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Mbaise is a region and a people located in Imo State, southeastern Nigeria. Set in the heart of Igboland, it includes several towns and cities. The name "Mbaise" was derived from five clans: Agbaja, Ahiara, Ekwereazu, Ezi na Ihite and Oke Ovoro. The area of Mbaise (the three Local Government Areas) is about 404 km²: Aboh Mbaise (185 km²), Ahiazu Mbaise (111 km²), Ezinihitte Mbaise (108 km²). The Mbaise Slogan is Seat of Sages.
Culture and demographics
The people are Igbo. About 90% Catholics, while Protestants and other religions comprise the remaining amount.
The Nkwotile dance (rump dance) is common in Mbaise. This is the chance used for celebrating the annual yam festival and for propitiating the yam god Ajoku (Ahanjoku). This dance has been modified over the years to ekpe, mmanwu (masquerade), Ikoro, ekereavu, abigbo to mgba (wrestling). Other music and dances include: "A gbachaa E kuru Nwa", Nkwa omuru nwa, Alija, Edere, Egwu Onu Nwa, Ekwirikwe Mgba, Ese, Nkelenke, Nkwa Ike, Nkwa Udu, Ogbongelenge, Uko etc.
There are also numerous socio-political titles which feature prominently in Mbaise just like in other parts of Igboland. The titles include: Eze (king), Nze, Okenze, Ozo, Duru, Durunze, Ezeji (yam lord) and more. Some famous Eze and chiefs in Mbaise include, late Ezeji and Eze Cletus Ogbonna Oparaoji- Eze Oha 1 of Amuzi Autonomous Community, Late Eze Barr. B.S.C. Nzenwa, Obizie lll of Obizi and "Opara Mbaise". Eze Ambrose Waturuocha Eze Udo IV of Nguru Nwekeoha, Late Eze Pius Oguledo Nwoga of Umuokirika, Ekwereazu, Late Eze Alphonsus A Ezeh (Nkwo of Onicha NweNkwo), Late Eze F. U. Anyanwu (Igwe Akajiaku of Ekwerazu and Odozi Obodo I of Mpam, founder FUASON Industries Ltd), Late Eze L.U Anyanwu (Obo 1 of Obohia Ancient Kingdom) Late Eze R. O. Ekenna (Obizie of Obizi), Late Eze Onyeahialam (Eze of Obodo Ujichi autonomous community in Ihenweorie),late chief sir Geoffrey Onukogu(former president general Ezinihitte Development Association EDA), Chief P. E Madu of Amuzi, late Professor (Chief) COE Onwuliri- former vice chancellor. Federal University of Technology Owerri, Eze Donatus O. Eke (Eze of Akabor in Ihenweorie), Eze Cyril Akagbulem Unamka, Eze Pius Chukwuemeka Unamka, Eze Stephen Nwabueze Ugorji of Lorji Nwekeukwu, Late Eze Alex Nwokeodikwa Onugotu 1 of Okrika Nweke Remembering the notable warrant chiefs that governed the land during the colonial rule are Chief Waturuocha of Nguruchief Koko Njoku Ariaha of Obodo Ujichi, Eze Cyril Akagbulem Unamka of Amuzi, MBE, OBE (The first Paramount Ruler of Mbaise and Life President of Mbaise County Court), and others.
Nigeria is today a democratic nation, thanks to the untiring and courageous fight of our Mbaise son, Professor Edward Oparaoji, who as a US-based National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) chieftain and Chairman Nigerian Democratic Awareness Committee (NDAC) facilitated the transfer of power from the Nigerian military to elected civilians. Professor Oparaoji faced down Nigeria's worst dictator General Sani Abacha, at the height of his oppressive regime.
Mbaise also boasts of her sons and daughters who have attained enviable political heights and accomplishments during this new democratic dispensation; namely Hon Emeka Ihedioha -Deputer Speaker National Assembly, Prof. (Mrs) Viola Onwuliri - former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Prince David Mattson Nwaogwugwu (Ofo Imo n Asia) Nigerian Politician, Senator (Mrs) Chris Anyanwu, Engineer John Chukwu- Permanent secretary Federal Capital Territory
The Mbaise people have festivals which attract both locals and foreign tourists - the Iwa Akwa, "Oji-mbaise" (kolanut festival) and the wildly politicized "Iri-Ji-Mbaise" (the New Yam Festival). The "Iri Ji" ceremony is celebrated on August 15 every year.
Eyiri eyi Obohia which is celebrated at the second nkwo obohia market day in August every has remained a foremost cultural festival for Obohia people of Ahiazu Mbaise. It mark the beginning of a new calendar when Ezeala Ogugo eats new yam. Today Obohia is made up four autonomous communities and they still come together to celebrate this great cultural festival. The highlight is the special ugu mmanu soup only prepared for the ceremony and the ekpe dance at the nkwo obohia market square.
Notable Educational Institutions
- Oke Ovoro Secondary School, Uvuru-Oke Ovoro
- Amuzi Community Secondary School, Amuzi, Ahiazu
- African Institute of Science and Technology
- Ahiara Technical College (ATC), Mbaise.
- Obizi High School OHISCO, Obizi Mbsise.
- Mbaise Girls High School, Onicha Mbaise.
- St. Augustine's Commercial School, Obizi Mbaise (founded 1958).
- AIST Polytechnic, Mbaise
- Hi-Technology University, Mbaise
- Pater-noster Secondary School, Ekwerazu
- Ekwerazu Girls Secondary School, Ekwerazu
- Mbaise Secondary School, Aboh Mbaise
- Mater Ecclesiae Junior Seminary Nguru
- Obohia Secondary Technical School Obohia Ahiazu Mbaise
- Christ The Savior Secondary School (CSSS)
- Mbaise Secondary School (MSS)
Comprehensive Secondary School Okrika Nweke
- Dr Sylvester Ugo, Former Minister of the Federal Republic, Former Governor of the Central Bank of Biafra, Former Vice Presidential Candidate (NRC) of the botched June 12 1993 elections
- Late Chief C.N. Nwagwu, Executive Director Operations, Central Bank of Nigeria, overseeing all banking operations, both domestic and foreign (His signature was on the Nigerian currency from 1980 to 1984)
- Late Prof. Donatus Nwoga, Emeritus Professor (UNN, University of Nigeria Nsukka), Founder of the Institute of African Literary studies UNN, accomplished author, poet and literary giant, 1984 Ahiajoku Lecturer.
- Chief Innocent D. Nwoga, Former Minister of the Federal Republic, Former Secretary to the State government of Imo State, First PDP party chairman of Imo state and Founding President of Ezurezu Mbaise
- Late Professor Celestine O.E. Onwuliri, former Vice Chancellor Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO)
- Frank Nneji, Business Mogul, Founder ABC Transport Plc
- Chief Ignatius OKEAHIALAM, ( Ihomba I of Mbaise) CEO LAMBIC TECH SERVICES LTD, former Chairman, HEARTLAND Football Club Owerri.
- Ano Anyanwu, Banker, Executive Director Mainstreet Bank
- Professor Edward Oparaoji, Professor of Pharmacotherapy; Multinational Pharmaceutical Executive and Philanthropist.
- Genevieve Nnaji, Nigerian actress
- Kanayo O. Kanayo, Nigerian Actor
- Mike Godson, Nigerian Actor
- Eucheria Anunobi, Nigerian Actress
- Rita Dominic, Nigerian actress
- victor Osuagwu, Nigerian Actress
- Henry M. N. Ogbonna,A.K.A (HenzyDot D Comedian), Nigerian Comedian
- Sylvester Eze Ebisike, ex-priest, former Chairman of the Nigerian Humanist Movement (NHM), management consultant, prolific writer and author of numerous books.
- Eze Enyeribe Onuoha, ex-priest, former Chairman of the Nigerian Humanist Movement (NHM), University lecturer, the current traditional ruler of Umuchieze autonomous community in Ihitte-aforukwu.
- Dr. Ugorji Okechukwu Ugorji, Publisher, Author, Executive Director of African Writers Endowment (holds the title of Odoziobodo Mbaise 1).
- Chief Dr George Chima, Business Administrator, Philanthropist.
- Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Nigerian Deputy Speaker NASS Abuja
- Hon. Prof. Mrs. Viola Onwuliri, Nigerian Minister Foreign Affairs
- Hon. Prince David O.C Mattson Nwaogwugwu, Nigerian Politician
- Engr. John O. Chukwu, Permanent Secretary FCTA
- Professor Celestine Nwachukwu, First Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Portharcourt
- Chief Patrick C. Onuoha; Politician and currently Special adviser to Imo State Government
- Nwabuike Justice I.O. of Umukohie-Uvuru, Oke Ovoro.
- SOS Echendu, ex-Regular Combatant Commissioned Military Officer, President/CEO Dynamedics, Inc.
- Chief Iyke Ezeh (Duke of Obohia) and chairman of Domez Nigeria Ltd
- Chief Fan Ndubuoke(Ezi-nwa Mbaise) CEO Mr Fans Eatries LTD, Former Manager Heartland Football Club.
- Chief Austin Cosmos,Board of Director,Nigerian Ports Authority Abuja
- Chinedu Ogbonna,President/CEO Seko Samuel General Suppliers Limited.
- His Royal Highness Eze Joe Oleka, Igwe Ozuzuoha I of Ahiara, Obioha II of Oru Autonomous Community
- Okoro Patrick Aghalachi (POF)
- Justice Mary Odili (née: Nzenwa), a prominent judge of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
- Professor Augustine Agbakwuru, a renowned surgeon with University of Ife.
- Eze, Barr. B.S.C. Nzenwa, Obizie III of OBIZI autonomous community and the Mbaise lawyer.
−Chief Jude Akpunku Akurulo 1 of Ogbe
- Sir Tony Awusaku (KSJI), Media Producer and Business man; Editor-in-Chief, Imo Newswitness
Late Chief Sylvanus A. Osuagwu Former National Chairman, Nigerian Union Of Teachers (N.U.T) Late Eze D.O. Anyanwu Eze Udo 11 of Ogbe, Chairman Aba Lagos Promoters Transport Limited
Professor Godwin Chukwu Professor Emeritus and Head of Department of Petroleum Engineering University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
Before 1902, when the Aro expedition was carried out by the British Colonial powers to subdue the Aro slave trading oligarchy, Mbaise had not come under British rule. But by 1906, at the conclusion of the operation, the present day Mbaise consisting of the three Local Government Areas (Aboh, Ahiazu & Ezinihitte) was effectively brought together under British control while leaving in place a semblance of local authority.
To keep the whole clan under effective supervision, a native court was established at Obohia in 1907 but pressure from the likes of Chief Nwaturuocha of Nguru caused the transfer of the court to Nguru in 1909. In 1929, the Nguru court was destroyed as a result of the Igbo Women's War. Sectional courts were subsequently opened in Obohia, Itu, Ife and Enyiogogu in response to the increasingly popular "Home Rule" movement of the 1930s. The coming together of the people under a common political and administrative unit was secured in 1941. By 1945 councils had been formed based loosely on blocs of autonomous communities. The group councils and their number of autonomous communities recognized in Mbaise were: Ezinihitte - 16; Agbaja - 7; Oke-Ovoro - 4; Ekwerazu - 6 and Ahiara -6 (source: Ekechi 1989:179) A few more autonomous communities have been created in the past few years. It was from councils that the three local Governments were created. Ahiazu LGA was a merger of Ahiara and Ekwerazu councils and Aboh LGA was a merger of Oke-Ovoro and Agbaja councils. Ezinihitte remained by itself except for the secession of two small villages - Isu Obiangwu and Umuohiagu which joined Ngor-Okpala from the Agbaja area in Mbaise.
Mbaise's population today is in excess of 1 million people. Subsistence farming still accounts for a major part of the occupation. Yams, cassava, palm fruits, vegetables and fruits are the main agricultural products. However, since the end of the Biafra/ Nigerian civil war, the quest for improved standard of living, academic excellence and the crave for enterprise have helped an unprecedented boost in the fortunes of Ndi Mbaise. Mbaise boasts of legions of doctors, lawyers, public administrators, educators, artists, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs. Mbaise also has one of the highest concentrations of Catholic priest in the world. In addition, some famous ex-priests hail from the area, among the well-known ones include Eze Enyeribe Onuoha, the current traditional ruler of Umuchieze autonomous community in Ihitteaforukwu and Sylvester Eze Ebisike, a former management consultant and prolific writer and author of numerous books and publications. Ndi-Mbaise are avid travellers and adventurers. There is in progress a large flux to the Americas, Europe and Asia in search of new ideas to bring home. Mbaise is divided into three Local Government Areas, namely: Aboh-Mbaise, Ezinhitte Mbaise, and Ahiazu Mbaise. Aboh-Mbaise is home to Nkwogu, one of the first and prominent markets in Mbaise. Aboh-Mbaise is also the home of Nguru, a very prominent town in Mbaise.