Ichida

satallite map of Ichida community
Satellite view of Ichida community hospital in relation to Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital. Source: Google Map

Ichida; Ichida is a town located in Anaocha local Government Area of Anambra State. It is situated towards the east of Igbo-ukwu, Ora-eri Awka-Etiti and Nnobi. The people of Ichida are one of the Igbo speaking groups of Anambra State and majority of the population engaged in farming in the ancient times while in contemporary times a good number of them have veered into private businesses, public, civil and other services, including international businesses[i]. Popular tradition in Ichida has it that the Igbo are said to have originated from Chukwu who had four sons- Igbo, Olu, Isu, and Ngwa. This is evident in the saying “Igbo n’ano ka nne”- four Igbo greater as one brother. These four sons and their descendants are reffered to as Umu Chukwu. They afterwards left home and spread to other parts of Igboland.

While Igbo and his descendants settled from Owerri to Onitsha, Aguleri, Enugu, and other towns within these areas; Olu and his people habited along the River Niger in areas like Uchi, Ossomari, Umunankwo, Calabar to Yenagoa. Isu migrated and settld in Nkwere, Anigbo, Anara, Ugri, Okigwe, Amalaka to Bende. Ngwa had common boundary with the sons of Igbo and live up to Port Harcourt.

The tradition furthers that the Aro who claimed to be among the sons of Chukwu were not direct descendants of Chukwu but servants. This informs why they could travel across any part of Igboland without any molestation. While the eldest of the sons of Chukwu is hard to ascertain, it can be adduced that Igbo was the eldest. This is because whenever there is need for cleansing sacrifice- Ikpu Alu when certain crimes are committed, the eldest son is the one that performed the rites. However, if the cleansing cannot be performed ordinarily, the Umu-Nri will be called. Since the Umu-Nri belong to the sons of Igbo, it is safe to claim Igbo was the eldest.

It should be noted that with the exception of Igbo, the others speak one or more languages in addition to Igbo language. Overtime, with the increase in population, coming of the Europeans and the central position of the Igbo- the dominance of their only language, the name Igbo began to take precedence over the other names. The eventual adoption of the name “Igbo” for all the descendants of Church may bot be completely explained without the influence of other Non Igbo neighbors who were comfortable to describe the stock as a whole as “Igbo” in view of their cultural, language and historical similarities.

 

Origin

Ichida belongs to that family of Igbo. Different versions of tradition are available on the origin of Ichida. However, all available versions believe that Ichida originated from a man called Okotu. Okotu migrated from his father;s house in Umona to Umuabu village in Adazi-Enu, Okonobi family precisely. Not much is known about the parentage and the siblings of Okotu, it is said that he had four other borthers namely Nnebo, Isuofia, Akwaeze, and Nneni. However, along the line, the name Igwulube was the same person or not. If they were the same person, it stands to reason that Okutu gave birth to Adazi-Enu, Ichida, and others. If the reverse was the case, definintely, Okotu begot Igwulube who then birthed Ichida and others.

Accordingly, oral tradition suggests that Okotu had a son named Igwulube. This son is said to have married two wives- Ada and Ichi (Mgboye). Ada gave birth to three sons who later become the ancestors of Adazi-Enu, Adazi-Ani, and Adazi-Nnukwu. Ichi’s first son was named Ichi-Adaa- ‘Ichi has come’ which later curtailed to Ichida, while the second son of Ichi was Nnwa-Amam-Ichi- ‘Ichi has been favoured with a child,’ shortened to Amichi.

The sons of Igwulube aftyer coming of age left to establish their own towns. As was customary, the first son lived in the father’s house, as such Adazi-Enu continued to live in their father’s house while Ichida was instructed to move southwards and he put up his home at Isiube which is today the head family in Ichida. Adazi-Ani moved north-westward and settled in the present location. Adazi-Nnukwu moved northwards and came to the location it occupies till date. Amichi too migrated and settled in its present location.

As the interpretation of traditions of origin has been subjected to adjustments, proliferation and manipulation for different purposes, the case has not been too different in the efforts at constructing the origin of Ichida. Some quarter of the society believe that Okotu Igwulube had nine sons who made up the nine towns and these towns celeberate the Okpesi feast all within a month. This group has made this assumption by laying emphasis on a saying, “Igwulube Okotu aka teghete”. Accordingly, they listed the nine sons as follows: Adazi-Enu, Ichida, Adazi-Ani, Adazi-Nnukwu, Umuona, Isuofia, Akaeze, Nneni and Amichi, leaving out Obeledu. Some included Ogbodi, Osumenyi and Obeledu leaving out Omuona, Isuofia, Akwaeze and Nneni. Others have interpreted the saying to mean that Igwulube Okotu had nine fingers instead of ten fingers, so “aka teghete” became a remarkable feature and not because he had nine sons.

Historically, according to an account, Obeledu is the son of a man from Adazi-Nnukwu named Ezike-Ugada. This man fell ill to the extent that the suffering was unbearable for his people. Hence, he was removed to the evil forest to die. There he was able to kill a vulture which took him for a dead man and ate it. Consequently, he was purged of his illness. He thereafter did obtain alms from people going to the market. The account continues that a seed was carried down by flood and it germinated near his hut. This seed produced gourds which he prepared and sold to passers-by. Ezike was able to amass considerably wealth, married and had a son which he named Obenedun shortened to Obeledu- ‘the gourd has helped me’. Suffice to say that Obeledu was not a direct son of Okotu. Sim ilarly, Ogbodi and Osumenyi came out of Amichi. As clear as the account seems, the people of Obeledu have rejected it without second thought. According to them, Obeledu is one of the direct sons of Okotu, that he is the fourth son of the fifth wife of Okotu coming after Adazi-Enu, Adazi-Ani, and Adazi-Nnukwu. They also assert that the second wife had four sons namely Amichi, Osumenyi, Ichida and Ogbodi.

For Osumenyi, it is believed that the word “Osu” is nobody’s name but literally means a land that is fertile and productive. As such the other part of the name Umenyi is said to have been added as a mark of honour to Umeojilienyi who fought for the land. Tradition has it that he was the one who introduced the Ozo title to the town during his time.

Another version posits that Ojilienyi was a famous hunter called Okonkwo nta, who added to his fame by identifying with an elephant. It is not clear whether this elephant was killed by him alone or had been shot elsewhere. However, since it was this famous hunter who summoned the kinsmen to bring the elephant home, he deserved the credit and consequently was honoured with the title, (Umeojilienyi in full). The meaning clearly implies that he took the Ozo title with an elephant.

Perhaps similarly, Osumenyi tradition of origin accounts that Osunkwe whose name later transformed to the present Osumenyi was a great farmer and hunter and had many children. One of his children named Ojirienyi who took after him in hunting killed an Elephant in one of his gaming. This heroic act was celebrated across the land. He was bestowed an Ozo title with the elephant and he was called Ume Ojirienyi Chiozo. This was how the name of Osumenyi came to being.

While none of the interpretations can be accepted uncritically, it is safer to assert that all those listed traced their origin to Okotu directly either as sons or grandsons or indirectly. In all Ichida and her sister-towns belong to the same clan, and this clan is the Agu inyi clan. This account after a very careful analysis by some sections of the community resulting from this research from this research effort have come to be accepted as the more logical, historical of the narratives.

 

Origin of the seven villages under Ichida

Ichida continued his life in Isiube after leaving his father’s house. He married and gave birth to Ezeikwu and Ezeigwe. Neither the name of the wife nor the village from which she came is known. Oral tradition had it for certain that he had two sons. The two brothers agreed to give their sons right in the order they were born. It should be noted at this juncture that in the past people were hospitable and open to welcome any stranger willing to naturalise as citizen. This practice is not unconnected with Ezeikwu and Ezeigwe as will be seen hereafter.

Ezeikwu begot Isiube who was the first son of the family, Ezeigbe born Dunu as the second son of the family. Ezeikwu’s Ezennebo and Uga became the third and fourth sons respectively. Ezeigwe adopted Ebo from Ifite  and initiated him as the fifth son of the family. Ezeikwu had dim as the sixth son while Ezeigwe again adopted Njom from Osunagidi and made him the seventh son. These seven sons were the founders of the seven villages that make up Ichida. As a result, Ichida is made of seven villages namely; Isiube, Umudunu, Umueze, Nnulukwu, Umuebo, Umudim, and Umueaeosue.
 

Economy

Agriculture: Ichida’s history and growth have revolved around agriculture not only as a means of providing food and survival but a means of trading, job placement and relations with neighbors. The people of Ichida are mostly farmers, and it stands without contraction that agriculture is the economic mainstay of Ichida. In fact farming and hunting are the oldest occupations in the land. The practice has been passed from generations to generations with persistent improvement in styles and implements. Successive generations have found agriculture as a veritable tool of survival, growth and development, with many engaged I the exchange of good and agricultural products. Over time and with consistent improvement in the handed down traditional methods of farming, it was further revealed that animal husbandry has come to replace hunting gradually in Ichida. People still engage in game hunting but development in the sense of clearing forest for the purpose of building houses or cultivation has led to the extinction or migration of some animals.

 

Farming

Farming practice have become easier and faster with development and improvement in farming implements. Land in Ichida was considered sacred and communally owned. Just like the current land tenure system in Nigeria holds that “all lands belongs to the government,” the land of Ichida was believed to belong to Ezeikwu, the first son of Ichida and the head of Ichida. Land then was either inherited or given. In fact, immigrants were given settling portions provided they would keep the laws and customs of the land. This practice was due to the hospitable way of the Ichida people and coupled with the fact that the habited area was too small compared to the uninhabited area. It was a taboo to sell the land except there is no other means of raising money to carry out very important projects like marriage or paying a debt. Also, land can be leased for a particular number of years. Suffice it to say that lands used for agricultural purpose in Ichida are gotten through inheritance, outright purchase, lease, or gift.

 

Subsistence Farming

Subsistence farming is the most popular agricultural practice in Ichida. It is basically a form of farming that is not out rightly for commercial purpose rather, to support the family. Most times this farming is carried out behind the house or somewhere in the compound. Subsistence farmers cultivate maize, yam, cocoyam, okro, pepper, tomato, and different vegetables (bitter leaf, water leaf, cocorus, ugwu leaf). For these set of farmers, they have no specific season of planting, as such they plant any available crop all-round the year.

Subsistence farmers also rear animals in non-commercial scale, either to supplement their diet or to make more money. It also provides employment for a number of citizens thus preventing them from crimes and laziness. This practice too is carried out in a section of their compound. They rear mostly goat, sheep, duck, fowl, and guinea fowl.

 

Commercial Farming

On a commercial scale, farmers cultivate one or more cops of acres or hectares of land. In this case the harvest is sold within and outside Ichida. Crops that are planted o commercial basis include yam, cocoyam, cassava, maize, beans, pine apple, and most importantly, oil palm. The cultivation of oil palm dates back to the early years of Ichida. In fact, most of the oil palm plantations in Ichida are inherited from fathers or grandfathers that were commercial farmers in the colonial and immediate post-colonial period when agriculture was still the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
 

Trade & Commerce

Trade in Ichida started with the barter system of exchange which entailed the exchange of goods for goods. The precise date for the evolution of the barter system in Ichida is not known but it did not last long due to the problems associated with the barter system. Not long, the monetary system of exchange replaced it. Cowries and sea shells were the earliest form of money. While the cowry is generally accepted and popular, there were other things used as money such as Konko, Mgbudamgba and Wire but their uuse was localized to some areas.

With the advent of the British, cowries were gradually displaced and the new colonial currency was adopted. Trading has taken a new dimension in Ichida with the drastic opening of town to development. People no longer wait for market days that comes periodically to buy their needs. They patronize traders that use shops opened for business almost every day. Traders who don’t have the means to rent shops or kiosks display their wares in the open air or under a makeshift tent in from their compound or beside the road. Some industrious traders also push their wares around in wheel barrows (an improvisation of mobile store) while some others hawk theirs.

Traditional apprenticeship system of acquiring knowledge is well practiced in Ichida. Apprentices learn different skills – mechanical and electrical engineering, painting, brick laying, welding, plumbing, and business to mention a few by observing their master over time. At the end of their training, they establish their own business and can even take in apprentices.
 

Arts & Craft

The craft industry was one of the booming local industries in Ichida but not anymore. While men engage in carving, smelting, and weaving, women are restricted to weaving. Products like carved walking stick, staff of office, meat bowl, carved stool, basket, hoe, cutlass, knife and Dane gun are product produced in the industry.
 

Palm Wine Tapping/ Local Brewing

Palm Wine is a local beverage which is dear to the Igbo. As seasonal product, the period from September to early March every year is a period when palm wine is readily available. The price is low during the period the period but between late March and August every year is a period of scarcity and during this period, prices are always very high.
 

Politics

One of the striking characteristics of the Igbo and their neighbors at the advent of British colonial adventure was their political decentralization. This is evident in the fact that there is no evidence that any of them ever evolved, or formed part of, even a loosely integrated empire or state of any remarkable size. Instead, they were split into a large number of tiny, politically equivalent and autonomous units. Although none of these units was either isolated or self-sufficient, each had all attributes that would enable the smooth running of an independent unit.

This system of administration is what scholars giving historical accounts of the ancient Igbo society have described as acephalous, segmentary, or stateless. This classification is based on the fact that the precolonial Igbo society consisted of autonomous villages and village groups ruled via diffused authority without any sort of formalized, permanent or hereditary leadership systems. The Igbos can also be said to be republican.

In Ichida, typical of any Igbo community or village, the political structures were not centralized. These political institutions were basically indigenous and intricately interwoven with the culture and norms of the society. Ichida society is segmentary, consisting of various hierarchical levels of socio-political organization that became relevant in different circumstances and can be grouped according to function. Political participation began from the family which is the smallest social unit. This was directly followed by the compound which consist of a number of fmailies and household of common descent. Here the Okpala (freeborn) of the most senior family exercise political authority. The Okpala was responsible to keep order in the family and discipline those who went contrary to the law.

The kindred, village subsection, Umunna or patrilineage, was the next structure of political authority. This kindred  (Umunna) was made up of descendants of the sons of the founder of the village. The Ununna is based on patrilineage and is the central unit of Ichida society. Thus, when immigrants arrived in a village, the Ofo Ala (the community of the Ofo of the senior ward) was used to ritually integrate them into the mini state, and thereafter, all members of the polity began to see themselves as “Umunna,” an exogamous group of “kinsmen.” This is a unique political arrangement that worked well before the advent of British colonial masters.

The village assembly was the next in the structure of political hierarchy. All the kindred in the village made up the village assembly with the most senior Okpala of the village group as the leader.  Several villages form a village group or ton often comprising several thousand or even up to ten thousand people today, “the highest coherent unit of I(g)bo social and territorial organization.

An important element in the village assembly is the concept of Ohazurume, which means ‘it is the communal will’. This is a philosophy and practice.

 

[i] Azuka Nzoiwu, Mgbakoigba Journal of African Studies, Vol. 1 July, 2012

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