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History Of Ututu And Her Neighboring Communities

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IHECHIOWA:  Ututu Clan is bounded in the North by Ihechiowa Clan. Oral history tells us that the Ututu migration (which happened at the same time as the Ohafia and Abam migrations respectively) took place before the Ihechiowa people came to inhabit their present location.

However some Ihechiowa Villages notably Umuchiakuma still trace their history to Asaga Ohafia, and the similarity in language between the Clans attest to the fact that there is some strong connection between the ancestors of the two Clans. Also the maternal descents “Ikwu” made up of descents who can trace their maternal lineage from a particular woman are all evidences of the strong ties between the two Clans.

As earlier stated in the enunciation of the origin of Ututu people. The second son of Otutu Ezema known as Koko Ukwu first settled in a place called Ujara near the present Obinto Village in Ihechiowa. This settlement is known to have existed long before

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the Ihechiowa Villages surrounding it came into existence. All these facts are further evidence of the strong ties between Ututu and Ihechiowa communities.

Even though stories abound concerning constant skirmishes between the two communities during the early stages of their migration to this part of Igboland, the relationship between them in recent times has been a most congenial one. With their almost similar Igbo dialect the two Clans consider themselves as brothers. Sometimes we do hear stories about Ihechiowa parents disagreeing to the marriage of their wards in Ututu on the ground that they will be maltreated, but this attitude did not prevent constant marriages between the two Clans.

Whatever distrust that may have existed between the two Clans in the olden days did not prevent them from maintaining a common front especially when the issue is politics, and there seem to be a much better relationship existing between the educated class in the two Clans.

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ISU: Lying south-east of Ututu is another Igbo speaking Clan called Isu. The history of this Clan is obscure, even though some of them claim common lineage with the neighbouring Clan of Arochukwu. Even at that the language of the Isu people is the same as that of Ututu, this common dialect may have been the result of the close proximity between the two communities. Whatever may be their origin the people of Isu have remained peaceful neighbours with their Ututu counterparts.

AROCHUKWU: In the south of Ututu lies the town of Arochukwu. “Arochukwu Kingdom is centuries old and has enormous history behind her, the three Kindreds in Arochukwu namely; Okennachi, Ibom Isii and Ezeagwu, have exemplified one of the best cohesive and progressive co­existence ever known in the history of Igboland”. So said  Eze V . O. Okoro, Eze Aro VIII on the occasion of a traditional reception given to him by the people of Arochukwu on 26th December, 1995.

In a Publication by Nzuko Arochukwu Nigeria dated 26/12/95 the editor had this to say concerning the Inter-group Relations between the Aro’s and their neighbours. “Arochukwu has, over the centuries, maintained a high degree of cordiality with the immediate Igbo and non­ Igbo neighbours of Ututu, Ihechiowa, Isu, Ifo, Asang, Makor and Biase.

Indeed one of the versions of Aro origin claims that the mother of Agwu, one of the major actors in the emergence of Igbo population and dominance in the area, came from Ututu Clan. Much of Aro proverbs, idioms, folklore and stories are connected with Aro relationship with these Igbo neighbours, particularly the Ututu people”.

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This account go to show the level of good neighbourliness between the Ututu and the Arochukwu people, infact there is no record of war between the two communities.

The relationship is that of a farming community which exchanged its farm products for European goods provided by the Aro’s. The Aro’s themselves recognize Ututu as the real farmers which is why the counting for Ikeji Aro is aligned to that of Ututu people known as “etutu”.

Also quoting from the Nzuko Arochukwu Publication, the editor acknowledged this interdependence between the two communities.

“The Ikeji (New Yam) festivals were also occasions that brought different communities together in what used to be Arochukwu district. By custom, the three Igbo communities celebrated their IKEJI before Arochukwu. Again, it was spaced out in such a way that there was no overlapping or clash… Ikeji Aro is still observed after those of their neighbours. The older generations have resisted every pressure from the younger ones to adjust the Ikeji calendar”.

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The origin of the Aro’s is best given by them, because they are a most eloquent and intelligent people. During the reception marking his coronation in 1995, Mazi V. O. Okoro, Eze Aro VIII  said  “The Eze Aro throne is many centuries old, the crown which has just been passed on to me dates as far back as the fifteen century AD”.

In a book “the Aro of South Eastern Nigeria. 1650-1980. Prof. K. O. Dike and Prof. Felicia Ekejiuba digged into the origin of the Aro’s. Also in the Notes and Reflections on a Vanishing Civilization the author O.P. Kanu presented and interesting revelation into the origin of the Aros.

All these works are in agreement that the Aro’s are of Igbo/lbibio Origin, but some accounts of the period of migration dates back to a period when the other Igbo communities such as Abam, Ututu etc. who came to their present abode long before the Aro’s had not yet migrated to their present place

A distinctive aspect of the lives of the Aro’s is their believe in Chukwu, who is accessed through the people’s oracle Ibiniukpabi or Long ­Juju. The artistic shrine contained a long metal tunnel and pipe through which the god communicated to the people: The long-juju was believed to possess great supernatural power that enabled it to have knowledge of everything.

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The Chief Priest and the shrine agents controlled a number of other agents who traveled far and wide looking for dispute that would be referred to the Oracle for settlement. They would intelligently get all the hard facts concerning the disputes before persuading the disputants to consult the juju for settlement.           

When the disputants finally arrive the shrine of the Oracle and make their cases, both parties are separately made to come inside the Oracle’s chambers. The long-juju would then devour the guilty party whose blood flows out through a small stream, while the winners would go home to break the story. But the subterfuge didn’t last forever since the guilty parties were sold into slavery and the blood that was seen was that of a goat.     

As a result of its popularity the long-juju was widely consulted throughout the Igbo and Ibibio Communities and the routes that agents of the Oracle transversed have remained trade routes of the Aro’s till present. Thus we have the Aro Uno-who are the Aro’s living at home, and the Aro Uzo-who are the Aro’s living in the various settlements where the Aro’s have established homes in other communities.

In 1901/02 the Arochukwu expedition took place, the result of which was the destruction of the shrine of Ibiniukpabi by the British Government. Exhibiting their high intelligence as always they quickly embraced the colonial masters. Today the Aro’s are regarded as the elites  of Igboland. 

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Unlike Ihechiowa and Isu, there is very little marital relationship between Ututu and Arochukwu. In the olden days Ututu people patronized the Aro’s as clients. Young men who committed abominable acts were sold to the Aro’s as slaves whereas when slaves were needed for rituals and sacrifices in Ututu, it was the Aro’s who sold the slaves to them.

Despite their uncontested intelligence, the Aro’s are sometimes described as a most trickish people and are known to have cheated and exploited the Ututu people when they came to sell their farm-produce. They will offer them very bad prices, realizing that the Ututu people needed to buy European articles in exchange. At the end of the market day instead of carrying home their farm produce, they would accept the menial prices offered by the Aro’s.

It was principally to eradicate this exploitation that an age-grade in Ututu by name UKE JISIKE jointly purchased a lorry with which they transported the produce of Ututu farmers to markets in Ohafia, Bende, Uzuakoli, Umuahia etc. where they received better prices than what the Aro’s offered. The Ututu people nevertheless have remained very good neighbours with the Aro’s.

UKWA: North-east of Ututu lies the Efik speaking Clan of Ukwa. The Ukwa Clan also known as Mbiabong consists of six small Villages. The people of Ukwa came from Ibibio-Iand as fishermen to settle at a place called Mbiabong near the OBASI UTUTU shrine along the Cross River North-east of Ututu, which is also the boundary of Ututu Clan with Umon people on the opposite bank.

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On their arrival at about 1862 into the area for fishing purposes, these fishermen met Ututu people living in their plantation. The strangers asked for permission to settle down there to fish. They brought with them goats, fowls, wine and kolanut to the Plantationers. The permission to settle down there to fish was granted by Amaeke and Amodu people principally because the approach was cordial and polite and because their settlement there would keep the place free from possible infiltrators.

After granting their request, they said “Ndewo” meaning “Thank you” to the landlords. These words now spelt “Ndi Owo” became significant and recognized the place of settlement of this first group of fishermen as Ndi Owo Village.

Later on these first fishermen were joined by other groups of Ibibio from Eche and Umon and they were settled in different places accordingly. These are:

1. Ndi Owo Village or Group

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2. Ikisi Village or Group

3. Ikot Eruong Village or Group

4. Ifo Village or Group

5. Akanobio Village or Group

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6. Nkpani Village or Group.

Each of the above group was permitted to fish in the river as well as to settle. They promised to remain loyal and friendly with the Ututu landlords. They also paid tribute to the people of Ututu in the early years of their settlement. In return Ututu people had to protect and defend them in any attacks from outside. In addition to payments of tributes and loyalty by the people of the six Villages above mentioned. The Nkpani people in particular were made to cross the OBASI UTUTU shrine for purposes of sacrifice. This practice persisted till the end of the Nigerian Civil War.

Some years after the settlement, the Ukwa people came under constant war raids with Biakpan people, a more war like group. The repeated aggressive actions of the Biakpan people against Ukwa people were several times halted by Ututu people, on the grounds that Ukwa people were their tenants. At last a lasting peace was arranged and affected by Mazi Isieke Mgbafor of Ndi-Abor and Mazi Kalu Ibom of Ndi-Aja both of Amaeke Ututu and their people ten years before the coming of Europeans into this area in 1901/02, after which a boundary was fixed between Biakpan and Ukwa by Ututu people with Ukwa still living in Ututu land.

ITO: South-East of Ututu also inhabits another Efik speaking people called Ito. The Iton people now called Ito came from Ikot-Ekpene area to Ututu to buy food from Ututu people. They were also slave dealers. A cordial relationship ensued between Iton people and Ututu ancestors. The Iton Head Chief named Ndom Essien Oror with his men came to Ututu and asked for a piece of land to settle near the Cross River creeks for fishing and hunting purposes.

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Ututu granted them a portion of land to settle and to fish along the creeks of the Cross River. The Iton first settlement was called Obot Ndang Inyang, which means fishing settlement. The Iton ancestors from Obot Ndang Inyang came with sheep, fowls, and goats to Ututu ancestors to set up a market and fix a day for it. Ututu agreed and sent their representatives Obiene and Umunna Isii to meet them and grant their request.

Both met at a certain place near Obot Ndang Inyang settlement. They cleared the area and made sacrifices with sheeps and goats whose heads were buried there. They drank the wine provided and called the place “Otita Arunsi” which Iton people translated as “Uta Mbian” and opened a market there. The market place known as Uta Mbian is now known and called “Uta Mbara Market”.

THE ABATUM OF ENYONG: The ancestors of this Efik speaking people came from Calabar area as traders, having got the permission from Iton people, settled along the Cross River banks. They remained there as fishermen and also dealers in slaves from Arochukwu to Calabar. They also shipped food from Ututu to their hometown. With the help of Iton people the Abatum ancestors met Ututu people and requested for another market to be opened. The Ututu ancestors agreed and Obiene and Umunna Isii were sent to meet them to conclude arrangement if the Abatum ancestors would do as the Iton people had done. They brought goats, sheep, fowls and wine, and another market was opened at a place called “ETA” which Iton people interpreted as “Ntan”. Since the coming of the Europeans, the Iton people are known and called Ito and the “Ntan” market in now called Atan Market.

IDERE: The Idere ancestors originally came from Idoro Ikot Enyong. They crossed a creek and settled at a place called “Edak Inyang Creek” as fishermen without permission from Iton and Ututu. Iton sent a report to Ututu and the Ututu ancestors sent their best fighters with their leader Isiama who joined the Iton. A tribal war began and Idere people were driven out of the creek. Eventually Idere made peace with Ito. They were permitted to live at a place called Atabiri with the condition of paying tribute, when they failed, a second war broke out. Isiama and his warriors set up their fighting Juju which they called “ogwu di nso” which is still intact till present.

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It is of recent because of the Europeans that Idere was granted permission to fish in the creeks and rivers at about 1908 and there have been peace between the settlers and Ututu people.

Before any person from Ito was made Chief Ututu must be present. The following Chiefs enjoyed the blessings of the Ututu landlords.

 1. Ndo Essien Oror

2. Udo

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3. Nturukun

4. Abita Aria

5. Akpan Akpan.

Throughout the reign of the above Chiefs, there was no boundary problem between Ututu and Ito. Ututu have several extended Villages in this area. Since 1901, Enyong, Ito, Idere have been under Arochukwu Division with one District Officer and one Native Court at Arochukwu. At about 1905 the whole Division opened Arochukwu-Itu Road to help their neighbours in Enyong, Ito and Idere. As there were no payment of rates and taxes in those days, the road was jointly maintained by the entire division.

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About 1920, Enyong, Ito and Idere because of long distance of ten miles from Arochukwu asked for a Native Court to be built at Atan. The Atan Onoyom Native Court was built with Chief Onoyom Nya as its President. In 1944 the Arochukwu – Itu Road was reconstructed through communal effort by the whole of Arochukwu division.

These Efik speaking people started some agitation of going back to their original home across the River to join their Kiths and Kin (in the former South-Eastern State) now Cross River State immediately after the war. These agitations made them uneasy in Arochukwu Division. As there are no natural or artificial boundaries between these agitators (the Efiks) and their Igbo landlords. It is considered a great injustice to the Division and Clans if any part of the land they the Efiks are occupying as tenants is granted to them by the Boundary Delimitation Commission, if they are allowed to secede from Arochukwu Division to join their Kiths and Kin in the Cross River State.

This tricky and sensitive issue is principally responsible for the boundary problems that have become rampant among these border Communities.

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