Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The cradle of the Igbo nation has been traced to various historical myths at different points in time. The ancestral home of the Igbo nation had been traced to Arochukwu in Abia state, Nri in Anaocha local government area of Anambra state, Umueri in Anambra-East council area, Igboukwu in Aguata local government area of Anambra state and a host of other records and claims.
These varying records and claims all have inherent authoritative grounds on evolution of the Igbo race. But in spite of the veracity of the various chronicles on the emergence of Ndi-Igbo, Aguleri community in Anambra-East local government area of Anambra state has stood in the forefront of all the many stories concerning the advent of the Igbo nation. To state without equivocations, the history of Ndigbo could be traced to Aguleri where Eri settled for many long years having migrated from Isreal and found himself at the bank of the Omambala river.
Although some historical tales portray Aguleri as being migrants from Ibaji and Igala speaking communities of Kogi state, Chief Hipo Chibuzor Onwuegbuke, a cabinet Chief of the Royal Dynasty of Aguleri and Chief Servant of Aguleri community said such were concocted stories because Aguleri, according to him, is the custodian and bearer of the traditional “ofor” Ndigbo. To this end, Onwuegbuke gave concrete postulations why Aguleri is the forebear, progenitor and custodian of Igbo culture and traditions.
Onwuegbuke said, “Aguleri is the first son of Eri and the cradle of Igbo civilisation. We had Eri festival where all manner of people from all walks of life came to Aguleri because the “ofor” of Igbo land is in Aguleri. As a matter of fact, because of our nature, Nri before they coronate their Eze, must trek to Aguleri and stay four days. In those four days, he would move from Ifite to Igboezunu, Ugwunadagbe and to Agbanabo mystic river where they would get the Udu Eze, the staff of office. Before he would be asked to sit on the ancient throne of his forefathers, they would give him Ofor which is the staff of office. Now, Nri says anyi ji ofor but somebody gave you the ofor. I wouldn’t want to go into that history now because it was an instruction given by Eri that Nri should not be humiliated by anyone because of his supernatural powers of healing and cleansing lands of atrocities. That was how he eventually settled at Agukwu now known as Agukwu-Nri in Anaocha local government area of Anambra state. So before they crown their Eze, they must come to Aguleri to obtain the ofor they would use for the kingship ceremony. Without the ofor, any attempt on the contrary, spells doom!
“Then for Umuleri, the history is very obvious. They are called Umuigwuedo. Their mother was the only daughter our father Eri had. Our great father Eri was so fond of the only daughter. They called her Iguedo and the children are called Umuiguedo. Their fraternity is through the mother because of the affinity between her and the father Eri. Thereafter Iguedo married Okebo but had a male child in her father’s house which later became Ulu Eri. That is the father’s profit and the child grew up amongst the people of Aguleri. When it was time for him to get married, they found a wife for him and thereafter his offspring became Umu Ulu Eri. From Umu Ulu Eri, they changed it to Umuleri and about four years after, they changed from Umuleri and became Umueri. It was our father Eri that called them Umu Ulu Eri. But in all these transitions, Aguleri retains the number one position as the father of all Igbo nations because he inherited his father’s Obi. That is why Aguleri has the Obu Gad and all other historical relics such as the Ajana-Ukwu, Okpalaime, Ugwuogodo, Agbanabo-Ezu na Omambala rivers and so on. There is an organization called King Solomon that came to trace their origin from Africa; they went to Nri they didn’t find the historical relics that connected them but when they eventually came to Aguleri, we took them to Aguve, Eri site, Ajana-Ukwu Aguleri, Ugwuogodo where the Benin migrated from and a host of other places and they confessed that they have found their roots in Aguleri. So the records should be set right. Aguleri is the cradle of Igbo origin and civilisation. All other Igbo societies are descendants of Aguleri, the first son of great grandfather Eri, the progenitor of Igbo custom and traditions.”
Onwuegbuke, the Chief Servant of Aguleri community also disclosed that the town union has embarked on a N200 million Naira Eri Civic Center project. He said the project when completed, would serve as a world tourist centre where people would visit from all over the globe to appreciate the vantage position Aguleri occupied as the root and cradle of Igbo origin and civilisation.