Ib’uzor: Origin And Early Development

BY LOUIS NWOBOSHI
Nomenclature
Ib’uzor is located in the Asaba Capital Territory and lies about ten kilometers to the South west of Asaba city along the Asaba-Warri road. The colonialists first adopted the derogatory version, Igbuzo or Igbo bi ni Uzo, coined by our feuding neighbours. This name does not need much logic, among the Igbo speaking people, to realize that it was coined by two non-Ibu’uzor persons who were trying to describe Umejei’s (our ancestors) settlement. The name reflects the conversation of a first to second describing the position or abode of a third person, in a derogatory sense, Igbo being used to mean slave in this context in Nri hegemony, then in vogue. The name was later changed by the colonialists to Ibusa-another very meaningless word.
Ib’uzo, the correct name of the community, later abbreviated to Ibu’uzor means the First to arrive in this part of the country. It is name that came out of an argument. An Ib’uzor person cannot be telling a fellow member of his community “na mmubuzor bia” if the name covers all of them. The validity of this assertion is not difficult to find as Ib’uzor is surrounded by neighbouring communities bearing equally argumentative names. The fraternity and friendship between the people of Ib’uzor, (corrupted Ibu’uzor), Okpalani (corrupted Okpanam) and Ahabagam (now known as Asaba) communities, with similar argumentative names, indicate that these names must have arisen from an argument between friends from these communities. It is believed that while the Ibu’uzor man argued that he came first, the Okpanam man claimed that whatever the Ibu’uzor man may believe, he was the most senior person or the diokpa or the okpala of the land area, while the Ahaba man exclaimed with satisfaction, that he is satisfied (ahabagam) with his choice of location.
O
ther supporting evidence included the fact that Ibu’uzor community, as least in the past, respected Okpalani when it comes to rituals where age counted. For instance, during the Iwaji (new yam) festival, Okpalani has to procede Ibu’uzor in making the necessary sacrifice and eating of the new yam because of this seniority. Secondly, blood-letting was forbidden in any fight or war between these three communities. All these conventions must have had their origin in the early contacts and discussions between the communities. The choice location of Ibu’uzor, on a plateau surrounded by clean and sparkling streams, which left other neighbours, who came later, either or dry land or in the mosquito-infested swamps, confirms this first-to-arrive saga epitomized by the name, Ibu’uzor. As our people say, Obuzor ogu na ala nmili oma. In the same vein, the colonial choice of Asaba as cable-point, missionary, trade and seat for administration and her recent elevation to state capital are all confirmatory testimonies of the claim, Ahabagam, for Afa nwagu onye diechea.
Again, our people being mainly agrarian and sometimes farming and sharing boundaries in those days, developed to become great friends. From this background, one can deduce that the most probable Ibu’uzor man engaged in this triangular argument must have been either an Umuodafe man or the refugee from Obodonshi that Ezebogani had shielded and subsequently, used as a buffer between his ever feuding sons, Odaukwu and Odanta. These are the likely individuals who farmed from Ibu’uzor to beyond Okwuta Ugbo to Iyiabi, where they shared boundaries with Okpanam and Ahaba farmers. People of Otu Odogwu and Otu Iyase can, apparently, be ruled out of foregoing this friendship, by distance.
Location
Ibu;uzor is located on latitude 6.40oE and longitude 6.37oN or about 700km above the equator or East of the Greenwich Meridian . The land mass covers about 260km stretching from Aboh, on Ibu’uzor-Ogwashi-Uku road, to Ashia Uzor near Iyaibi, along Ibu;uzor-Asaba road, and from Azagba-Ogwashi-Uku and Ewulu in Aniocha South Local Government Area to the west, Asaba, Okwe and Okoh in Oshimili South Local Government Area to east and Abala-Unor, in Ndokwa East Local Government Area to the South.
Culture of Life
Culture is any medium that fosters growth and development of organism in all their manifestations. It is the primary source of food/energy and materials that condition human welfare. To this end, pre-colonial Ibu’uzor man was very close to nature. He understood nature and held that his welfare derived from the soil, the water, the plants, and other animals around him. To him the main essence of creation was to provide mankind with the culture of life. Ibu’uzor people’s life is, therefore, first and foremost, determined by the soil resources, water resources, solar energy and plan resources and other animals including his fellow man in his ambient environment.
The location of the community described earlier shows that Ibu’uzor is squarely in the tropical climatic zone with its characteristic all year round sunshine and abundant double maxima rainfall.
Ibu’uzor township is currently, situated on a denuding pene-plain at a mean height of about 100m above sea level, with the highest point at Okwuta-ugbor, around 120m high. The top of the plateau is almost flat and covers about 20km. The slight tilt from the north east (Umuodafe) to southwest (Umuezeagwu) of the plateau defines the drainage pattern in the town. The surrounding slopes of the pene-plain are drained by small but perennial streams. The Oboshi and Atakpo drains the eastern slopes. The South is jointly drained by the Oduche, Asiama and Iyi-oji streams which rise from beneath the plateau at the Ogboli, Eziukwu and Umuneze axis. These streams join one another on their way down to the south to form Oshimili Alusi, which later joined the Atakpo stream, north of Akpako camp of Umuneze. But for a narrow strip of land on the Umu-Idinisagba axis through which Ibu’uzor-Azagba-Ogwashi road passes, Ibu’uzor would have been surrounded by streams.
The table-top, which carries the oldest part of the township, descends on all sides into large expanses of gently sloping land down to streams with sharply defined deep banks. Almost invariably, the land also arises, again gently beyond each of the streams except in the south east, where it grades into the swamp lands of the River Niger.
The area was, naturally, covered with tropical rain forest, rich in plant species at all levels like timber trees, shrubs and herbs. The timber trees which included valuable species like the mahoganies, oma, agba, mansonia tamakpa (Pychanuts), iroko, bitter kola, etc have been heavily exploited. In addition to timber trees, the swamp forests are still rich in raffia palm groves, wit plenty of fish ponds and kraals. The raffia palm forms the mainstay of the local gin distillery. Like the timber species, the raffia palm has also been subjected to severe denudation and no attempt is being made to regenerate it. The shrubs and herbs generally form valuable sources of fruits, vegetables and herbal medicines. Common household plants and vegetables included bitter leaf, guava, pawpaw, orange, grapes, lemon fruits and leaves, like utazi, uziza, avocado pear, alulu-isi, fruit trees like mangoes, udala, ube, ogede, nkpu, mkwu, ukwa, oloma and many shading-giving trees and shrubs such as mmimi and anunu, planted around homes to provide shades and nutritious fruits and vegetables. In various formulations, some common plants around the communities also form vegetable herbal recipes for the treatment of many illnesses that include cough, cold, catarrh, eba, typhoid and ulcer or for laxatives.
All these forests, now generally under heavy threats of deforestation and intensive cultivation by migrant and surrogate farmers, are fast losing their biodiversity and other values. Plants bearing species, delicious fruits and nutritious condiments are fast becoming extinct in Ibu’uzor bushes.
Even vegetables like onunu abu ujuju, uziza, utazi now come to Ibu’uzor market from neighbouring communities.
The kraals and lakes in the seasonal swamp forest that hitherto supported the dry season fish in activities and annual festivals, have been over-cropped by migrants fishermen to the extent that today, the erstwhile Ije otutu fishing festival that used to be very popular in the town around the Ifejioku time has been abandoned. Rescued from over cropping and placed under proper management, Ije Otutu fishing festival could form a potential touristic activity for the community and the people in the State capital, at large.
The soil is, generally very deep and dominantly well drained with thick sandy surface layer on a red sandy clay loam. It is generally ideal for the cultivation of arable crops like yams, cocoyams, cassava, maize, beans (okpodudu) and food-condiment crops; okro, egusi, ugu, etc. Hence, until quite recently, Ibu’uzor males were predominantly farmers. The numerous streams and lakes and the various types of fish they harbour as well as the biodiversity of the plants in the forests and bushes, provide for fishing and hunting occupations for which the Ibu’uzor youths were also noted for.
HRH Obi (Prof) Louis C Nwoboshi is the Obuzor of Ib’uzor (Ibusa), Delta State.
A typical scene during the Iwu festival in Ibusa, Delta State

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