Families & Titles

Posted On 16 May 2010
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Families And Titles


Landlords (Ezeali) Umuezeali

The earliest arrivals, the Umuezealis are the recognised traditonal “landlords” of Ogba, entitled to all the rights and privileges attached to that position. Umuezealis bear the political title of Okpraeze or Ezeali. The most important rights appear to have been religious in character. Umuezealis are the priests and custodians of Ihialiogba (the “face” of Ali Ogba) located at Obigwe, which contains the Ohuo (or symbols of traditonal authority) of the Ogba onuobdos, especially those that came from the southern routes.

To this day, Ogbas observed the Whekeja tradition which is a monetary payment made to the Umuezealis before a corpes is buried. That the Umuezealis were the first Ogbas to arrived at the part of the Ogba which they occupy has never been  in doubt.

Iyasra (Prime Minister) -Umuogidi and Umuagbda

The position of Iyasra (Prime Minister)  which ranked next to the “King” was apparently derived from the Benin Iyase.  “Iyasra acts in the absence of the King”. “Iyasra does not remove his cap when greeting the king” “Iyasra sit next to the king in the palace”.

Umuogidi and Umuagbda onuobdos are the iyasra onuobdos, a title which is traditionally preserved for them in the daily isiali salutation. Umuogidi earned their high Iyasra position because of their victories against the Aboh and theirs heroic exploits across the rivers and lakes. Their choice of the leopard as their totem animal must have instilled fear into their enemies and enhanced their prestige among their friends, under the “watchful eyes of their terrible Odu-ka Ogidi  shrine. Eventually,  Umuagbda made a name when they defeated Aboh slave raiders in a battle on the Sombreiro River. Umuagbda introduced blacksmithery (iron work) in Ogba and became Agbda-lu-uzu.

Isoma and “Igbazu-keze” – Ihiukwu and Umuorodu

The Ihiukwu Onuobdo were among the early emigrants from Obigwe to Omoku, the story is that a few years after the Ihiukwus (followers of Ebelechi) had settled down in Obrikom, the Aboh-Ogba war occured. Naturally, the brave Ihiukwu people were called upon to produce a “War Canoe”. They quickly produced a magnificent war canoe which was placed under the command of Isoma, one of the sons of Ebelechi. Ebelechi’s other sons were Dike and Okirikwota.

Isoma had, among the warriors in his canoe, a brave young man named Osoh, one of his nephews ( or nwoyigmos). At a critical stage in the war, Osoh was the first to shoot down a warrior in an Aboh canoe. Isoma boarded the Aboh canoe and cut off the victim’s head as well as his seat (nga), thereby  earning for Ihiukwu the praise name, Umu-Ogbu-ebri-nga which is still current today. The sword belived to have been used by Isoma has been preserved to this day. On account of his gallantry, Isoma (or Ihiukwu) was given a special pre-eminent position in the traditional cabinent, next in rank to Iyasra. The  Ihiukwu Onuobdo was recognised as “the keeper of festival records” for all Ogba.The Ihiukwus are satisfied with the title Umu-Ogbu-ebri-nga while Umuorodu answer Umuogbu-ebisi, today, in the Nchaka or Ogudu celebration, Umuorodu must fire the first shot (in commemoration of Osoh’s shot) before anyone else. The Ihiukwu have a right to lead every Ogudu procession in Omoku.

Owerre (Guard, Commander) – Umueke

Eke, the ancestor of Umueke, was the junior brother of Orodu, the ancestor of Umuorodu. As early arrivals in Ali-Ogba, Umueke occupy the powerful position of  ”Owerre”  in the Court of the Eze-Ogba. The Owerre is the only Chief that has automatic right to enter the Royal Bedroom. According to V. Osi, S. Okroma and T. Ezegbrika, “Every gift intended for Eze-Ogba must be inspected by the “Owerre”. He alone has the right also of entering the Royal kitchen to inspect whatever the Eze-Ogba may eat. When the Eze-Ogba sits in council, the Owerre sits beside him. The title is hereditary within the onuobdo but not within an individual family in the onuobdo.

Ojoka (Hawk) – (Obosi Onuobdo)

The Title is enjoyed by the Obosi onuobdo. The title was earned when they sighted  Aboh war-canoe and warned other onuobdos of the impending danger. They also had the distinction of killing an Aboh war leader, hence the terrible title that depicts courage and determination against fearful odds. Onocha , a son of Obosi, had migrated from Obigwe to Omoku at the earliest period and settled near the Omoku River water-front to the north. This gave him or his desendants the privilage of being the first to sight the Aboh  war-canoe.

Ochioha  (Leader of all) – Umuekedi, Umuodogwu Onuobdos

The Umuekedi ancestors discovered many lands on the west bank of the Orashi River opposite Kreigani. At that time, the Abohs were very active slave raiders in this area. Umuekedi became inevitably involved in many battles against the Abohs. Two Umuekedi and Umuodogwu warriors deserve special mention. They are known to history by their praise names. The Umuekedi warrior was called Nwahurogwu ju iri while the Umuodogwu warrior was named Isikraka wakude atu. Both  warriors  were supposed to have relied on a charm called epripa,  which had the effect of deflecting any weapon aimed at them so that it would injure someone else on the side of the opponent! thus, Umuekedi won so many victories that they were awarded the title Ochoha (Leader of all).

Ajie – ike – Oha(Uriem, Umuimegi (alias Umuolota) and Umuokrocha Onuobdos)

Umuimegi and Umuolota are all members of the larger Uriem Onuobdo. When Uriem had settled in Obigwe, the trajedy occurred in which Eyio killed his wife because she ate the food that he himself had prepared. Ito-Abo-Ohuo or dissolution of the unity shrine which bound all Uriems together resulted and Uriems were separated into Umuolota, Okposi-Obodo, Uriem-Ahia Orie and others.

During an  Aboh – Ogba war, a seven-foot tall brave and fearless Okparionyohia a son of Uriem Onuobdo (from Umuokrocha branch?) challenged the Abohs and won several victories against them. He was a huge, hary, terror-striking man with a frightful, cracked voice. When the Aboh war-canoes were sighted, he beat loud gong and urged the people to stand firm and fight the enemy. He succeeded in rallying many lesser warriors together, a feat which helped much in destroying the Aboh invaders. At the end of the “war”, Uriem (with Umuimegi and Umuokrocha) were given the title Ajie-Ike-Oha (or Commander) -which they enjoy to this day.

Akogu (Loyal Leader) – Umunkaru

Duringthe “Aboh – Ogba war, each onuobdo had a specific assignment. Briefly, the story is that Aboh warriors invaded Ali-Ogba via Onita Creek and the Omoku River. Everyone fled from Omoku on the approach of the Abohs execpt the Umuebe traditional ruler who had become a eze Ogba in omoku. He hid himself in a bunker underground but was betrayed to the Abohs by a bitch which kept barking near the hiding place. On suspicion, the Abohs excavated the site and found and beheaded the ruler. Having done this , the Abohs assumed they had won complete victory. So, guarding their “trophy” jealously, they embarked for home.

But on their way out the Omoku River, the Umunkaru onuobdo felled a tree at Edebu near Onu Omoku and sank the Aboh war canoe with its crew, warriors, trophies and all. According to the original war plans, Umunkarus were supposed to fell that tree  to check the Abohs entry into Omoku River. But it is believed they were unaware when the Abohs first passed. but they may have altered the strategy deliberately on their own initiative. To this day, Umunkaru are called Umu Odilura Kebo Gahwreri ( the sons of those asleep when the Abohs passed).

Even if it is accepted that they may not have been sufficiently alert when the Abohs enterd, we, must acknowledge that the prompt initiative, tactful calculation and instant courage exhibited by them which utterly destroyed the Aboh war engine deserves commendation. Umunkarus call themselves Umu okapre mu enya (those pretending to sleep but are wide awake.)

During the Aboh war, as a result of Umunkarus’ performace, Eke-nwa-oji of Umunkaru Onuobdo was given the title Oka-okwu (i.e. he that plans and speaks) Later, Oka-okwu was shortened to Akogu and embellished with epithet Onyogu i.e. the warrior.

Oyro – Umuoyro

The title,  Oyro, is enjoyed by the Umuoyro Onuobdo. That Onuobdo is closely related to the Umunkaru onuobdo. through their common ancestor “Chi”. Like  Umunkaru, Umuoyro were also involved in the tree felling at Onu-Omoku which destoryed the Aboh invaders. the duty of the Oyro in traditional government is to act as one of the advisers of the Eze-Ogba.

Ewo (peace-maker)  – Umualinwa

Umualinwa was among the onuobdos that came to Ali-Ogab from a westerly direction through a Aboh town (Ogwu-Aniocha}. Apparently, they were among the latest to arrive at Ali-Ogba. Umunkaru and Umuoyro must have arrived before them. Consequently, unlike Umunkaru and Umuoyro, they refused to fight the Abohs.  They were therefore not admitted as members of the prestigious “Igbu” society (or Club of “Killers”). To this day, the Ogudu procession does  not pass through Obakata quarter where the Umualinwas live in Omoku. At the end of the Aboh (slave) war, they were awarded the title in common with the Umuohali Onuobdo.

Omodi or Onueze (mouth-piece of the “king” )  – Umuossia

Ossia, the ancestor of Umuossia, was a son of Ebe (the beetle), the ancestor of Umuebe (“son of the beetle”). Ebe nwa Alia had five sons altoghether – Egbure, Okoya, Ossia, Akoluka and Enyasi. Okoya, one of Ossia’s brothers, was the Eze-ogba who was beheaded when the Aboh slave raiders invaded Omoku. His predecessor was a member of the Umuenyasi branch. In the palace of the Eze-Ogba, Umuossia are represented by the Omodi or Onueze.


Umueriehi are the traditional “kingmakers” entitled to crown the Eze-Ogba Nwadei Oghuehi. It appears the Umuebes are traditonally crowned by the Umuohalis. This has certainly happened on one occasion witnessed by the writer in Omoku. On the other hand, the Umuohalis emphasise that as “kings themselves, their duty does not include or end with crowning other “kings”.

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  1. Elenya, Elvis Elenya

    The writers believe on who the ewors truelly are is wrong.HISTORY, oral, has it that, the king makers rite by the ewors is actually as result of event that happened in the past. the true eze ogba were the ewors, it was lost as result of jealousy and pride, the eze ogba had daughters no son, so his brothers made gest of him,telling him that the crown would be lost to them. this was true because according to the tradition, if the eze fails to have a son, it would be given to the eldest of his brothers. but eze had a daughter he somuch love. she was married to an umu-ebe and had a son for him. one a ceremonial visit with her son to the eze, when she was leaving, the eze out of pride gave the owor a respec ted and feared symbol of leadership to his grand son. so the crown was lost to the umuebe.Till date this history is still there and in other to still respect the originators of the thrown, the ohalis were made the kingmakers. no body should try to change truth….

  2. True Ogbaman

    we thank God for the sponsors of this web page to enable the younger generation know the true position of history, but the family in No. 7 was mis-presented as a mere peace maker. It will be wise to say the truth that can set us free inspite of personal interests. having said that, I wish to establish that the Umu-Ohali royal kindred are the King makers, as they and no other family or kindred has the right to crown the king. They have been crowning kings including the incubent.

  3. Paul Onita Isiodu

    i appreciate your effort in giving the account above, is indeed a noble job, however there some areas that the account are not correct.
    Omodi or Onueze (mouth-piece of the “king” ) – Umuossia
    For the record Ossiah is not one of the sons of Ebe-nwalia, Ossia is the last son of Eze son of Ebe-nwalia. Eze had three sons Okpara, Achi and Ossia. this correction is important so that future generation will not be misled.

  4. eell

    Your point is well taken!