|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2013)|
|Nickname(s): Pride of Ikeduru|
|Currency and Currency Code||Naira - NGN|
|• Eze||Oliver Njoku (Abazuma II)|
|Time zone||WAT (UTC+1)|
Abazu is an autonomous community in Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State, Nigeria. It comprises five main villages and several kindreds and clans. The villages that make up Abazu are Umunnemoche, Amauzo, Umuekpere, Umuebem and Umuelechi. The Village Square of Abazu is located at Amaudara.
Location and Geography
Abazu is an autonomous community in the southeastern Nigeria. Abazu is located along Okigwe expressway. It has latitude of 5.558922 and longitude of 7.094592. It has a border with Akabo, Uzoagba, and Amatta.
Origin and Genealogy of Abazu
The historical origin of Abazu is based on oral myth passed from generation to generation. The origin is linked to the origin of Akabo and can be traced to the Progenitor, Ikeduru who is believed to be the Father of Akabo and the brother of Mbaitoli by oral myth and legend.
Abazu had four sons and one daughter. his were- Nnemoche(Umunnemoche) Uzo(Amauzo), ebem(Umuebem), and the last son Ekpere(Umuekpere). Nnemoche was the Opara(First Son) of Abazu. The number of daughter is one and her name was Elechi(Umuelechi)
Creation of Abazu Autonomous Community
The former Abazu Autonomous Community was made up of 4 major villages. The villages are: Amukachi, Amii and Umuiyi. Umuiyi was the headquarters.
The clamour for the creation of more Autonomous Communities out of Akabo Autonomous Community was started by Abazu Community who felt that they were marginalized in Akabo Community even with their large size (they were the highest in terms of population and size). Their clamour gained momentum in the during the administration of governor Achike Udenwa as
they officially seceded from Abazu Autonomous Community. This was seen in the founding of their own parallel Town Union (Abazu Town Union) and the breakaway from the celebration of common events and ceremonies like the Annual Iri-ji Day(New Yam Festival) Abazu started celebrating their own Annual Iri-ji, and of course their 'Abazu Day' which is been celebrated every December. Despite their secession, they formed a weak alliance with Akabo Community.
Language and Ethnicity
In Igbo language speaks: Gawa (means: go) bu Abazu speaks: Gama (means: go).
In Igbo language speaks: Hapuwa (means: never mind) Abazu speaks: Harama (means: never mind) etc.
There is freedom of worship in the town. The people of Abazu hold religious belief to a high esteem and religion plays a central role in their daily life. The people believe in the supremacy of God Almighty. They usually pray before the opening of any official function and say closing prayer before rounding it up. Today, the people are predominantly Christians of different denominations. Roman Catholic Church has the largest following in the town because it was the first church that was located in the town. The St Michael Catholic Church, and St Peter Catholic Church play host of the Catholic faithfuls. It is seen as the official church of the town by many of the indigenes and has the largest congregation in the town. Recently, other Christian denominations such as Deeper Life Bible Church, Anglican Church, Christian Pentecostal church, Cherubim and seraphim. etc. have started locating their churches in the town. The Christians have been organizing Revivals and Crusades in the town aimed at converting the few non-Christians to Christians.
Before the advent of Christianity, the people worshiped African Indigenous Religion. Some of the people especially the older generation still practice African Traditional Religion bequeathed to them by their fore fathers till date. There are still some of the older generation that still practice both African Traditional Religion and Christianity.
Festivals and Culture
Some of the festivals performed by the people of Abazu include;
New Yam Festivals (Iriji) New yam festival Just like every other Igbo communities do. Abazu celebrates new yam festival, this is held for harvesting of the yam. During the festival yam is eaten throughout the villages as celebration. The king leads this festival. And after that everybody in the community will start eating yam.
Mmanwu Mmanwu is a traditional masquerade of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. Their culture revolves around work and entertainment, and to the Abazu people, masquerade is a major form of entertainment. The masquerade revolves around their community. Masquerades generally last for a few weeks, however some may span over a few months. These events are frequently performed during the end of the harvesting season and the start of the new planting season. Masquerades are used to honor the dead and pray to the gods for a successful planting season.
Mmanwu is a traditional performances acted out by exclusive secret societies within the community. These exclusive societies consist of adult male members. Each member must be initiated into the society. Their identity is known only to the other members. The main function of these societies is to celebrate the harvest and to entertain the village people. Some other functions include enforcing village curfews, protection, and as village security guards. The members, also known as masqueraders, wear masks to hide their identity from the rest of the village. The mask is also worn to resemble the spirit of a dead community member. By wearing the mask, a masquerader is thought to have spiritual powers that are conducted through the mask.
Iraofe Iraofe is a culture where female who reaches the age of marriage will pass through a certain track road in the middle of the night naked, and those female must be virgins. If any of the female is not virgin the person will not survive as she passes through the track road. After the entire virgin finish the process, after a period of time they will all get married. This tradition has brought honors and respect to Abazu community. If anybody wants to marry a virtues woman, they will come to Abazu community.
Though this culture is no more in existent, due to the Christianity
Egwuonwa Egwuonwa is a dance by the moonlight. It usually takes place in the village square with different people of various age grades, clans, class, skin pigmentation, background and experiences, all bringing their talents to play. In their words, displays, movements, you find different types of expressions, of forms, sounds, images, use of space, rhythm and cadences. Both individually and collectively, their unique voice, style and message stand out as tools for self-expression, to entertain, inform, probably shock and possibly transform the audience. Some electrify the village square, demand attention, even command series of catharses.
Omugwo Omugwo, is the short period a woman stays with her daughter after she has put to birth, is an age long Abazu culture, just like other Igbo, which has survived to this day. Her mother (the grandma) bathes the baby, does all the cooking, and also bathes the new mother helping her massage the necessary areas with hot water. A special delicacy the woman eats at this time is ji mmiri (mmili) oku uda i.e. yam peppersoup with 2 special spices called uda and uziza. The soup is filled with dried fish (mangala), stock fish (okporoko) and sometimes beef. It is hot and spicy and uda and uziza they say is expected to help the woman's body heal from the stress of childbirth.
The new mother is not expected to lift a finger during omugwo or go outside. She just eats and nurses her baby and others take care of the chores and she cannot have sex with her husband during this period.
Awa: Awa is simply the remembrance of fathers, anybody that his father died, will remember his father that day in a celebrative form. All the men in the house will provide a male chicken while all the female will cook a good soup and they will invite people. This type of culture is not done generally but only within the family whenever they want to do it.
Marriage in Igbo land is an arrangement, which enables individuals (man/woman) to live together and cooperate in an orderly social life. A marriage in Igbo land or any African country goes beyond sexual union. “ The type of family organization is the extended family, where ”one is his brother’s keeper.” This consist of the nuclear family, the western type of family organization, (man, wife, and children), plus the couple’s parents, brothers, and sisters; their grandparents and great grandparents. The extended family takes the form of three or four generations of nuclear families of lineal descendants.
Just like other Igbo communities, marriage in Abazu, the suitor will ask two times. This shows if he is serious for marriage or not. In Abazu before a woman get married to a man the two families have to ask question about the family which their child wants to enter. After the families have made all investigations, then the suitor will be allowed to start the marriage process. This is called “opening the gate” (Ngupe Onu Mbu).
After the suitor has been welcomed to start the marriage process, the suitor will make a four days visit to the girl’s family, on the fourth day the girl will join the suitor home and stay for a few day. This is called “four days visit” (Ije Abali Ano).
After the four days visit, the suitor has to pay the bride price and prepare for the traditional marriage.
Abazu people have some similarity with Owerri people. just like other Igbo communities, so they have the same recipe with Igbo. Yam is very important in Abazu. Below is one of the recipes Abazu has.
Ofe Owerri Owerri soup is classic Owerri soup flavored with aromatic Uzouza leaves, Ugu (fresh Pumpkin leaves) and Okazie leaves and lightly thickened with Coco yam, really captures the scent of Abazu town and Igbo land.
- lkg / 2Ib assorted meats (Beef Oxtail, Tripe, Bokoto & Bush meat), Ponmo,
- 450g / lib stockfish (washed & flaked )
- 1 medium dry fish (washed & flaked)
- 225g / 8oz ground chilies
- 225g / 8oz ground crayfish
- 225g/8oz Uzouza leaves, shredded
- 450g/lib coco yam boiled and pounded
- 1lt / 2 pint stock or water
- salt to taste
Wash the meat thoroughly and place in a large pot. Season with salt and ground chilies add some stock and cook for 45 minutes. Cook the stockfish separately for 1 hour or pre-soaked. Meanwhile, wash and peel the cocoyam, cook until soft and pound. Add the washed smoked fish and stock to the pot of boiling meats and cook for I0 minutes. Add the stock and bring to boil. Mould the pounded cocoyam into small balls and add to soup, stir in the crayfish, shredded Uzouza leaves and oil. Adjust seasoning and simmer for 15 minutes until slightly thick. Serve hot with Pounded yam, Garri (roast cassava grains) or akpu.
Just like Igbo political system, Abazu people are Republicans. There are five kindreds in Abazu, a kindred has to provide a king for the community when their own turn reach. No vote is been cast for this in the community. After the death of any king, another kindred has to bring a king. This is how it continues to rotate.
Engr. seth Nwanagu was the first king of Abazu (Abazuma I) from UMUNNEMIOCHE village. He had a short reign. After his death Chief Oliver Njoku who holds the title as the Oputa Obie, ascend to the throne after so many controversies. Oliver Njoku comes from a village in Abazu called UMUELECHI. It's known that Elechi was the only daughter of Abazu. Currently Oliver Njoku is the current King of Abazu with the traditional title as ABAZUMA II OF ABAZU
- Eze Olive Njoku – Traditional Ruler of Abazu Autonomous Community.
- Late Engr. Seth Nwanagu - The First king of Abazu
Abazu – History and Culture by Late Fidelis Mbara