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Okehi, Imo, Nigeria

Etches is the first settler or founder of ‘Etches’’ land. One tradition has it that he is a man called Etcheful ‘’ who was corruptly named ‘Etches’’. Another version says that his name is etches whose name was colonially spelt ‘Etches. But one thing is clear:; whether the name is Etches,’ ‘’Ochie’’, ‘’Etcheful ‘’ or ETCHE is referring to one person called Etches, and the same called ETCHE, ECHEFU, ECHIE, ECHE, OCHIE’’ who is the fore bearer or ancestor of all Etches people East, west, North, south and ethnic nationality that is spread across three (3) state of Nigeria, Via: Rivers, Abia and Imo States and possible delta and Edo, Onyema (2000). It has four (4) known Local Government (two in Rivers State and two in Imo state) with a heavy presence in Abia state. Etche communities include Akwu/Obuor, Chokocho, Chokota, Egwi, Afara, Mba, Ikwerengwo, Okehi, Ulakwo, Umuakonu, Umuebulu, Umuechem, egbeke Igbodo the ancestral home of Etche (Igbodo is made up o the following communities; Umuohiaukwu, Umuusharam, Umuoga, Okonocho, Umuine, Umudi, Umunkwa, Umuohie, Amaku, Obibi, Ezeleaka, Umuisi].


In 1999 there were about 600,000 Etche people, forming the fourth largest ethnic group in Rivers State, mostly engaged in agriculture. Cassava and yam are important crops. The use of tractors for farming these crops has dropped slightly in the 1986–2004 period. The Shell Petroleum Development Company has funded a cassava processing mill at Umuebulu, and in 2000 provided training to local women in operation and management of the mill. Palm oil production by smallholders is a significant part of the economy.

Political unrest

In October 1990, a demonstration was held in Umuechem, Etche to demand social amenities and compensation for oil pollution. State security agents reacted with teargas and gunfire. 50 people died and about 550 houses were destroyed.[5] The April 2003 national elections were marked by serious violence and intimidation in the Etche LGA, seriously compromising the free voters process. In a 2007 report, Human Rights Watch said that “in recent years Etche has earned a degree of unwelcome notoriety due to allegations of corruption, thuggery and murder leveled against its current chairman.” The report stated that health and education facilities were in an advanced state of physical decay, with funds allocated for staffing and renovation being diverted for other purposes. In January 2009 the Etche legislative council impeached three of their members for “irrational and unconscionable behaviour, gross misconduct, misappropriation of legislative fund and abuse of office.”

A training camp for ex-militants was established in Okehi in Etche LGA, teaching skills such as welding and fabrication, fitting, seafaring/marine, business and commerce and so on. In October 2009, 200 of the students demanded their allowances, threatening to return to the creeks to cause havoc if unpaid.

Recent developments

In August 2009, a Marriage Registration Centre was opened in the LGA. In September 2009 the Niger Delta Development Commission opened a free medical mission in Omuma Local Government Council.

The Benin Origin

The Benin origin, the Igbo origin and the oral traditions associated with the history of Etches. In a very ambitious attempt to construct the historical past of Etches, Achonwa (1980) traced migration of the people from a particular place and point in time. According to him. The Etches people left the people of Benin kingdom about 7th century. They moved up to Aboh, and the Orashi Rivers through Ndoni Creek, setting for a brief while at the present-day Omoku ….. They moved eastwards up to Abua. They crossed Abua to Ndele on land …Stopping finally at Igbo, the first Etches settlement.

There is the speculation that ‘’this horde’’ was an amalgam of many other tribes, which according to Achonwa included the Ikerres, Abuans, Ekpeyes, etc. He submits that this was responsible for the settlement known as Ikwerre- Ngwo-a conglomerate of peoples. However, there are some loopholes in the account because ‘’7th century the period cited by Achonwa did not specify whether it was 7th century B.C or 7th century A.D the Igbo Origin the account of the Benin origin are at variance with some other established views on the history of Etches. One of such views is that of Afigbo, an internationally acclaimed historian, who traced the history of the Igbo people essentially to two sources. The first account according to him claims that the Igbo tribe came from east. This claim asserts that: in the beginning the Igbo were either one of the tribes of Israel or Egypt, that for unspecified reason the left the East, wandered across the Sudan to come and settle where we now find them.

In other to elucidate his claim, Afigbo traced the origin of the Igbo to 3, 000 B.C. to 1300. A.D. as suggested by Talbot, hinging his account on legends, oral traditions and other

 Ethnographic and ecological evidences.

Afigbo posit that scholars have longed come to the conclusion that the Nri-Akwa Orlu axis represent the earlier Igbo settlement’’ from where they spread to different directions. Among the groups that moved southward are Etches and Ndoki Igbo of the present’’. The second account is premised on the linguistic origin of the language spoken by the Igbo people who, like the Edo, Yoruba, Idoma, Igala and Akan languages, belong to the large family of African languages known as the Niger-Congo stock. In this regard, linguistic affinity could also be used to determine the origin of a people. This is clearly stated by Johnson in Williamson (1987) thus;

There is no tracing the connection of ancient nations, but by language. Therefore I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigrees of nations. If you find the same language in distant countries, you may be sure that the inhabitants of each have been the same people. If this submission is anything to go by, we can say without equivocation and contradiction that the linguistic relationship as corroborative evidence to Afigbo’s historical position. For example, in an incisive study of the languages Spoken in Rivers State Williamson classified the major languages according to their linguistic relationship she characterized all languages that have some linguistic affinity with the Igbo languages as Igboid’’ she listed the language groups in this category as follows Ekpeye Ikwerre Ogbah Egbema and Echie. According to Onyema (2000) Etches is Part of the Benin Diaspora of the fourteenth century He moved along with the Ogbas, Ekpeyes and Ikwerrs. They crossed the River Niger from one spot and spread themselves Southwesterly and Southeasterly from the spot they crossed the River Niger. There is similarity of language among the Ogbas the Ikwerres and the Etches. There is also similarity of language between the Etches and Igbodos’’ of Delta State, Igbodos’’ is a town between Asaba and Agbor in Delta State. There is a town called obite in Ogba land and Obite town in Etches Also, an address sent to the Ekpeye people in their annual ‘ ‘OGWU EKPEYE’’ cultural festival by the Oba of Benin confirmed this aspect of the history. The present Oba of Benin was one time Divisional Officer in the than Ahoada Division, which comprised Etches, Ikwerre, Ekpeye, Ogba and Abua. They were then known as clans. The other school of thought says ‘’that Etches is part of the Ibo stock. The founding fathers were part of the Ibos that moved southwards, via Owerri and through and to settle in her present location. The people of Southern Nigeria give credence to this School of Thought. Also supportive of this reasoning is the name of some towns and villages in Ibo speaking which are identical or similar with those of Etches. For instance, we have Eberi in Etches and we have Mbieri in Owerri. Furthermore, we give identical names with the Ibos, Etches language is said to be dialect of Ibo language. However, these may not be a conclusive proof to the fact that Etch is part of the Ibo stock, as these may be circumstantial due to long association over the years, and the Ibos have the advantage o their population size. If the roots of Etches stems from Benin as the first School of thought Suggest the historical fact of element with the Ibos and very Close proximity with them, having interacted with ‘’m in Commerce religion, etc. including marriages and Cultures, may have influenced and changed Our Culture Over the years the first known permanent settlement of Etches is Igbodos in present day Etches Local Government Area in Rivers State Before. Etches came to Ibodo where he settled’’ permanently accounts have it that he rested some areas before he got to his permanent place of abode. It is believed that he came through

Chisa, Nworgu C.: The origin of Etche people, dialect and its importance as a communication…


Oratta, crossed Ogu-ehie Rivers and permanently settled at Ibodo. It is also believed that Ohaji was part of Etches entourage that detoured at Oratta and south west and settled immediately after Oratta bordering Ikwerre and Ogba while the rest entourage maintained a south easterly direction until they Permanently settled at Igbo Igbodos is the Undisputed traditional of Etches people or place of first permanent settlement of Etches people. When the Igbodos settlement increased and became uncontrollable, people moved in different location to find new abodes. The Ngors (which constitute the present Ngro/Okpala Local Government, Imo state) moved northwards. The Eyelts, the Alulus, the Obokwes, the Eziamas, the Umuekes, the Eyelets, the Nuts, etc. were part of the Etches people that moved northwards from their Igbodos settlement. It is evident to notice Identical and similarty of language/ dialect with the towns and villages in Etches. Before the creation of Rivers state, Amala was known as part of and was addressed Amala-Igbodo There is Ntu in Ngor while there is Umuogb in day Omuma Local government’ Rivers state. In Umuogba, there while in Ngor, there is Umuoye.

In Etches, there is Obibi, while in Ngor. There is Obibi; Accounts also have it that Igbo was a very big hunter, in his hunting expedition moved south southwards from Igbodos he crossed the Otamiriche Rivers and settled at the southern part of Otamiriche Rivers hence Igbo agwuru Asa Presently constituted occupies the sides of Otamirioche Rivers The umuselem People also moved southwards m Igbodo and took south east and south west dirtection from Igbodo settlement the resent settlement of Okomoko migrated from Okomoko Akpoku to their present abode afara Nihi, Odufor took south west reaction while Odagwa and Akwa took south it direction Ulakwo later Joined them. Joined them settle and in between them hence we have Ulakwo umeselem clan. The Mbas moved south-west wards and occupied their present location. The first group of Mbas who left settled at Mba. The Ozuzus had connections with Umuneoha and Aro people; hence they established the amadioha deity, which had influence over the entire length and breadth of Etches, Ikwerre, Ekpeye, Kalahari, and Oratta and beyond. The migration of Etches people to the eastern part of Etches (now known as Omuma Local Government Area, was systematic.

They migrated to the eastern part of Etches by crossing the Imo Rivers from different parts, at different times and for different reasons and purposes. The Umuogba/ Umuajuloke people migrated from Afara crossed the Imo Rivers and settled in their present Umuogba/Umuajloke clan. Ogba and Ajuloke, who were of the same parents, left Afara at the same time. Ajuloke settled at Akwa while Ogba crossed the Imo River and settled in the present Umuogba. Ajuloke later the Imo River and joined his brother (Ogba) and settled with him, hence we have the Umuogba/ Umuajulok clan which is the largesrt single clan in Omuma Local Government Area and the largest in the whole of Etches. Eberi is said to have migrated am Mbieri in Imo State and settled together with Ulakwo, Obioha and other Etches people. Eberi and Ulakwo were friends and they moved out together from their Igbodos Settlement Eberi moved east wards. Crossed the Imo Rivers and Settled in the present Section which hosts the headquarters of Local Government Area. Ulakwo moved southwards and settled in the present Ulakwo. When Eberi crossed the Imo Rivers, Obiohia desire to follow suit. Obiohia was on hunting expedition and in his desire to meet Eberi crossed the Imo Rivers. When he got to iris settlement, Eberi asked him to go there east wards, hence Obiohia occupied border with Asa people in present day State Eberi further expanded and occupied up to the boundary with Asa people, hence in Etches we have Eberi/ obioha clan. Generally in. etches palace any Etches man who crossed the river to settle is referred as Omuma man i.e. somebody who crossed the water.

Colonization of Etches Dialect

Etches ethnic nationality with numerous towns and villages spread over three state- Rivers, Abia and Imo. It has a vast land mass and naturally subdivided by Imo, Otamiriche and Ogueche Rivers. The people have had their Own System of government before the advent of colonialism in Nigeria. Though, the Subdivision by the three rivers made communication difficult Etches people had their Own System of government

At the advent of colonialism in Nigeria, Etches found herself colonized by the British authorities The British Balkanized Etches Politically and administered it from three axis, Aba, Owerri and Degema/Ahoda. Omuma from Aba Division while the rest of Etches, i.e. Etches West from Degema Division. The balkanization of Etches was substantially redressed between 1951and 1954, when the Etches Rural District etc. The headquarters of Etches Rural District Council which became known as ETCHES COUNTY COUNCIL was transferred from Eberi to Umoula and from Umuola to Okehi. So, the political headquarters of Etches people is presently Okehi, while the traditional headquarters of Etches people is Igbodos. The balkanization of Etches people by the colonial masters badly affected the political and cultural solidarity of Etches people. It also affected the cultural identity of Etches people including Etches language. The Etches in Imo state speak more of Owerri than the original Etches and the Etches culture and personality in them have been eroded.

The same applies to Etches people in Abia state. They flow Speak more of Ngwa and Asa dialects than Etches If Etches in Imo and Abia state could be retrieved etches could have then hosting four (4) local governments flow 1 flce there are presently two (2) local (Governments in Imo (Ngor and Ohaij) while the remnant of Etches in Abia State may Institute a local government if Properly organized the present Etches in Rivers State in Ahoada Division at Independence in 1960. This was made Possible through the fltributl0 of Eze E.N.8, Opurum Ochie of etches and Late Chief Harold Dappa Biriye. It was Possible to achieve this during the struggle of creation of River State. This paper recommends that federal Government readjust sate boundaries in order to ensure that Etches in other states are brought to their kin in Rivers state where they rightly belong.

Emergence of Modern Tradition/Administration in Etches

When in September 1970, the Rivers State Government organized a Conference Tradition Rulers and Chiefs in Old 9 State, some chiefs in Etches were part of Conference. After the inaugural Conference series of other Conferences were held. The issues that arose from conferences were held. The issues that arose from conference give rise to establishment of Rivers State Chieftaincy inquiry committee. The Committee which was formed on the 16th of September 1970 was headed by Professor E.J. Alagoa. Other members of the Committee were: Dr E.O.A. Nwaele; Mr. F.O.Nwafor Major IGC Allen, Mr. J.A. Ahikwo , Mr. Fetpigi, Chief Bristol and Mr. O. Ngofa. It is also record that before now, an earlier committee headed by Professor Tekena Tamuno had been set up. Memorandum had been requested by both committees at various times.

The Etches supreme council of Chiefs under the leadership of His Royal Highness, Eze

Chisa, Nworgu C.: The origin of Etche people, dialect and its importance as a communication…

 E.N.B. Opurum submitted memorandum gave the history and overview of the chieftaincy institution in Etches Kingdom. As its structure showed that the traditional head of the people of Etches ethnic nationality is the Onye Isii Etches land. This Stool is a government recognized 1st class traditional stool.

Significance of Etches Proverbs/Communication

In the words of Nwala (2011), the linguistic knowledge of a normal native speaker of a language cuts across all the walls and bricks of a language. One of such walls and bricks is proverb. Nwala (2011) gives credence to Crystal’s (1992) opinion that every native speaker of a language has a great deal of intuitive knowledge about the linguistic appropriateness and correctness of his language, which he has amassed over the years. The foregoing means that a normal native speaker will have little or no difficulty in using and responding to the most ‘ordinary’ use of language, such as everyday conversation which occupies most of our speaking and writings in our life time. The Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary (1972:1082) defines a proverb as a short familiar or well-known sentences, proverbs are contrived experiences, wisdom of many and wits of one. They are wisdom of several ages which are usually gathered and summed up in one simple expression (cf. Mbah and Mbah, 2007).

Proverbs are not necessarily produces of the dynamic nature of our world, rather they are language cannons expressed in few words emphasizing truths which relate to everyday event. Proverbs are immutable language artifacts which define any human Situation and give them precise application they are the tradition, etiquette and wisdom of a people embellished in Speeches like a sauce used in eating, or palm oil with which words are eaten (Achebe 1958:5) Obiechina (1975) and Seidl and Mcmordie (1978) capture the Socio-cultural value of proverbs thus: Proverbs are the kernel, which Contain the wisdom of the traditional people. They are Philosophical and moral expositions shrunk to a few Words and form a mnemonic device in societies in which everything worth knowing and relevant to day-to-day life has to be committed to memory (p.201). Proverbs express in few words truth which relates to everyday experience. We can find proverbs, which fit any human situation and give a word of advice or warning, or a wise/ general comment on a situation, and they do this in a precise, poignant style, which make them easy to remember and use (P.241). In Etches, as it is in most Nigerian languages, proverbs are strong weapons of cultural transmission and sustenance. African languages are commonly embellished in proverbs. A collection of the proverbs of a community is in way ethnography of the people which give a window into the people’s way of life; their philosophy, their criticizing moral language structures which sharpens ideas and bring out their beauty and true values. Like a penal code. Proverbs are model of speech habit which illuminate the philosophy of a people, define the speaker and the event.

As a genre of language, proverb attributively a folklore which has survived in oral tradition due to its stability, and now functions as rhetoric’s in more concise and picturesque manner than ordinary expression. Speakers use proverbs to overcome hackneyed expressions and achieve wit and freshness to their speeches

Nature of Etches Proverbs

The nature of Etches proverbs is complex and multifaceted it pervades all the known linguistics level of language analysis, hence cannot be equitably X-rayed in a work such as this.

For stylistic reason, we only note here the communicative and etymological nature of Etches proverbs.

The exact origin of Etches proverbs predates any written form of Echie. As that this defines the experiences, oral history, belief and the Philosophy of the people, they are older than the proverbs. But as a vehicle of Social cohesion such as weaning, instruction, mockery, praise, regret, blame, information and even entertainment, proverb is older than the people. Indeed, it is proper to state that Etches

Proverbs are as old as the Echie language and the earliest Etches man. Again, the origin of the Etches proverbs is traceable to the male-t0 in other words; it mainly finds credence or base in the male-talk. The assertion is couched on the fact that in discourses, proverbs are linked to one’s father and never one’s mother:

  1. Nna m thura m ilulu si……. (My father taught me a proverb that………)
  2. Out NwOkhe n’ulO nyl thuru ilulu Si………….. (A certain man in my town put up a proverb that…………)
  3. Nde Etches thuru ilulu Si… (Etches people put up a proverb that)
  4. Nwaogu Nwashli n’ Ulakwo thuru ilulu Si………….. (Nwaogu Nwashli from Ulakwo put up a proverb that…….)

The above proverbs allude to the fact that proverbs are accorded strong are traced (Gushed) when their sources are traced to the male-folk (one’s father or grandfather). The choice of the style of introducing a proverb depends on the implication of the proverbs and its relevance to the discourse. If a proverb for instance is derogatory or smacked off a proven flaw on the part of the speaker, he would introduce the proverb anonymously thus:

  1. Out NwOkhe   thuru ilulu Si…………..( One man put up a proverb that……..) On the contrary, if the proverb suggests honor, he would say:
  2. Nna m thuru ilulu si……… (My father taught me a proverb that………) If the proverb enjoys a wider usage, the speaker would say:
  3. Nde Etches thuru ilulu Si…………. (The Etches people put up a proverb that……..)

The Meaning of Etches Proverbs

The meaning of Etches proverbs according to Nwala (2011) is mentalist. The meaning of proverbs is part of the large language easily understood on the surface than others. The words of the construction and their meanings in real life situations are interpretatively irrelevant. The important thing is what the people conceive of the proverbs Some Etches proverbs have metaphorical attributes such that their meaning must be transferred from the literal plane to a deeper or connotative plane. Many of such proverbs are culture-bound and give’ strong culture import to the audience. [Or instance:

  1. Ozu shIbe ishi, enyi ka nwanne alaa (one’s brother is more than a friend)
  2. Out Menu new ukhom mana ohna IW ‘’ olu ya (Neighborhood is very important
  3. Mirni gbakoo n’ awom, o gbakoola n’ okhe (It can’t be said to be over, until it is ascertained to be over).
  4. Usu rnaa nyee eluigwe, ya edebe otule ya be ole (One Cannot bite the finger that feeds one or one should not start a war one cannot finish)

The proverbs above are very instructive and have strong cultural affinity. Their meanings cannot be derived from the surface lexical interpretations of the Words of the Construction.

Chisa, Nworgu C.: The origin of Etche people, dialect and its importance as a communication…

Any Word toward translation or interpretation of the proverbs would be a misnomer and communicatively danger5 Etches proverbs have different Stylistic and pragmatic interpretations. It is the situation and the Context that define the choice of a proverb and the possible meaning of the proverb

The Use of Etches Proverbs

The use of Etches proverbs are presented in this article within the purview of stylistics. There are many varieties of Etches proverbs as there are many discourse situations that may define how each proverb is used. In speech act, people select the right proverb that can perfectly foreground their message. Good Etches speakers choose proverbs observing the content, context and message. It may be to corroborate the cherished views of elders to inform, to advise or to praise the addressees.

According to Nwala (2011:14) ‘’the knowledge of Etches proverbs is a common competence of every fluent Etches speaker. The use of the proverbs is the property of the property of the seeker’’. He added further that‘’. It is not uncommon to see people speak without the use of proverbs. And that anybody who uses or employs proverbs in his speeches is usually loved, honored and respected’’. Not The use of proverbs in discourse in Etches helps to enliven the people, add flavor to the speech, bring the message closer to the people and embellish the cultural norms of the people, thus reminding the people of their personality history and destiny. In fact, the Etches proverbs are the summary of Etches cultural heritage.


The Significance/Importance of Etches Proverbs

It is no gainsaying that proverbs are used in Etches to add color to speeches in gatherings of the people. In town hall meetings, marriage ceremonies, burial ceremonies to mention just a few, proverbs are preponderantly used for the transmission of the socio-cultural norms of the people and for the achievement of different cultural cohesion s. proverbs measure a man’s widow and knowledge of the culture as well as his oratory prowess. The choice of any proverb at a given language discourse or speech act is dependent on the speaker’s mastery of both the Etches proverbs and culture. This is obvious since the dynamic nature of language and the flexibility of speech make it possible for two or more proverbs play educative roles in the psychology and development of the people. There is a general admiration of the use of proverbs. To cap it up, proverbs add grace, glamour, flavor and dignity to every gathering in Etches. It is important to state that traditional presentation of kola-nuts is a ceremony with the creative use of proverbs.


The nature, meaning, use and significance/importance of Etches proverbs. We showed proverbs as a discourse genre, which describe the socio- cultural norms and ethics of the Etches nation which are used as a channel off socialization. The use of proverbs makes possible the of the speaker, we opined that proverbs reveal the personality of the speaker, his knowledge of the history and culture of the people as linguistic enthusiast, w assert that proverbs are veritable means of communication which can be used to describe and portray pictures of events.

REFERENCES; http://www.sirenjournals.com/index.php/journals?id=333, Wikipedia

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