Umuchu

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Umuchu is the largest town in Aguata local government of Anambra State, Nigeria. Anambra is the cradle of Igbo people of eastern Nigeria.[1] Umuchu shares boundary in the north with Achina and Enugwu-Umuonyia communities (both in Aguata, Anambra state). Umuchu is bordered in the south by Akokwa town in Imo State. In the west, it is bordered by Uga Town and Amesi town(Aguata Anambra) and in the East by Umunze and Isuokpu/umualaoma communities (both in Orumba Anambra state). Umuchu town as a whole covers roughly thirty square miles. Umuchu is a political union of formerly sovereign communities. Historically, the town is grouped into three units: Ihite, Amanasaa and Okpu-na-Achalla. Ihite is the head group. Ihite is composed of three villages: Ugwuakwu, Umugama and Ozalla-Akukwa. Ugwuakwu is the head village. Amanasaa unit is composed of seven main villages: Ogu, Osete,umumilo,Umubogu,Umuojogwo,Umuojum and Amihe. Finally, Okpu-na-Achalla is made up of two villages: Ibughubu and Achalla.

History[edit]

The three units that today make up Umuchu were independent communities in the past. But they were forced into a political union to save themselves from brutal invasions by Slave-hunting parties mainly from Abam and Arochukwu[2][3] Small towns were easy prey as they were ambushed at midnight, and carted off as commercial wares. It was therefore pertinent for the communities to raise their numbers at all cost and this led to an amalgamation of these three distinct units to become one town known as Umuchu. Perhaps to make the Union Treaty binding, a team of qualified native doctors were assembled to make these treaty binding on the consenting units.[4] Part of their work included the making of an antidote that will ward off violent attacks or wars. This antidote was known as Ichu, literally interpreted as 'to ward off'. This antidote was buried in two places. One was buried in the meeting place of the three units, now known as Nkwo Uchu. This place also hosts the market and Ichu/Uchu Shrine. The second portion of the antidote was buried in Odere stream and automatically the stream became known as Ichu/Uchu stream. The three consenting units dedicated themselves to this Ichu antidote, which they understood to be a female spirit or goddess and from that day onward became and called themselves, Umuichu. However, long usage have caused the 'i' letter to disappear and the town is now simply known as Umuchu.

Demography[edit]

Umuchu town is a rural community with large number of her population living abroad. Umuchu is mostly an agrarian community as a result of her fertile land. It hosts variety of Christian churches including a Catholic procathedral. A government technical college is also situated in the town in addition to various public and private schools scattered in the town. Igbo language is still preferred but a large number of town's people understands English language. The town is mostly on a gentle slope that provides a wonderful scenic landscape. Her highest hill is Ojukwu Ibeazoro Hill while her lowest lands (known locally as Okolokolo) are mostly found in Umugama, Osete and Ibughubu villages. Her largest water supply is the Uchu stream, a tributary to the Imo River. In addition to other smaller streams, there are various springs (known locally as Ogbanelu or simply Ogbana) in the town. The most respected tree in Umuchu is the Ukwu Achi tree located in Nkwo Uchu and said to be about two century old. The nearest Airport from Umuchu is Enugu Airport (about 136.6 km). There are also hotels and hospitality services in Umuchu.

Religion[edit]

The people of Umuchu are mostly Christians with a minority of traditional believers, who still worship the Ichu/Uchu deity. Religious intolerance and extremism by some Christians has occasionally led to attacks on, and destruction of, holy places of worship belonging to traditional believers.

Political Organisation[edit]

Umuchu like majority of Igbo people had an egalitarian society that was both patriarchal and gerontocratic in nature. But a trace of hereditary monarchy (the Chikwado/Umezinwa Royal clans) in Ugwuakwu suggests that at a point Umuchu had a precolonial Kingship system. Since late sixties, Umuchu have been led by an elected King in conjunction with the Town Union, also known as Umuchu Improvement Union. The first elected king was His majesty, Igwe Ignatius Ofobuike (Umugama) while the current monarch is Igwe Godson Ezechukwu (Ozara-Akukwa)

Umuchu in Chinua Achebe's "Arrow of God"[edit]

In 1977, a brilliant scholar Charles Nnolim argued that 'although Achebe has never admitted it publicly, the single most important source-in fact, the only source- for Arrow of God is a tiny socio-historical pamphlet published without copyright by a retired corporal of the Nigerian Police, Simon Alagbogu Nnolim'[5] He contended that Achebe may have failed to reference an earlier work by Simon Nnolim, The History of Umuchu [6] published in 1953, where the oral story of Ezeagu's incident was first recorded.

Relying on the work of Nnolim S.A, Charles Nnolim traced the source of Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God to a factual historical incident in Umuchu in 1913. That year, a misunderstanding arose between the chief priest of Uchu, Ezeagu and the colonial District Commissioner,a Briton named Mr J.G Lotain. Ezeagu refused appointment as the Warrant Chief of Umuchu, which he considered to be incompatible with his position as Chief Priest of Uchu. The ignorant District Commissioner had Ezeagu arrested and detained in Awka for two months. On his return, Ezeagu refused to perform his monthly ritual of roasting the two yams that had accumulated as a result of his incarceration. Till this day, Uchu's calendar moon (month) sometimes starts in late February as a result of that skip. Charles Nnolim claimed that Ezeulu in Achebe's Arrow of God was Ezeagu and Umuaro and Ulu are Umuchu and Uchu, respectively. While the District Commissioner, in Umuchu's factual history, Lotain, became 'Winterbottom' in Achebe's fiction. He further claimed that Achebe may have failed to reference an earlier work by Simon Nnolim, The History of Umuchu, published in 1953, where the oral story of Ezeagu's incident was first recorded. There was a suggestion, that generous Simon Nnolim might have given Achebe a copy when Achebe's interviewed him in 1957, while Achebe was working with Eastern Nigerian Broadcasting Services.[7] Achebe's Arrows of God was published about thirteen years after Nnolim's The History Of Umuchu. This second part of the claim (which some interpreted as subtle accusation of plagiarism) elicited hot academic dispute as notable researchers[8] joined issue with Charles Nnolim. Natasha Himmelman[9] citing multiple sources, concluded that Achebe’s Arrow of God is based on, or, at the very least, influenced by “the anthropological text of Simon Alagboga Nnolim. In The History of Umuchu […] a priest called Ezeagu rejected a chieftaincy in 1913, was imprisoned and refused to roast the sacred yams for the months missed.”


References[edit]

  1. ^ Onwuejeogwu,M.A (1981)Igbo Civilization: Nri Kingdom and Hegemony London Ethnographica
  2. ^ Diouf,Syviane,(2003).Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies. Ohio University Press,p.125
  3. ^ Nnolim,S.A (1953).History of Umuchu.Eastern Press Syndicate, Depot Road Enugu
  4. ^ Diouf pg 125
  5. ^ Charles Nnolim (1977) Source of 'Arrow of God', Research in African Literatures. Vol.8 No.1 pg.1-26
  6. ^ Nnolim,1953
  7. ^ Nnolim 1977 pg 3
  8. ^ C.L Innes (1978) A Source of 'Arrow of God': A response, Research in African Literature Vol.9 University of Texas
  9. ^ Himmelman, N. (2008). Representing Madness: Ambivalence in Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God1. postamble, 4, 1.

Coordinates: 5°56′N 7°8′E / 5.933°N 7.133°E / 5.933; 7.133