About ACA

ABOUT AWARRA COURT AREA

Awarra Court Area is made up of four communities namely; Awarra/Ikwerede, Assa, Obile and Ochia. The first community to come to existence is Awarra in the 15th century. Followed by Assa, Obile and Ochia was the last to be carved out from Awarra. They have the same culture, language and tradition.

Location and Boundaries

Awarra Court Area is located at the southern part of Ohaji in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government of Imo State, South-East, Nigeria.

-Landmass and Population

It has an area covering   540461 latitude, 681848 longititude and it has 464117 as its zip code and has a population of  about 100,000 people

Nearby cities and towns

WEST                                      NORTH                               EAST                                             SOUTH

Omoku     (7.0nm)            Mbede    (7.3nm)             Opete            (4.5nm)            Ubumiri   (5.4)

Obido       (7.6nm)            Okwuzu (8.2nm)             Umuokanni   (8.0nm)            Ikiri         (6.4nm)

Ogbogwu (9.2nm)            Ebocha   (8.6nm)             Ilile               (8.0nm)            Obieba     (7.2nm)

Kriegari    (9.4nm)            Obigbo  (9.9nm)             Ohoba           (8.0nm)

Umuakpu      (9.2nm)

Umuagwo     (10.2nm)

Mgbirichi      (11.0nm)

The largest communities in Ohaji/Egbema local government, and endowed with agriculture and oil and gas, as well as oil-palm plantations, and rubber plantations.

 

AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES IN AWARRA COURT AREA

1.     AWARRA-IKWEREDE AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY

Awarra is the ‘mother’ community, as the other three autonomous communities emanated from ‘her’. The first traditional ruler was Eze Ogbuji Ezeugo, whose palace is located in Oboji. While Eze Oshimiri was the second traditional ruler, he ruled over awarra-ikwerede and ochia communities. The people of Awarra-Ikwerede migrated from Ahoada east in Rivers State, they still maintain strong ties, culturally and economically till date. There are sub-communities like, ikwerede, Ibru and umuonei. IKWEREDE- umuzagu,umuhuo,obegwe,obenchi,umuobi.

ASSA

Assa is the first community granted autonomy from awarra court area, and her first king was Eze Asso. The people of Assa are believed to be imo speaking part of Awarra court area, migrating from Oguta in present day oguta lga of Imo state. They are strong and resourceful, peace loving and accommodating. Villages are—Awoma, Idegele, Umuobi, Umugama and Obosa.

OBILE

Obile got autonomy from Assa. Originally it was Assa-Obile community. Obile is the third community in Awarra Court Area. Its first king is eze Abysmial Ogbuji, aka, Nwokpuali. He is an intellectual who has a book to his royal name. Villages—- umuosu, umuikwo and umuoboke.

OCHIA

Ochia is the fourth community to be granted autonomy from Awarra. They are agile, strong, resourceful, loving and accommodating. Villages are—Umuokuzu, Ububo, Umuodibe, Ugama and Umuogwa.

CULTURE AND TRADITION

Traditional festivals and ceremonies were the major geriatrics of our ancestors, until medical hospitals and pharmaceutical clinics were introduced by the missionaries during the early days of the 19th century AD.

Our communities- Awarra, Assa, Obile, ochia were under the ‘owu’ zone (obido ila gbaa owu) of Ohaji. Wrestling matches were organized in the months of June and July (owaa arura), and observed holidays on festival days, and ‘orie uku’ and market days (ubochi Eke uku). In our ancient communities, fighting with guns was highly prohibited as murder (isaa aka) was the most unforgiving offence. Robbery, stealing, fornication and adultery were also major offences. The ancient traditional law enforcement agents were, ‘gbade okoroshi’ (masquerade people), ‘gbade ukwuu’ (age grades), ‘gbaa orukpe ahia’ (market women), ‘gbade ilaa gbachi ihii’ (Agbachi bearers). Our forefathers who founded our cultures and traditions during a particular period by a particular occurrence lived in thatched roof houses with muddy walls. These type of houses were naturally cold, well ventilated and surrendered by ‘gbaa ite miri’ (clay water pots). They also founded the eight days a week and ten new moons a year systems still in place till date. The weeks are- Awhuo uku, Awhuo ta, Orie uku, Orie ta, Ikwoawhuo uku, Ikwoawhuo ta, Eke uku and Eke ta. While the months are- onwa nbu, onwa ibuo, onwa ito, onwa ino, onwa ise, onwa isii, onwa isa, onwa isato, onwa itolu, onwa iri.

Our cultural systems are, igbaa, arura, iwhuo hii, ike okasi arura, ihuru, irueze, ichii eze, oru baa, ikowaisi, iri aji (mostly for women), etc. ikowaisi is the most respected and popular cultural institution, which every adult male must belong. 1.The rituals of ikowaisi is very elaborate and expensive, of which utara ji, imiriri okasi and oguru eji are the major delicacies on this occasion. Anyone who has not performed it(ikowaisi) cannot be conferred with  any chieftancy tittle. It is worthy of note that our communities do not and has never practiced the ‘Osu’ cast system- osu daa n’ibekai. 2. Ikpahii is a time of circumcising a new born male child, and present him to the elders and members of his family of birth by his parents with ‘oji’ (kola). This presentation is made in the family ‘ibari’. It is the most compulsory non- superstitious birth right accorded every male child in our communities. 3. Okoroshi people are the most sacred law enforcement agents in our ancient tradition. They act as the tradition policemen. They also collect fines from defaulters and does the ‘iwa hi n’anya’ on a dead elderly or tittled person at the early hours of his dealth. 4. Oru baa is a traditional honey moon for newly married couple. It usually starts on Awhuo uku and the first meal is on the following morning of Ikwuo called, ‘orihii ututu ikwuo’. At this occasion, special dishes- mostly utara ji (pounded yam) are served to special guests mostly from the groom’s side. 5. Okasi arura it’s a first week of July special dish, prepared to cerebrate the foundation of the people. The ceremony starts from Obile- the first settlers in Ohaji on awhuo uku  when the chief priest of Umusiji- Umuoboke commune with the traditional families. After the traditional Obile salute called, ‘ahokara afo’, kola nut and yam (oji n’ji) is blessed and then passed to Umuobi- Ikwerede, then to other parts of Awarra, and lastly to Umuokorohe- Umugama in Assa.

6. igba njaka is a traditional ceremony observed by the people of Obo- Awarra and Idegele- Assa as a remembrance of their ancestral home of Okugba- Rivers state. 7. Aji or itaa aji  was celebrated by girls of puberty age and young ladies of marriage age once a year for one month. It was observed in three stages- orie di, orienne and orie ogbafu. On the last day of every aji, which was usually orie, the celebrants (girls and ladies) gather at the village square called, ‘’Ama aji’’ for musical dance concert. 8. Ekwe ceremony commences when farmers are to place their yams at the barns, ‘iwhuoi ji n’ime ogwua’. It has been a first class festival in Umuokuzu-Awarra and Obosa- Assa. 9. The name of our local government, ‘Ohaji’ was suggested by late Chief Nwulu, the father of late Chief J.D Nwulu of Umugbala-Umuonei supported by Chief Ezekwe Iheka of Umuokuzu and Chief Christopher Oruaku of Assa.

Awarra- a typical rural community in Imo state. Awarra is a mother community that gave birth to Assah, Obile and Ochia communities. She also houses Igburu and ikwerede communities. These Awarra communities speak same dialect called ‘Awarra’ and culture different from other parts of Imo state Awarra is a peasant farming community rich in oil and gas. Oil was first drilled in 1960 in the village of Umuobi and multiple drills in other parts of Awarra communities and villages by Shell Petroleum Company. While Agip Petroleum passed oil pipe-lines through the community farmlands to Port Harcourt refinery. The newest entrant into the community is Waltersmith Petroman. As we speak, Shell Petroleum is planning on building a $3.8billion gas plant in(Assa) one of the communities of Awarra court area. Despite the above impressive profile, the community is unbelievably lacking basic infrastructure- electricity, hospital, road, source of drinkable water! In 2008, a bloody crisis broke out, involving these army of youths, graduates and non- graduates without any means of lively-hood. This crisis led to the loss of human lives and properties!

In the last centuries, the Awarra people of Ohaji/Egbema local government of Imo state with ancestral lineage in some parts of Rivers state, have undergone rapid changes. Slavery, colonization, urbanization and outward migration to other parts, have dramatically transformed the lives of a traditionally agricultural and village based people.

In the villages of Awarra, communally owned land brought order and coherence to our community. The old men, ‘gbade okhei’ who held communal land in trust on behalf of the community also governed, deciding the laws and providing leadership, and models of excellence, ‘ime hii n’oka’. In the traditionally agricultural ancient Awarra kingdom, where the head crop was yam, ‘iji’, those who harvest the most were given the tittle ‘eze ji’– yam king, after the traditional ceremony of ‘ikowa ishi’. These were people who had turned the potential blessing of ‘ali’ the land deity, into a real product. Hard work was revered, hard working male and female were respected with names like ‘oje orun, agu, ikeaa. While laziness was frowned at, lazy people were disrespected with name like ‘nye uweogu, nye uplobii’. The guiding spirit of Awarra ancient tradition, relishes competition, inspires the wish to come up with improved solutions to existing problems, that’s why our forefathers improvised ‘oluu’ to cater the water need of the people. Mediocrity was also far from our ancient culture. That same tenacious, hard working spirit imbedded in our culture is a driving force to most Awarrians who have risen from poor background to ‘higher-ground’. Awarra kingdom for years has contributed immencely to the food, and oil and gas need of Imo state and Nigeria in general.  Sadly enough, and unacceptable to any right thinking and justice loving person, is the callous non-appreciation of our economic contributions to the state and country. A catholic Rev. father who once visited Awarra to oversee the construction of the St Joseph’s international nursery and primary school said , ‘’as a missionary priest, I was posted to Awarra on the 14th of February 2011. On my arrival, I was shocked to discover that Awarra is one of the oil producing communities of Niger Delter in Nigeria. There are three functioning oil wells here in Awarra. The money from this Oil-Well is used to develop Abuja, Lagos and other major cities in Nigeria. As of today, there is no electricity in Awarra community, no telephone network (including mobile telephone anterna). I am including a photocopy of an article in the News Letter of the Fountain Magazine written by Chimaraoke Offurum in December 1999 with the tittle; NEGLIGENCE THAT INVITES VIOLENCE- the Awarra Oil producing experience (Page 7 & 13)’’. Unfortunately, the above caption (negligence that invites violence) of an article written and published in 1999, has proven to be true. Since 2008, the community has been in crisis occasioned by economic exploitation and neglect by the various levels of successive governments in Nigeria.  No electricity to spur investment since farmlands are being destroyed by oil & gas exploratory activities, no hospital to carter for the health needs (even in the case of gas induced ailments) of the people, peasant farmers could not send their children to school due to high cost of education, no road, etc.

We cannot however, hold brief to those leaders who are aiding and abetting the government and oil multinationals who are impoverishing the people and the land- a huge betrayer.

COMMUNAL LAND AND LEADERSHIP

Although each male was his own political leader, the several villages that make up Awarra kingdom/Awarra court area were also collective social and political entities. The method of summing decisions into collective actions ‘omume gba obido’ was through the legitimate principle at the heart of these communing villages.

The villages were normally constituted by related male siblings into families. These families would then establish control over a communally owned land, highly important in our agriculturally based community. Eldest males ‘nye okhei imehi’ maintained and had sovereignty over their own households, but would share collective sovereignty of communally owned land. This communal arrangement promoted and sustained peace and order in the wider village. It also promoted love and respect among the people where culture demand a younger male to always use the most respected word of greeting for older male and males (in this case age is not an issue) from his mother’s side, ‘maadi oo’, the older respond ‘mmaa’ followed by ego burst words, while the younger also repond ‘iyee’ after each word. In as much as married male head his household, the ‘owhuo’ holder heads the extended family, they abide and are guided by the communal orally handed down common law and rules ‘omenali’ that governs the villages.

In recent times, the old men and ‘owhuo’ holders or ‘gbade ju ali’ whose power and authority was dependent on trusteeship over common lands, and the authority this gave them to make law ‘ikpoi iwu’, appear powerless in the face of western political system. This has created leadership vacuum- not that there are no political leaders, but the people hardly trust them with their communal wealth, unlike the traditional leadership the people trusted with even their lives and were never disappointed.  With the exit of traditional leadership, and the advent of political leadership, what is apparent is a kind of creeping chaos and anarchy which since 2008 produced an unprecedented breakdown in law and order ‘ogbaa yara’ in the community. This incidence triggered violence and anguish that had not been seen in the community in living memory. Meanwhile, the various leaders in the community and at the village levels are not talking to each other about common threats facing the community. They are also not  honestly discussing the different opportunities and disadvantages that confront the community. Rather everybody want to occupy political or traditional-politicised positions. Now the community is being fragmented into chaos and crisis- whether from youth unemployment/unengagement and   restiveness, economic exploitation, communal disloyalty, outright  perversion of communal law and order ‘omenelu’. Perhaps it is time for all well-meaning indigenes to intervene, and pull our community from the brink.

SOME CONCEPTS IN AWARRA COURT AREA AND THEIR MEANING

1.The rituals of ikowaisi is very elaborate and expensive, of which utara ji, imiriri okasi and oguru eji are the major delicacies on this occasion. Anyone who has not performed it(ikowaisi) cannot be conferred with  any chieftancy tittle. It is worthy of note that our communities do not and has never practiced the ‘Osu’ cast system- osu daa n’ibekai.

2. Ikpahii is a time of circumcising a new born male child, and present him to the elders and members of his family of birth by his parents with ‘oji’ (kola). This presentation is made in the family ‘ibari’. It is the most compulsory non- superstitious birth right accorded every male child in our communities.

3. Okoroshi people are the most sacred law enforcement agents in our ancient tradition. They act as the tradition policemen. They also collect fines from defaulters and does the ‘iwa hi n’anya’ on a dead elderly or tittled person at the early hours of his dealth.

4. Oru baa is a traditional honey moon for newly married couple. It usually starts on Awhuo uku and the first meal is on the following morning of Ikwuo called, ‘orihii ututu ikwuo’. At this occasion, special dishes- mostly utara ji (pounded yam) are served to special guests mostly from the groom’s side.

5. Okasi arura it’s a first week of July special dish, prepared to cerebrate the foundation of the people. The ceremony starts from Obile- the first settlers in Ohaji on awhuo uku  when the chief priest of Umusiji- Umuoboke commune with the traditional families. After the traditional Obile salute called, ‘ahokara afo’, kola nut and yam (oji n’ji) is blessed and then passed to Umuobi- Ikwerede, then to other parts of Awarra, and lastly to Umuokorohe- Umugama in Assa.

6. igba njaka is a traditional ceremony observed by the people of Obo- Awarra and Idegele- Assa as a remembrance of their ancestral home of Okugba- Rivers state.

7. Aji or itaa aji is was celebrated by girls of puberty age and young ladies of marriage age once a year for one month. It was observed in three stages- orie di, orienne and orie ogbafu. On the last day of every aji, which was usually orie, the celebrants (girls and ladies) gather at the village square called, ‘’Ama aji’’ for musical dance concert.

8. Ekwe ceremony commences when farmers are to place their yams at the barns, ‘iwhuoi ji n’ime ogwua’. It has been a first class festival in Umuokuzu-Awarra and Obosa- Assa.

9. The name of our local government, ‘Ohaji’ was suggested by late Chief Nwaulu, the father of late Chief G.D Nwaulu of Umugbala-Umuonei supported by Chief Ezekwe Iheka of Umuokuzu and Chief Christopher Oruaku of Assa.

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Comments
  1. obinna augustine ajukwara says:

    What a nice piece of information! This information has really helped me in knowing my root better….thanks be to God almighty that i am from awarra..ochia autonomous.

  2. chima silas says:

    it is yet time for the government of imo state to start doing something in awarra, ikwerede, obenchi etc in terms of electricity, good road, primary and secondary school and healthcare centre because a day will come when the youth in the community will no longer hold it again and their will be crisis and more of blood shared, shortdown of companies even titled men in the community will not have peace because the fault will be put on them without being told. How can a community that is reachly bless with crude oil and gas will be suffering not even electricity at all.

  3. chima silas ezekwem says:

    this goes to the governor of imo state okorocha , i personally thank u for your good work in imo state but remember that the people of ohaji-egbema especially the awarra/ikwerede, obenchi, assa and other neighbouring community put there total commitment and time in making sure you rule them believing you will bring them out from darkness to light despite the crude oil and gas which God bless with. DO SOMETHING POSSITIVE INDIGENES ARE NOT HAPPY THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING.

  4. chima silas ezekwem says:

    this goes to the governor of imo state okorocha , i personally thank u for your good work in imo state but remember that the people of ohaji-egbema especially the awarra/ikwerede, obenchi, assa and other neighbouring community put there total commitment and time in making sure you rule them believing you will bring them out from darkness to light despite the crude oil and gas which God bless them with. DO SOMETHING POSSITIVE INDIGENES ARE NOT HAPPY THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING. Non of the social amenities are functioning well.

  5. I’m more than impressed and shot of complement comment whit this write ups, kudos to the author, may God bless you, more grease to your elbow. I’m very much proud of Assa my village and Umuokwuzu Ochia Awara my maternal home. our flag is flying everywhere, we even have ohaji community here in abroad.

  6. I’m more than impressed and shot of complement and comment whit this write ups, kudos to the author, may God bless you, more grease to your elbow. I’m very much proud of Assa my village and Umuokwuzu Ochia Awara my maternal home. our flag is flying everywhere, we even have ohaji community here in abroad.

  7. Thank you for appreciating our effort in what we are doing in this website. we will continue to improve on it. Our goal is to have a better community. We all have to join hands together to achieve this. We have all it takes to achieve this both human and material resources.

  8. Okanite says:

    Hi do not delete my comments again ok, am a bonafide son of Ohaji ok, though i resides abroad that does not mean my voice will never be heard ok!!!!!, i’m a native Umuokanne ok.

  9. Okanite says:

    A native of Umuokanne, Ohaji.

  10. It is very clear that awara court area is highly blessed. But we need Gods interventiono to enable us join others

  11. I`m proud of umuogwa in ochia autonomous community in ohaji,I plead d goverment of imo state to intervene 4 ochia,and also bring electricity,gud road and gutter dat we channel water in ochia.i`m chidi from umuogwa

  12. Ike says:

    you have messed the whole write up, by saying that Assa Ezeship stool is hereditary, forgotten that u were the person that told us that Assa was carved out from Awarra.
    If we should be talking about hereditary, we should be talking about Awarra having realised that Eze Ogbuji Ezugo was the first king in the area.
    u fail to tell people that late Eze Dikeocha Osimiri contested the Ezeship stool of Awarra community with late Eze Utiti Alexander Asor which Osimiri won at late 70’s. which incited Assa people to look for their own autonomy at early 80’s.
    you also forgot to no that when Assa/Obile got their autonomy, that the Ezeship stool was also contested again between the same late Eze Alexander Utiti Asor and one Chief Ben Akiko from Obile. which was won by late Eze A U Asor.
    U fail to remember again that Chief Precious Utiti Akayaya contested the Assa Ezeship stool with Prince Emmanuel Asor at late 2013 which the election was declared inconclusive which they later went through shortcut by telling them to pick yes or no at Ahiajoku centre Owerri. even when prince Emmanuel Asor was absent and his younger brother prince Obinna Asor picked yes for him that warrants Chief Precious Utiti Akayaya to proceed to Oguta federal high court to stop his recognition. and till today 20th march 2015 prince Emmanuel Asor was still unrecognized as the Traditional Ruler of Assa Autonomous Community. My brother how come the stool became hereditary.
    please don’t use sentiments and rubbish your good work.
    I therefore advice u to go and correct the write up if it was done in error to avoid putting a curse in your head and your generation.
    Thank you and God bless you.

    • Dear Ike, we appreciate your comments and your knowledge of the history of Assa. However you went very far to the extent of cursing people who spent their little resources to contribute to the growth of the community they came from. Our aim at this website is to document the history of Awarra court area and the information we have here is through asking questions to people around us.

      if you find out that the information here is not correct my brother the best thing for you to do is to call our attention to it and give us the correct history as this is still work in progress and it will be updated but for you but to say “to avoid putting a curse in your head and your generation” is totally unacceptable to us.

      We are doing this out of passion and do not feed from this. we rather spend our little resources here for the future generation to have the correct history.

      You also mentioned that we should not use sentiments and rubbish our good work. We dont know where sentiment came in here.

      You need to change your aggressive and fighting mentality and embrace dialogue in all you do. That is the way forward. Nobody is interested whether your ezeship is hereditary or rotational which is not necessary in our write-up.

  13. Faith says:

    Am proud of my community awarra umuodibe,but we need good leaders who can fight for us especially in the oil and gas process awarra by right is surpose to be a small london in nigeria today but look at us very poor no good future for the young we working very hard for other states but common good road we don’t have like seriously is worth crying for am not happy with the way the governments and our leaders are treating us we need road,electricity good schools and others

  14. ernest says:

    My kudos to the governor of imo state and the people of.

  15. Boniface Maraoke says:

    I am so glad to have bumped into this site. Gladder to read about the efforts of the editor to dig into our roots in research to pick up certain cultural practices that are near extinct. Thanks Editor. But you referred to an article said to was published in The Fountain newsletter, 1999, NEGLIGENCE THAT INVITES VIOLENCE, THE AWARRA COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE; which I searched for but could not find. Could that update be had?

  16. Comr Eze Mentorc says:

    joy will move awarra further, so awarra keep working

  17. offurum prince says:

    God bless Awarra court Area. We are not where we’re supposed to be, we are definitely not where we used to be. I’m proud of my root.

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