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, March 3, 2019

Colonial Note on the Asagba of Asaba

The origin of the Asagba (Eze Agba?) and the Eze of Asaba and environs according to research of British colonial government anthropologist Northcote Thomas in his study of the Igbo west of the Niger River c. 1914.

Photo: "ORHENE (PRIEST) OF ONIRHE AT ASABA." – Northcote Thomas.
Kings.—Originally Asaba had a king known as Eze; the first was Ezenei, grandson of Nevisi [or Nnebuisi], then came Ezobome, the son of another grandson of Nevisi, then Ezago, Ago, Amarom, and Odili, but in the time of Amarom quarrels broke out owing to jealousy between different quarters who should have had the kingship in turn, and five or more men took the title of eze. After this the custom of taking the eze title spread, until now in the neighbouring town of Ibuzo, where the movement was also taken up, 800 men have taken the title in one year. As a result of this unsatisfactory state of things the town decided to elect a head chief, and Afadie of Ajaji was selected with the title of asabwa [Asagba, perhaps Eze Asaba nwe Agba]. The present asabwa, a man of about 60, is the grandson of Afadie, who was succeeded by his second son Adanjo, who left a son Ezogo. Ezogo did not take the title because he could not afford to make the necessary payments, and it passed to the children of a younger son. The first appointment of asabwa, therefore, dates back 100 years or more. Three kings went to Idu [Benin City?] to have their titles confirmed, the first being Ezobome, and one king, in addition, paid dues without going. This would leave an interval of one or two generations at most before the asabwa was appointed.

– Northcote Thomas (1914). "Anthropological report on the Ibo-speaking peoples of Nigeria, vol. IV: Law and Custom of the Ibo of the Asaba District, S. Nigeria." p. 10.

[Today some majority Igbo-speaking states which had a handful to no Eze now have hundreds, so history does seem to repeat itself and the handling of the Eze title pretty much shows the attitude to authority by the Igbo people.]

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