UGBAWKA AND HER NEIGHBOURS IN PRE-COLONIAL TIMES: A STUDY IN INTER -GROUP RELATIONS
TABLE OF CONTENT
Historical Background of Ugbawka
Political Relationship between Ugbawka and Her Neighbours
Social Relationship between Ugbawka and Her Neighbours
Economic Relationship between Ugbawka and Her Neighbours
The name Ugbawka is said to be derived from the original inhabitant that history cannot be traced called Ukwakas, from the native indigenes the name Ugbawka was coined by the colonial master, because of their inability to pronounce Ukwakas, Ugbawka was named by the colonial master. There were other immigrants that care to settle in Ugbawka, these immigrants made up to present day Ugbawka clan. The immigrant came from different parts these are Awka, Nnewi, Okigwe in Anambra state. Ugbwka main stay of livelihood is agriculture. The people were predominately agriculturalist, they produce rice, yam, maize, vegetable, palm wine, corn etc.1
GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION OF UGBAWKA
Ugbawka is located in Nkanu-East local government area. The headquarter is located at Amagunze community. Ugbawka is bound in the east by Nkerefi, west by Agbani South by Nara, and North by Obe Ugbawka village is about 30km drive to the present day Ebonyi state.2
The political aspect, the system of governance in Ugbawka and other part of Igbo land, is not centralize government. The system of governance is decentralize system of government in Ugbawka and in Igbo land in general. The practice is republican in nature. The practice is different from what you find in other parts of Nigeria for example, Benin, Empire, the Oyo Empire and the Northern states of Nigeria.
At the Peak of the 9th century Ugbawka clan saw the intervention of the British colonial administration and the unprecedented development distorted her relations with her neighbours.
As the work goes further to examine the different institutions that make Ugbawka clan, what it is before the advent of British colonial administration the project will also examine how the imposed British rule affected Ugbawka and her neighbours. Despite these problems the people encounter there is still traditional activities that are still practice by the people till date.
JUSTIFICATION OF RESEARCH
In more recent times scholar have shown interest in the history of Ugbawka clan, but these efforts have not been able to abate because there have o been true documented work about the comprehensive history of Ugbawka clan, in order to have a better understanding of the history of Ugbawka clan, there is need to look at other ethnic groups in Igbo land for us to have a better understanding of the history of Ugbawka clan, and also oral interview was also conducted for us to understand the historical background of Ugbawka. In the course of this endeavour there have emerged two schools of thought on the place of history of Ugbawka clan.
The first school of though deal with the historical background of Ugbawka clan. They migration from other places to Ugbawka.
These people came from Awka, Nnewi, Okigwe, etc. to form the present day Ugbawka clan. This school believes that before the British administration the people had a solid institution that government the affairs of the people. The system of governance in Igbo land was republican in nature, that is, it is not centralized like you find in other part of Nigeria, for example the Benin Empire, the Oyo Empire and the Northern part of Nigeria. With the system in practice in Igbo land, everybody is equal before the law no matter were you came from this school believes that it was the colonial master that disrupted this system of governance in Ugbawka clan. An example was the indirect rule in Igbo land, the warrant chief that was imposed by the British to govern the people in Ugbawka and other parts of Igbo land.3
The second school of though deals on the impact of the British colonial administration, the conquest of Lagos in 1815 and the colonalization of Lagos in 1861 and the subsequent colonialisation of the southern part of Nigeria that brought the colonial master to Easter part of Nigeria. This was basically economical factor and that Ugbawka was not different from any other parts of Nigeria, and that the British exploitation affected Ugbawka people. The colonial master carry away raw materials, such as palm, produce rubber, groundnut cotton, iron ore and this affected the economy of Ugbawka clan greatly.4
The major beneficiaries were the colonial masters and their expatriates. This school believes that the people had attain a high level of exchanged and distribution, through the trade by barter system before the colonialist came to Nigeria.
Since there was no work done on the history of Ugbawka clan and her relations with her neighbours, I conducted an in-depth research through interviews I interview few elders in my village and who could help with the historical background of my village and their way of life before the imposed British colonial administration, in this regard research on the historical background of Ugbawka clan and her neighbours.
It must however be noted that available work on other major ethnic group in Igbo land, which are useful for our understanding of the history of Ugbawka and her relations with her neighbours. The works are as follows: A. E. Afigbo’s5 Tradition of “Igbo Origin”. The work examine the history of Igbo the emergence of Igbo society and the Igbo and their neighbor before the colonial era the work was not centered on Ugbawka in pre-colonial times, but it will help us to have a better understanding of the history of Ugbawka in pre-colonial era, because the whole of the Igbos have the same institution. Another to be examine is Uzodima Nwala’s 6 “British conquest of Igbo Traditional Oracle”. The work examine traditional culture and the western culture of the British. The grievances and difficulties which the British encountered during the existing culture of the people of Igbo. Ugbawka is not left out because the people experience similar difficulty with the British.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
Aim and objectives of this study include:
To examine the major inter-group relationship Ugbawka and her neighbors in pre-colonial era.
To examine the historical background and migration of present day Ugbawka;
To examine the political relationship between Ugbawka and her nieghbouing communities;
To examine the economic relations of Ugbawka and her neighbouring communities; and
To examine the social-cultural relationship between Ugbawka and her neighbours.
The project work intends to make theoretical evaluation of the origin of Ugbawka. The historical events that took place in Ugbawka and her relationship with her neighbours before the colonial rule. The study will shared light on settlement of the people of Ugbawka and her neighbours and in the area of political, social and economic relations before the coming of the British to Ugbawka in the 19th century. The study would also take a look at the first settlers that made up the present day Ugbawka clan. The study will cover all aspect of life of people of Ugbawka and their relations with their nieghbour within the period of 1800-1900. The work would look at the institutions that sustain the development programs in Ugbawka that is the elders youth and women. The role they played to contribute to the development of Ugbawka before the colonial era and how the people of Ugbawka had been able to sustain peace and tranquility between her neighbouring communities, and how the political social, and economic activities were carried out, before the British colonial administrations.
In the course of this research, relevant data and information were obtained from two main sources. These are primary and secondary sources.
Primary Source: These were obtain mainly from interview and archival materials consulted at the ministry of local government in Enugu state and chieftaincy affair. They include intelligent reports, annual reports correspondence and other documents relating to the pre-colonial administration. Oral interview were conducted with experienced individual. Some of whom are adult and had played and still playing some roles in the inter-group relations of Ugbawka and her neighbours. These interviewed include: traditional chiefs, traders and civil servants
Secondary Source: These were consulted in the university and public libraries from textbooks, journals and periodicals information obtained for these mere use to guide and supplement those materials obtained from primary source. These will help to provide data for a historical analysis of inter-group relations between Ugbawka and her neighbouring communities before the British colonial administration
As already been noted above, there are no work done on the history of Ugbawka and her neighbouring communities in pre-colonial times. These however cannot be said of other major ethnic group in Igbo land were there are number of works, which deals on the history of the Igbos, as a people and there are other works which deals on the political, social and economic aspects of the Igbos, and what really disguised the Igbos from other ethic groups in Nigeria, before the coming of the white men into the country. These works were carried out on the Igbos as a whole but not Ugbawka as a community. Although these works are very vital in understanding the history of the people of Ugbawka, their political, social, and economic lives because the Igbos have the same institutions, that distinguished the people from other major ethnic groups in Nigeria, before the imposed British rule. Literature works to be examined, that deals with history of the Igbos, include A.E. Afigbo’s article titled: “The Tradition of Igbo Origin” the work examines three aspect of Igbo Origin: traditions of oriental origin, tradition of origin from neighbouring great states and traditions claiming indigenous origin. The writer was writing on the migration of the Igbos to present day region Nigeria He traced the people to the ten ‘tribe of Israel, the other tracing them to ancient Egypt. Early in this century. The writer see a very close resemblance between Igbo culture and Jewish culture without saying the Igbo were of Jewish decent. Traditions of origin from neighbouring great states: in this second group are found mainly in communities on the periphery of Igbo land. Many communities on these areas trace there origin to one or other of the two great states at different times. The Igbos close to the Niger says that they traced their origin from the Benin Empire. Lastly to be examined, traditions claiming autochthony. Autochthony means a tradition which seeks to establish that in question originated from the area of present Igbo land, not necessarily in the exact location where they group may now be settled, though in a number of cases this may be so. Traditions in this category are found in those communities located in what has often been described as Igbo heart land, that is the Awka, Orlu, Okigue complex But following our definition just given, the tradition of such Igbo group as the Ngwa, Ohuhu, Mbaise who claim to have migrated from the Amargbo Umunneooh axis the work was not on Ugbawka, but it will help on the issues of migration.
Another work to be examined is Osagie’s8 article titled “Nigeria History in pre-colonial times: Southern Nigeria”, the work examine the political institution of the Igbos in pre-colonial times the writer described the people as segmentary or acephalous people, that has no centralized states and operated a kind of government without no kings. The writer goes further to say that, in pre-colonial era, that the Igbo’s never had an Igwe that what we found today is as a result of the European legacy that the people that pride themselves are product of the indirect rule system in Igbo called the “warrant chiefs”. The system was a kind of governance in Igboland, this was the kind of institution of governance in Ugbawka in pre-colonial era.
Also, E. Osichei’s book titled, A History of the Igbo People,9 Uzodinma Awala’s article titled “British conquest of Igbo traditional Oracles” the works examine the emergence of Igbo society, the villages groups and clans into being coherent social-cultural and at times political units. These chatter are what ordinarily may called traditions of origin of the various autonomous or sub cultural units. The work was not on Ugbawka but it focuses on the Igbo society in pre-colonial era. It would help in the understanding of the history of Ugbawka, their tradition of origin the autonomous or sub-cultural units in pre-colonial Ugbawka society E. Isichei’s work examines the origins, settlement agriculture, iron works and the nineteenth century Igbo land and Nri and Igbo-ukwu. The work examine the first human inhabitant of Igbo land, that must have come from areas further north, possibly from the Niger – confluence, but that men have been living in Igbo land for at least five thousand years. The work goes further to examine the invention of agriculture that it may water shed between the hazardous wandering life of the hunter and collector of wild edible plants and settle more comfortable life. The work will be useful, in the origins and settlement of Ugbawka, in pre-colonial era.
Uzodima’s work examine the British encounter with the Igbo at the beginning of the century was rather a confrontation of two cultures, namely the industrialized western culture and the peasant traditional culture. The work will be relevant in understanding the traditional system of Ugbawka in pre-colonial era. The other category of works to be examined G.T Bastern book titled, A Description of the primitive life, customs and Animistic Belief.11 The work is on the social aspect of the Ibo’s in pre-colonial times. The work examines the Oru and Osu- slaves of men and goods, the yam festival as an important cultures of the Ibos and the youth to old age boys and men and the kind of system of marriage practice equal right with the rich. The writer goes further to a detail account on how this institution copes well, before the advent of British colonial rule. The work will be relevant in understanding the institutions in Ugbawka, and how it was able to sustain the people before the imposed British colonial administration in Ugbawka in pre-colonial times.
Ukwu I. Ukwu article titled “the Development of Trade and Marketing in Ibo lands”12 examine the sociological background, trade and marketing in traditional Ibo society, and the Aro trade system. The sociological background at the traditionally, as it was the effective unite of social control in Ibo land to the village. While it examines the trade and market and the mode of transaction of goods and services in Igbo land, market is the principle venue for commercial exchange in every four or eight days. The work is on colonial period, but it will be useful to understand the market system on Ugbawka in pre-colonial era.
A. E. Afigbo’s article titled, “The warrant Chief system in Eastern Nigeria”,13 examines how the imposed indirect rule affected the system of governance in Igbo land and Ugbawka is not left out of the imposed colonial administration.
Also, Afigbo’s article titled, “The Economic foundation of pre-colonial Igbo society”,14 where the writer gave a clear picture of the economic side of pre-colonial Igbo society, thus rested on three aspect agriculture, with trade and industry coming as subsidiaries. Trade distributed the products of agriculture and manufactured goods, wile the leter not only offered some relief from the other two more strenuous occupation, but also supplied the technological base of Igbo society, as well as providing some items made necessary by social and ritual life, the more was not on Ugbawka, but was on the Igbo society, in pre-colonial era. The work will help us to understand the economic place of Ugbawka in pre-colonial era.
From the above, it can be see that non of the existing literature was on Ugbawka, but on the generality of the Igbo society. However, the literature will be useful in understanding the history of Ugbawka and her relations with her neighbours in pre-colonial British era, because the have similar institutions in the area of political, social and economic relation.
The research work is divided into six chapter as follow:
Chapter One: Introduction
The first chapter serves as a preamble to the entire work. It introduces the work and tries to give an insight of the entire (work) bodywork. It introduces various settlement and geographical location and vegetation of Ugbawka, which was responsible for economic and social-political system of the people of Ugbawka.
Chapter Two: Historical Background
The chapter examine the historical background and migration of the Ugbawka people
Chapter Three: Political Relations between Ugbawka and her Neighbours
The chapter examines the political relations between Ugbawka and her neighbor during the period under study. It provides an insight on the type of political institutions that existed in Ugbawka in the pre-colonial era.
Chapter Four: Social Relations between Ugbawka and Her Neighbours
This chapter examine the social relations Ugbawka and her neighbours, it give a clear picture of cultural tiles between these groups and how it promotes peace and order lines
Chapter Five: Economic Relations between Ugbawka and Her Neighbours
The chapter examines the economics relation between Ugbawka and her neighbours in the pre-colonial era.
Chapter six: Conclusion
Chapter six concludes the entire work. It goes further to review the entire work
Interview with Mr. Raphael Nwatu, 47 years civil servant, a major, Ugbawka, Enugu 31/12/2012.
Interview with Sunday Nwatu 65 years, trader, Isigwe, Ugbawka, Enugu, 28/02/2012.
Interview with John Nwatu, 39 years, trader, independence Layout, Enugu, 1/01/2013.
Interview with Sunday Nwatu,
A. E. Afigbo, “Tradition of Igbo origin”, in Nigeria Magazine, 1981
J. T. Osagie, “Nigeria History in pre-colonial Times. Southern Nigeria”, in A.D. Nzemeke and E. O. Erhagbe (eds). Nigerian people and culture Benin City, Mindex Publishing Company Limited, 2002, pp. 20-21
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