The people of Agukwu Nri, the acclaimed custodians of the Igbo culture and their Enugwu Ukwu brothers appear set to stir up controversy over which of the two communities is the progenitor.
Although both communities have over the years, enjoyed cordial relationship as brothers, recent utterances from both sides tended to suggest that there had been bottled animosity among their people.
The latest trouble was said to have reared its head during the inauguration of a museum in Enugwu Ukwu by the traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Ralph Obumnemeh Ekpeh.
At the epoch-making ceremony, the Monarch was quoted as saying that Agukwu Nri has usurped the place of the son of Nri who is Okpalanakana-Ukabia Nri.
Though the statement came as a surprise to many people, the royal father assuaged their feelings when he acknowledged that “nevertheless, we cannot stop commending the effort of Agukwu to preserve the glories and artifacts of Nri.”
He, however, said that “In doing this, they (Agukwu) should not forget to accord respect to the first son of Nri, who is Okpalanakana-Ukabia Nri.
He said further: “Quick realization of this and cooperation would help Nri Kingdom to restore its place in history. Together, we shall move mountains, but rancour, disintegration and incoherent achievement will lead to consequences.”
In the words of the Traditional Culture Minister of Enugwu-Ukwu, Chief Jude Ekwunife, Enugwu-Ukwu is the first son among the nuclear children of Nri, who was one of the sons of Eri.
Ekwunife said: “Nri, who migrated from Aguleri spent most of his active life at a spot known as Nkpume Onyilienyi in Ugwu Awovu area of Isionye quarter of Enugwu-Ukwu. It was while sojourning at Nkpume-Onyilienyi that Nri begat Okpalanakana, the revered father of Enugwu-Ukwu.”
Worried by the signals from Enugwu Ukwu of the seniority issue, Prince Charles Tabansi, the former President General of Nri Kingdom and great grandson of the former king of Nri, frowned at the word ‘usurpation’ used by the Enugwu Ukwu monarch.
Tabansi said: “It is obvious from the many utterances of prominent men of Enugu-Ukwu and from the big masquerade himself, the Igwe of Enugu-Ukwu that our brothers have decided to twist the history.
Tabansi however appreciated the advice of Igwe Ekpeh on the need for them to come together as one family to protect what is theirs by extension, stressing that the four towns comprising of Enugu-Ukwu, Enugu- Agidi, Nawfia and Nri have common ancestry who was better known as Nri after his coronation.
“Nri was the name known and documented by the early writers. By answering Umu Nri, they sought to capitalize on a known quantity. The real name of the group should have been Umu Menri. The term Umu Nri was a creation of the 1970s and was created to build brotherhood and common front to seek for common good,” he said.
Traditional ruler of Nawfia, Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo, said there was no need fighting over the issue of primogenitor, advising that the best solution would be to sit down and dialogue over the issue.