CHIEFTAINCY AND KINGSHIP TUSSLE IN IGBOLAND: A CASE STUDY OF OGIDI COMMUNITY ANAMBRA STATE, NIGERIA (1904 -2010)

ABSTRACT
This research work centers on investigating the factors responsible for Chieftaincy and Kingship tussle with specific focus on Ogidi community of Anambra State of Nigeria. It was aimed at exploring the origin, the causes, the effects and the experiences people encountered during the period of the tussle. The work traces the origin of Igbo, the pre-colonial and colonial administration as well as the Igbo leadership after the British era. The Origin of Ogidi, introduction and administration of monarch. (Kingship) as well as the structure, power, qualification and mode of election into the office of the Igwe were discussed. Data for the work were collected using library research, employing both primary and secondary sources, and through oral interview, which was randomly selected within the scope of the study. The researcher personally went for the interview and established the content validity of the interview conducted. In the work also, the tussle itself, the situation as at the time of the research, the efforts to resolve the issue as well as the approaches for the reduction of the tussle were handled. Based on the observations, it was discovered that the causes of the tussle were the monopoly of the governing post and the imposition of the unwanted candidate.

CHAPTER ONE 
INTRODUCTION

1.1      Background of the Study
Among the scholars especially the ethnologists and historians of Igbo history, the origin of Igbo people is still a subject of controversy. The reason borders on the fact that the main stages of evolution of Igbo history and culture are yet to be explored. Those who are vast in ethnographic and archaeological discoveries from which Igbo origin and history can be distilled are yet to be properly collected, collated, analyzed and interpreted.

As the origin of Igbo remains a vexed question among historians, the place of chieftaincy and kingship institution in Igbo leadership remains an enigmatic aspect of Igbo culture among scholars, some historians insisted that the Igbo had no kings- Igbo enwe eze, which implies that kingship, was alien to Igbo culture, introduced and nurtured by outsiders in pre-colonial settings. While some insist that kingship was and has been part of Igbo culture, Ezedigbo or Ezeadigo nurtured by Igbo autonomous values and principles. They are of the opinion that Igbo communities had kings or kingship at varying levels of development in the pre-colonial period, with accounts of origins, migrations, and settlements among the Igbo.

They assert that each community recognizes and appoints its own Eze who is usually an honest, wealthy heir in the town. In the East Central States like Anambra, Imo, Abia and Enugu, kingships is somewhat static. Kingship emerged in response to social and economic pressure in the various areas occupied by the Igbo. As community developed, the need for leadership whose jurisdiction went beyond their family or lineage units arose. The advent of British rule changed the system, legitimacy to kingship was no longer the affair of the respective communities but that of the Regional government headed by the European. Every selection, appointment, or election to kinship had to be ratified by the Regional government who also had to determine their pay. Because of this, the traditional ethical values which guided the activities of kings became increasingly neglected. The unit among the Igbo was bastardized by the colonialist that enthroned the aristocratic system of government in Igbo culture.

King or monarch, which is popularly called “Igwe” in Ogidi, is a phenomenon that came into being in the early part of nineteenth century. Before the establishment of Kingship in Ogidi in 1904, the four quarters that make up Ogidi namely Akanano, Uru, Ezinkwo, and Ikenga had Warrant Chiefs. These Warrant Chiefs (W.C) were called Ezeobodo. The Ezeobodo (Warrant Chiefs) acted as the village father and headed village meetings and occasions with the help of other titled-men. Their duties range from settling disputes among the sub-villages to resolving conflicts between his subjects. The Ogidi Community adopted the title “Igwe” based on 1976, 1991,and 1994 Anambra State Traditional Ruler Edict, signed into law by John Atom kpera, (Governor of old Anambra State with capital at Enugu), Joseph Abulu and Mike Attah, former Governors of Anambra State.

The Warrant Chiefs shouldered the responsibilities of their villages and established autonomous governance. The community was divided and each of them had the power to rule over the affairs of their respective quarters. This was where the principle of “divide and rule” emerged in Igbo culture. “Divide and Rule” which was introduced by the British colonialist who invented direct administration in Igbo culture through establishment of native court, derived her revenue from indirect taxation. This “Divide and Rule” system of nineteenth century saw the Igbo villages divided and grouped together and a British District Officer assigned to rule them. Ogidi as other Igbo before the advent of kingship were egalitarian in outlook. There was nothing like overall crowned leader. The whole villages meet in the village square to discuss and deliberate on matters affecting them. One person was heading the meeting. He was not to have prerogative power neither was he superior to other members in the meeting. Each community recognizes and appoints it own Warrant Chief (Ezeobodo) who was usually a democratically elected nationalist. When the colonial administration enthroned the rule of Kings, the system was changed, the centre could not hold any longer and things fell apart.

Again, the Ogidi community, apart from having Warrant Chiefs as their leaders, also had rulership systems of mmo (masquerades), alusi (deities) Age grade (Otu-ogbo) and titled elders (Ndi-ichie). Both Ibemesi (1995), and Obi (1996), agreed that the Ezeobodo supervised them and this continued until the emergence of British Colonial Administration that instituted Kingship stool in the community about 100 years ago. They assert that each community recognizes and appoints its own Eze who is usually an honest, wealthy heir in the town. This was bastardized by the colonials, which enthroned the aristocratic system of government in Igbo culture.

At the demise of Igwe Walter Amobi 1 in 1925, there was an interregnum in the Igweship system for 19 years, (1925 -1944). The interregnum lasted because Ogidi people refused to have repeated performance of the unbearable experiences they had with the first Traditional Ruler, Igwe Walter Amobi 1.

During the reign of Igwe Amobi 1 in 1904, the community experienced many horrible and excruciating situations because he was high-handed in his reign. Members of the community were forced to carry heavy load, work and labour in Igwe’s compound and farmland once every lunar week (Izu) without any compensation, He married many women mostly from those who came to sweep the palace and snatched other peoples wives forcefully while other men donated their wives to Igwe so as to get Igwe’s recognition, societal appointment and employment to alleviate hunger and starvation rampaging the community then.

Whenever he attended the court in Ogidi, which was just a stone throw from his house, four men would carry him on a Hammoc, rather reminiscent of the way David Livingstone travelled in East Africa. He had a hand drawn cart for attending other courts. Later on he acquired cars to enable him get to the more distant courts in time. Indeed, he was a powerful monarch, very strong and influencial.

The Igwe’s decision was final. He was to be given the fattest yams in one’s barn, most vital parts of animal killed, collected large expense of land, received tax and was the only one living in well built and expensive house. He wielded sufficient influence both in Ogidi and many other neighbouring towns, which he galvanized together, and was ruling and imposing financial burden on them. There was a regrettable punishment to any one that faltered the orders of the Igwe and one of them was self-exile. Infact, the whole act was dehumanizing in nature.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 103 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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