsi - five native weeks from Itensi festival

(ii) Umu-Urasi - seven native weeks from Itensi festival

(iii) Osuele - nine native weeks from Itensi festival

(After ten native weeks from the date of Osuele's eating of new yam comes the next festival called Ito ji Ime Urasi festival Comes three native weeks after Jto ji.

There are other annual festivals observed by separate villages:

(a) Uhuala Uruala - lme Ikeji

(b) Umuanwu Okwuamandara - lme Ekure

(c) Ubaha - lme Edemili

Asara is an occasional festival in honor of the gods of the town. One sees it once in one's life time. It is a sumptuous festival. The one given to Urasi Eke is done by Eziawa as a whole. Pre- information of about a year or more is given for the preparation of this festival. People will be allowed to rear animals that will be slaughtered during the festival.

Ahiautu - is performed by matured girls. It is also an occasional festival but it is more frequent than the Asara festival. Before this festival, the girls concerned will have a period of fattening for about six months or more. During those months they will never perform any manual labor rather they will be given a special maid who will minister to them and do odd jobs for them. Special nourishing foods will be given to them.

 

Conclusion

I have  been able to discuss the geographical location, historical background and the tradition and cultural festivals which is practiced by the people in the early times till present. It is however concluded that as a result of modernization and the coming of Christianity, some of the cultural festivals and traditional practices have been abolished and new ones have been put in place of old ones. Nonetheless, the cultures of the people remain unique though no longer primordial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

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