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Isuikwuato, Nigeria

Eluama (or Eluoma) is a town in Amawu, Isuikwuato, Abia State of Nigeria. It is the largest town in Isuikwuato, having more than 10 distinct villages. It also occupies the largest geographical space in the whole of Isuikwuato, and has the most varied vegetation, relief and drainage. It shares boundaries with Amiyi Amaokwo, Amiyi Obilohia, Otampa, Umuasua, Umuobiala, Nnunya and Umuahia. It is a few kilometres from Abia State University, Uturu, Abia State and about 45 kilometres from Umuahia, the capital of Abia State, in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. Eluama people are Igbos by ethnicity and belong to what was formally called Igbo Union from which the “Central Igbo” was derived.

Composition

The villages or communities that make up Eluoma are Umuebere Nkuma (Obu-Na-Ebere Nkuma), Umuebere Aja, Umuama, Ekebe, Obodo, Umusoo, Umuokogbuo, Umuerem, Ndi Ogu, Umuezeoka, Umuihe (formerly, Umu Ohu) and Igidi-Inyim. Apart from Obodo, Umuama, Umusoo and Ekebe, each of the above villages or communities are geographically separated by distances ranging from two kilometres to seven or more kilometres.

History

Obu was the first child of Eluama, followed by Ebere and then Umuokogbuo. Obus are found near both Umuebere Nkume and Umuebere Aja, and in the midst of the other people. There is a school of thought that every other village apart from the three mentioned in this paragraph were migrants who came from the direction of Uturu, near Okigwe, Imo State, but got absolved by the original communities. If this theory is true, it will explain why these villages occupy the most arid parts of Eluoma. They have to go several kilometres to fetch waters and carry on farming.

Eluoma people settled in their present location long ago, possibly over three hundred years ago as a part of the general migration that took place at the time. The distribution pattern of the villages was determined by those who arrived first and who chose the choicest parts of the land. The Obus and Eberes came first and settled in the most fertile part of the land. The Okogbuos also settled in a fertile part of the land. The Obodos initially settled in a low-lying lands around Umuezeoka and Ndi Ogu but latter relocated to their present place not too long ago.

Umuebere Nkuma and the Obu people occupy the strip of land where the land produces palm products in abundance, cassava, yam and other tropical crops. This portion of land is well watered. It is the food basket of the community. Umuerem and Umuokogbuo people also have a fertile for agriculture.

However, when modern socioeconomic development commenced, it came from the direction of Isuikwuato where the Obodos, Umusoos, Umuamas and Ekebes live; hence they now occupy the more developed part of Eluoma.

Government and politics

Like most Igbos, Eluoma people never had a single king or ruler in the time past. Communal issues were settled by elders delegated from the different villages who decided on the basis of majority votes. “Igbo ama eze” is how Igbos put it. The same applied in the villages. Adult males took the most important decisions while women always had their own government. Thus decisions were by universal adult male suffrage.

However, in the mid seventies, the Federal Military Government of Nigeria, led by people of Northern extraction began to foist their oligarchic system of administrationon the whole country, particularly the East, through the Military Governors whom they appointed. These governors in turn requested for “chiefs” or traditional rulers to be installed. Like all other Igbo societies, the first generation of chiefs were persuaded to accept the position. The first chief or eze Eluoma had was His Royal Highness, Eze Innocent Eloagu from Umuama. Later on, the same Eloagu went on to become the first eze in Amawu.

At the moment, Eluoma no longer has any one eze or chief. There are several autonomous communities, following the manipulation of the political class who needed to reduce the powers of traditional rulers. Each village now has its own chief democratically chosen through consultations and recommendation by all adult males.

Eluoma has represented Isuikwuato, perhaps more than any other town, in government political appointments at the state level. It has produced many commissioners in the past. It also produced the Second Republic House Assembly member, Hon. Barrister Vincent Eyi Uwanna. It also produced a military governor. The only town that has a comparable record is Ovim which produced military governors and Federal Minister/Senator although only two did all these for them.

Of particular note is the maverick scholar, philosopher/poet, Chinweizu whose influence straddles the globe, particularly the black world. He hails from Umuokogbuo, Eluoma and has been a source of inspiration and pride to Eluoma people. He has debated other scholar like Ali Mazrui and unmasked Wole Soyinka’s obscurantist writings.cateroy:african writers

Social development

The central market for all Eluoma people is Ahonta located between Obodo, Ekebe, Umusoo, Amaeke and Umuebere Aja. This led to the establishment of other social-cultural and economic ventures around Ahonta. A civic centre with a postal agency was constructed in the 1970s through communal efforts. Ahonta Market itself was developed into a modern market in the same 70s by tasking each village to build a block of stalls. There is a health centre and electrification project that did more to divide Eluoma people than unite them.

The Eluoma Development Union (EDU) co-ordinates socio-cultural development although many have seen its past projects as partial and targeted at marginalising the other villages far away from Ahonta. For example, the electrification of Eluoma was undertaken as a communal project with each household contributing agreed amounts.

Institutions

One of the most famous institutions in Eluoma is the Eluoma Central School, now a ghost of itself former self. It was proposed that Eluoma Secondary School, built in the late 1970s through communal efforts, should be done at the site of Eluoma Central School but certain political forces conspired to have the new school built in their backyard. In consequence, much financial resources was wasted building on a virgin land. The secondary school could not develop beyond its foundation level. Nevertheless, it has produced important people who are contributing to the development of Eluoma as well retain its prestige as the highest institution of learning in Eluoma.

Besides, St Agnes Primary School is also popular in terms of products and being one of the oldest schools in Eluom. Other schools are Uporoto Primary School, Obu-Na-Ebere Primary School and others. There has been some private initiative at establishing secondary schools. Universal Commercial School was founded at Obodo while an Onward Commercial School founded at Ali Ukanze.

Festivals

The most popular festivals in Eluoma are Christmas, Iri Ji, Ahia Egwu and Onunu Ji. Due to the advance of Christianity though, the rest apart from Christmas are taking back seat.

August meeting

Sometime ago, progressive-minded women of Eluoma began to organise an annual ritual called August Meeting ostensibly for the development of the land of Eluoma. This entailed a mass return of Eluoma women living outside to Eluoma. Unfortunately, much violation of the fundamental rights of non-participants has marred any good intention it had. Those who, on ground of conscience or faith have refused to take in the pagan-tainted activities have been persecuted to the point of physical molestation and ostracism.

Drainage

Eluoma is watered by Eze-Iyi, Adaoma, Ubiyi, Nneochie and many other streams and a few springs. Umuebere Nkuma (Obu-Na-Ebere Nkuma) has the largest number of streams and springs. Sharing the great Eze Iyi with others, they also have Adaoma, Ubiyi, Ndoahau, Iyi Ndemgbelu, Agboabo, Agbouhu, Agbocha, Ugwuede, Onuahia, Onuosovaravara, Onu Okpuocha, Onu Ejiofo, Iyi Eke, etc.

Relief

The town is flat from the entrance from Oguduasaa and Umuobiala ends only. From all other entrances, the town is an amalgam of hills and valleys. The great Valley of Umuebere Nkuma marks a major shift in relief and also affects the drainage.

Economy

Being a rural community, Eluoma survives on subsistence farming and the production and exportation of few cash crops. Water yam, white yam, Yellow yam, coiling yam, cocoa yam, cassavas, beans (odudu), ugu, okro, akwukwo oho (oha), ahahara vegetable and many others keep the people healthy. Bananas of all types, oranges, pears, mangoes, cashews, and kola nuts. There are plenty of vegetables and fruits. Indeed some species of fruit like nturu, a fruit which, once you lick it, you eat or drink anything and it would taste as if it has sugar in your mouth. It has been speculated that this fruit could be harnessed and used for diabetic patients in place of sugar.

Palm produce is about the main export and it sustains many households. The interesting thing is that these palms trees up till now grow wild. There has been no attempt by locals to turn what is natural into organised plantations. The government too has done nothing to encourage local or foreign investors in this area.

Minerals

Eluoma is unmapped in terms of minerals but it is believed that the Umuebere Basin has a rich deposit of fossil fuels. In addition, Umuebere has large store of construction stones and gravels. The Umuokogbuos have construction sand in abundance.

Tourism

There is a cave also called OMU by the community that has attracted people from all over the world for over 7 decades. It is located between Umuebere Nkuma and Eluoma Central School. The cave is called “Omu Ubiyi”. Also is the Adaoma river which can pass as a lake with its distinctive setting. In addition, there is a mini water fall in Ezeiyi Umuihuagwu in Obu-Na-Ebere. There are virgin forests for wildlife tourists and festivals at intervals.

Language

Eluoma people speak Igbo language, like all other Igbos but with their distinct dialect. Even in Isuikwuato, one can easily pick out an Eluoma person from his tongue. With the coming of the British as colonial masters to Nigeria, Eluoma people adopted English as their second language.

Religion

Before the coming of the Europeans, Eluoma people were animists and worshiped many gods. These gods included streams like Nneochie, Adaoma, Ubiyi, etc. Some animals also were worshiped as gods, such as Avuala (ajala), that is viper. Some trees were equally regarded as the abode of the gods. Above all, ancestral worshipwas common to every family.

At the beginning of the 20th century, however, Christianity came to the area. Umuebere Nkuma was the first to be reached through the effort of the Methodist Churchwhich first landed at Ovim in Isuikwuato. Later, the Roman Catholic Church came from the northern part of Isuikwuato. In the past 30 years, the religious landscape of Eluoma changed with the arrival of the non-denominational Scripture Union and the Assemblies of God. In this 21st Century, Eluoma has Catholics, Methodists, Anglicans and white Garment Churches. There are many Pentecostal churches which drew membership from existing traditional or mainline churches.

Population

There is no official figure as most Eluoma people are living outside the town. However, the population is estimated at 30,000. Umuebere Nkuma has the highest number of old people in Eluoma. Some say this is because of the fact that the village is separated from the noisy Ahonta and has vegetables, fruits and natural drinking water in abundance.

References

  • Wikipedia
  • History of Umuebere Nkuma, I. Okochua, 1978, Enugu
  • Oral Interview with Charley, a councillor, 1978
  • Oral Interview with Solomon Ukaumunne,1998, Lagos
  • Oral Interview with Amaechi Egemba, Isuikwuato, 2008
  • Isuikwuato Voice 1995, Lagos
  • Welcome Address of ISUCOO Lagos, President, 1995

 

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