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1.1     Background of Study

       This study examines Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbours from 1900 up to 1950. Every nation, region, area, clan and settlement has its own story to tell about its culture, origin, political structure, socio-economic relations, monarchy, and so on. This is also the case of Ubulu-Ukwu and its Neigbhours since every tradition has one or two similarities with its neigbhouring villages.

Geographically, Ubulu-Ukwu is located in southern Nigeria and the south-south geo-political zone. It is also situated some thirty Kilometers (30kms) West of the River Niger in Aniocha South local Government Area of Delta State, East wards, it shares a boundary with Ogwashi-Ukwu, Westwards with Obior, Northwards with Issele-ukwu and Southwards with Ubulu-Unor.The facts which are broadly accepted are that there are various cleans that make up the Ubulu-Ukwu collective group, which is referred to as the Ubulu-Ukwu community. Till date they are referred to as kingdoms as they have the rest hereditary kingship traditional system. The king is known and referred to by the title “Obi Akaeze” (king). Clan here is used to refer to the share belief in a common lineage or of descent held by members of each of the Ubulu-Ukwu clans who occupy a certain land area.1

          The concepts and belief held by the various Ubulu-Ukwu clans about their land, is no less powerful than that embodied by concept of kingdom. Members of each Ubulu-Ukwu clan have always regarded themselves and their land from the point of view of their belief in shared linage of decent which created the collective consciousness causing them to refer to themselves as Umunne (relatives or siblings) or clan. All Ubulu-Ukwu clans are bounded together by shared language, custom, culture and an unclear but strong belief in their oneness, though not like that which exists within individual clans. The Umu-Okpara of all the clans is grounded in subjective and emotionally charged identification which manifests itself in their belief system in the form of the gods Idigu (The God of Iron) and the festivals like Iwa-Igi (New Yam Festival) and general cosmology. Further, their share language, the Aniocha language, concretizes their legendary sameness of origin. Ubulu-Ukwu clans are made up of villages and villages are made up of several quarters.2

          Ubulu-Ukwu depends on agriculture for subsistence, with nucleated settlement pattern and farmlands in almost all directions. Ubulu-Ukwu is broadly divided into Alumu and Ogbe. These are further sub-divided into the quarters which inlcidue: Abuedo, Idumu-Osume, Onicha-Uku, Onicha-Ukpe, Akwu, Ugbah, Idumbo, Enugu-Iyi, Ogbe Ani, Isho, Ilo-Akwu, Ogbe-Ofu, Ani-Janet, Akpama, Udo and Ani-Ekei. Ubulu-Ukwu has the following farm settlement (hamlets); Aniagbala, Aniuje, Abugba,Aniefekide and Anioma.3

          The adage that says “no man is an island of his own”, and another that says “a tree cannot make a forest” is true about Ubulu-Ukwu. This fact led to forms of interaction between Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbours between 1900-1950. These forms of interaction include political, social, economic and cultural relationships which fostered Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbours.

          Politically, Aniocha speakers are mainly found in two local government areas, Aniocha North and Aniocha South Local Government Areas, both created in 1991 from a single Aniocha local government areas, in Delta State. Aniocha North and Aniocha South Local Government Areas, occupy a land areas of 117.45 square kilometers (Delta State Government Website, 1999) with a total population of about 240,000 people. There are other Aniocha speaking people that are politically outside the Aniocha North and Aniocha South Local Government Areas. The exact population of speakers of the Aniocha language or those with Aniocha as mothers’ tongues is not known since the information was not included in the 1991 census result (1991 census). Aniocha people do not have any shared physical characteristics distinguishing it from other ethnic or language groups in Delta State.4

Ubulu-Ukwu is richly blessed with culture according to Sir Edward Taylor of 1871, is a complex whole which include knowledge, belief, art, mortal law custom and any other capabilities and habit acquired by man as a member of society which can be transferred from generation to generation. State more simply culture is everything, which is socially termed and shared further is divided into materials and non-material culture. Material culture consists of manufactured object such as tools, furniture, automobiles forms, farms, roads, bridges and in fact any physical substance, which has been changed and used by people (artifacts) people use the ideas, customs and belief they hold and the habit they follow.

          Traditional marriage in Ubulu-Ukwu is common to all Aniochas,5 the normal bride and wealth is paid, the involvement of both families is the bride and groom, oracle is consulted to know if the marriage will be a peaceful one with this, divorce is rare. This community still have fetish practices and beliefs that these gods shaped their lives. So, they give all their likes and hope to them. This can be seen more clearly during festivals as part of their traditions.

Oral tradition had it that Ubulu-Ukwu originated from Benin while the Ubulu-Unor people still claim till date that they gave birth to the present Ubulu-Ukwu kingdom. Several studies conducted on this research has shown that Ubulu-Ukwu origin has been tied to Ubulu-Unor kingdom. This means that Ikem and Anene where right when they opined that it was from Ubulu-Unor that Ezemu went to found Ubulu-Ukwu. According to them if there is any controversial aspect of Ubulu-Ukwu history, it is with regard to the reason or reasons that led to Ezemu’s movement to Ubulu-Ukwu from Ubulu-Unor and whether Obodo, the relation of Ezemu was a woman or man.6 They clearly pointed out in their study that it was only Ezechime clan who migrated from Benin. Different school of thoughts have argued to this view. Some believe that the founder of Ubulu-Ukwu is a woman (Ezemu) and that Ubulu-Unor is the ancestral home of Ubulu-Ukwu while others totally disagree holding to their claim that the entire Ubulu-Ukwu is a descendant of the Benin Empire and that till date the Ubulu-Ukwu people still pledge allegiance and pay homage to the Oba of Benin.7 In all this views, Ezemu is the founder of Ubulu-Ukwu and Ubulu-Ukwu had migrated peacefully even though the Benin version recorded that there was bloody war and violence during the migration due to the death of the Oba of Benin’s precious daughter (Princess Akingbuda).8

          Every folktales have their different story on the history and origin of Ubulu-Ukwu kingdom. This project looks into the nature of relationship that existed between them social, politically,economically, culturally and otherwise. It is against this background that this study is carried out to look intensively at Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbors, how they are inter-related through culture, traditions etc. There have been common origin and migration experiences among them and there is also evidence of trade and socio-cultural relation between them. The focus of thisessay is to try to find the interaction they had with each other and how both sides benefited from the relation.

1.2     Statement of Problem

Ubulu-Ukwu relationship with her neighbors has not been put in a proper historical perspective thereby, underestimating the impact of interaction between them. The questions therefore are:

  1. Did the people see themselves as different people in terms of culture, politics and social aspects?
  2. What is the evidence of their relationship from a common historical experience?

These questions are the basis of the problem in this essay.

1.3     Aims of the Study

This essay seeks to examine the relationship between Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbors from 1900 up to 1950.The project essay also seeks to establish, the historical link in terms of origin between Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbors. The essay will also show the socio-political and economic contacts between them. The essay will also show the similarities between these groups in the area of culture.

1.4     Significance of the Study

The essay apart from unifying Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbors, will draw attention to the similarities between the various traditions and origin of the people (Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbors). Thus, it will help educate and enlighten the indigenes of Ubulu-Ukwu in Diaspora who have lost in touch with their Paternal or maternal homes, to get acquitted with their origin, culture, norms and values to include their traditions and festivals heritage even when they are far away from home. This is also applicable to Ubulu-Ukwu neighbours in particular.

The study will also serve as a pioneering work on examining the relationship between Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbors from 1900 up to 1950. And give some basic information which will be of immense advantage to future researchers on this topic    as it will be of great academic benefit to academicians and researchers who which to delve into this research.

1.5     Scope of Study

The scope of this essay was strictly based on the relationship between Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbors from 1900 up to 1950; and to offer suggestion on the problem associated with Ubulu-Ukwu kingdom and her neighbours especially on the various ties that will strengthen their relationship. These neighbors include Obior, Ogwashi-Uku, Issele-Ukwu, Ubulu-Unor and Ubulu-Okiti. The research highlights the ties between these neighbors in politics, socio-cultural, economic sphere.

1.6     Research Method

The research method adopted for this research work is the descriptive method which involves using ethics and codes in deducing facts to bring out concrete facts from the interviews which was used in writing this work. This project essay will make use of both primary, secondary sources. The researcher will rely on oral interviews and archival sources for primary sources, while the secondary sources emphasizes with be made in textbook, journals, internet sources, published and unpublished articles.


          Many works have been written on Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbours, some of these works are on individual, villages or towns.

Ikem and Anene in their study of Ubulu-Ukwu claims that Ezemu whose parents migrated from the Middle East, They settled in Ife and later migrated to Afor, a village in present day Ndokwa Local Government Area of Delta State. After a long stay inAfor, Ezemu’s parents assembled five of the children, namely Obodo, Ezemu, Alibo, Aniga and Ekelie and asked them to get ready to migrate and found other settlements. Before they left Afor, their parents gave them a pot (Odudu) containing a mixture of some herbs and instructed them to settle wherever the pot fell, each facing a different direction. While wandering from place to place, they reached a place called Ubulu-Unor, where the pot fell and they settled there.9

Later, Ezemu moved few Kilometers away from Ubulu-Unor to found Ubulu-Ukwu.10 According to Onwuejeogwu, Ogwashi-Ukwu came from Nri around the 15th Century. He also traces the migration of Issele-Uku and Obior to the Ezechima movement, who claim Benin Origin.11 On the origin of Ubulu-Unor and Ubulu-Okiti, Ikemfunah and Anene agree that the towns were children of the same parents. Obodo was the founder of Ubulu-Unor while Ezemu founded Ubulu-Ukwu, Ubulu-Okiti was once part of Ubulu-Ukwu, now independent was found by Emigrants from Ubulu-Ukwu in the 18th Century.12

J. O. Ijoma comments on the pre-colonial trade and trade links among the west Niger Igbo, markets were held on a cycle of four days. These markets were ‘Eke’, ‘Orie’, ‘Afor’, and ‘Nkwo’. The market day in Ubulu-Ukwu is called ‘Eke’ while that of Issele-Uku is called ‘Afor’ and that of Obior is called ‘Eke’. War is an armed conflict between two or more communities fought. Over economic, political or social reason.13But there are no records either oral or documented sources, indicating Ubulu-Ukwu to have ever fought war with either Issele-Uku, Ogwashi-Uku, Ubulu-Unor, Obior or Ubulu-Okiti. Ubulu-Ukwu was only involved in war with European imperialist up to the first decade.14

Elizabeth Isichei has averred in her work on the Igbo that the 19th Century was period of almost continuous war. Elizabeth Isichei also talked on Ubulu-Ukwu resistance to European imperialism during the Ekumeku war.15 On war and diplomacy, Aziken L. C. and E. Amaechi sees both concept as inherent traits of mankind and as such it cannot be entirely ruled out in human existence.16

However, Opone states that the Enuani-Igbo socio-political organization as a blend of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. He also states in his work that kingship and the Umunna organizational concept occur together and is centered on the Umunna and title holding and during the course of contacts and interactions with the Binis and Enuani they exchanged kingship ideas and benefited from both sides.17

The books reviewed above have their various contributions and lapses, this essay seeks to unfold the relationship between Ubulu-Ukwu and her neighbors. It also seek to fill the research gap that exist in literature on the topic under review since only few researches have been done on this aspect of academic literature.


In the course of writing this essay, problems were encountered. Material sources such as printed and non-printed material as well as text books, articles, journals, newspapers, etc.were limited.

There was also the reluctant attitude of respondents to give out certain information.Also, due to distance factor and insecurity in the area, adequate data could not be gathered directly, as affected indigenes and non-indigenes were respondents used in gathering data, also unofficial discussion by the second in command of the palace of Obi Akaeze (Obi of Ubulu-Ukwu) and interviewers who had detailed historical background of the history and origin of Ubulu-Ukwu and her relations with her neighbours make up the remaining parts of information collected for this study.

Finance, academic stress, language and communication barrier, inability for the researcher to access remote areas were among other challenges encountered in this research. Despite, the aforementioned shortcomings, challenges and hindrances, this research study no doubt turned out to be successful as the limitations did not hinder the researcher from achieving the main aim and purpose of the study.


  1. Elizabeth Isichei, A History Of Igbo People,(London) Faber and Faber,1976 p.75
  2. Elizabeth Isichei, The Ibo People and the Europeans,(London) Faber and Faber,1973.

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