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Ụkwụànì (sometimes spelled Ụkwànì) are a distinct ethnic group of people located in the heart of Delta State in the Delta North Senatorial District area of Delta and are closely related to the Ndoni people found in Rivers states in Nigeria. They supported the Nigerian cause during the civil war and do not in any way consider themselves to be of the Igbo stock. It is widely believed that some of their ancestry can be traced to the Benin Kingdom of Edo as is recorded in some of their oral history and folklore. The culture, customs and dress sense of the Ukwuani people is very similar to that of the Urhobos, Itsekiris, Ijaws and Isokos which form a major part of the coastal ethnic groups of Delta State.
The Ụkwụànì dialect, is intelligible with the dialects of Aboh and Ndoni. Some commentators consider it distinct from the Igbo language. Ukwuani as a language is definitely not Igbo though there are similarities in names, etc.
Many Ụkwụànì people are large-scale farmers.Those living in communities traversed by rivers and creeks also fish.
Rubber and palm oil extraction have been the major source of income. These activities are waning due to falling market prices and the migration of young people to major cities. Increased oil and gas production have also reduced the amount of farmland available. However, the area still boasts one of the biggest agricultural fields in the region: the Utagba Uno rubber plantation, currently operated by Michelin.
The Italian company AGIP commissioned the first Independent Power Plant (IPP) built by an oil company in Nigeria (at Kwale). The project received a generally warm welcome from the local community. As a result, the area has a reputation for providing a business-friendly environment.
Society and the arts
Indigenous arts include basket weaving, metalwork and sculpture (known as Okpu-Uzo).
The Ụkwụànì are also widely known for their music, having produced such Late artistes as Charles Iwegbue, Ali Chukwuma, King Ubulu, Prince Smart Williams Achugbue, Rogana Ottah, they still have on the list names which are ever present in the scene such as Franco Lee Ezute, John Okpor, Prince Tony Kiddy, Queen Azaka, Bob Fred, Agu Lato, Computer Onah, Steady Arobbi, Deskenny, Prince 2 Boy, Ishioma Henry Ossai, Orji Moore, Chris Hanem, Eric Enuma, Dennis Abamba, Murphy Gingo, Chuks Igba and many others. Their music is one of the main influences they have had over their neighbors, many of whom have adopted Ụkwụànì music as their own traditional music.
They remain a socially tight-knit group. Community unions and clubs are the rule, even among those who have emigrated to North America, Europe, or Asia. These organizations routinely hold festivals and celebrations. Marriage and burial rites are also often the occasion for elaborate ceremonies.
Most of the people are Christian. Large Catholic congregations are found in Obiaruku, Ashaka, Obinomba, Umutu and Kwale where Catholic missionaries established churches and elementary schools during the colonial era. Protestant churches are also common. Traditional worship still takes place in nearly every community. There is a small Muslim minority.