P.R.O. Umuavulu Progressive Union,
Vice Chairman St Theresa’s Parish Pastoral Council, Umuavulu Abor
Umuavulu is a village in Abor, Udi Local Government Area. Umuavulu Abor is located at about three kilometers from Ninth Mile corner (9th Mile) along Enugu-Nsukka old road. Approaching this town from 9th Mile are two hills that stand between the road: Ugwuocha by the right hand side and Ugwunkpo by the left hand side.
The eight sons of Abor are Ugwunani, Ozalla, Amukwu, Dunuobe and Dunigweze (formerly Ngwuegu and Ebongwu), Ubiekpo, Amezike and Umuavulu. Umuavulu is the last son of Abor, the son of Inyime Awubu.
Abor had three wives who had children. The first wife gave birth to Ugwunani, Ozalla and Amukwu, and they are called IkengeAbor. The second wife gave birth to Dununobe and Dunuigweze (formerly known as Ngwuegu and Ebongwu), Ubiekpo and Amezike. They are called Ibute Abor. The last and youngest wife of Abor gave birth to Umuavulu. About 1600 AD, Abor Inyime Awubu gave his sons their settlements thereby giving Ugwunani a cave-like area where he (Abor Inyime Awubu) lived and raised up his eight sons; Ugwunani inherited it (Nkolo Abor) as the first son while the rest of the sons were settled according to seniority till he gave Umuavulu this present place in Abor called Umuavulu. Abor InyimeAwubu realizing that Umuavulu is the most gallant and bravest of all his eight sons told him that he should settle some distance away from his brothers in order to protect and defend the rest of Abor during warfare (Agunecheibe).
Umuavulu married two wives who gave birth to fourteen sons, namely; Amogwu, Ohemje, Umuikwo, Umuezike, Ezionyia, Nzuko, Umuoka, Eziagu, Uwenu/Uwani, Eguma, Umozor Uwani, Umuozor Uwenu, Orobo and Alagu. Umuavulu is divided into two in settlement according to same mother: Ikenge and Ibute. Ikenge gave birth to two sons: Ikenge Uwani and Dunnomaka. Ikenge married two wives; the first wife gave birth to Amogwu and Umuikwo, while the second wife who was once the widow and the last wife of Ubiekpo whom Ikenge married officially gave birth to Ohemje. Ohemje’s mother gave birth to Emegu Ubiekpo before the death of Ubiekpo, and then Ikenge married her officially; hence she came down to Umuavulu and gave birth to Ohemje. That is why no marriage can take place between Ohemje and Emegu Ubiekpo because they are related by blood – no fight or bloodshed can take place between the two. Umuezike was born to Ikenge by another woman.
The second son of Ikenge by name Dunuomaka gave birth to Emegu. Emegu married three wives; the first wife gave birth to Ezionyia, Nzuko and Eziagu and they are called Okunito. The second wife gave birth to Umuoka while the third wife who is the mother of Umuezike whom Emegu later married after the death of IkengeUwani gave birth to Uwenu and Uwani and her name is Ayigbo. No blood shed or marriage takes place between Umuezike and Uwenu/Uwani.
Ibute the second son of Umuavulu married two wives and the first wife gave birth to Eguma and Alagu while the second wife gave birth to Umuozor Uwani, Orobo and Umuozor Uwenu. Orobo had her ancestral link to Ebongwu in EnuAbor. During the dark days of inter-tribal war, Abor had two places where they prepare their warriors and take off for war if they want to be victorious; they are named Eke Ozalla and Obodo Ohemje. If Abor warriors want to engage in warfare with Nike, the warriors will gather at Eke Ozalla for preparation and take-off. If it is a war between Abor and Eke, Nsude or Owa, their take-off ground will be Obodo Ohemje. In each of these take-off points, there are visible piles of sand where their wounded soldiers’ head are placed before treatment to avoid eventual give up. It is called (Ofulu).
Umuavulu exhibited their inherited bravery and gallantry during warfare in defense of Abor as inherited from their grandfather InyimeAwubu, the father of Abor who was a great warrior and brave hunter. Their bravery made the rest of Abor warrior allow them to lead in every battle. Their gallantry and victory made the entire Abor to gather at Eke Ozalla and reward them with having one third portion of whatever Abor shares and with the name Umuavulu Ojalugwa, meaning Umuavulu, expeller of terror. ‘Ugwa’ in Abor language means terror. That is why Umuavulu adopted the slogan in present day:
The warriors who brought this glory to Umuavulu and Abor entirely are to be mentioned but a few:
- Amogwu – Anielolam-nwa-Muonagulu, Igwenagu, Nwobodo, Aniehe, Obia-Okpoghee, Mmaduoko, Ngbodike, Anwuayiri, etc.
- Ohemje – Aniehe Enyeze, Agbodike, Echiugwu, Oganwa Udeze, Otingadike Nnadi, Eneje, Enugu nwa-Ndu, Igwedike, Anibueze, Ibenechem, etc.
- Umuikwo – Ugwuodike, Olehulu, Anidiobi, Offokansi Mbogu (native doctor), Amahalu Igwulube, etc.
- Umuezike – Warriors of Osisi chili offia
- Ezionyia – Warriors of ndiIneh
- Nzuko – OgbuOghawaisi, Anikweegbulu, Oriekubulu, Agbodike
- Umuoka–Offiadieku, Onodugo (before Ozo title), Ugwuishiife
- Eziagu – Ikpa, Ejah, Ugwueze, Ozoagu (before Ozor title), Ekowa Aniekwe, Ugwunwa Udeh (the wealthy man)
- Uwenu/Uwani – Mbeze, Mgbako, Edikpa and Udeh.
- Eguma– Echebe, Ohakinyi, Ilediagunanvo, Oya (the priest), Akashike
- Umuozo Uwani – known for weaponry and war arsenal production; Aguigwe, EdikpaEjimogwu, OffornwaEzingwu, Ochi nwaIgala, Offornejeugwo etc.
- Orobo – Okpoko, Ngwu, Obodoechi, Osuechala, Ugwunwaani, Aniehe, Aniagba
- Umuozor Uwenu – Ekowa, Ebeagu Owulu, Ozootti, OkejinwaC hiene, Ikpa, Obodoeze, Ngwu and Okolo Igbo nwaOzorEdikpa.
- Alagu – Idikwogu, Agwulu, Isioffia, Eziyi (the priest of ohune), Ozoagu (before his Ozo title), Ozo Igeju, Igbokidi (the great native doctor), Akpudile, OkerekeIfechi.
It was during this war that Okoloigbo-nwa-Ozo Edikpa demonstrated his military skills. He virtually killed all the Ebariba machineries to the extent that they retreated. Okoroigbo-nwa-OzorEdikpa a war lord from Umuenemii in Umuozo Uwenu village practically ended the war between Ojebe Ogene and Ebariba/Aro war till this present day, by killing more 2/3 of their soldiers single handedly.
It is also worthy of note that the inter-tribal and ethnic wars were so fierce that Umuavulu decided to put up deities in all the five boundaries of Umuavulu, each of the deity has a worshiping center both at home and forest Ezhi and Offiah. The deities are made of masculine and feminine deities. They are namely;
- Nkwo deity masculine spirit Ohemje village
- Awha deity feminine spirit Umuikwo village
- Ugwuocha deity masculine spirit Nzuko village
- Ugwuogwu deity feminine spirit Umuoka village
- Ohune deity feminine spirit Alagu village
The duty of these deities is to protect the communities from machineries of Aro, Abriba and Nike warriors.
Umuavulu warriors also made tall heaps of sand called (elu) to help defeat the Abriba Machinery warriors since it is said that the Ebariba as it is called in Abor native dialect are very good in plain land battle; the (elu) is formed in the forest to make them run after our warriors who will jump across the (elu) and the Ebariba trying to emulate our warriors will get their heads cut off. That is where the popular saying of our people emanated from (Ebariba-akotaghishi) meaning that Ebariba could not cut even a single head and has lost the battle. The elu is visible today in the following forest:
- Offiah Onunkwo Ohemje
- Offiah Ngwuife Ohemje
- Offiah Ugwufie Ohemje
- Offiah Egbani Ohemje/Emegu Ubiekpo
- Offiah Ugwuocha Nzuko etc.
- Offiah Obuegu Alagu/Umuozo Uwenu
- Offiah Ochete Anubu Umuoka
The deities were known and worshiped in the village to help protect the people from external invasion, then. After the inter-tribal wars, the deities were acting as places where justice is administered. The remains of those deities are visible in the villages where they are situated till date. Their aba, their ite mmee, their offiah and their stones are visible today. One Afor market day is set out every year to donate drinks and worship for these idols each. In our local dialect, it is called Ohuhu mmanya and to some deity Okuku-Fiajioku. This act was to make them vibrant and proactive.
Umuavulu community has, during the dark ages, one major source of water especially during the dry season called Iyi Ohune. There streams in Umuavulu include:
- Iyi Ohune
- Iyi Usala (the tail of Ajali Water, 9th Mile and the purest)
- Iyi Oti-badabada
The first major stream Iyi Ohune is known for its sacredness.
Umuavulu has many cultural activities which they are known for and they are as follows;
- Aka Ani
Only a few of these festivals are explained here, due to space.
INU NWANYI: This is a traditional practice of a young man and woman who has come to adult age and seek a maiden’s hand in marriage, then if accepted by the maiden’s kinsmen, they will start with the following processes:
- Mmanya ajuju (introduction)
- Mmanya nnenanna
- Mmanya umunna
- Afia nwanyi (dowry)
- Mmanya gidigidi (Igbankwu)/general
IGBU ICHI: This is a practice done to prepare someone for Ozor title–it is done by presenting nine tubers of yam, nine big kegs of palm wine, nine days preparation period, in some cases nine cows. All the traditional ngbulichi title holders will gather and the person to be initiated will lie down before everybody and a sharp knife will be used by the eldest mgbulichi to give marks on the face of the newly initiated. If the person shakes or crys the whole exercise will spoil. If the person being initiated happens to hold the hand of the initiator, he will present one cow to appease the eldest mgbulichi. If the person being initiated has endured till the end, then he is certified strong and qualified. Then a date will be fixed for (ichuodoozor). Mgbulichi slogan is iteghnaniiteghna. If the person being initiated dies before his iteegwuogene, his body will be rubbed with charcoal (unyi) before burial and he will be tagged onyedaranaebeneichi.
ICHI OZOR: This is a traditional practice that is held to a very high and prestigious esteem. It is the show of wealth and fame where the person being initiated into ozor title will present in ten every item that is required. Cow, yam, kegs of palm wine, wine, monies, everything is in ten, that is why Ozor’s slogan is (iriniiri). The visit to nweke in Orobo village must be done before ozor title is coroneted on any Abor son. There must be (enyaazu) a traditional coin that will be fixed on the back hair of the person being coronated, which will last for (awhaodoisaa) 14years. After which the hair bearing that (enyaazu) will be shaved on the day of Igwuogbu aba which brings an ozor title to fulfillment. If an Ozor title holder dies before his IgwuOgbu aba, he is regarded as onyedaranaebeneOzor.
The ozor will have a square called (aba)
The ozor will stick to his wife alone
The ozor will never tell lies
The ozor will never sleep outside his home.
Whenever an ozor title holder is drinking in public, everyone claps his or her hand in honour.
Whenever an ozor title holder is eating, a wooden gong (ekwe) will be played until he is satisfied. Immediately the ozor stops eating, the wooden gong player stops playing it.
If an ozor title holder dies, he is buried sitting in his grave and a pipe fixed to his mouth where warm water and palmwine will be poured for (izuiri) nine native weeks by his first daughter.
Umuavulu community is also blessed by God with traditional rain makers and traditional herbalists who I will take one after the other. The families that are known for rain making are:
- Echiugwu family Ohemje village
- Ochete family Umuoka village
- UkwuiyiAtucha Eguma village
There are other places where thunder stones (nkpumeigwe) are located in Umuavulu which heralds rain making but because of one reason or the other the families where it is located decided not to develop it.
The families that produced powerful native doctors through akwukwo na ogwu are:
- Ochete Anuobu Udeji: From Umuoka village whose record both in rain making and traditional medicines have not been beaten. He demonstrated his power before everyone by putting a palm fruit into the palm frond (omunkwu).
- Aniekwekanene from Ohemje village is another powerful native doctor.
- UkwuiyiAtocha who was popularly called dibia nwaOnocheOgoli Ukwuiyinwa Atochawoatonyata was also a powerful native doctor.
- Mbeke Igbokidi was also a powerful seer and fortune teller. During his lifetime, there was no dibia more powerful than him.
- Edikpa from Uwenu/Uwani village was also a powerful native doctor. He was popular during his own time and was known by Ojebe Ogene clan. When his kinsmen invited another native doctor to help win a land dispute with another town, the visiting native doctor removed his jaw when food and drinks was served to demonstrate his power that he can eat without a jaw, Edikpa the great herbalist turned to a vulture and picked the visiting native doctor’s jaw and flew up to an iroko tree. It took many plea and appeasement before Edikpa could calm and fly down, turned to human being and gave back to the visiting native doctor his jaw, the visiting native doctor installed his jaw and ran away.
I have tried to capture only a few aspects of the history of my community, Umuavulu here. This history will continue in my next discussion where I will talk about other things our town is known for, such as Odomagana Idogwu akawo, Ohaebo Orie Market, and all the Onuani in our village.