Saturday 1 June 2024


The Ikwerre (natively known as Iwhuruọha are one of the Igbo Subgroups in Rivers State. Traditional history has classified Ikwerre into seven groups called "Ikwerre Essa". They are Elele, Isiokpo,  Rumuji,  Emohua, Choba,  Aluu  Igwuruta and Obio group.  This division was recognized by Forde and Jones; (1950) in their ethnographic study of the Igbo speaking peoples of South Eastern Nigeria.

Some Ikwerre people migrated from Ika a subgroup of Igbos in Delta State and Edo state while some migrated from Ngwa, Arochukwu and Ohaji/Egbema.

The Aro first came into the Ikwerre area through Ozuzu-Etche, settling at Isiokpo, Igwuruta, Omagwa, etc. As expected of pre-literate African societies, the history of the people is wrapped in myth and mystery. This presupposes that historians may have to resort to oral tradition for the justifiable/credible reconstruction of the people's history. From the post-colonial dispensation to the present, professional historians and other personals have attempted to reconstruct the history of the people. For instance, the works of Elechi Amadi, especially The Concubine, The Great Ponds, The Slave (novels) and Isiburu (a verse play) are a literary attempt at reconstructing a semblance of the Ikwerre society in the pre-colonial era.

When Port Harcourt was conquered by Nigeria during the Biafran War and the Igbo people from other parts of Igboland fled the territory, a UN report says that the Ikwerre decided to claim that the Ikwerre were non-Igbo for convenience. The Ikwerre are recognized officially as a separate group in the 1979 Nigerian Constitution.

It was about that time that names of places and those of some individuals began to change to reflect a new era in the Ikwerre history. Examples are:

Umu changed to Rumu,

Mu na chi changed to Manuchi,

Nwike changed to Wike,

ObiAkpo changed to ObiakpO,

Chidimma changed to Chiburuoma,

Nwa changed to Nwo.

Ezenwa changed to  Ezenwo.

Nwakpa/Nwekpa changed to Wekpa etc.

Meanwhile, from Elechi Amadi, in his earlier narrative related that before these repudiatons a community called Chiolu had a king known as "Eze Diala" and another community had a king called "Eze Okehi". All these names were Igbo, not any other nation.

"The Ikwerre of the present Rivers State were made to underline this point after the collapse of Biafra by the simple process of prefixing a capital "R” to the names of their towns. In this way. Ụmụkurushi became Rumukurushi, Ụmụigbo became Rumuigbo and so on in the hope, rather than the belief, that this would make other Nigerians forget they are or ever were Igbo.

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