The Igbuzo People In Delta State

Umejei Statue

Igbuzo Igwe nu!

“Ibusa” pronounced “Igbuzo” (Igbu-Uzo) indigenes refer to themselves as “Igbuzo.” Still a lot of people exist who in their reference to the town spell the name of the town as either “Igbuzor” or “Ibuzor.” Ibusa is believed to be the first settlement among the Asaba-Ibusa-Ogwashi-uku axis thus the other version “Ibuzo” (Were you first to settle within this axis?) They are also known as ”Isunambogwu” because of their military prowess in the olden times. The actual native name of the town before the British anglicized it was “Igbuzo”

The Ibusa people are Igbos living west of the Niger Basin, six miles west of Asaba in Delta State of Nigeria. The government of Ibusa is arranged into three main hierarchies: the smallest unit called the government of the Umunna, followed by the government of the Ogbe and the highest, the government of Ibusa.

The Ogbes in Ibusa are divided into three war chiefs called Odogwu, Uwolo, and Iyase.

In IZU IBUSA, the elders will start a debate and any one can stand up and talk. After all views are heard, the Diokpa-Ibusa through his Oga will order the Ndi Nze present to go aside and deliberate over the issues and bring back a decision. He may order all persons from a named age-grade upwards, to go out and deliberate. The nature of the matter will determine the body called upon to deliberate. This type of deliberation is called Ipu Ume

Greetings in Ibusa:

Greetings in Ibusa are remarkable and usually follow a pattern of whether one is an indigene or native of any given quarter. In Umuekea Quarter, for example, while a native is greeted with “Omogwu”, Omogwu is often returned with Omogwu. a woman being married in that quarter is greeted with “Oliofe.”

In Umuodafe, while a native is greeted with “Ede” a woman being married in that quarter is greeted with “Amuapa.”

Festivals:

By far the most popular festival in the entire Ibusa is the Iwu festival celebrated in just two quarters of the town (Umuodafe and Ogbeowelle) That of Umuodafe is considered particularly more attractive in that its celebration coincides around the Christmas season. This occasion attractively draws indigenes and non indigenes from afar that come to watch this Festival.

Ibusa Proverb:

A farmer does not boast that he has had a good harvest until his stock of yams lasts till the following harvest season.

EYEI: Why Ibusa natives dread eating rabbit

The people of Ezukwu Community, Ibusa in present-day Delta State have lived in peace with the rabbit for as long as they can recall. For them, the animal has spiritual affinity with their belief. Hence, whenever the rabbit finds its way into the home of an Ezukwu man, all he has to do is sing praises of Mother Rabbit until it goes out unharmed. The mystique surrounding this ancient myth is still upheld till date.

On a certain day, according to one of the town’s folktales, one of the strangers living in Ibusa discovered that his trap had caught a big eyei (rabbit) the day before. He initially ignored it and resumed work on his farm. After considerable hours of work, he decided to prepare the rabbit for launch. He went to the farm hut otherwise known as unno-ugo (usually built with raffia palm leaves and serves as a resting place after some hours of work), owned by an Ezukwu native, to borrow his cooking pot to prepare the rabbit as the neighbour did not come to farm on that day. At the end of the feasting, the stranger washed and returned the pot. The next farming day, the Ezukwu man resumed work and was told what transpired in his farm on the day he didn’t come, but he ignored the disclosure made by his neighbours and went to use the same cooking pot to prepare food for himself after hours of work, as it was the custom. But the next morning, his nose pulled off. Diokpa Esogbue Ezeudigwu in Okponta Village, Ibusa who claimed that the victim was a maternal relative of his, described the victim’s situation as a terrible one as those who witnessed it saw his back head through his damaged nose. According to the folktale, after that unpleasant experience at Ezukwu, the people of Ibusa unanimously embargoed the eating of rabbit in their land.

“Although the incident happened in Ezukwu, just one of the communities in Ibusa land, the people of Ibusa live like the eye and nose, for whatever affects the nose makes the eye to shed tears”, said Diokpa Ezeudigwu. “Conversely, whatever affects the eye affects the nose as well. In other words, they live as brothers and sisters. Beyond this, they inter marry.”

Civil war myth:

Another folklore to the rabbit myth in Ibusa land states that during the Nigerian civil war, sometime in 1969, when the Federal troops invaded Ibusa, the natives took to their heels and hid in the forest in order to avert the onslaught of the Federal troops.

According to the story, immediately the Ibusa natives scampered for safety and abandoned their homes for the forest, rabbits in their numbers came out of their hiding holes and started building mot in every nook and cranny and at the same time erasing the footprints of natives from the earth, which did not help the Nigerian soldiers in easily tracing the whereabouts of the natives. The folklore also maintains that the feat by the rabbits helped to create the impression to the soldiers that the people may have abandoned their homes for a long time, therefore, it was needless running after them.

Diokpa Ezeudigwu dismissed this version as hearsay that only exists in the figment of the imagination of a few Ibusa indigenes. His words: “This is only a recent development. A supposed event of the civil war of 1967 or thereabout cannot be tied to the ancient myth of Ibusa people whose existence pre-dates the Nigerian/Biafran civil war.”

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