Friday, 23 September 2016

Chike Ofili on Igbo migrations in recent centuries, west and south

(Chike Ofili:... Why do they continue to bear dialectical variants of Igbo names such as Chime in the Igbo West of the [the great river] and Chima in East of same?) 
[reposted as in the original on authors Facebook wall, Monday 19 September 2016]

ANIOMA and NIGER DELTA IGBO MIGRATIONS to the WEST of the NIGER and the DELTA are EXTENSIONS, not SEPARATIONS from MOTHERLAND... Divisions Are Creations of Poisonous Politics … So, is Anioma Biafra or a Benin Republic?

By Chike Ofili

Great, Phil Akpenyi, well reasoned reply to my piece that DELTA IS ANIOMA IS BIAFRA.

If Anioma is not Igbo but are Igbo speaking in all its dialectical variants, WHAT ETHNIC GROUP THEN IS ANIOMA? if a conference of ethnic nationalities of Nigeria were to be convoked as has been advocate continuously for the restructuring of Nigeria, which group would Anioma come under? Would they come under THE EDO NATION, since many claim they migrated from Benin ? So the larger Benin of the old Mid West, Bendel and now Delta and Edo states would now be under your BENIN REPUBLIC ?

What happens to the Igbo speaking people as all Igbo are, that fought or amicably gave accommodation, land, language and home to your migrating Benin escapees from tyranny as is almost the same story of all diasporic Benin that now forms your Benin Republic of today's Edo and Delta states? Why was Benin not the language of communication as the migrating ones from Benin joined in? Why were they not bearing Bini names if they met empty lands as they migrated from Benin? Why do they continue to bear dialectical variants of Igbo names such as Chime in the Igbo West of the Niger, and Chima in East of same? Why has the common Igbo culture still dominant till this day in spite of the dominating military and cultural tyranny of old Benin kingdom?

The answer is that the escapees met a people whom they only added themselves to either amicably, or by force. As in all cases of such contacts, the bigger winner is the triumph of number; and this is long before they ever knew the democratic mathematics of democracy.

It was primarily, the triumph of the self-assertive power of population, further putting down its foot even when sometimes conquered with its TONGUE, in a peoples language. The conquering migrants can only at best carve out their own part of the invaded land where not an amicable settlement with the aborigines. Thus, they may keep their language which most often they soon lose as the town grows bigger. Where there is an enduring compromise, a bilingual community is born. Even at that, there would still be a major and a minor language. In all of these cases, the Igbo language triumphed over all the other culture that came into contact with it; forcefully or amicably. Be it Benin, Yoruba, Ishan, Igala etc. They have come to constitute ANIOMA’S RAINBOW ROOTS. It is however culturally criminal to then turn around and begin the history of a people in spite of all of these evidences from when the migrants joined them; and not before they arrived.

In the case of Igbo West of the Niger, the migrants from Benin, Yorubaland/Ishan, Igala and so on were outnumbered and so had to speak the language of the majority group they met there; even when they came with a conquering might. Not even some manifest cultural influences will suddenly amount to a historical and cultural hijack of a people who were not spoken for, and who have still not learnt to coherently speak for themselves.

Have you asked yourself how the Igbo East and West of the Niger speak the same language, share fundamental cultures and ritual traditions? What circumstances produced these binding similarities? Are the circumstances any different from that which came to bind the Yoruba of the West and the Yoruba of the Middle Belt? Are they not all linguistically and culturally Yoruba? Is migration not just expansion and not permanent separation? 

If so, then you and I are right that your Benin republic amounts to migration as expansion and not separation. It amounts to a re-gathering of the same old people from far and near. If so, then the Igbo West of the Niger were largely migrants from their common ground where they were most populous in the East to where they crossed the Niger river onto the West of it, carrying their Igbo language and culture with them which as in all cases, kept changing insignificantly in dialects of the same language.

It is this their prime advantage of being the first to arrive, of being aboriginal and aucthotonous to a new and uninhabited place over time, that gave them the numerical powers over their latter day settlers like the Benin migrants and escapees from terror; who integrated themselves into the dominant culture, influencing it in part with their imported Benin culture in the West of the Niger, and Igala cultural partnership in the East of the Niger. But never overwhelming its core culture in its fundamental culture markers like the language which remains a dialect of Igbo, names, rituals etc.
Even Eze Chime/China, the biggest influencer among the Benin migrant who founded or more appropriately, mixed and integrated with the Igbo speaking people, was himself an Igbo in the Benin diaspora. He must have been an NRI priest plying his ritual cleansing trade in Benin as only them bore the title, Eze, a royal priesthood as Benin records too testify to Igbo priest(s) carrying out ritual functions in their palace. In the case of Chime/Chima he has a clear Igbo name that is not in any way Benin in origin; even if most of his followers with whom he fought the Benin kingdom were largely of Benin origin as was his regent wife. Chima never took his followers after the lost battle to Yoruba land that is closer to Benin, he faced where he hailed from, East/West of the Niger.

The Onitsha account showed us that his direct children who founded some of the last towns of Onitsha, Ogwuta and Aboh were inspired to do so because they wanted to be as faraway from the long arm of the Benin power and tyranny as they could be to be assured of safety. And also because their father, Chime/Chima had inspired them about a place across the river. It is no wonder that the direct children from his loins all were attracted to the watersides of the Niger river of Onitsha founded by Oreze who met an Igala settlement, headed by Ulutu; the Igala being the riverine people of the northern Middle Belt of Nigeria as the Izon/Ijo are to southern Nigeria. He joined Chimas first Ukpali having stayed back in Obior to inherit and continue the lineage and throne of their father, Chima. The third and fourth son who felt deceived by their brother Oreze in an open competition that was to determine who among the new contingent that migrated from Obior upon the death of Chima was to be the new leader of the new settlement, followed their own new path.

He found his own waterway in Ogwuta and its lake, and his brother, Ogwuwzi, found Aboh and its river. Chima their father in his time could not go beyond Obior, West of the Igbo Niger where he decidedly settled down from long journey and old age, making Obior, the fountain head of Onicha Ugbo, Onicha Ukwu, Onicha Onicha Olona, Onicha Mmiri/Ado N’Idu, Isele Ukwu, Isele Azagba, Isele Mkpitime, Ezi and Obamkpa that constitute the Igbo federation of the Umu/children of Chima. Their Easter faction being Onitsha, Ogwuta and Aboh of Chima’s children.
(Charles Mingus Sextet, “Conversation” [Mingus, bass; Clarence Shaw, trumpet; Jimmy Kneeper, trombone; Shafi Hadi, alto and tenor saxophones; Bill Evans, piano; Dannie Richmond, drums; recorded: Bethlehem Records, Cincinnati, US, 16 August 1957])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

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