Recently, a certain uncomprehending Victor Ozorka whom I can best describe as a faceless individual has been surfing the internet, digging out histories of peoples he wishfully thinks have descended from or should trace their ancestries to the Igbo race. He does this with so much uncomplimentary commentaries that he does not see beyond realities, or at least recognize that a people are regarded as what they say they are and what they want be, and that the history of any people(s) are derived from their oral traditions, legends, folklores mythologies etc. I do not know his educational background of this faceless Victor Ozorka nor his educational discipline but he has not sounded like a historian, or as a courteous human.
To drive this justification home, I have hereunder reproduced his comment posted on an article written by me:
„I thought you had learnt your lesson but no, you refuse to change!
Let me ask you Eze chime or Ezechima that you called your progenitor where is his name from? Igbo opr Edo? Do Edo or Bini people answer Eze or Chima/ Chime?
And if he is a Bini prince who was his father? The least you guys know about him was that he used to work in the Kings palace and thus he was a prince…how contradictory. Bini/ERdo people are laughing at you guys from Onotsha(sic) and co that claim you are from an Edo prince…and yet you do not speak Edo or anything like it. At least the Itshekiri left Yorubaland and till today everybody could still see that they have something in common. But you, you lost all Edoidness and instead imbibed a 99.9% Igboness in culture and language and all. In’t it a bit surprising to you an acclaimed mr-know-it-all? Pathetic..someone left Isu Aniocha and Nri and crossed a river and suddenly he no longer belongs to his grandfather but to a mysterious and fictitious Edoid prince just because the great kingdom/empire of Benin’s reach covered for a few centuries his newfound homeland! PATHETIC INDEE!
You are a confused soul and I pity you! Ndoooooooooooooo!“
The simplest way to define history is to refer to it as „all the events that happened in the past: a turning point in human history“ (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Sixth Edition, 2000.) For the proper understanding of the objective of this article, it is just germane that we break down this definition into two different parts i.e. „all the events that happened in the past AND a turning point in human history. The same dictionary defines „event“ as a thing that happens, something that is important. The understanding of this is that any thing that happens to a society which that very society considers important becomes part of the history of that society. Turning point may best refer to „the time when an important change takes place, usually with the result that a situation improves.“
Having understood History from a less academic perspective of a dictionary, I am hoping that Ozorka agrees with himself that it is events that make history irrespective of how anyone may regard the events. „No event no history“ is a well known saying. In effect, I am getting Ozorka to drop his set of ideas twisted in a way that he does not see beyond what is visible, because he has only succeeded in grotesquely distorting the truth. Whenever Victor Ozorka grosses me out with this, and I get less comfortable with his comments which bear no fruits and offer nothing by way of information. When it is impossible to derive any understanding from a group of words, such words should take its place in the basket of oblivion.
As noted already, all that happened in the past becomes history, it is therefore historical that groups of people in 1951 decided to form what they hoped would benefit them immensely, rather than pursue succession from that polity. Ozorka should also understand that the year that these various groups decided to come together and form Anioma became a turning point which also is historical. This is the second meaning attributed here to history.
Not many people know that ANIOMA is merely an acronym derived from the four Local Governments that once existed. The then Aniocha Local Government contributed „A“, Ndokwa contributed „N“, Ika contributed „I“ while Oshimili Local Government contributed „O.“ The suffix „OMA“ which to the people signifies „Good“ or „Fertile“ was added to arrive at ANIOMA.
Anioma People though having related amongst themselves before the coming of the British shares so much in common socially, politically and economically. The ignorant fail to understand or at least factually recognize that these people have different histories of origin and ancestries, but share similar cultures, a role Benin Kingdom played in their dominance over these people. One needs to study series of wars these kingdoms heroically fought against the extensive and expansive Benin Empire in defense of themselves in other to fully understand how they were able to survive, and perhaps how they were reshaped by the aggressive powers of the Benin kingdom.
At some points of the history of these people, the reigning Oba of Benin determined and enthroned the Obi (Paramount rulers) of any one of these groups of people. Ibusa offers a perfect example of a town where Oba of Benin compensated a particular man with the Obi of the town, this Obi’s reign was scuttled because the wife of the Obi was seen as constantly interfering in the matters of the town and tried to impose her advice on the council in chiefs of the town.
While oral accounts some of today’s Anioma towns and communities trace their origins to Igboland of the present south-East, there are good number of other Anioma towns and communities with oral accounts also tracing their ancestral homes to Benin kingdom. Ozorka if he were to be a Historian should not have found this an outlandish idea, because wherever he assumes himself to hail from, there are oral traditions to support their origins. Today, the Igbo makes us believe that they are one of the lost tribes of Israel, a Yoruba mythology tells us that Ife is the centre of the world’s creation and cradle of civilization, Obatala descended from the Heavens with certain items and became instrumental to creation. Many more of what we refer to myths exists. The Holy Bible supports the divine creation of the world perfectly finished within six days.
The history of the Anioma people who trace their ancestry homes to the Igbo, their neighbors and Benin Empire is quite unlike many of the mythologies described above. Credit should be given to the people, whose oral traditions do not lay claims to far away countries or regions like Mecca, Egypt, Israel, and Sudan believed to be quintessence of civilizations, rather we have found our origins in nearby regions of Nigeria. This oral accounts posses the quality of verisimilitudes which should have been appreciated by Ozorka and his likes.
What Ozorka has ignorantly failed to understand is that the Anioma people cannot be told where they are coming from; neither will they be told where they are going. Nobody, not even Ozorka can tell us who we are. We know ourselves better than he does.
He asks if it is not surprising that Ezechima bears an Igbo name yet founded communities like Onitsha Mili (in present Anambra State,) Onicha-Olona, Onicha-Ugbo, Onicha-Ukwu, Issele-Uku, Issele-Mkpitime, Issele-Asagba. I think it should be drummed into his ears that the similarity in the names of Anioma communities distinctly brings to the fore same history of ancestry. We have not lost this in any way, Ezechime historically known and originally written as Prince Cheime was a prince from Benin Kingdom historically believed to be the progenitor of major communities of Anioma. He was said to have committed a certain offence against the Benin state which forced him on exile, but quite typical of other progenitors of his time certain other persons left with him, founding communities. Ozorka, if you are one of those genuinely interested in History, please readto the Igbo across the Niger.lier known of Ezecimamunities many of which has been mentioned here.sa because he was f
I assume this very surprising that Ozorka is unaware of the fact that a lot of the histories of Nigerian communities share similar accounts as responsible for the foundation of their communities. Does the origin of Ibusa not claim that a certain man named Umejei left Isu in Igboland to found the town, Ibusa because he was fleeing from persecution? Does an oral account not also claim that Odaigbo fled from Nri to found present day Ogwashi-Uku? Is Nnebisi the progenitor of Asaba not from Nteje as one fleeing from persecution? Ozorka would be pleased to hear these origins but not those of other parts of Anioma because he is views them as distanced from the Igbo where he wishfully expects them to migrate from.
Let the Ozorkas know that the progenitor of the vast communities was and still Prince cheime as originally known until owing to certain influences from their Igbo neighbours, the name some became distorted to Ezechime especially as he settled in Onitsha-Mili, his final destination, but some of those they left with him had founded certain communities many of which has been mentioned here. The change in the name of Prince Cheime (later known as Ezechime or Chima) owes a lot to Onitsha-Mili’s proximity to the Igbo across the Niger.
Page 5 of a document on an Intelligence Report of Talbot, a British traveler, explorer and administrator centered on Agbor Clan in Agbor District captures it thus as accounted by Prince Adams Gbenoba in his article titled „Rejoinder: The Origins of Anioma People“:
„Of the two families that left Benin at this time (shortly after Nyendael’s visit in 1702), one settled at Agbor while the other went to Obior, another clan in the Agbor District“.
The said Intelligence Report…“ went on as follows: „… of the same Obior family came also the ancestors of Onitsha-Mili 8the present Onitsha Waterside of today). It is a tradition of the Obior people and indeed of most of the clans between them and the Niger, and also of Onitsha itself, that their tribe was founded by Cheime, a refugee from Benin City…“
Does Victor Ozorka want us to believe that the Ika are too Igbo as part of Anioma, it is particularly painful to read from armchair scholars who sit at home and rewrite the history of ethnic groups simply because they wishfully want the history of these ethnic groups linked to theirs. No matter the smallness of a people in population or land mass, their histories are still retained, this refers tp the Agbor and Igbanke people of Ika.
Igbo scholars who use the existence of smattering Igbo vocabularies such as Eze, Obi, Emeka, Orie/Okorie/Mgborie/Okafor to support their seeming argument that Ika are Igbo easily forget that these are due to the educational, socio-economic, political and business interactions the Ika people have had with the Igbo of the west.
Ozorka loudly imagined that the Ika people speak Igbo which he said was different from what was different from the example presented by the Itsekiri, what he failed to ask those who are conversant with typical Agbor vocabularies the meaning of and origin of their vocabularies quite certainly peculiar to Agor and Bini such as:
Okhue (parrot) Ughere (village hall), Ikhu/ijogbe (lineage) Ekete (stool) Oruese (thank you)
Agbor people also bear common personal names such as Agbonkpolor, Agbonifo, Aguevedo, Aigbedion, Edobor, Idemudia, Ikubor, Edeje, Igue, Iyare, Iroro, Izegbuwa, Iduwe, Iredia, Iyetor, Ogbeide, Ogiebor, Omoruyi, Uhure, Oyegwe, ugiagbe, Owabor, Uwagboi, Osaghede, Onainor, Omozi, Orumgbe, Omoregie, Okanigben, Okunbor, Omogiafor, Oganbor, Ogbwei, Odiase, Odion etc. Agbor people also celebrate Igue, ugbose, Osieze festivals etc.
By the way, I want to once again inquire from Ozorka why the Isoko and Urhobo have a single dialectical-language, yet we are told that these are two ethnic separate groups, while they are kits and kin; does this not pictorially evoke the similarities between the Anioma and Igbo of the South-East? The question on the use of Obi in Agbor is like asking how the Yoruba and Edo share the use of „Oba“ as the title of a paramount ruler.
Is it not surprising to the ignorant Ozorka that history tells us that major countries inhabiting the Northern part of Africa such as Egypt, Libya, Morocco, etc are today Arabs because they were arabized? Would he not be surprised to hear that originally Iranians were never Arabs? Today, we know these countries by what they how they want to be known. It tells you that it is events that change the destinies of people, and may have occurred to the Anioma people, on that day they decided to come together and become known as Anioma.
The oral history of the Hausa gives us the understanding that there are 7 original Hausa sons who became the progenitor of 7 original states of Hausa, while there are another 7 bastard sons who went ahead to found another 7 Hausa states, today, would anyone rightly classify all of these said Hausa states as Hausa communities, Ozorka? Would say today that that all of these 14 communities are Hausa states simply because Hausa oral accounts claims it to be so? The answer to this question is no because many of these communities are not regarded as Hausa States, linguistics does not even support this. In essence, a mere oral account that a man journeyed out of a particular region many centuries ago alone cannot be adequately used to ascertain a tribe.
That a man migrated from one part of community and settled in another community is not even a yardstick to determine the ethnicity of an entire people, it is only in Africa that trivial matters of histories are used because we live in the region where marginalization reigns supreme, and population figure are necessary to acquire so much allocation from the government. Majority of Americans began to migrate from English colonies as recorded by history, but today, the nation is not identified with any particular region as she has been able to distinctly carve out unique identity for herself, yet we continue to identify ourselves along the borderline of ancestral history of where our forefathers took off and ended.
To Africans, Obama may be of African descent but to the Americans, he is an American citizen and has won the presidency of the country which is impossible to actualize in any part of Africa. In Nigeria, an Igbo man has not emerged a an executive president of the country because it is not yet his turn. Is this not wonderful?
Victor Ozorka referred to a confused soul, the Anioma are definitely not confused, we know that when States are announced we shall definitely belong with majestically sit in our own Anioma State, with the capital at Asaba, and our problem of identity caused by our abandonment by the Igbo after the Civil War will be a thing of the past. More so, our youths are seriously working with the vast human materials we have in the region to pilot us into graceful identity, this is where Oganihu-Anioma, Onu-Anioma and Organization for the Advancement of Anioma Culture (OFAAC), Anioma Association USA Inc count. We can do it.
Finally, I need to let our Igbo brothers and sisters know that we are not disinheriting them as the like of Ozorka usually suggest whenever surfing the internet to dig out articles relating to the Igbo. We just may agree to go with the Igbo, however this will only be possible if the Igbo regard us of their own, which fortunately they have started by electing one of us as the President-General of Ohaneze Ndiigbo but it should not stop here, they should as go as far as helping us to get a State of our own because such will be recognized as an Igbo state rather than proclaim less viable Orashi State, Adada State, Aba State „Enyimba State.“
We have suffered for the Igbo, we have stood by them for too long, in the time of need, fighting and shedding blood, and it is only natural and political that we are rewarded by them; otherwise the labour of our heroes past shall be in vain. Many of us now disappointed have hoped that our reward would have been support to acquire our own identity through the creation of our State, but this was not to be. And recently actions from Iwuanyanwu and Nzeribe from the panel set up to adopt a state for the Igbo people show that the Igbo are looking else where and we are not in their agenda. Ozorka, try and correct this impression rather than lay claims to us on the internet and politically too. The Igbo need us and we need them too.
Ozorka rather than try to rewrite our history, learn from it. „Clearly all human cultures are similar in one way or the other. It depends on what you are looking for – similarities or dissimilarities“ Prof Onwukwe Alaezi, 2000.