An Investigation of Chieftaincy and Kingship Tussle in Igboland: A Case Study of Ogidi Community Anambra State, Nigeria (1904 -2010)
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The origin of the Igbo people is still a point of contention among experts, particularly ethnologists and historians of Igbo history. The reason for this is that the most important stages of Igbo history and culture have yet to be examined. Those who have made significant anthropological and archaeological discoveries that can be used to deduce Igbo origins and history have yet to be effectively collected, collated, evaluated, and interpreted.
Some historians claim that the Igbo had no kings-Igbo enwe eze, which implies that kingship was alien to Igbo culture, introduced and nurtured by outsiders in pre-colonial settings. As the origin of the Igbo remains a vexed question among historians, the place of chieftaincy and kingship institutions in Igbo leadership remains an enigmatic aspect of Igbo culture among scholars. While others argue that kingship was and continues to be a part of Igbo culture, Ezedigbo or Ezeadigo is shaped by Igbo values and beliefs. They believe that in the pre-colonial period, Igbo communities had kings or kingship at various levels of development, based on stories of Igbo origins, migrations, and settlements.
They claim that each community selects and chooses its own Eze, who is usually a trustworthy and affluent heir. The kingships in the East Central states of Anambra, Imo, Abia, and Enugu are relatively stable. Kingship arose in response to social and economic pressures in the Igbo’s many homelands. As the community grew, the demand for leaders whose authority extended beyond their families or lineages arose. The introduction of British rule altered the system; legitimacy of kingship was now the responsibility of the regional administration led by the Europeans, rather than the separate communities. Each and every choice, appointment, or the regional government has to ratify their election to membership, as well as decide their compensation. As a result, the ancient ethical norms that guided rulers’ actions were increasingly abandoned. The colonialists enthroned the aristocratic style of administration in Igbo culture, which distorted the Igbo unit.
The phenomenon of the king or monarch, generally known as “Igwe” in Ogidi, dates back to the early nineteenth century. The four sectors that make up Ogidi, namely Akanano, Uru, Ezinkwo, and Ikenga, had Warrant Chiefs prior to the formation of the Kingship in 1904. Ezeobodo was the name given to these Warrant Chiefs (W.C). With the support of other titled-men, the Ezeobodo (Warrant Chiefs) acted as the village father and presided over community gatherings and occasions. Their responsibilities include everything from managing sub-village issues to resolving disagreements between their subordinates. Based on the Anambra State Traditional Ruler Edicts of 1976, 1991, and 1994, put into law by John Atom kpera (Governor of the old Anambra State with the capital at Enugu), Joseph Abulu, and Mike Attah, previous Governors of Anambra State, the Ogidi Community chose the appellation “Igwe.”
The Warrant Chiefs took charge of their villages’ responsibilities and formed self-government. The community was divided, and each of them held authority over their own sectors of business. In Igbo culture, this is where the notion of “divide and rule” first appeared. The British colonialists, who developed direct administration in Igbo culture by establishing native courts, obtained their money from indirect taxation. The Igbo communities were partitioned and put together under the nineteenth-century “Divide and Administer” system, with a British District Officer assigned to rule them. Before the kingdom, Ogidi, like all Igbo, had an egalitarian mindset. There was nothing quite like being proclaimed overall leader. The entire village gathers in the village square to talk and reflect on various issues that affect them. The gathering was led by one individual. He was not to have any sort of prerogative power, and he was not to be considered superior to the other members of the conference. Each village recognizes and appoints its own Warrant Chief (Ezeobodo), who is usually a nationalist who was democratically elected. The arrangement was changed when the colonial administration enthroned the rule of the Kings; the center could no longer hold, and things fell apart. Apart from having Warrant Chiefs as their leaders, the Ogidi society also had mmo (masquerades), alusi (deities), age grade (Otu-ogbo), and titled elders as rulership systems (Ndi-ichie). Both Ibemesi (1995) and Obi (1996) agreed that the Ezeobodo supervised them, and that this persisted until the British Colonial Administration established the Kingship Throne in the village around a century ago. They claim that each community selects and chooses its own Eze, who is usually a trustworthy and affluent heir. The colonials corrupted this by enthroning the aristocratic system of authority in Igbo culture.
There was a 19-year gap in the Igweship system after the death of Igwe Walter Amobi 1 in 1925. (1925-1944). Because the Ogidi people refused to repeat the unpleasant experiences they experienced with the first Traditional Ruler, Igwe Walter Amobi, the interregnum continued.
The community endured numerous awful and excruciating events under the reign of Igwe Amobi 1 in 1904, due to his high-handedness. Members of the community were forced to carry heavy loads, work, and labor in Igwe’s compound and fields without remuneration once a lunar week (Izu). He married many women, largely from those who came to sweep the palace, and kidnapped other men’s wives forcibly, while other men donated their wives to Igwe in order to gain his recognition, societal appointment, and job in order to ease the community’s poverty and starvation. At the time, four men would carry him on a Hammoc whenever he went to the court in Ogidi, which was only a stone’s throw from his house, in He had a hand-drawn cart that he used to get around to other courts. Later on, he purchased automobiles in order to be able to get to the more distant courts on time. He was, without a doubt, a powerful and influential ruler.
The ruling of the Igwe was final. He was to be given the fattest yams in one’s barn, the most critical portions of an animal killed, enormous land expenses gathered, taxes collected, and he was to be the only one living in a well-built and expensive house. He had enough power in Ogidi and many other nearby towns, which he had united, and he was dominating them and laying financial burdens on them. Anyone who disobeyed the Igwe’s directives received a painful punishment, one of which was self-exile. In fact, the whole thing was dehumanizing.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Looking along the line of historical events in Ogidi, it is clear that monarchical control has not been passed to any other family since it began in 1903 with the Amobi family. Without any interregnum years, four members of the Amobi family have inhabited the Igweship stool of the town. The colonial government’s intention to keep traditional administrative institutions in place irritated emerging Ogidi nationalists. With a few exceptions, the majority of native authorities were made up of uneducated, conservative, and dictatorial leaders who were either unwilling or unable to change with the changes.
As a result, individuals require a taste of another person’s abilities in democratic community governance. During revenue allocation, educational opportunities, political representation, public service employment, political appointment, and chieftaincy coronation, only the incumbent rulers’ family members, friends, followers, and relatives are sometimes favored. In most situations, younger, educated members of the various tribes were denied membership by the native authorities. Others are pushed to the margins and manipulated unfairly.
The king exercises total power over the people of society because he has the mandate to rule. The office of Igwe is democratic, but because it has been granted power, it is clear that it is being exploited, particularly in settling disputes, neglecting marginalized people, and selecting successors and appointing individuals to be given titles. Other glaring injustices, such as levying the public, robbing the community treasury, and the king living on the people’s dime, have become apparent, causing strife and turmoil in the town. Another issue is that anyone who refuses to grant the Igwe the above-mentioned “rights” and “opportunity” will be penalized in cash or kind, or both. Those who disobey or ignore the Igwe’s directives will be compelled to self-exile with their families, while those who work directly for him will be forced to resign and their stipends will be cancelled immediately. Many people migrated and settled in nearby areas as a result of this. Some of those who were shamefully driven away have never returned, while only a few others have. Despite the fact that modernization and a new wave of global learning and technological development have resulted in greater maturity and excellence in governance, as well as a shift in certain cultural perceptions, the Igwe refuse to hand over the reins of power to other interested parties who can make credible changes in the community.
Because the community has been following a hereditary system of leadership, when the incumbent monarch dies, his successor may be inexperienced, of dubious character, uneducated, and generally unaccepted. He does not push or rattle for the Igweship post because he is aware that it will be passed down to him intestate. People become enraged as a result of this. The most common issue is that the scenario has slowed down the pace of the community’s development strategy.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The overall goal of the research is to:
- Investigate the origin of the chieftaincy and kingship in Igbo culture.
- Investigate the cause of the chieftaincy and kingship tussle in the Ogidi community.
iii. Investigate the effect of the chieftaincy and kingship tussle on the Ogidi community.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions guide the objective of the study.
- Where is the origin of the chieftaincy and kingship in Igbo culture?
- What are the causes of the chieftaincy and kingship tussle in the Ogidi community?
iii. What is the effect of the chieftaincy and kingship tussle on the Ogidi community?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Identifying and demonstrating the genuine role and function of the monarchy in society. The kings understand that the power and authority bestowed upon them are for the purpose of human and material growth. To ensure that people’s and society’s needs are addressed and emphasized. The call to leadership is one of responsibility, while the call to followership is one of submission to the established authority. Making people realize that fighting and squabbling isn’t always the best way to solve political and social problems. When a struggle breaks out, it is often at the cost of the entire society, since lives are lost, money and time are spent, and, most importantly, properties and infrastructures are looted and damaged as a result of violence. The community’s progress is being jeopardized in a terrible way. Rather than resolving conflicts brutally, it is preferable to resolve them politely. The case of the community under investigation will act as an eye opener for others, demonstrating that many communities are embroiled in this cultural challenge. When their personal situation is still in the incubation stage, they will perceive both the positive and negative aspects of conflict and propose solutions. Finally, because this issue involves people’s socioeconomic and political lives, it will allow for additional research into the administration and treatment of chieftaincy issues, as the monarch, the people, and society are all touched directly or indirectly. Finally, this research will add to the body of knowledge on the subject and will serve as a resource for academics, researchers, and students interested in conducting future research on this or a comparable topic.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study focuses on the effects of the chieftaincy and kingship tussle in Anambra State, Nigeria, with particular reference to the Ogidi Community. Although the Igbo notion of leadership and governance will be discussed, the research paper’s main focus is on the socio-political conflict in Ogidi, the current situation, and efforts to settle it.
1.7 LIMITATION OF STUDY
The study was restricted due to constraints, including time and finance.
Research methodology deals with the different ways or methods the researcher applied in order to carry out the research as well as the instrument used for gathering the data.
There are several research methodologies appropriate for answering the research questions. The type of research methodology used in this research to gather data and relevant information is the historical research and the study will adopt descriptive method of data collection. This will involve the collection of materials from secondary sources, such as books, journal articles, magazines, internet sources, international and national conference proceedings, published and unpublished articles.
1.9 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
To achieve the purpose of this research. The study is divided into five inter-connected chapters, ranging from chapter one to five.
In chapter one the researcher has been able to give an introduction to the work, state the problem that necessitate this study, outline the questions this work seek to answer as well as the objectives it hopes to achieve,The scope and limitations of this study were outlined as well as the methodology that was used for the study.
Chapter two deals with literature review, conceptual review and theoretical framework.
Chapter three discuss the Origin of Ogidi, Early System of Administration in Ogidi, Introduction & Administration of Monarchy or Kingship (Igwe) in Ogidi, The Chieftaincy Constitutions, Qualification and Selection of Igwe Ogidi, Election of Igwe Ogidi, and the Power Structure and Competence of Chieftaincy Institution in Ogidi.
Chapter four delves into the Reasons for taking Chieftaincy/Kingship Post in the Society, causes of tussle, efforts to reducing tussle etc. while chapter five deals with the summary, recommendations and conclusion.
1.10 DEFINITION OF TERMS
CHIEFTAINCY: the state or position of being the leader of a people or clan.
KINGSHIP: the state or position of being a king.
TUSSLE: a vigorous struggle or scuffle, typically in order to obtain or achieve something.
Our focus in this chapter is to critically examine relevant literature that would assist in explaining the research problem and, furthermore, recognize the efforts of scholars who have previously contributed immensely to similar research. The chapter intends to deepen the understanding of the study and close the perceived gaps.