There is this controversy about the Ikwerre history, just as the Benin had had for decades. We know too well that virtually every facet of the Ikwerre life defiles every easy trace to any other place of origin other than the Igbo.
Though they have right to choose whom the are and where they want to belong. And Igbo history is not in anyway asking people to belong to igbo nation. But that will not stop Igbo history from discussing Igbo history and their related neighbours. Everyone have right to denounce any association he belong before, but can't ask people to stop narrating how everything started. As it stand now in Nigeria, we are most populated tribe in Nigeria, so we don't need people that don't need us,we only love ❤️ those that love us.
This basically brought us to discuss identity crisis among our brothers, this identity crisis of the Ikwerres. There are many things Igbo History observ, which we are going to discuss here.For instance, linguistic similitude has remained the most obvious pointer to the relationship between people belonging to the same ancestry. According to Ruhlen Merritt in his book, The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother-Tongue.1994, “The most credible proof of the history of any people is through the fact of them belonging to a particular mega language family; for no people completely lose every aspect of their sourced language". Ruhlen further maintained that language does not fade too easily.
Language apart, I don’t think one can clearly differentiate between the Ikwerres and the Igbo cultural apparatus. We have, nevertheless, exceptions on those attires that strictly define a Niger Deltan as found in their distinct cultural wears that drew similitude to those of the Arochukwus. Ikwerre, from the word go, bear Igbo names, wear Igbo traditional caps; showcase certain artistic renditions that draw attentions to the Igbo exactness. These depictions must not have come by accident. Of course, if not a dense proof of ancestry, such as defended by the Ruhlen’s mother tongue analysis, then it will follow P.O. Okwoli’s view that, “For a distinct cultural marker belonging to a common core to be found on another sect, closer or far away from the ‘core’, it must be a clear proof of ancestry. Where this is not applicable, then there had been a lasting contact between such a people and the common core in the past.” This situation defines why Ida has several aspects of Igbo lexicon in their cultural terms and language in particular. Such vast influence, apart from their closeness to the Onitcha Igbo extraction, was wedded into their whims through the earliest involvement of the Nsukka Achadu in the civilization of the Ida. Nsukka shaped the Igala Mela and played a serious role in the formation of kingship in the Ida kingdom; they were the kingmakers of the ancient Ida nation.
Now, it becomes enigmatic, for one to speak Igbo tongue, yet he is not Igbo; observe several Igbo observances, yet he is not Igbo, bear Igbo names but he is not Igbo etc is not only confusing but frustrating. For instance, the famous writer, Elechi Amadi, had given variant of this Igbo problematic tale in 1985. Speaking to Chidi Osuagwu, a co member of an interview panel at the then Rivers State College of Education, Port-Harcourt, Amadi said, “I had no problem with Igbo identity, but have problem with the Aro-Ikwerre relationship. During the Nigeria-Biafra War, the Aros plotted to kill me”. Now, it seems the Ikwerre suffer from a significantly misdirected anger. They are, in this case; holding their Isuama-Igbo (Ikwerre, traditionally, distinguished between ‘Ikwerre and Isuama’; not ‘Ikwerre and Igbo’) kinsmen, who are ethically more related to them than to the Aro, accountable for Aro domination.
The Early British, before oil became a factor of ethnic classification in the Lower Niger, had a cultural sub-group of the Igbo they called Orratta-Ikwerre (that is Owerri-Ikwerre, in current usage), who, both call the heartland Igbo as Isuama. Ekwensu wu amaghi ihe! The Devil is Ignorance! The solution to our identity crises, then, is ‘Know self, know other!’ Now to consider the Aro a purely Igbo people; and hold Igbo responsible for Aro mischief is the height of identity confusion. One day, the Cross-river Ejegham, who own the Ibini-Ukpabi soul of the Aro system, the Efik who control the social organizational Ekpe; the Ogoja Akpa that supplied the fighters and the Ibibio on whose land Arochukwu was founded will turn around and blame the Igbo, from among whom a few medicine men were coopted, for inventing Ibini-Ukpabi and Aro slavery. That would be a most uncharitable treatment of truth, but the world is a clever place.
To be continued tomorrow
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