Original

Igbo names and spellings for various settlements
Abakaliki is Abankaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzö; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owere; Oyigbo is Obigbo... any more will be added.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Boy of Mgbakwu

A boy of Mgbakwu, p.d. Anambra State, photographed by British government anthropologist Northcote Thomas between 1910 and 1911. The pictures were taken as part of colonial studies on African people in order to find the best way to rule over them, a crucial study for the implementation of indirect rule. MAA Cambridge. (The original picture is black and white, this is a digitally coloured copy by Ụ́kpụ́rụ́, 2018).

To see this picture is to see one of the first ‘Nigerians.’ Aged around 7 or 8 maybe, with this photo taken between 1910 and 1911, presuming that he lived a long life past his 70’s, this doe-eyed boy of Mgbakwu may have seen the invasion of his town by the British Empire’s West African Frontier Force. Igbo settlements were still fighting back imperialism at this time. His whole world, or at least, that of his parents are about to change forever. He may have heard the word ‘Nigeria’ for the first time around the time this picture was taken. He would have gone from simply an onye Mgbakwu to a ‘Nigerian.’ Just three or four years after this picture was taken was WWI, and the amalgamation of the Northern Protectorate with the Southern Protectorate, where his home is. He may have been one of the first people in his family to be Christened, he may have gone to a mission school. He may have been given a European name. He would have seen the rise of warrant chiefs, the other invasion of ‘native authority’, that is the rise of ‘His Royal Majesty’s’ and ‘His Royal Highness’s.’ He may have eventually heard about the Women’s War of 1929 and heard about and witnessed some of the terrorism which occurred under the colonial regime. Eventually, he may have even casted a vote for a man named Nnamdi Azikiwe, his age mate. He would have gained greater knowledge of peoples far across the Niger and a river named Benue, people who had also ‘become’ Nigerian like him and by no choice of theirs now had linked destinies, he may have even travelled to live amongst them. If he lived long enough, he would have seen the independence of Nigeria. He may have seen the war.

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