Umueri, also known and pronounced as Umuleri, is an ancient town in the Anambra state of Southeastern Nigeria. The people of Umueri belong to the Igbo ethnic group, and the town has an estimated population of 342,000. It is located within the Anambra Valley, bordered by the Anambra River (Omabala River) and Anam communities in the north, Nteje to the south, Aguleri and Nando in the east and Nsugbe in the western flank. Umueri from antiquity has been noted as the centre of the civilisation of the peoples of the Omambala basin. The forebears are widely acknowledged as the first settlers to settled in Omambala valley.
The origin of Umueri is sourced from the natives of the town who believe in the oral tradition (as customary mode of transmission of knowledge in antiquity) that their clan was founded by Children of a man named Eri.(The name Umueri actually means Children of Eri) This Oral tradition passed from generation to generation indicates that Umueri ancestors are group of migrating clan from an unknown place, though of late research on their habitats, cultural practices and artifacts they left behind suggests a connection with the fleeing Israelites of post Exodus era. The Settlers that infiltrated into the land settled at a place called Eri-aka and founded a clan called “Umueri” . Though the exact date, that they settled on the land was not known, many scholars were of view that it occurred around 940AD
Division and administration
Traditionally, Umueri is broadly divided into 3 clans: Ezi, Ikenga, Ivite. The clans are further divided into villages and sub-villages. But with advent of colonialism and modernization, the town has consciously grown and governed just like other Igbo Communities . The three traditional clans of Umueri are written down below with their corresponding Villages:
- Ezi: Belongs to Nneyi Village which is also divided into further sub-villages
- Ikenga: Comprises Ugume, Umudiana, Umunchezi, etc.
- Ivite: Umuatuolu, Ogbu and Mgbede
The pre-colonial Umueri government was a republican but with influence of Bini Kingdom in that part of Igboland, it changes to Monarchical in nature in which the Eze resided in Ivite. The Prime Minister (Onowu) & Ajie in Ikenga and Ezi respectively. Modern administration since colonization relegated this system and enthroned the Igwe Dynasty which is prevalent Institution till date.
The Igwe dynasty has come to stay including but not limited to the performance of basic traditional rites. The Ofala festival is traditionally performed by one who holds the Title of Oke-ebo, the traditional ruler. The New Yam festival is performed by the Onowu, Ajie and “Igwe Oke-ebo“
Below is the Structure of Present Umueri Administration:
- Igwe in-Council – The Traditional Ruler and his Cabinet[Igwe Cabinet]
- Council of Elders [Ndichie] – The Elders of the Community
- Umuotu – An Elite Age Grade that helps in implementing laws in the Community
- Town Union – Umueri General Assembly [UGA]
- Policing Age Grade – An Age grade in charge for enforcement of local laws made in the town
- Sanitation Age Grade- An Age Group in charge of clearing and maintenance of rural road, Village Square and of all Public Utilities