PROJECT TOPIC : SOCIO-CULTURAL HISTORY OF AKAEZE FROM 1929-2008
As soon as man is born, the world gets to work on him and transforms him from merely biological into social units. Every human being at every stage of life and history or pre-history is born into a society and from his earliest years is moulded by that society and culture that surround him on all side. To this end, both the language he speaks and the life he lives are not innate of him as an individual, but a social acquisition from the society he grows up.
The society and culture to a very large extent determines his character, perception of the world around him and his thought. Just by reason of the title of this project “socio-cultural history of Akaeze from 1929-2008”, it is aimed at discussing in details the society and culture of Akaeze. To explain cultural precisely in its particular manifestation for the purpose of historical study and for this, the term, socio-cultural history has been proposed.
So, socio-cultural history is the study of culture possessed by a distinguishable and autonomous group (society) of human beings, such a tribe or modern nation. In addition, it is commonly said by Anthropologist that man is less individual and completely mouldled by his society. The development of the society and of the individual are inseparable, and each conditions the other, so also history, society and culture cannot be separated from man and vice versa.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
People make choice about social practices around them that form the bases of their beliefs about the values of these practices. And to have a belief about the values of a practice is, in the first instance, a matter of understanding the meaning attached to it by our culture. To this end, societal culture involves ‘shared vocabulary of tradition and convention’ which underline a full range of social practices and institutions.
However, to understand the societal practices, therefore requires understanding this shared vocabulary, that is, understanding the culture and history which constitute the building block of every society.
Furthermore, understanding these cultural narratives is a precondition of making intelligent judgments about how to lead our lives. In this sense our culture not only provides options, it also provides that spectacles through which we identify experiences as valuable.
So, by reason of the title of this research work “Akaeze Socio-Cultural History of Akaeze from 1929-2008” it is aimed at discussing the History of Akaeze people. Therefore, it discusses the geographical location of Akaeze, the people and culture, Religion and belief, economy and socio-cultural institutions of Akaeze, and border communities relations.
In this project, an analytical attempt shall be made to explain the meaning of culture, what socio-cultural history is all about, and other concepts in the research project.
However, what has been termed the classical definition of culture was provided by the 19th century English Anthropologist, Edward Burnett Tylor in the first paragraph of his work titled “primitive culture” (1871) “culture ….is that complex whole which include knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society1 .
Socio-cultural history therefore, is the study of the culture possessed by a distinguishable and autonomous group (society) of human beings, such as tribe or modern nation2 .
By explanation culture is made up two aspects or types. The explicit, material culture and implicit, non-material culture. The explicit culture refers to those aspect of the people’s way of life which are visible in the society. The explicit (material) culture consists of directly observable regularities in verbal and non-verbal behaviours of members of a given society. Examples are artifacts, that is, the technological aspect of a culture: pick Axe, cooking utensils- plates, pot etc.
By implication, scientific knowledge is acquired through working. Nevertheless, the implicit (non-material culture) refers to those aspects that are not visible, but belong to a particular society. This has to do with the norms, beliefs, sanction, and value system of the people. It also includes language, songs music, sign and symbols, which are parts and parcel of the people’s life in different societies.
1.2 GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION OF AKAEZE
Akaeze occupies a land mass of 1.935 square kilometers, situated between latitudes of 5.40N and longitudes 7.30oE and 8.30oE Akaeze is bounded in the East by Afikpo South L.G.A (Edda), in the West by Nzrem and Ishiagu both in Ivo L.G.A of Ebonyi State, in the north by Ohaozara L.G.A of Ebonyi State, Okpanku in Aninri South L.G.A of Enugu State, in the North East by Amasiri in Afikpo North L.G.A of Ebonyi State, in the South by Item, Nkporo and Ugwueke, all in Bende L.G.A of Abia State.
Geopolitically, Akaeze is located in the South-East Zone of the country being one of the communities that constitute Ebonyi state3. However, it lies entirely in the Western Cross River as one of the Igbo group, Cross River Igbo which include Afikpo, Amasiri, Edda, Bende, Allie, Abam, Ohaofia, Abriba, Item, Ozuakoli, Nkporo, Uburu, Okposi and Ishiagu4. It occupies an area of moderate relief which is mostly lomey, clay, and sandy soil.
The area is underlain by three main formations, the Iyiakwa, Evu and Eze-aku shales of the Turornian age, with outcrops of other rock formations and mineral deposit to include lead, gypsum and industrial sand5. Ecologically, Akaeze lies in moderate wet humid tropics with a marked rainy season which starts from early April to October, and dry season which sets in from November to March annually. Nevertheless, during dry season, Harmattan normally starts from the month of November every year.
Significantly, the vegetation is a combination of savannah and forest stretches in the Eastern and Southern part of the community, that is, Aakeze Ukwu; Mgbede, Iyioji and Umobor communities respectively.
From the study of Akaeze clan population distribution across the villages, as at 1927-1929, the population of Akaeze was presented by the colonial administrators as follows:
Table 2.1 Showing Population Distribution of Akaeze Clan as at 1929
(Source: National Archives, Enugu)
According to the Assistance District Officer Afikpo Division, A.O IRE, the above table shows the distribution of the adult male through the villages. However, if the female as well as the children were counted the grand total would have been more than the figure above.
PROJECT TOPIC : SOCIO-CULTURAL HISTORY OF AKAEZE FROM 1929-2008
In respect to the 2006, National Population Census, Akaeze is about 120, 919 with an annual population growth rate of 2.35%. From the above number, the male numbered 59986, while the female numbered 609336. Hence the population of Akaeze is largely rural based. Also from the population census study, it has shown that 22.5% (5374.17) of the community is mostly people under the age of 15 to 55 years
1.5 LITERATURE REVIEW
In the course of this research work, some literatures of various authorship, which are relevant to this topic have been consulted. Among many of this, attention will be focuses on:
Akwari O Chukwu, in his long easy, “The History of Akaeze People from the Earliest to Present” 2003, has discussed Akaeze people, their culture, economy, socio-political institutions, their origin and migration, and the impact of culture on Akaeze people. To this end, he asserts that the ancestor of Akaeze people migrated from Edda to the area called Akaeze.7 He also noted that the economy of Akaeze is purely agrarian and that economic activity of the people, which is agriculture has been regarded as the main-stay of Akaeze economy.
Nevertheless, A.F.R stoddart in his Intelligence Report on Akaeze clan, 1929-1930, National Archives, Enugu, had indicated that Ezeoke oyiri the second son of Chima Oyiri migrated from Edda as a result of dispute that arose between him and his brother and settled by the Ezeiyieku River at what is known as Akaeze Ukwu, which he founded. Akaeze Ukwu is the evolutionary village of the other Akaeze villages.
Professor A.E. Afigbo in his book titled “Ropes of Sand, a Study of Igbo History and Culture”1981, has indicated the historical origin of cross River Igbo to which Akaeze belongs.
He observed that “following the movement from the Orlu in an eastward direction soon met with challenge in the form of westward expansion of the Benue-Congo speaking. For one thing the Igbo expansion was ‘deflected’ northward leading to the foundation of the Ada group of the Cross River Igbo (Akeze, Edda, Nkporo, Amasiri etc.) and the large group also known as Ogo-Ukwu.8 The tradition of these people indicates northward movement of the population.
Brig gen. M. Tambo, in “The Subjective Nature of Organizational Culture and Strategic Decision Makers”, 2003, highlights the importance of culture in society building. The culture of an organization is the set of values that helps its members to understand what the organization stands for, how it does things, and what it considers important9. On that note, when an infant enters the world cultureless, he is influenced by the culture that surrounds him on all side. Therefore, this shows why any one born into Akaeze community internalizes the custom, culture and tradition of the society. This goes along way shaping his character, relationship with others both within and outside Akaeze community.
Jacob E. Safra et al, “The New Encyclopedia, Britannica”, 1998, pointed out the effectiveness of culture. According to them; “Culture is strong to hold sex urge in check and achieve a pre-marital chastity and even voluntary celibacy for life.” In Akaeze traditional setting, men and women of the same kindred are forbidden to have any sexual relationship. In the same hand, girls are not expected to get pre-marital pregnancy. Through such traditional and cultural practices there is both pre-marital and marital chastity among the people of Akaeze.
It can cause a person to die of hunger, though nourishment is available, because some foods are branded unclean by culture. For instance, Amiyi Kinsmen in Akaeze community cannot eat crocodile meat. Culture can cause a person to disembowel, shoot himself, commit suicide to wipe out a stain of shame and dishonour.
Significantly, culture is stronger than life and death. Death is merely the cessation of vital process of metabolism, respiration etc. but culture triumphs over death and gives man eternal life10. For example in Akaeze tradition, after buring either a married man or woman some food stuff both cooked and uncooked were kept on the grave of the dead, because they believe that there is life after death and that the dead need food to eat. Nevertheless, it holds the building blocks or foundation of a society internal organization, and plays a major role in shaping the organizers behavour11.
Obasi A. Ferdnand and Ani N. Stephen in their book: “ Time to Rejoice: Mpu Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 1997, discussed Akaeze-Mpu relations. The people of Mpu claim to be blood relatives of Akaeze people. According to them “Mpu has a very deep relation with Akaeze- a relationship which until this moment, no one can explain how it started, when, where and why it all began”12. The least statement one can make is that the life and security of an Akaeze man divinely, precious hundred time to Mpu man than that of his fellow Mpu man. They further observed that:
It is not surprising that we say that an Mpu man can fight, sue a fellow Mpu man but never an Akaeze. The security of an Mpu man remains a concern to a fellow Mpu man out of love but that of Akaeze is an obligation. If the whole world should be like Mpu and Akaeze, there will be no need to pray that Gods kingdom come, at least if not out of love, out of fear, there would be perfect ( as far as it is humanly possible) peace and security.
With this mysterious/ divine relationships any attempt either intentional or not to breach it warrants the person losing his membership to his community. Through this measure, the two clans have maintained perfect relationship.
In summary, one have set out to see where the people of Akaeze trace their origin and migration and that with time, Ezeoke Oyiri the ancestor of Akaeze people began to welcome people from far and near. It has also been aimed at knowing the impact of culture on the people of Akaeze and their relations with their neighbours. On the whole, relatively much has been written on Akaeze, hence, this exercise of reviewing some of such literature.
PROJECT TOPIC : SOCIO-CULTURAL HISTORY OF AKAEZE FROM 1929-2008