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We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) - Culture - Nairaland

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A Brief History Of The Ikwerre People Of Rivers State. / Why Do Ikwerre Igbos Reject Their Igbo Identity? / I Am Not Igbo, I Am Ikwerre! (2) (3) (4)

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We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by manchy7531: 4:02pm On Feb 10, 2012
This is a rejoinder to Mr. Okachikwu Dibia’s article entitled “Ikwerre-Igbo Relationship As Seen By Ohaneze Nd’Igbo” published on www.gamji.com wherein he attacked a comment reportedly made by the President of Ohaneze Nd’Igbo, Chief Ralph Uwechue, that the Ikwerres are Igbos who now deny their true ethnic identity. It is an established fact that there are indigenous Igbo-speaking peoples in Rivers, Delta, Edo and Cross River States. My mission here is not to urge the Ikwerres and other Igbos who behave like to admit being Igbo. Rather, I intend to correct some historical gaffes, deliberate distortions and logical fallacies contained in Mr. Dibia’s write-up, and state the truth as I know it.

It amuses me when indigenes of Igbo-speaking communities outside the South-East deny their Igbo identity. The Ikwerres, represented by the likes of Okachikwu Dibia, are the fiercest and most strident in this act of playing the ostrich. The renowned writer Elechi Amadi, an Ikwerre man, restated this renunciation before the Oputa Panel in 2004 but was reminded of his Igbo name. Ironically, he is quoted to have upheld the Igbo origin of Ikwerres in one of his writings. Howbeit, Igbos in South-East Nigeria justifiably regard the Igbo-speaking areas of Rivers State (Ikwerre, Etche, Ogba, Ekpeye, Opobo, Ahaoda, Ndoni, Egbema, etc) as their kith and kin. On the other hand, the Ijaws and other non-Igbos of Rivers State also rightly refer to these communities as Igbos, and even claim that Rivers State has been under Igbo rule since 1999!

Generally, a person’s native name, mother-tongue, pedigree and ancestral geographical location define his race. But this may not be so in cases where an individual bears a name and speaks a language unrelated to the one associated with his ancestors. However, when the indigenes of an entire community speak as their mother tongue a language associated with a particular race, bear names borne only by persons of that race, share boundaries with communities within that race and have traditions similar to theirs, then the inescapable conclusion is that they belong to that race. This is the place of Ikwerres and other Igbo-speaking communities in Rivers, Delta, Edo and Cross River States vis-à -vis the Igbos of the South-East. The Austrians and indigenes of Sudetenland in Czech Republic speak German, bear German names, have traditions similar to those of the Germans and share boundaries with Germany, although they find themselves in distinct countries. This is also true of the Yoruba-speaking peoples found in Edo, Kogi and Kwara States as well as in Benin Republic. Just recently, a monarch from Benin Republic visited the Alaafin of Oyo and acknowledged his Yoruba roots.

Another exception to the above is where the community was a vassal to or colonized by the race whose language and names they speak and bear, as seen in Northern Nigeria where the Hausa-Fulanis have administrative and religious hegemony over many minority tribes sequel to Usman Dan Fodio’s 19th century jihad. Even so, indigenes of such a community still retain their native names, language and traditions.

Contrary to Mr. Dibia’s fictitious claim, there was no time in history that Nd’Igbo colonized or dominated the Ikwerres or any other community let alone imposed Igbo names on them. They never desired or attempted it. Owing to its republican and egalitarian nature, the Igbo race was never organized administratively as to colonize others. Had this happened prior to British rule in Nigeria, same would have been noticed and documented by the Europeans. Does Mr. Dibia regard the period when the entire South-East and South-South formed one Eastern Region of Nigeria as the period of Igbo colonization? That would be absurd. This warped idea means that, perhaps, only Ikwerres were so “colonized”, for no other community has alluded to it. If Nd’Igbo imposed the name Ikwerre on Mr. Dibia’s people, did they also force other communities to address them as such? The Hausas call the Afizere people of North-Central Nigeria and Igbos Jarawa and Nyamiri (corrupted form of nye m miri – Igbo expression for “give me water”) respectively, yet every other ethnic group calls them by their real names. Besides, some people have pet names for their towns, as the Aros call Arochukwu Okigbo. I presume this to be the case with the name Iwheruoha which Mr. Dibia claims as the original name for Ikwerre. What I know is that Ikwerres and other Igbo-speaking peoples of Rivers State call Igbos of the South-East Isoma and vice versa.

Furthermore, was Ikwerre ruled by the 19th century King Jaja of Opobo, an ex-slave from Amaigbo in Imo State who transformed to king of Opobo (Igwe Nga) in present-day Rivers State? Even so, that is not tantamount to colonization by Nd’Igbo. However, the case of Jaja shows that some of the present-day non-Igbo indigenes of Rivers and Bayelsa States may be descendants of Igbo slaves who escaped exportation overseas and settled in the midst of Ijaws, gradually acquiring a semblance of the latter. For instance, a friend of mine from a community in Yenagoa told me that Igbo words and expressions constitute about seventy percent of their vocabulary.

History has not credited the Aros (Ndi-Aru) with colonialism, as we know it, although many of them travelled and settled around several parts of Igboland and beyond as merchants of goods and slaves and messengers of the Long Juju. Prior to the advent of Christianity, the Long Juju was voluntarily employed by its Igbo and non-Igbo adherents for traditional adjudication, divination and resolution of spiritual problems; it was regarded then as the earthly abode of God (Ihu Chukwuabiama). Today, as a legacy of our interaction with Ndi-Aru, some families in my town bear names like Nwaru and Uzoaru, yet they neither colonized us nor had any settlement in my town.

Let Mr. Dibia tell us. Between what dates in history did Igbos colonize Ikwerres? Who were the Igbo administrators? Where, when and how did Nd’Igbo force Ikwerres to change their names? What are the non-Igbo names Ikwerres bore prior to the alleged colonization and forced name change? One wonders why Ikwerres have not changed Ogbako (Igbo word for gathering or meeting) to something like Rogbako to make it less Igbo. Did Nd’Igbo also “force” them in 1963 to use that word when they formed Ogbako Ikwerre Convention? Surprisingly, Mr. Dibia, whose surname is Igbo word for [native] doctor, neither told us if his first name Okachikwu is also an Igbo imposition nor gave the non-Igbo names of his ancestors. I can mention the names of all my ancestors up to the founder of my village around the 15th century!

Pray, in line with Mr. Dibia’s bizarre hypothesis of Igbo colonialism, did Nd’Igbo also colonize the Igbo-speaking peoples of Anioma in Delta State and Igba

nke in Edo State? A friend from Igbanke informed me that his people should be part of Anioma in Delta State, but Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia whose mother hails from there influenced their being in Edo State. They bear Esan names, speak the language in order to be taken as such, yet their mother tongue is a dialect of Igbo. In his 18th century autobiography entitled The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written By Himself, Olaudah Equiano, whose roots have been traced to somewhere around Edo and Delta States, declared unequivocally and proudly that he was Igbo! That is how it should be.

We know that every language has dialects which vary from each other. Some persons erroneously interpret these dialects as distinct languages, possibly because some dialects are so deep that indigenes of another community within the same race hardly understand them. But if all indigenes of the communities concerned understand the central language of the race, then they belong to that race. When the Ikwerre man speaks what he says is not Igbo language, the average Igboman who speaks Igbo understands him, even easier than some other Igbo dialects. A dispassionate look at the Ikwerre tongue shows that it is just a dialect of Igbo language. The inherent (not the recently invented) variations are understandable for a dialect, for same are equally noticeable among the Igbo communities in the South-East. The names of the Igbo four market days of Eke, Orie, Afor and Nkwo and pagan gods of Ala, Amadioha, Ojukwu, Agwu, etc are the same among Ikwerres.

There are available records showing that during the colonial era, Ikwerres and other Igbo-speaking communities of Rivers State related with the British colonialists under the name of Igbos. It was only after the Nigerian Civil War that they began renouncing any link to the Igbo race and altered the spellings and pronunciations of their names and towns to pass them off as non-Igbo. For instance, Amanweke, an original Ikwerre name was changed to Rumuokwuta to make it less Igbo. They did this to avoid being left out of the new Rivers State by Gowon’s regime, and to curry favour with the Ijaws who were given charge of the new state. There is even a rumour that the Ikwerres took an oath to do so. A maternal uncle of mine, who was born and bred in Port Harcourt, narrated how immediately after the Civil War an Ikwerre friend of his startled him by feigning ignorance of the Igbo language in which both of them had conversed previously!

There exist in some parts of Abia and Imo States two traditional dances called Eshe and Uko played during the funeral of elderly men and women, respectively. My grandfather, who died in 1988 at over a hundred years, told me that long before his birth, players of those dances, on invitation, travelled to Ikwerre and other Igbo-speaking parts of Rivers State to play same during funerals. I witnessed this when my eldest uncle who played Eshe travelled severally to Ikwerre and Etche to same. Could this have been possible barring any cultural and linguistic similarities between the communities involved? The same interactions which Mr. Dibia claims existed between Nd’Igbo and Ikwerres from the 16th century equally existed between Nd’Igbo and Ijaw and other non-Igbo communities of Rivers and Bayelsa States, yet they do not share the same cultural and linguistic similarities with Igbos as Ikwerres. However, a legacy of this interaction is that some of these peoples bear Igbo names such as Nwokoma, Chukwuemeka, Ebere, Odo, etc, just as some Igbos in Abia and Imo States bear their names such as Amakiri, Igbani, Gogo, Cookey, Ubani and Igoni.

My grandfather told me that before 1913 when Lord Lugard gave it its current name, Port Harcourt was called Igwe Ocha. Let Mr. Dibia refute this, and also tell us if Ikwerres objected to the name imposition by the British. When he claimed that Ikwerres bear Ovunda while the Igbos bear Obinna, he lumped two things together. The name Obi in Igbo means either heart or house; thus Obinna literally means either father’s heart or father’s house. In some Igbo dialects, obi in the second sense is referred to as ovu or obu which also denotes the central living-room in a man’s compound, usually detached from other houses therein. I doubt if ovu has a different meaning among the Ikwerres. The name Amadi is popularly borne by the Ikwerres, just like in Imo and Abia States. It is the short form of Amadioha (Igbo pagan god of thunder) and figuratively means a (free) man. Let Mr. Dibia tell us the distinct meaning it has among the Ikwerres. In Mbaise, Ngwa and Arochukwu, the second child in a family is called Nwulu or Ulunwa; in Ikwerre it is Worlu or Orlunwo.

I expected Mr. Dibia to provide a cast-iron evidence of the non-Igbo origin of the Ikwerres. Barring such, it is hard to believe that the Ikwerres and other Igbo-speaking communities outside the South-East are not Igbos. It is a known fact that as an ethnic group spreads geographically, several variations emerge in its language. Again, communities on the border between two ethnic groups most times find themselves being receptacles of conflicting cultures and languages. Mr. Dibia should know that the fact that Ikwerres opposed the NCNC’s nomination of a non-indigene to represent Port Harcourt in an elective post is not enough to give them the status of a distinct ethnic group. When Enugu State was created, its indigenes asked other Igbos to leave their public service. Even some Lagosians opposed the appointment of fellow Yorubas from other states into Bola Tinubu’s cabinet.

By dismissing appearance, language and name while preferring character alone as the determinant of a people’s race, Mr. Dibia seems to suggest that a particular ethnic group in North-Central Nigeria where husbands allegedly offer their wives and daughters to cherished male guests is of the same race with the Eskimos of Eurasia who reportedly exhibit a similar character. It also follows from his postulation that since Nd’Igbo are republican and egalitarian like the Greeks, they both belong to the same ethnic stock. This will be a great assault on logic. He forgot that even siblings have distinct characters. Happily, there are some Ikwerre people who admit the truth of their Igbo identity. Currently an Ikwerre man is the 3rd Vice-President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation.

Perhaps, Ikwerres had hoped to be taken as non-Igbos upon renouncing their Igbo identity, only to face the reality that no matter how strong in flight a butterfly is, it is not a bird! Now, they and others in the same boat are victims of self-induced identity crisis which the likes of Mr. Dibia are perpetuating. I am proud of my Igbo identity; God forbid that I should turn myself into a bat, neither air nor land animal! What, however, I cannot explain is the hatred the Ikwerres have for Igbos, exemplified by Mr. Dibia’s malicious and unproven accusation of “the ill activities of the Igbo in Ikwerre”. They were willing allies of the Ijaws in the formulation and implementation of the anti-Igbo Abandoned Property policy at the end of the Nigerian Civil War. A very amusing argument by Mr. Dibia is that Ikwerres are better endowed than Nd’Igbo, a spurious claim for which he supplied no supporting statistics. I assume he has the enormous crude oil reserves in Rivers State in mind for his claim.

However, the admission or denial by Ikwerres or any other Igbos of their true race will neither enhance nor derogate from the status of Nd’Igbo. Nevertheless, in line with Mr. Dibia’s emotional plea, let Ikwerres and others of that hue be whatever and whoever they now claim to be. But my father told me that in spite of its unsightly appearance and feeding habits, the vulture (udele in Igbo) is still a bird; and despite the beautiful yellow-black stripes of a particular species of rat (called oguru in some parts of Imo and Abia States) it is still a rat.

Writer: Ikechukwu A. Ogu
Re: We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by autoKay: 11:30am On Feb 28, 2013
When Ikwerres claim not to be Igbos, I laugh. Igbos of the east are too many already. Ikwerres can be whatever the want.

4 Likes

Re: We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by bigfrancis21(m): 10:16am On Mar 01, 2013
I was born in Portharcourt but my family moved when I was in primary school. I happened to visit port-harcourt last two years (2011) and expected to hear the Ikwerre dialect and not Igbo, as expected. But instead it was Igbo Igbo all the way. Even the Ikwerre that they claim was a different language from Igbo was still Igbo which I understood very well. Infact I had to turn back severally and look to know if the speakers were Igbo from other states but they were the Ikwerre themselves! Everywhere I went I heard Igbo. These guys are Igbo. Their dialect is closer to central Igbo than Nsukka and Ebonyi dialects.

4 Likes

Re: We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by nusdog: 11:43pm On Mar 02, 2013
Try to understand the underlying reason why people choose to distance themselves from you. That will be of a greater help.
Re: We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by desertboom(m): 4:49pm On Mar 04, 2013
Ikwerre will never agree to be Igbo, I just don't know why. Maybe, I'll have to ask their kingsmen.
Re: We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by bigfrancis21(m): 6:19pm On Mar 04, 2013
desertboom: Ikwerre will never agree to be Igbo, I just don't know why. Maybe, I'll have to ask their kingsmen.
They don't have to be. They are already. History and official documents classify them as an Igbo sub group. Websites recognize them as Igbo as well.

Unlike the English, French, Spanish etc, the Igbo people were hardly colonialists. They weren't won't to colonizing others african groups and imposing their language and customs on them. That is why in Nigeria any group that speaks any Igbo dialect/variant as first language is Igbo.

Take Swahili for example. It has over 16 million speakers yet the owners of the language (native speakers) are only 8 million. While the remaining 8 million that speak it do so as a second language while they have entirely different tongues they speak as first language. This phenomenon can hardly be classified as the situation of the Ikwerre group. They speak clear IGBO as first language, bear Igbo names and perform Igbo customs.

1 Like

Re: We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by Nobody: 12:01am On Mar 06, 2013
nusdog: Try to understand the underlying reason why people choose to distance themselves from you. That will be of a greater help.

I think almost anyone with some knowledge about Nigerian "dynamics" understands the underlying reasons.

i.e. success has many friends, but failure is an orphan.

Exhibit A: Nigerians, particularly Non-igbos on Keshi/the supereagles BEFORE the CAF, vs AFTER the CAF.

1 Like

Re: We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by nusdog: 6:55am On Mar 06, 2013
nnenna.1:


I think almost anyone with some knowledge about Nigerian "dynamics" understands the underlying reasons.

i.e. success has many friends, but failure is an orphan.

Exhibit A: Nigerians, particularly Non-igbos on Keshi/the supereagles BEFORE the CAF, vs AFTER the CAF.

Its obvious you dont get it. Anyway, keep embarrassing yourselves, it seems like your favourite pastime.

1 Like

Re: We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by Nobody: 7:55am On Mar 06, 2013
nusdog:

Its obvious you dont get it. Anyway, keep embarrassing yourselves, it seems like your favourite pastime.

Okie Dokie.

Let's just agree to disagree.
Re: We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by llcoolj: 10:31pm On Nov 16, 2015
I've read all the comments made relating to this issue, and in the process I decided to reply Ikechukwu A. Ogu. Ikechukwu; as much as I disagree with your views on this matter, I cannot help but to admire your writing, as well as your in-dept knowledge of history as it relates to this issue. I also respect your ability respect the ideas and thoughts of others, and only hope that bloggers will follow suit. I want to first of all express the true fact that my objection to Ikwerre being Igbo has nothing to do with any personal hatred for the Igbos. As a matter of fact, over the years I've developed a special affinity for the Igbo people for their Heroism in standing up against the Nigeria government and all their cohorts (Britain) during the civil war. While I do not subscribe to Biafra; I cannot pretend not to see-in this present day-what Ojukwu saw 49 years ago that moved him into his crusade. let it be made clear that Isaac Adaka Boro saw the same thing and waged war, but was unsuccessful. If the Igbo's had treated the minority better prior to the war I believe that the story would have been different. While differences do exist between the Igbo's and the River state people (Ikwerre in particular), one can not object to the true fact that Gowon needs to be tried for war crimes following the genocide he attempted on the Igbo people- dropping bombs on innocent civilians as his military campaign progressed past river Niger into Onitsha. Presently in America, you can see Igbos', Yorubas and other tribes doing well in the country to the point that people from neighboring African countries are intimidated by us Nigerians.

I object to your statements because the Ikwerre people have their history, which has been passed down from generation-to-generation. The Ihuruoha (Ihuha) people must preserve their history else, it will be eroded by the mighty stream of Igbo influence. The Ikwerre group has been Identified in Nigeria as an independent ethnic group, and they have the constitutional right to be perceived as such; as a measure to preserve what is left of their true Identity and culture (if any).

I want to use this opportunity to respond to some of the issues you raised. In south America today, most people speak Spanish language-even though they are Hispanics. The fact that they speak this language doesn't mean that they are Spaniards. They are a people who were colonized by the Spanish. In the process of the colonization, they lost their native language and cultivated the culture of the colonial master. Part of that culture exists today in the state of Texas in USA. Cowboys are known to be Spaniards, but when you talk about cow-boys today everyone thinks about Texans. That a group of people speak a particular language doesn't imply that that's whom they are. History tells us that people have migrated from place to place-asserting or blending themselves with the new environment-either by their own desire, political benefits or pressure by rulers of their new found land.

It is self evident that our ancestors did not document thing on paper, but by telling moon-light stories to the younger generation. As a kid, I asked my father and uncle if Ikwerre was Igbo. If the history they told me stated that this tribe was Igbo, I wouldn't have had a problem accepting it. But the same story that Dibia has told in this forum was what was told to me years ago. So I plead with everyone who disagrees with him to know that he didn't cook-up this story. This is what our elders actually told us about our history, and we are going by that. you made a statement that there's no document showing that the Igbo's colonized Ikwerres'. However; the story according to our fathers is that the Igbo's where very influential and usually had people in place of authority. They cultivated their position as a tool to nab the resources in Ikwerre land, and the indigenous people had no say for the fear of their lives, possible slavery or jail term. This lead to the Ikwerre's accepting more of the Igbo names as a means of retaining what belonged to them. I want to also note that over the years there's been inter-marriage between the Igbo's and the Ikwerre's, and since the Ibo people are very influential and larger in number than the Ikwerre's, this has also impacted the language of Ikwerre people. Igbo's were so influential in River State that the entire state conducted trade, church services and meetings with Igbo language. Towns and Villages were replaced with Igbo names to signify their presence and ownership. Igbo language was the English of the day. Again; Ihuruoha who is the ancestor of Ikwerre people was not born in Benin land. The only child of Akalaka who was born in Benin land was Ekpeye. Ogba is as a result of a marriage for acceptance in Agbo; and I believe that this inter-marriage between Akalaka and an Ndoni woman reflects in Ogba's name. Ihuruoha was born by Akalaka's first wife in Ndoni area, by this time, Akalaka and his family were already speaking the language of the land where they found themselves. Technically, the only son of Akalaka who probably spoke Benin language would be the first son Ekpeye. It should also be noted that as Akalaka's sons grew, they married women who were not from Benin, but from the strange land where they found themselves (Igbo's, Ijaws and Igbo slaves who escaped slavery etc). As they moved southwards (Epkeye, Ihuruoha, Etche, Ogba) they encountered more Igbo's (Aru people) who were known for trading. This increased inter-marriage and mingling, and by this time, the descendants of Akalaka-who knew little or nothing about there language and culture-must have assimilated into the culture of their present. The Ijaws also have a history that the ikwerre's are a combination of Ijaw and Igbo. While this is a hypothesis, It's true that part of the people of obigbo, and those who are at the boundary between Rivers State and Abia are Ijaws who migrated to the area and cultivated the culture and language of the Igbo people. I also noticed that you referenced Elechi Amadi's admission that the idea that Ikwerre's are Igbo's is a point of view held by some Ikwerre's. The writer of "The Concubine" is someone that I admire so much. I believe he's one of the great minds of Ikwerre and nigeria at large; and I don not object to the true fact that his views are held in high esteem. But let's get something straight here. The Aru's leaved among the Ikwerre people for years. They were very wealthy and Influential in Ikwerre land and they owned lots of properties. However, after the civil war ended in 1970, Captain Elechi Amadi mobilized troops to case the Aru people away from Ikwerre land. If he believed that Ikwerre's are Igbo's, then why case away your own brother? Till this present day, we the Ikwerre people know those Aru people who never left. They exist in Elele, Iguruta etc. The truth of the matter is that, even the village where Elechi Amadi hales from is deemed Igbo. The name of the village up till this day is mbodo; which in Igbo language is mba-odo (foriegn people). they are the only village in Aluu whose name does not start with Omu; and in the old days, they were usually called upon last to make any form donations or partake in any form of activity in the town. the reason for this last-child recognition is based on the fact that they are regarded as foreigners. So I will disregard his comments as it pertains to this issue since they are not factual, but could be linked to his own roots. Now; I will not dismiss the fact that Ikwerre's have cultivated this tribal balance to their own advantage in time of need. In those days, they were know to call upon the Igbo's to come to their rescue whenever they were involved in tribal wars with neighboring tribes such as kalabari, Ijaw and Okrika; tribes that had been better armed by the white man for warfare. But when the civil war commenced; the Ikwerre people saw it as an opportunity to escape the brutal feet of oppression that has captivated them for centuries. They opened their borders to the Nigerian army, and denounced any link with the Igbo's after the war. This gave rise to a nick-name for Ikwerre people, and up till today some Igbo's call Ikwerre people "Sabo"; meaning saboteurs. This post war hatred has lingered for decades, and the Ikwerre people who were once known to marry Igbo's to gain recognition and acceptance now cautioning their off springs to avoid inter-marriage with the Igbo's. I'm glad that the youths of the 21st century are ignoring these status-quo as they pursue marriage and happiness. The truth of the matter is that Ikwerre history will never be complete without the mention of the Igbo's who seem to have been sown into the fabric of Ikwerre people. If you go to the market places in Port harcourt, the Igbo are largely the traders and Igbo language is still used in buying and selling to some degree.

I commend everyone who have invested their time to contribute to this topic and encourage everyone not to be biased, but to contribute to this conversation as I believe it makes us better. It reveals our history from different perspective . at the end, it shows that we are one people; bounded by relative cultures that define who we are. When people ask me where I'm from in the US I usually tell them that I'm an African. for me, it doesn't matter if I find myself in Mali, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana or any other African country. What matters to me is that I find myself in Africa, and that the struggle is one. that's why I'm not gonna give it up; not until Africa and Africans are free. However; I will encourage everyone to be civil as Ikechukwu and a hand-full of us has been in expressing our beliefs as it relates to the topic, because we are all Nigerians at the end of the day; that's the name of the nation that I've chosen to belong to, and if need be, I'm willing to die for one-Nigeria. Importantly; we all belong to the magnificent race called the human-race. let us endevour to maintain it as such and not make it a rat-race. Long live the federal republic of Nigeria; long live humanity; ONE LOVE!

1 Like

Re: We The Ikwerre Are Igbos By Ikechukwu A. Ogu(interesting Write Up) by PabloAfricanus(m): 10:08pm On Nov 17, 2015
llcoolj:
I've read all the comments made relating to this issue, and in the process I decided to reply Ikechukwu A. Ogu. Ikechukwu; as much as I disagree with your views on this matter, I cannot help but to admire your writing, as well as your in-dept knowledge of history as it relates to this issue. I also respect your ability respect the ideas and thoughts of others, and only hope that bloggers will follow suit. I want to first of all express the true fact that my objection to Ikwerre being Igbo has nothing to do with any personal hatred for the Igbos. As a matter of fact, over the years I've developed a special affinity for the Igbo people for their Heroism in standing up against the Nigeria government and all their cohorts (Britain) during the civil war. While I do not subscribe to Biafra; I cannot pretend not to see-in this present day-what Ojukwu saw 49 years ago that moved him into his crusade. let it be made clear that Isaac Adaka Boro saw the same thing and waged war, but was unsuccessful. If the Igbo's had treated the minority better prior to the war I believe that the story would have been different. While differences do exist between the Igbo's and the River state people (Ikwerre in particular), one can not object to the true fact that Gowon needs to be tried for war crimes following the genocide he attempted on the Igbo people- dropping bombs on innocent civilians as his military campaign progressed past river Niger into Onitsha. Presently in America, you can see Igbos', Yorubas and other tribes doing well in the country to the point that people from neighboring African countries are intimidated by us Nigerians.

I object to your statements because the Ikwerre people have their history, which has been passed down from generation-to-generation. The Ihuruoha (Ihuha) people must preserve their history else, it will be eroded by the mighty stream of Igbo influence. The Ikwerre group has been Identified in Nigeria as an independent ethnic group, and they have the constitutional right to be perceived as such; as a measure to preserve what is left of their true Identity and culture (if any).

I want to use this opportunity to respond to some of the issues you raised. In south America today, most people speak Spanish language-even though they are Hispanics. The fact that they speak this language doesn't mean that they are Spaniards. They are a people who were colonized by the Spanish. In the process of the colonization, they lost their native language and cultivated the culture of the colonial master. Part of that culture exists today in the state of Texas in USA. Cowboys are known to be Spaniards, but when you talk about cow-boys today everyone thinks about Texans. That a group of people speak a particular language doesn't imply that that's whom they are. History tells us that people have migrated from place to place-asserting or blending themselves with the new environment-either by their own desire, political benefits or pressure by rulers of their new found land.

It is self evident that our ancestors did not document thing on paper, but by telling moon-light stories to the younger generation. As a kid, I asked my father and uncle if Ikwerre was Igbo. If the history they told me stated that this tribe was Igbo, I wouldn't have had a problem accepting it. But the same story that Dibia has told in this forum was what was told to me years ago. So I plead with everyone who disagrees with him to know that he didn't cook-up this story. This is what our elders actually told us about our history, and we are going by that. you made a statement that there's no document showing that the Igbo's colonized Ikwerres'. However; the story according to our fathers is that the Igbo's where very influential and usually had people in place of authority. They cultivated their position as a tool to nab the resources in Ikwerre land, and the indigenous people had no say for the fear of their lives, possible slavery or jail term. This lead to the Ikwerre's accepting more of the Igbo names as a means of retaining what belonged to them. I want to also note that over the years there's been inter-marriage between the Igbo's and the Ikwerre's, and since the Ibo people are very influential and larger in number than the Ikwerre's, this has also impacted the language of Ikwerre people. Igbo's were so influential in River State that the entire state conducted trade, church services and meetings with Igbo language. Towns and Villages were replaced with Igbo names to signify their presence and ownership. Igbo language was the English of the day. Again; Ihuruoha who is the ancestor of Ikwerre people was not born in Benin land. The only child of Akalaka who was born in Benin land was Ekpeye. Ogba is as a result of a marriage for acceptance in Agbo; and I believe that this inter-marriage between Akalaka and an Ndoni woman reflects in Ogba's name. Ihuruoha was born by Akalaka's first wife in Ndoni area, by this time, Akalaka and his family were already speaking the language of the land where they found themselves. Technically, the only son of Akalaka who probably spoke Benin language would be the first son Ekpeye. It should also be noted that as Akalaka's sons grew, they married women who were not from Benin, but from the strange land where they found themselves (Igbo's, Ijaws and Igbo slaves who escaped slavery etc). As they moved southwards (Epkeye, Ihuruoha, Etche, Ogba) they encountered more Igbo's (Aru people) who were known for trading. This increased inter-marriage and mingling, and by this time, the descendants of Akalaka-who knew little or nothing about there language and culture-must have assimilated into the culture of their present. The Ijaws also have a history that the ikwerre's are a combination of Ijaw and Igbo. While this is a hypothesis, It's true that part of the people of obigbo, and those who are at the boundary between Rivers State and Abia are Ijaws who migrated to the area and cultivated the culture and language of the Igbo people. I also noticed that you referenced Elechi Amadi's admission that the idea that Ikwerre's are Igbo's is a point of view held by some Ikwerre's. The writer of "The Concubine" is someone that I admire so much. I believe he's one of the great minds of Ikwerre and nigeria at large; and I don not object to the true fact that his views are held in high esteem. But let's get something straight here. The Aru's leaved among the Ikwerre people for years. They were very wealthy and Influential in Ikwerre land and they owned lots of properties. However, after the civil war ended in 1970, Captain Elechi Amadi mobilized troops to case the Aru people away from Ikwerre land. If he believed that Ikwerre's are Igbo's, then why case away your own brother? Till this present day, we the Ikwerre people know those Aru people who never left. They exist in Elele, Iguruta etc. The truth of the matter is that, even the village where Elechi Amadi hales from is deemed Igbo. The name of the village up till this day is mbodo; which in Igbo language is mba-odo (foriegn people). they are the only village in Aluu whose name does not start with Omu; and in the old days, they were usually called upon last to make any form donations or partake in any form of activity in the town. the reason for this last-child recognition is based on the fact that they are regarded as foreigners. So I will disregard his comments as it pertains to this issue since they are not factual, but could be linked to his own roots. Now; I will not dismiss the fact that Ikwerre's have cultivated this tribal balance to their own advantage in time of need. In those days, they were know to call upon the Igbo's to come to their rescue whenever they were involved in tribal wars with neighboring tribes such as kalabari, Ijaw and Okrika; tribes that had been better armed by the white man for warfare. But when the civil war commenced; the Ikwerre people saw it as an opportunity to escape the brutal feet of oppression that has captivated them for centuries. They opened their borders to the Nigerian army, and denounced any link with the Igbo's after the war. This gave rise to a nick-name for Ikwerre people, and up till today some Igbo's call Ikwerre people "Sabo"; meaning saboteurs. This post war hatred has lingered for decades, and the Ikwerre people who were once known to marry Igbo's to gain recognition and acceptance now cautioning their off springs to avoid inter-marriage with the Igbo's. I'm glad that the youths of the 21st century are ignoring these status-quo as they pursue marriage and happiness. The truth of the matter is that Ikwerre history will never be complete without the mention of the Igbo's who seem to have been sown into the fabric of Ikwerre people. If you go to the market places in Port harcourt, the Igbo are largely the traders and Igbo language is still used in buying and selling to some degree.

I commend everyone who have invested their time to contribute to this topic and encourage everyone not to be biased, but to contribute to this conversation as I believe it makes us better. It reveals our history from different perspective . at the end, it shows that we are one people; bounded by relative cultures that define who we are. When people ask me where I'm from in the US I usually tell them that I'm an African. for me, it doesn't matter if I find myself in Mali, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana or any other African country. What matters to me is that I find myself in Africa, and that the struggle is one. that's why I'm not gonna give it up; not until Africa and Africans are free. However; I will encourage everyone to be civil as Ikechukwu and a hand-full of us has been in expressing our beliefs as it relates to the topic, because we are all Nigerians at the end of the day; that's the name of the nation that I've chosen to belong to, and if need be, I'm willing to die for one-Nigeria. Importantly; we all belong to the magnificent race called the human-race. let us endevour to maintain it as such and not make it a rat-race. Long live the federal republic of Nigeria; long live humanity; ONE LOVE!

Dude I do not wish to belittle nor insult, but your writeup there is full of weak arguments, circumstantial evidence and plain fault finding.
To be sure, the Ikwerres or whomever can be anything they claim to be...they can even change their identities a million times each year!
At the end of the day...its their history and their heritage.
But then, there is one little thing you cannot change, retell or manipulate...except with superior facts and arguments.
And that thing is...SHARED AND CONTEMPORARY HISTORY.
Shared history...that can be remembered by Aros, Owerris,Etches, Ngwas, Ndokis,Mbaises, Ikwerres,Ijaws, Ekpeyes, Ahoadas, Ibibios, Efiks,Annangs....all defeat your claims.
Contemporary history...that can be remembered by the British and other Nigerians from other ethnic groups...with documented evidence...also defeat your claims.
As noisy as I find the Igbos to be...this is one of the most interesting topics that sparked up my curiosity as an amateur historian.
I find it not only hilarious...but also sad.
Try again, maybe you can refute the OP's points with better arguments and historical references.
That said, I think you lots are simply trying to run away from your own history.
You will be reminded by those who know...one day or the other.
Wish you the best.

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