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 18, 2018

Military Imposition of Christianity and the Attack on Igbo Culture

Photo: An elderly man of Igbuzo photographed in the early 20th century by Northcote Thomas.
[The] [...] Society of African Missions managed to open a mission at Issele-Ukwu in 1893 [...] The resentment of the local people for the mission, the missionaries, the converts and to the [Royal Niger] Company spilled over to an open rebellion against the traditional ruler of the town. The aggrieved populace contended that the latter had not followed the democratic practice of due consultation with the other chiefs and important individuals in the town before inviting the missionaries and before agreeing to the abolition of the slave trade and human sacrifice. [...] The local community therefore demanded the withdrawal of the missionaries from the town and the restoration of their traditional customs. A civil war broke out at Issele-Ukwu. The opponents to the 'erring' ruler had the strong support of [Igbuzo] [...] Otu Ochi-Chi, a secret or night society [...] and its military arm, Ekumeku [...]. Fr. Zappa [...] appealed to the Company for military action and in January 1898 under Major Arthur Festing, a Company force of 250 men laid siege on [Igbuzo] and after six weeks razed it to the ground. [...]
The HMS Flirt, used in the bombardment of Asaba in retaliation to the Ekumeku movement against the Royal Niger Company in 1898. The Royal Niger Company was later joined with the Niger Coast Protectorate and they became the Northern and Southern Nigeria Protectorates in 1900.
[The] Royal Niger Company attacked [Igbuzo] the head and heart of the Anioma communities because it was the strongest and most feared of the Anioma communities. It was also the center of the most indomitable resistance to the penetration of the missionary enterprise. Fr. Zappa, the leader of the SMA mission and the brain behind the invasion of the town, reasoned that the subjugation of the most feared and the strongest of the Ika communities would also easily and quickly bring the others to their knees. According to the missionary, the overbearing chiefs of [Igbuzo] needed to be humiliated and a military conquest of the evil people was inevitable [...] The Company's bombardment of all the towns within reach of gunfire brought considerable confusion and uncertainty among the people. The cultural resisters were dispersed [...] local chiefs were taken as captives to Asaba the Company's headquarters where they were put in jail.
[Igbuzo] was coerced to accept the presence of the missionaries in the town and the chiefs were forced to accept to protect the missionaries. [...]

– Augustine S. O. Okwu (2010). Igbo Culture and the Christian Missions, 1857-1957. pp. 120–121.

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