THE COMPREHENSIVE HISTOTRY OF UTUTU PEOPLE IN AROCHUKWU LGA, ABIA STATE

THE COMPREHENSIVE HISTOTRY OF UTUTU PEOPLE IN AROCHUKWU LGA, ABIA STATE

Ututu is a peaceful community located in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State of Nigeria. It shares a common boundry between Aro and Ihechiowa in Abia State.

The geographical area known as Ututu described above is named after the founder of the Clan Mazi Otutu Ezema. The original patriarch was Atita Akpo a notable warrior of the Oba of Benin during the 15th century. Atita Akpo is said to have fled the Bini kingdom along with his followers. Oral history has it that they first tried to settle in Ogoni land of Indoni and Andoni. Having spent considerable length of time in both places, but eventually serious war erupted between the newcomers and their Ogoni landlords, as a result of which they left Ogoni land. How long the Atita group spent in Ogoni land before proceeding to Isieke Ibeku is still the subject of imminent research.

At Isieke Ibeku, their new place of abode. Nna Atita Akpo the Leader having long died. It was Ezema Atita his son who assumed leadership of the group. Again how long the Atita group spent in Ibeku, is still a matter of conjecture. However it was from this new abode that the three sons of Ezema Atita namely; Uduma, Onyerubi and Otutu left to establish the Clans of Ohafia, Abam and Ututu respectively. Another son of Ezema Atita namely Lokpa also established the Clan of Lokpanta.

The biggest challenge in writing the history of Ututu is to give a chronology of the migration from the time Atita Akpo fled the Bini Kingdom to the time Otutu Ezema arrived Amaeke Ututu. It is pertinent that Otutu Ezema the son of Ezema Atita arrived Ututu with a group of people of whom he was their leader. These areas was sparsely inhabited by the Ibibios, so their first task was to subdue the Ibibios and chase them out of what eventually will be the Ututu ridge. This task they undertook with renewed vigor, but a certain hunter and his son strayed into this area, whose manner impressed the warriors, so that instead of dealing with them as they did to the Ibibios they met, the man’s courage and intelligence really endeared him to the warriors, and he was left unharmed, which was an unusual occurrence in those days considering the fact that people were not as humane and civilized as they are today.

The name of this hunter was Cheke Ukwu, and his son was called Nzerem. Recognizing the Security Advantage to be derived from this powerful group of warriors Cheke Ukwu and his son pleaded that they should be allowed to stay under the protection of Otutu Ezema and his group. Even though their request was granted, it was on the condition that they will not reside in the geographical area called Amaeke, which was exclusively reserved for Otutu Ezema and his group, and the name itself was derived from Amaeke-Ibeku the former home of Ezema Atita the father of Otutu Ezema.

ACIENT UKWU ACHI AMAEKE (The capital territory of UTUTU)

The first significant action that Otutu Ezema took after the decision to reside in this area was to plant his Hearth Stone (Nkuma Etiti-Ogo) as the Centre of his domain. When in future other Villages will spring up, each new Village will follow his example and establish its own hearthstone (Nkuma Etiti-Ogo), but the hearthstone of Amaeke Village remains the common property of the entire Ututu Clan.

As already stated the initial period of the settlement of Otutu Ezema and his followers in Amaeke Ututu was a very turbulent one, as the Ibibios continued to make incursions into his domain. So that if these incursions were to end, serious Security Arrangements had to be put in place as deterrence. Already after sparring the lives of Cheke Ukwu and his son Nzerem, they were commissioned to reside in a strategic area within the Ututu ridge to act as spies in case of attacks by the Ibibios.

At this time, they was another group of people who originally was of the Ekoi tribe, this group made their living as mercenaries touring the Igbo and Ibibio hinterlands in search of clients. They were known as the AKPA. Initially they were patronized by Otutu Ezema on temporary basis, but the association became so successful in checking intruders into the Ututu ridge that Otutu Ezema decided to make the relationship a permanent one.

In the intelligent report on the origin of Ututu people, Compiled Mr. R. Newton in 1932. Chief Kalu Ifere of Obiagwulu Ututu (an Akpa village) had this to say concerning their abode. “When Okennachi lived in Utughugwu Aro. Ezenama lived in Ututu. Both of them had trouble with the Ibibio. When we (Akpa) came to Ututu the first man we met was Ezenama. The people of Abuma were also hired as soldiers but the Ibibio chased them back to Omuma in Ohafia. Okennachi and Ezenama combined. They met at Ugwuakuma and divided into two parts in case the Ibibio should come back. They tied palm leaves on themselves so that they should be recognized. Ezenama gave white cloth, a ram and a white fowl to 16 Akpa as a sign that they should live near him and that he accepted them. We lived first at Abuma but later on Ezenama wanted us to live nearer to Amaeke.”

IZU CULTURAL FESTIVAL

While this dramatic account of the Chief might not entirely be the truth, for instance there is no historical evidence that Otutu Ezema (Ezenama in the account) lived at the same period with Okennachi, one of the founders of Arochukwu. Also there is no evidence that Abuma (Cheke Ukwu and his son Nzerem) were chased to Ohafia as the Chief narrated, but the account does give an insight on the manner that Otutu Ezema admitted the AKPA into the Ututu Confederacy.

The word Confederacy is a convenient term to describe the first set of people to be known as Ututu people. Of course the name Ututu is derived from Otutu Ezema who was the leader of the group that first occupied Amaeke-Ututu where his hearthstone was placed. The second group of people was Cheke Ukwu and his son Nzerem who eventually were to be known and called Abuma Ututu. The third group was the AKPA mercenaries that will give birth to a number of other Villages in Ututu, and the fourth is an obscure Village called Ohomja. This last group had independently come to the Ututu ridge from Itumbuzor area, but exploited the security advantage to be derived by aligning themselves to the Otutu Ezema group and thereafter became part of the confederacy.

The instrument that these four groups of people had in common was the Offor, which Otutu Ezema had inherited from his father Ezema Atita now known as Offor Otutu in his new settlement. This instrument was largely responsible for keeping intruders out of the Ututu ridge. Like the “Ark of Convenant”, which the Israelites carried to battle zones, the Offor Ututu accompanied the Ututu warriors in all major skirmishes with the Ibibios, and moreso gave them victory.

A few decades after Otutu Ezema and his group arrived Ututu, they were now so consolidated in their new home and began the onerous task of governance to ensure the reign of law and order. Before going to the establishment of Government in Ututu, it is relevant to know some more details about the patriarch Otutu Ezema.

Oral History tells us that this man had many wives and children, but only two of his sons deserve special mention for the purpose of this discourse. These sons are; his first son Akuma Ukwu and his second son Koko Ukwu. Whether both of them came from the same or different mothers is of no importance. Again it is necessary to have an idea of the time that the Ututu migration took place. The intelligence Report by the Assistant District Officer, Aro had this to say; “A good deal of information was obtained by means of stories, legends, family histories and pedigrees, and the history of Ututu can be written with a good chance of accuracy even in details, the general outline is certainly correct…

Mr. Mathews, the Government anthropologist, states in his report that the founding of the Aro. Confederacy took place between 150­-160 years ago.

The Ututu however, say that they arrived in their present country before the AKPA came from over the Cross-River, that they had trouble with the scattered bands of Ibibio who were living on what is now the Ututu ridge and that a party of their soldiers were driven back to the Northward by the Ibibio, when the AKPA came the Ututu took advantage of the war to drive out the Ibibio…

Mr. Mathew’s method of finding the rough date of the AKPA invasion by means of counting the generations from leaders of the invasion was followed in the present case. The most detailed and carefully compiled pedigrees go back some nine, ten or eleven generations. Every effort was made to make certain that collateral relations were not included in the time of descent.

Thus it seems the Ututu migration took place between 180-200 years ago. It was certainly gradual and that may account for discrepancies of pedigree. The care with which these pedigrees were kept illustrates the statement of Mr. D. A. F. Shute District Officer, Aro who wrote that “descent from an ancestor who brought his people into new lands is more likely to be remembered than descent from an ancestor who just lived and died where he was born”.

Let us come back to the two known sons of Otutu Ezema, as their activities are of great significance in the establishment of Traditional Government in Ututu. The first son Akuma Ukwu lived with his father at Amaeke Ututu until when he was old enough to establish his own home. This residence of Mazi Otutu Ezema is known as Ihu-Izu, the most sacred spot in Ututu. But Akuma Ukwu went to another part of the Village where the founded his own compound, this compound is called till this day – Ndi Eziakuma Compound.

The second son Koko Ukwu did not reach the Ututu ridge with his father, instead he settled Northward in an area called Ujara. By this period oral history tells us that the Ihechiowas did not reside in their present abode. Isii Koko who was Koko Ukwu’s son also resided in Ujara like his father throughout his lifetime. It was to ensure peaceful existence in this area that Koko Ukwu established the deity of Anyunku.

When Otutu Ezema died, it was his son Akuma Ukwu who inherited the Offor Ututu, the instrument with which his father had kept the several groups that now inhabited the Ututu ridge together, it had become the Symbol of Power Truth and Rulership. Akuma Ukwu went a step further by establishing a permanent abode for the Offor Ututu in his new compound Ndi-Eziakuma Compound. This abode is called Awada Ukwu Ututu or Ututu Supreme Court/House of Assembly. Whereas Otutu Ezema had the dream of making a home for his family/group in this area, it was Akuma Ukwu who made this dream a reality by establishing the body known as AKPA ASAA UTUTU.

This Eze Ututu as he was rightly referred to was the one who established the seven stones on which members of AKPA ASAA derive their power.

Ututu Bride (Nwa Agbogo Nzuzu) fetching water for relatives before settling down with husband

administrator

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *