Omambala: The History & Role of Amakom in fostering Unity in Anambra Valley

Omambala: The History & Role of Amakom in fostering Unity in Anambra Valley
Who are the Omambala People and where is the enclave located?
Omambala are the River basin communities located at the bank of the confluence of Omambala River(Also refereed as Anambra River). The River is one of the major tributaries to River Niger.  The Area stretched from the riverline communities of various Anam Communities in the Northwest to  Ogbunike,Umunya & Awkuzu in the South , from Nkisi River at Nkwelle Ezunaka at the western flank down to the Aghamelum communities of Igbakwu, Umumbo, Omor etc in the eastern side. The nucleus of the region lies the valley where the people of Aguleri & Umueri reside.
 
The History of Origin & migration of her Various people…
The people of Omambala comprised mainly the Igbo and Igala speaking communities. From available historical evidences, the major group occupying the Omambala Region are as follow:
1. The Igbo Aborigines:-  This group also know as ancient UmuEri Clan are the first settlers in the land known today as Omambala area. Majority of the communities are extincts and most migrated from the valley as a result of ancient war and the human need of expansion. The Igbo aborigine-communities that was regarded as ancient Umueri clans includes the Umueri known today as Umuleri while some of their descendants could be found in Aguleri; in the various Umunris communities of Agukwu, Enugwu ukwu, Nawfia and Enugwu Agidi; the Ires communities that could be found in Abba, Obosi, Ogidi, Umuoji etc; Others descendants founded Ogbunike, Awkuzu, Nando and some part of Onitsha, whom Eze Chima descendants displaced to found the modern day Onitsha Ado community.

2. The Early Migrants:- This set of people are migrants who encroached the land from the Igala land . This set of people later co-habit the land with the descendants of the Igbos and found communities such as Agu-eri, Nteje, Nsugbe, Umunya, Igbariam etc. Due to the blood covenant that existed between the two groups, they were all assimilated and accept to be live together.This group brought about Idol worshipping as the earlier settlers believed in One Supreme God (Chukwu okike). The First settlers on noticing the idols nicknamed it Abomination from whatever place. Hence “Ogwugwu’ That emanates from Igala was called “Alu si Igala” ; Oviammili from Achalla “Alu si Achalla” all were shortned to “Alu-si”. Its pertinent to note that all idol are alien to Omambala

3. Ogbe Descent/Descendants“- Another group that exist in the regions are the Anam clan otherwise called “Anam Mkpa isaa” This group include various Anam communities, Okpanam and Anaku.Some scholars also include: Nzam amongst the Ogbe descendants, although there are scholars that believed that Nzam are descendants of Ajidah, the father of Ogbe.  According to her oral tradition they are all descendants of Ogbe- a great warrior who invaded Idah from Jukun land. He and house-hold later migrated to Omambala and subdued extant Igbo communities and occupied there. Okpanam later migrated North west to where they are now presently located.Anam clans includes:

(A) Umueze Anam
(B)Mmiata
(C)Umuoba
(D)Iyiora
(E)Umudora
(F)Umuikwu
(G) Oroma-etiti

(H)Umuenwelum

Note that Anaku is also regarded as part of Ogbe clan, hence the phrase “Anaku Ogbe”. Though Available fact suggests Anaku as son of Ajida, an Igala warrior , who was also father to Ogbe. Whatever historical relationship may be the fact remains that till date, Anaku has continue to be part of Ogbe clan

4. Olu People:- Another group that dwell in the land are the Olu people. This set of people are Multi lingual in language- (The early ancestors of the natives speak Ijaw, Igbo and Igala language).. Though Ijaw language has gone extinct, those living in that area are still bilingual as they speak both Igbo and Igala as a result of intermarriage and social interaction.The area is about sixteen Kilometers to Otuocha on the East, twenty-five kilometers to Onitsha on the south and six kilometers to the boundary of Kogi State and Anambra state. The Communities could be located in the following area:

(A)inoma
(B)Owelle
(C) Ukwalla
(D)Onugwa
(E)Allah
(F) Odekpe
(G) Igbedor
(H) Igbokenyi
(I) Odeh
(J) Odemagwu
 
5. Aghamelum Communities: There are the 5th group that were driven by war from Nsukka axis of the Igboland. These group formed Communities at the eastern flank of the region. The Communities include
(A)Umueje
(B)Omasi
(C)Igbakwu
(D) Umumbo
(E)Umuerum
(F)Ifite Ogwari.

These communities were fall out of incessant Igala raids on Nsukka axis of Igbo land led by the Igala Prince Onoja Oboli. The was was known in Igbo folklore as “Ogwu Onoja Nwa oboli of Igala” These communities migrated all the way from those area to Omambala hence the “Aghamelum’- becomes synonymous with their name

 
AMAKOM Military Alliance
 
 
Amakom also known in full as Amakolum was a military alliance that involve various communities of Omambala. Therefore, Omambala become the only Igbo people that have a standing Army to wade off external and internal aggression and also to maintain inter communal disputes that might occur as a result of land and other factors.
 
What Are the Factors that led the People to Orchestrate this alliance?
 
1. Incessant External Raids
2. Impunity, Alu(Nsoani) and non nonchalant attitudes of strangers element
3.The Need to foster unity amongst constitutent part of the Region
 
Therefore, the formation of the Amakolum defence pact was necessitated by the need for security of lives and properties. It also help towards sustenance of peace, order and unity in the comity of villages that make up the region. The Prominent member-communities of the alliance include Umueri, Aguleri, Nsugbe, Nteje, Nando, Awkuzu etc.
 
Major Victories recorded by the Amakom:
There was claim that the first Amakolum pact was formed by the earliest Igbo inhabitant of ancient Umueri clan to wade off Constant Raid from the Igala. According to the Oral tradition, the war was fought to a stand still till a pact  reached to settle them. They were settled in land occupied today by Aguleri, Nsugbe, Nteje, Igbariam and Amanuke.
Nteje/Awkuzu War:

It was also on record that the alliance contributed in total defeat of the Edda, who was invited by the Awkuzu to wage war against her closest Neighbors, the Nteje Abogu. According to available oral stories, the war erupted when Awkuzu contracted the Eddas to fight Nteje over a land dispute involving the two communities. The Involvement of Amakom led the Awkuzu, who earlier contracted the mercenary to join others in killing of the mercenary.

Uradda War Conquest
Prior to Colonialism, Omambala was a sort of home for all. After each war, the remnants of the encroaching force were allowed to live on a portion of vast land of various communities of Omambala. Uradda people were therefore remnants of Edda Warriors who camped at Ugwu Oyi after the end of lost battled that waged against Nteje at the instance of Awkuzu. Its pertinent that both Awkuzu and Nteje later found common enemy in edda and hence they now settled at Ugwu Oyi in Ivite Umuer.
After few decades, they have integrated into the society but kept abusing the law of the community. Raping, stealing, killing and committing all sort of atrocities & sacrilege against the host communities. The Umueri solicited the help of Amakom who unleashed military action against the Uradda. Anthropological survey reveals that Amakom warriors killed all male adult of Uradda and adopted their women and children hence the Oru/Osu System that existed in Omambala river basin communities.
 
The Invasion & Sack of Enugwu Osu na Agidi, in Igbariam
Another fierce war fought by Amakolum group was at the end of of 19th Century, under the great Pioneer Warrant Chief of Igbariam, Late Chief Umeadi. Historical facts point to a point when the Achalla Community using the Edda warriors conquered and sacked Igbariam and took possession of her land. Between 1886-1912, the Igbariam were exiled at Aguleri .The Achalla Community gave the portion of land captured from Igbariam to the Edda warriors who formed a community known as “Enugwu Osu na Agidi”, so as to ensure control of the vast territories captured from Igbariam
The Legendary Warrant Chief, who was amongst the first Omambala to acquired western Education and using his position as Colonial warrant Officer, organized Amakom group for a battle against the Enugwu Osu na Agidi and successfully sent them packing. The Amakolum Warriors captured a lot of the farm products including the famous Yellow Yam called “Abia Yam”, The Yam which was not part of the yam specie in Omambala became from that day our own possession.
Though the Amakom Warriors succeeded in capturing territory, Colonial officials would not allow the Igbariam to return to their original homes as colonial police take possession of the vast land. Most of the exiles found homes in Aguleri and were reluctant to return back. Aparantly so many of the Igbariam exiles ended up as exiles, prominent amongst them include one whose son grew to became a an influential politician in Igboland..
Unlike most other part of Igboland, where the Aro/Ohaofia/Edda Warriors have influence, the Amakolum succeeded in wiping out all settlement occupied by the slave raid warriors of Aro/Abam/Ohaofia/Edda and made Omambala a people of one homogeneous culture, where the people have utmost respect to the earth goddess(Ana) and therefore abide to her doctrines and dictates emboded in form of law of Sacrilege (Alu/Nso Ana).

Compiled, researched & written by

Comrade Biafra Buchi Diboh

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