Owerri is the capital city of Imo State in the south eastern part of Nigeria in West Africa. Populated
majorly by the people of igbo tribe, Owerri is arguably the most cosmopolitan city in the entire south east today.
Like most other towns/cities in Africa, the history of Owerri is steeped in valour, courage and victory.
It all started in the 14th Century. An Aristocrat named Oha, with his wife, Arugo, had two sons. the first Son was Ekwem while the second was Ndum. they lived in a village called Umuori in Uratta which is located in present day Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.
Oha the Aristocrat became old in age and died after a brief illness. By the igbo custom, the first son (usually called Opara in igbo culture) is required to provide the funeral cow.
Now, it is almost a taboo for an aristocrat to be buried in igbo land without the slaughtering of a cow, the burial would be deemed inconclusive. the passage of an igbo aristocrat is not a trivial issue even till this day. i witnessed the burial ceremony of an Ozo title holder in Onitsha, OMG! it was then i realized that the Oyinbos lied to us. Its a lie, not all men are born equal. an Ozo or Ichie title holder is not equal to a commoner. Mba! those are indeed aristocratic titles. The beauty of the African culture is that it always balances. so, while the Ozo or Ichie title holder has more communal priviledges, they also are expected to display more communal responsibilities.
So, Ekwem being the first son of Oha was supposed to provide the cow for their father's funeral. However, Ekwem was a man without means. Though a very honourable man in his own right, sometimes, honour is not synonymous with wealth. So that their father can have a befitting burial, Ekwem requested that his younger brother who was more wealthy should assist to buy the cow. Ndum bought the cow for the funeral. Thereafter, things were no longer at ease for the family as Ndum demanded to be given the head and heart of the cow since he was the one that bought the cow. Tufiakwa!
The head and heart of the funeral cow, by custom, belonged to the first son. Ekwem made this known to his younger brother, but Ndum was adamant. the elders of the clan (Oha Uratta) were called in to arbitrate. the elders being thruthful upheld tradition and ruled that Ekwem is the rightful owner of the head and heart of the cow. Ndum was enraged. He asked why custom didnt forbid him from buying the cow as a second son but forbade him from taking the head or heart. the wise elders responded by telling Ndum that it is for same reason that the custom allows him to have other parts of the cow but not the head or the heart.
Ndum became angry and plotted to kill Ekwem his elder brother. The plot leaked and Ekwem fled with his family in the dead of the night to Egbu, a neighboring town, taking with them some stores and domestic assistants. History has it that Ekwem's sister was already married at Egbu at the time. The sister fearing that Ndum may look for Ekwem in neighouring towns advised him to continue his journey to an unknown and uninhabited land for safety and settle there permanently. Ekwem and his immediate family set out during the night with the aid of owa (native torch) and arrived at a hill top now known as Ugwu Ekwema and settled there. They heaved a sigh of relief saying "OWERELA IHE MARAYA AKA" meaning HE HAS TAKEN WHAT IS HIS RIGHT or what rightly belonged to him. He sounded the drum (as he was told by his sister) to indicate his location. His sister was happy to locate him and his family the following morning. She returned to Egbu thereafter.
The advent of the British saw the anglicizing of Owere to Owerri but pronounced as though it was spelt Owere. All the neighboring towns (communities) of Owerri were founded and existed on planet earth centuries or decades before Owerri came into existence. It is a God given land (DESTINY LAND being the slogan for Owerri Municipal) and has remained protected with all the people therein by the same God Almighty.
The last quarter of the 17th century about 1670-1680, the Title of the Eze of Owerrl - OZURUIGBO (The King whose authority spans a large area of Igboland) was enacted and there have been 11 kings
1. Eze Eke Onunwa
1690 - 1735
2. Eze Okorie Onunwa
1735 - 1788
3. Eze Iheancho Okorie Onunwa
1788 - 1845
4. Eze Njemanze Iheanacho Okorie Onunwa Ozurigbo the First
1845 - 1920
5. Eze Ihemeje Njemanze
1921 - 1931
6. Eze Onwuegbuchulam Njemanze
1931 - 1941
7. Eze Johnson Osuji Njemanze Ozuruigbo the 2nd
1941 - 1965
8. Eze Reverend Samuel Njemanze
1966 - 1970
9. Eze Reginald Anugwolu Njemanze Ozuruigbo the 3rd
1970 - 1976
10. Eze Alexuis Anumaku Njemanze Ozuruigbo the|4th
1976 - 1988
11. Eze Emmanuel Emenyonu Njemanze Ozuruigbo the 5th
Eze Emmanuel Emenyonu Njemanze Ozuruigbo the 5th is now on the throne as Ozuruigbo the 5th by title, the 8th Njemanze on the throne and 11th king of Owerri. He was crowned on the 11th of November 1989 (11/11/89). it was said that at about 1840-1850, the kindred's of Eke Onunwa and Okorie Onunwa agreed to leave the crown permanently with the Njemanze family and became the kingmakers of Owerri who decide the Njemanze that wears the crown. The oldest man from the lineage of Akalonu Okorie kindred crowns the Eze of Owerri.
If you have gone to Cannan, the promised land in Isreal, but yet to set foot on Owerri, the destiny land in Nigeria, Africa, you are yet to fulfill your destiny.
So when next you set your foot on Owerri, you should remember that you are on a land of destiny, make a prayer for yourself and for me who revealed this unto you.
Cha, Cha, Cha.... Igbo Kwenu!
Njemanze and Njemanze...