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Stats: 1,335 members, 11,704 Topics. Date: August 21, 2019, 8:59 pm

Does The Presence Of Non-Igbo Speaking People In Anioma Land Make Anioma Less IGBO? - Ifeyinwa China Onyeabo

BiafraSay Forum | BiafraSay General | #Politics* | Does The Presence Of Non-Igbo Speaking People In Anioma Land Make Anioma Less IGBO? - Ifeyinwa China Onyeabo (477 Views)

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This is from an Anioma son who is not confused about his identity. I always doff my hat for this guy for his knowledge of his people. Osita Mordi, respect!!

When Nigeria divides, we will send the bats in Anioma to Edo or Yoruba land.


This is one of the points presented by our brothers and sisters who say we should not identify ourselves as Igbo since according to them Anioma is not exclusively Igbo speaking. They point to the following non-Igbo speaking groups
(a) The people of Ozanogogo , a community placed in Agbor clan whose mother tongue , Oza is basically an Edo dialect.
(b) The people of Ukwunzu, Ugbodu and Ubulubu all in Aniocha North LGA whose mother tongue is Olukwumi , a Yoruboid language.
(c) In Ndokwa East especially around Ibrede ward are Isoko speaking communities such as Onogbokor, Ibrede, Awah, Osafo(in Ibedeni clan), Warri Irri( in Utuoku clan), Ige and Itebiege( both in Onyah clan) , Iyede Ame and Lagos Iyede.
(d) The town of Ebu in Oshimili North LGA who speak an Igala dialect.

From the list above the population of these our non-Igbo speaking brothers and sisters is quite significant. In 2010 , when those among our people claimed they now speak an ANIOMA language, someone asked them a simple question if you now say we speak an ANIOMA LANGUAGE , where are you going to classify Olukwumi ? The initiator of the “Anioma language” told her , well we can say “ the Olukwumi people also speak an Anioma dialect”. This of course is very laughable because if Olukwumi is truly an Anioma dialect, people from neighbouring towns of Ugbodu and Onicha Ukwu could understand to an extent themselves when speaking their respective native “dialects”.

However , this is not the case because whereas Onicha Ukwu speak an Igbo dialect, Ugbodu speak a Yoruboid language , Olukwumi. Such situations are the case between Ebu and the people from Illah , Ezi and Ukala and so on.
Therefore for anyone to claim that an Anioma language exist and we should consider Olukwumi a dialect of Anioma language such a person is just being mischievous. In the course of that debate, I stepped in and sent a message directly to the initiator of the supposed Anioma language , that there is absolutely nothing like an Anioma language. The language we speak is basically, corresponding forms of the Igbo language and just like almost all the political units in the world, we have a fair share of minority languages in our midst(Olukwumi, Isoko, Oza and Igala).

The debate in another form resurfaces again and again , our brothers and sisters who claim we are not Igbos now claim that because we have these minority languages , Anioma should be just Anioma and not Igbo since it is not exclusively Igbo speaking. But this argument is wrong from many perspectives.

(1) The population of the non-Igbo speaking element in Anioma land is extremely small.

103 political wards make up the “Greater Anioma” comprising of the old Aboh and Asaba divisions (old Western region). The wards are distributed as follows Aniocha North(10 wards), Aniocha South(11 wards) , Ika South(12 wards), Ika North East(14 wards), Oshimili South ( 11 wards), Oshimili North ( 10 wards) , Ndokwa East( 10 wards), Ndokwa West ( 10 wards), Ukwuani ( 10 wards) , Igbanke ( 2 wards) and Ndoni(3 wards). The non-Igbo speaking Anioma people are found in the following wards
(a) In Ukwunzu ward (Aniocha North) but Ukwunzu ward is not exclusively Olukwumi speaking. Idumuogo do not speak Olukwumi nor do Onicha Ukwu town.
(b) In Ihuozomor ward(Ika South) This is shared between Ozanogogo which is Edo speaking and Alisimie which is Igbo speaking.
(c) In Ebu ward of Oshimili North
(d) In Ibrede ward of Ndokwa East. However , Igbuku and Anyama towns speak Ukwuani (Aboh).

The Isoko speaking element however extends beyond the Ibrede ward and are found in Egbeme(Ase clan/ward), Osafo( in Ibedeni ward), and a few other places. I will explain how the Isoko element extended to those places later.
Now, it becomes apparent that the non-Igbo element is really quite small. With some adding and subtracting , we can conveniently declare that the areas occupied by our non-Igbo speaking Anioma brothers and sisters is just 3 out of 103 or less than 3 per cent of the total. How 3 per cent will transform over 97 per cent into something else is quite tiring.

(2) These non-Igbo speaking element within Anioma have been greatly assimilated into our population. Let us go through some points

(a) Apart from language Ugbodu, Ukwunzu and Ubulubu are Anioma people. The customs are the same. In dances, masquerades, deities , marriage and funeral rites, social titles, dressing and so on. The Okpala title and the Okpalabisi institution exists in Ukwunzu and Ubulubu. Ukwunzu itself is an Igbo word, it is not a Yoruba word. Nobody forced them to call their town Ukwunzu. It has its Olukwumi version which had long gone out of use. Also, the Olukwumi people were greatly involved in our Ekumeku Movement. One of the great battles of 1904 took place in Ukwunzu.
(b) Ugbodu, Ukwunzu and Ubulubu belong to Odiani( another Igbo word) clan . Odiani clan is not exclusively Olukwumi speaking. Ugboba, Idumuogo and Ogodor all speak Igbo. In Ukwunzu and Ugbodu are families that migrated from neighouring Igbo speaking towns , now assimilated into the Olukwumi population. This is also true for some fame families in Ogbekenu ( Onicha Ugbo) and other Odiani towns as well as Onicha Ukwu that migrated from the Olukwumi speaking communities. The relationship between the Olukwumi and their Igbo speaking neighbours goes deeper than just the languages they speak.

(c) There are many versions of how Ozanogogo( Ozarra ) people came to Agbor. One version indicates that they accompanied an exiled prince of Agbor, Igbudu who fled to Benin following a palace coup. With the help of his Benin friends and allies , he defeated the rebellion and restored the monarchical institution in Agbor becoming Obi Igbudu. He then settled the Oza people( as they call themselves on the western end of Agbor land) , had shrines attaching Oza to Agbor . This explains why an Obi of Agbor must worship some of these deities in Ozanogogo before he formally assumes his powers as Obi. This practice dates from Obi Igbudu. In addition , there is a well-marked boundary( Egbo shrubs) dating for centuries between Agbor and Benin. Ozanogogo is represented in the cabinet of the Dein(Obi) of Agbor by the Ojisi of Ozanogogo. Ojisi is not an Edo title. There is also an Ojisi for Agbornta sub clan as well. That is an evidence that Ojisi is unique to Agbor. Besides , the present Obi of Agbor , HRM Obi Kiagboekuzi mother is an Oza woman. That is yet another evidence of the attachment Oza has with Agbor.

(d) Ebu was founded by Igala war veterans after the Benin vs Igala war of 1517. But Ebu oral tradition clearly says that the land they were settled was originally owned by Okpanam town. They defeated Okpanam people and took possession of the land. (Illah did something similar to Ukala clan). It was also in that same circumstances that Ukala and Okwe towns were founded by Benin war mercenaries when hostilities had ended between the two powers ( I mean Igala and Benin). From this connection ( I mean settling on lands originally owned by an Igbo speaking community), Ebu began to identify closely with her Igbo neighbours. The Esan-Edos also played a major role in shaping the identity of the Ebu people. In Ebu there is little to suggest that they had always been attached to the Igala kingdom. Most of their deities are of Edo or Igbo origin. And their dressing is the same with the Anioma(Enuani) people(Akwaocha) rather than the yellow and black stripped clothing associated with the Igala people. Besides many Ebu people of this generation are switching from Igala to Igbo.

(e) Ibrede was originally founded by Onyah people ( Uruebo and Ugbo families) before being joined by Iyede(Isoko) refugees some generations ago. This explains why despite constituting about 15 per cent of the population of Ibrede , the Uruebo and Ugbo people own more than 90 per cent of Ibrede lands and fishing lakes including all the territory east of the Ase river. They have their Okpala Uku who is more or less the Chief Priest of Ibrede and even the clan head before the creation of the Isoko title of Odionlogbo. To this day , some diehard Ugbo people do not consider the Odionlogbo of Ibrede their king. In addition the masquerades and other social titles and practices of Ibrede are clearly of Anioma origin. This is also the case in Awah which founded originally by Oza , a native of Aboh and just like Ibrede was linguistically absorbed by the Isoko settlers. Iyede Ame and Lagos Iyede were founded on Azagba( Ibedeni clan) land and are technically tenants to Azagba people ( Igbo speaking), Onogbokor was founded on Umuolu land ( Hubbard, 194 , Warri-Irri belong to Utuoku clan Osekwenike , Ige and Itebiege all belonging to Onyah clan etc.

(f) Osafo is also Isoko speaking . It is grouped as part of Ibedeni clan ( Note that Ibedeni is Igbo speaking while Ibrede is Isoko speaking). The founders were said to have picked Isoko wives who taught their children Isoko. Gradually the settlement transformed into an Isoko speaking community though it considers itself as part of Ibedeni. Egbeme in Ase clan was founded by Isokos from Aviara on Ase land. However Aviara is an offshoot of Ase by origin. It was founded by Prince Ozuem( the name is clearly Igbo) who left Ase to found Aviara. Ozuem’s younger brother , Ebeneze became Igwe as a result. Therefore Egbeme people are related to Ase.
(g) These non-Igbo speaking elements have been so strongly influenced by their Igbo neighbours that many of them also speak corresponding Anioma Igbo dialects. It is not suprising that any Ebu, Oza, Ukwunzu or Ibrede man or woman can also speak any of our various Igbo dialects flawlessly. Many of them also bear Igbo names either as surnames or first names. Mr Chukwuma Obaduemu , the President General of Ibrede Community is an example though he is from the Ugbo family. There is Nduka Ugbede, the footballer and a native of Ugbodu, there is Shimite Nwakalo, the presenter of African Pot and a native of Ebu, thousands of examples exist. It is beause of such close ties that one will hardly hear of these non-Igbo speaking elements agitating to join other states and they freely accept they are Anioma people despite the fact that they know that Anioma itself is an Igbo word.

(h) The Isoko dialect spoken in Ibrede and neighbouring Isoko speaking villages is unique in having a lot of Igbo( Aboh) words . This is also true for the Igala dialect in Ebu which apart from being spoken with the same tempo as with Igbo ( Igala is a slow language) has many Igbo words and expressions unique to it. Then is Oza which has lots of Igbo(Ika) words as well and Olukwumi which also has a lot of Igbo words. Therefore as much as these minority languages are not Igbo , the presence of Igbo words, grammar and expressions indicates a strong connection these people have with their Igbo speaking neighbours. They know they may not be fully accepted by their linguistic “brothers” in other cultural areas.

(3) Like I noted earlier Anioma is not the only political unit with minority languages.

Across Nigeria , there are many examples of states often identified as belonging to certain groups( mainly from the Big Three) yet have presence of minority languages and groups. Let us go through some examples

(a) Ondo is identified as a Yoruba State , but there is a large non-yoruba speaking minority. The four Akoko LGAs , linguistaically do not speak Yoruba. In fact , the Akoko language is distantly related to Yoruba as Edo is. Igala is closer to Yoruba than Akoko. In the same Akoko are other languages such as various Edo dialects such as the ones spoken in Ishua Akoko ( where Sunday Ehindero comes from , can anyone now see why he has the surname “Ehindero”) , the IBARAM language which is neither Yoruboid, or Edoid and belongs to a unique language family. This is also true for a language called UKAAN which belongs to its own unique family. Beyond the AKOKO area, other non-yoruba speaking elements exists too. In Osse LGA , in Idoani town exist an Edo speaking people. Ijagba also in the same LGA , claim Edo identity and say they are related to the Sobe people of Edo State. To the South of Ondo State are the Ijaws who exclusively occupy one LGA( Ese-Odo) as well as part of Odigbo LGA ( Furupagha clan). Apoi in Ese Odo may have adopted the Yoruba language but they strongly identify themselves as Ijaws.

(b) In Ebonyi State , as the Mtezi and Okpoto enclaves whose languages is closer to some groups in Northern Cross River.
(c) In Kano are the Kurama people who are mainly Christians and are related to groups in Kaduna State
(d) In Jigawa are Kanuri and Bade people related to people of neighb ouring Yobe State
(e) In Zamfara are Dakarkari people related to various groups in Kaduna and Niger States and some of them are Christian
(f) In entire Southern Kebbi is not Hausa at all.
(g) Many people believe that Borno is exclusively Kanuri but the entire Southern Borno including Chibok is not Kanuri and are mainly Christian.

(h) In Lagos , Badagry are not Yoruba people at all. They have their Egun(Ogu) language related to languages spoken in Benin Republic and Togo. These Ogu people also extend to the Otta area of Ogun State.
(i) In Anambra State are the Nzam people who just like Ebus speak Igala. But ancestrally, they claim they are related to Igbo speaking Okpam and Anam people.
(j) In Okun( Yoruba area of Kogi State) and neighbouring Ekiti State are the Ayere and Ahan people who speak a completely different language from Yoruba.
(k) Bayelsa claimed to be Ijaw has Urhoho(Ofoni town), Isoko and even western Igbo( Onyah town ) groups within it. In addition , linguistically, Ogbia do not speak Ijaw nor the Atissa or Epie people of Yenegoa.

These are just examples. One would see that with the non-Igbo speaking elements in Anioma making up less than 3 per cent of the political wards (are actually smaller if we consider the indigenous population), Anioma is even more homogenous than Ondo, Lagos, Bayelsa, Ogun, Kebbi, Jigawa, Bauchi , or Zamfara States in Nigeria. This write up is to make our Anioma people realize that the presence of our non-Igbo speaking brothers and sisters is not abnormal. It should not be enough for anyone to say he does not speak Igbo or that Anioma State is not an Igbo state because of that.

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Funny Enough,ugbodu and ukwunzu also speak Enuani and are able to switch at anytime even the youths nowadays communicate more in Enu ani as olukumi is mostly heard among elders and 85% of names in this towns are igbo names including that of thier kings.

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