By Ozo Ginger Ibeneme II {MBBS } (Ozo Elengum Orio Na Achi)

However, there were waves of migrations though, usually instigated by such factors as famine, conflict, over-crowding, epidemics or other calamities. In many such occasions, the migrants may completely loose touch and connection with their roots. They either settle on a hitherto undiscovered distant land, or join a friendly pre-existing settlers in their new found abode. When the later happens, there was usually a complete assimilation of the newly arrived groups. Many groups can arrive at intervals to same spot and with time unite to form a new nation. The structure of a nation is thus – Nation – Clan – Village – Hamlet – Homestead – Family- Individual(s).

The homestead is the “Ụmụnna” (a male line of descent from a founding ancestor who the line is sometimes named after with groups of compounds containing closely related families headed by the eldest male member). Ụmụnna is the representative front in the nation, where as the extended family was the “obu” that aggregate to form the Ụmụnna units. Migrant groups may not be of same ancestry but when they arrive at a spot and decide to found a nation, they create a unifying identity and even develop a folklore that would claim same origins.

There are so many ways to become united and bonded as one clan or nation. In the case of Achi, legend has it that Achi migrated from Afam Mmakụ, where he was born with his other siblings – Mmaku , Nenwe, and Ọgwụ (anglicised as Awgu). He climbed over the hills and settled somewhere at Obu Achi where he gave birth to about eight (8) sons.

There are pointers that even though Achi did not by himself found the nation Achi as the population of his offsprings was rather small to form a nation in his lifetimes, it’s likely that he maintained communication with his homestead at Mmaku after migrating. But, over the years, his descendants grew in numbers and began to spread out towards Achi Agụ. For instance, Ọme Nnachi from oral tradition, ran away from their father’s Obu due to threats of punishment from his brothers. It was said that he lost two (2) of his children same day, and out of anguish, he buried the second at night against the extant culture.

Looking back, they may have died of food poisoning. The brothers then plotted to punish him for committing an “abomination“. The distraught man then ran away to “ikpa“ (uninhabited land). The implication is that as at the time he fled to present day Amaetiti, the territory was not part of Achi territory, he was the founder of that territory. It was said that his brother Ọme Oruchi was the the one that leaked the plot to punish him by his brothers, naturally he too faced rebuke and he fled to join his brother. Oruchi first settled at Ugwu Edele, at the spot known as Ngwu Oruchi. There was another group who lived around Nwaahọ Market up to boundaries with Ụmụalụm and where Ụmụngbu are currently settled, Agịjị people. They fled to Ụmụọme after a conflict with Oruchi resulted to the death of two (2) Ụmụọkwere children – Ikechukwu and his sister. Oruchi fled too towards Oji river bank and founded what today is known as Ahani (Ọha Anọ).

Ọkwereta was a descendant of Akwu and Ụmụọkwere currently inhabits the land abandoned by the two (2) fleeing clans: Oruchi and Agịjị after loosing his children to the duo. Umungbu are descendants of Elugwu Achi who migrated to join Ụmụokwere and are settled on Ala Agịjị and Ala Umuike. Umuike and Umueze are from Akwu, thus, Umungbu and Ụmụ-Akwu united to form Elugwu-Akwụ sub-nation. Today, Umungbu has been fully assimilated as part of Umueze the eldest clan of Akwụ. Umueze therefore has five (5) Obu namely: Ụmụ-Ọkwere, Ụmụ-Alata, Ụmụ-Elengum (elengum orio ) , Ụmụ-Ekwesuagu and Ụmụ-Ngbu. Alata was said to be older brother to Eze but didn’t quite thrive hence his descendants were assimilated as Umueze.

In recent time, there is a conflict over who between Ọkwere and Alata should be accorded the seniority rights as a result of the ambiguity of their relationship.


Akwu historically migrated from Agbaogwugwu in today’s Awgu. Oral tradition has it that when Ome-Nnachi arrived, he was surrounded by thick forests and no friendly neighbours. He faced a lot of threats from both wild animals and savages who preyed on his children and domestic animals. He went to consult an oracle and requested from the gods to gift him protection in the form of friendly neighbours. Afa informed him that a group would soon arrive but that they’d be much more powerful and populous than him. The free spirited man only wanted safety and protection and joyfully requested for their prompt arrival. When Akwu finally arrived, they became close friends and in fact, brothers to the extent that even today, there seems to be a closer relationship between Elugwu-Akwu and Amaetiti than between Amaetiti and their blood brothers Oruchi. Never in the history of the two communities was there any rivalry or conflicts of land or boundaries.

There is however a raging conflict between Amaetiti and Ahani (Oruchi) bothering on seniority. It appears that Oruchi was older at Obu Achi, but Nnachi first arrived first to the settlement and his descendants claims seniority based on that.

Culturally, seniority can be accorded to the clan that first arrived at a spot. For instance, nothing shows that by chronological age Nnachi is senior to Akwu, however Akwu never challenges Nnachi’s seniority being that he migrated to the area long before Akwu. In Elugwu-Akwu too, Ngbu never challenges Ọkwere or Alata over seniority even though Ngbu is a descendant of Elugwu the oldest clan in Achi, because Ngbu arrived much much later. Umueze also enjoys seniority tag in Elugwu-Akwu because they arrived before Umuike and later Umuoji. Ekwuruofia came last from multiple backgrounds. However, these intricate relationships were never a cause for conflicts. The progenitors had perfect understanding and mutual respect for one another. Nobody was viewed as inferior partner or harassed or intimidated based on his origins or identity or time of arrival. None was slave to the other and they shared everything. There were clear boundaries and responsibilities were well delineated.

Arguably, the nation Achi was founded not by Achi himself. Recall that Omennachi fled due to threats from his brothers after he buried his child at night, a practice still done up till date only in Amaetiti among Achi clans. It’s unlikely that their father (Achị) was no longer alive at this point in time, otherwise, the conflict would not have escalated to the point of one of his offsprings fleeing his home to a distant land to live all by himself. Recall also the earlier postulation that Achi gave birth to about eight (8) sons. The other four (4) that made up the 12 component villages of Achi nation were later migrants and grandchildren.

Having given a background on how Elugwu Akwu migrated, it is important to highlight that there was never at any time in history that “Achi la asato“ existed.

It had always been “Achi la eri l’iboo” meaning Achi of twelve (12) clans. The implication is that 12 clans came together to form the nation Achi, led by Elugwu Achi – the eldest son of Achi. In fact, it is argued that Elugwu Achi and Elugwu Akwu spearheaded the founding of Achi nation. Elugwu Achi sent some of their people to join the Akwụ people to form Elugwu Akwu. They came with Arụsị Ala Elugwu, the patriarchal deity of Achi. There is Ala-Elugwu as the father, Oke-Kparakpara as the son, and Achi-Ihi as the wife.

The hard question remains, why is Ala Elugwu the patriarchal oracle of Achi and not “Ala Achi”? In fact, no single deity in Achi is known as Achi. Ome-Nnachi has “Aja Ala” which is believed to be “Aja Ala Elugwu”. Deities are the main origins and identities of Igbo nations and clans. Why is that of Achi named after a son of Achi and not Achi himself? Did Achi migrate with any deities? These goes to reinforce the idea that Achi maintained communication with his roots at Mmaku both physically and spiritually, hence, the reason why he didn’t need to site any proximal deities. His son Elugwu, however, suggestively led the founding of the nation “Achị” and in deference to his father Achi, he named it Achi. More so, the Achi descendants were the dominant population at the time. So Akwu may have negotiated the reconciliation and reuniting of Ome-Nnachi with his brothers that “persecuted” him and his brother Oruchi, and convinced them to rejoin the union.

Akwu cultures and dialect has a huge impact on Achi culture and language. Akwu was an invader clan, after one such operations, the group disagreed on sharing of their bounty, some who felt cheated left and migrated southwest settling at the present day Elugwu Akwu. Supposedly, some of them continued and settled at Akwu Inyi.

Igba ekperima – raiding and invasion was a way of survival. The aggressiveness was what Omennachi prayed for and received bountifully. Akwu never ever invaded Omennachi rather they formed a union, together with Oruchi. While Akwu continued to invade and conquer more territories towards Inyi to expand their territory, they united with Ome-Nnachi and Ome-Oruchi to invade and dislodge parts of Ugwuoba. Some of the Ugwuoba people capitulated and became part of Elugwu Akwu whereas the rest fled to their current abode. Ugwuoba had settlements up to the present day Ahani but fled due to the constant violence from the trio. The Akwu trio conquered the expanse of land known as “Be Ụgwa” and shared it equally among the three (3) clans. Most of those invasions were done through “Ekperioba” war formation which was created by Akwu invaders. This must have influenced the oga-aga- agwu-agwu war tactics which Achi adopted. Also okoboro dance pattern originated from Akwụ.

Fortunately for Ahani, development came to their side of the land early, the CMS MISSIONS leased a parcel of land to build rehabilitation center. During that deal, Ugwuoba came back to claim their land and went to court. The matter was finally settled in 1943 at West African Court of Appeal in favour of Ahani. Elugwu Akwu and Amaetiti had joined in that suit claiming that the Akwu trio owned the land collectively. The court, however, ruled that “Be Ụgwa” was a conquered territory by the Akwu trio – that is Elugwu Akwu, Amaetiti and Ahani. Notably, the spot in dispute that is the location of Leprosy Settlement belonged to Ahani as the land had been shared long ago. The judgement clearly delineated the boundaries between the Akwu trio, and between them and Ugwuoba. Most of Oji Urban spaces hence belongs to Ahani whereas Ugwu Ngbenu and Ugwu Ajagu down to Ozom belong to Amaetiti and Elugwu Akwu.

To Be Continued

Ozo Ginger Ibeneme II is practicing medical doctor with close to a decade of experience , a social justice advocate and Igbo culture and traditions enthusiast.He holds the titles Ozo Elengum Orio , Ikirikpom Inyikiriputu Na Achi and Omenikoro Akwunubi He is the Crown Prince and Spokesperson of The Rock Palace Akwunubi and serves as the Secretary General, Prestigious Nze Na Ozo Society of Achi Clan.

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