Ngwa

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Ngwa People
Total population
1.8 million (1979 est.)
Regions with significant populations
 Nigeria
Languages
Native/Vernacular: Ngwa
Predominantly: English, Nigerian Pidgin, Igbo

The Ngwa (Ṅgwà IPA: [ŋɡʷa]), an Igbo group, constitute the largest and most populous sub-ethnicity, or clan, in southeastern Nigeria.[1] They occupy an area of about 1,328 square kilometres (513 sq mi),[2] although some accounts read at least 2,300 km2 (900 square miles).[3] In 1979, their population was held at an estimate of approximately 1.8 million people.[4] Their ethnonym Ngwa is used to describe the people, their indigenous territory, and their native tongue. King Josaiah Ndubuisi Wachuku, who died on Monday 2 January 1950, was Eze, paramount warrant chief and servant leader head of Ngwa people during British colonial times.[5][6][7]

Origin and journey[edit]

Some source of information include a booklet written few years ago by a prominent historian and archivist, His Royal Highness: Eze J.E.N. Nwaguru.[8] His proximity to the National Archives in Enugu made his work an acceptable source of information.

Ngwa people, are said to have originated from a village called Umunoha village in the present Owerri zone of Imo State Nigeria. Tradition related that people of Umunoha took a journey in search of new lands to dwell on. Their journey lasted many days; and the group finally arrived at the bank of the great Imo river. They were tired; and needed food to eat; coupled with the fact that Imo river had overflowed to recede. The only handy food item they had were yams. One group felt it would be quicker to roast those yams, while the other group preferred boiling them. As soon as they started roasting and boiling their yams, Imo river began to rise. Three of the traveling brothers who boiled their yams hurriedly ate, packed up their belongings and crossed over to the other side of Imo river, leaving, behind, their kit and kin who chose to roast their yams. Those three brothers who crossed over to the left bank of Imo river were: Ukwu, Nwoha and Avosi, in birth sequence. They were given the name ‘Ngwa-Ngwa’ on account of their quick manner of crossing Imo river, while stragglers on the right bank were named ‘Ohuhu' meaning 'roasters' of yam.[9]

Till this day, all towns and villages on the other side of Imo river are referred to as ‘Ndi-Ohuhu’ or ‘Umu-Ohuhu.' Villages on the left bank of Imo river were inhabited by Ibibios, who received Ngwa Ukwu and his brothers amicably; allocating sufficient virgin lands to them for their immediate needs. Ngwaukwu settled at what is now the village of Umuolike where he also established his ancestral shrine. ‘Aba Ngwa’ in a small hut ‘Okpu’ which is today the capital of Ngwa-land called ‘Okpu-Ala Ngwa.' For many years, those three brothers dwelt around Okpu-Ala Ngwa in peace; but as their families increased in number, they moved apart in different directions.[10]

Geographical Setting[edit]

The area covering old Aba Ngwa division is situated in the tropical rain forest of southern Igbo plain in the present Abia State of Nigeria. It has a population of over 1.8 million people; and an area of little over nine hundred square miles (2,300 km2). This area is bounded on the north by the present Umuahia zone, on the west by Owerri and Mbaise, on the east by Ikot-Ekpene and Abak and on the south by Ukwa. Important waterways are: Imo river to the south and west, Aba or Aza River that rises at Abayi and flows south through Aba Township into Imo river at a point near Okpontu. Around Nsulu to the northeast, there are two minor rivers; namely: Otamiri and Ohi.

At no point does the land rise above an elevation of 50ft. The people are largely farmers, producing yams, cassava, cocoyam, maize and other tropical farm products. Major rural industries include garri and palm produce; in addition to: Akwete cloth weaving in which women from Ihie area were engaged. The old divisional headquarters was Aba, a very important commercial and industrial centre; with major population concentration in: Aba, Mgboko, Osisioma, Umuoba, Owerinta, Nbawsi, Nvosi and Okpu-Ala-Ngwa. Modern day Ngwa land is divided into: Obi-Ngwa, Aba-Ngwa, Isiala-Ngwa, Osisioma-Ngwa; spread within Abia State: Nigeria, as LGAs: Local Government Areas; namely: Aba North, Aba South, Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Obi Ngwa and Osisioma Ngwa.[11][12]

Survival during the war[edit]

It is said that during the Nigerian Civil War, Ngwa people suffered a lot like every other Igbo region in eastern Nigeria. Children suffered from kwashiorkor which came from malnutrition and the adults struggled to survive. The struggle for healthy eating continued until a chief reported to be Josiah Duruem Nwangwa began to collect supplies from various organisations; making his home a relief station. Also, many say that Chief J.D Nwangwa helped Ngwa people to survive during the Civil War.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oriji J.N. (1994) Traditions of Igbo Origin
  2. ^ Amankulor (1997) Vol 10, p.37-70.
  3. ^ Nwaguru Jason, E.N. (1973) Aba and British Rule
  4. ^ Oluikpe Benson, O.A. (1979) Igbo Transformational Syntax: An Ngwa Dialect Example
  5. ^ Lanre Alayande (2010-01-29). Our Rainmaker. iUniverse. ISBN 9781450206099. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Warrant Chiefs: Indirect Rule in Southeastern Nigeria: 1891-1929". EPDF Publication. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  7. ^ "The Founding Fathers". Leadership Newspaper. 2019-04-28. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  8. ^ Johnson Elewhemba Nnata Nwaguru (1973) Aba and British rule: the evolution and administrative developments of the old Aba division of Igboland, 1896-1960, with an epilogue on the emergence of a short-lived Aba province and the present scene
  9. ^ Oriji, J. N. (1981). "The Ngwa-Igbo Clan of Southeastern Nigeria: An Oral History Overview". The Oral History Review. Oxford University Press: United Kingdom. 9: 65–84. doi:10.1093/ohr/9.1.65. JSTOR 3675325.
  10. ^ "Ngwa People: Origin and Wave of Migration". Ngwa Community: United Kingdom. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Abia State: South East: Nigeria". FGN: Federal Government of Nigeria. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Local Governments: Abia State: Nigeria". ABSG: Abia State Government. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  13. ^ Anyanwu, O.N. 2007. The Syntax of Igbo Causatives: A Minimalist Account. Linguistic Association of Nigeria, Land Mark Series 2