The belief in one God, Chukwu, spirits and the ancestors was a way of life of the Igbo people. Oraifite means Ora (group),
Ifite (people) or group of people living together with common language, and a common cultural heritage.
"Oraifite is one of the towns that make up ANAEDO clan which consists of Nnewi, Oraifite and Ichi. Anaedo has the same history, traditional and customs in respect of festivals, traditional inhereitance and succession to obiship.
Oraifite is an autonomous community and the second largest town in the mediaeval Anaedo kingdom.
It is densely populated and situated about 12 - 16 kilometers from Onitsha both sides of the Onitsha-Owerri Road popularly known as Ekwusigo. It is bounded on the East by Nnewi, West by Atani, North by Oba and South by Ozubulu.
The land area extends from River Niger plains in the West and rises to higher grounds towards Nnewi to the East.
The Ekwusigo highway runs along the ridge and the plains are better appreciated by around Oba (behind Rojenny amusement park).
This land area is dissected by Ekulo River and bounded on the South by River Eze. Both rivers empty into the River Niger through a very complex system of waterways in the flood plain (Mgbo!) which is navigable down to Atani town by the River Niger.
Oraifite was among the towns in the former Onitsha South County Council (OSCC) and later Nnewi local Government and now Ekwusigo Local Government with Headquarters at Ozubulu.
Oraifite is made up of four quarters namely: Unodu(consists of Ibolo, Umuezopi and Isingwu),
Ezumeri, Irefi and Ifite.
Each of these quarters had a traditional head known as Obi.These Obis have one of them (the Obi of Unodu) as the Isi-Obi (Head Chief). The Isi-Obi is the traditional head of Oraifite people.
Chief Udoji was the Paramount Chief and Chiefs Obaa of Ezumeri, Enekwizu of Irefi and Ucheagbala of Ifite were warrants
Apart from occasional skirmishes and inter village squabbes - iti Okpili and Adam warriors, Oraifite enjoyed relative peace and calm. It was also a period when peace was forcibly imposed by the disarmament of male adults (itiji egbe) by the Colonial government.
The traditional heads of communities in Igbo land are generally referred to as Ndi Igwe which is just the manner their subjects
The title 'Igwe', symbolically means, "Our ruler which is as high as the sky". It implies that the Chief is the "highest" human being in his domain.
That simply shows the Igbo sense of comparism, as well as the esteem with which they hold their traditional heads, where they exist.
In Anaedo and Oraifite inclusive, succession to Obiship is by principle of primo-geniture...meaning that succession goes from
father to son until and when the lineage is extinct.
It is then that the next royal lineage in order of seniority takes over the Obiship. The earliest recorded Obi of Oraifite reigned about 407 years ago.
Obi Udoji was the reigning Igwe when the British came to
Oraifite in 1905. His monumental palace still stands at Ogbe Obi in Ibolo just behind the Ibolo Social Club hall.
Each of those past rulers were succeeded in accordance with Anaedo laws of succession mentioned above.
The present Udoji dynasty has never been in dispute. When the colonial government, for administrative convenience grouped some towns together under the native court based at Nnewi, two paramount chiefs were given prominence over others; Obi Orizu of Nnewi, and Obi Udoji of Oraifite.
Chief Ben Udoji was succeeded by his son, now Dr. Daniel Udoji, then a small boy when his father died. In accordance with
Oraifite customs and tradition, his eldest uncle Chief David Udoji was recalled from his place of work in Northern Nigeria
in 1943 to assume office as the Obi of Oraifite until the young Daniel would be ready to step into his father's shoes.
Chief David Udoji had to abandon his career in obeidence to the fathers of the town and returned to take up the revered mantle of office.
It was all in accordance with Anaedo Culture which never allows its traditional rulers to live outside their domains.
Had the Udoji lineage for any reason become extinct, succession to the throne will devolve firstly, on the OBIDIKE family and then
secondly, MBAKWE family and thirdly, on OKOBI family in that order before UDEZUKA family.
It could never by the custom of Oraifite become a free-for-all fight or based on wealth and affluence.
Such is the tradition and culture of our town in respect of traditional rulership.
As a riverine area, the main occupation of the Oraifite people were farming, fishing (at mgbo), raffia palm wine tapping at ose (mgbo).
There was plenty to eat and drink and surplus goods and farm products found a ready outlet in the famous Nkwo Ozulogu Market which is well known and patronized by traders from Onitsha, Atani, Nnobi, Nnewi, Ichi, Okija and other surrounding towns.
The people worshipped a
multiplicity of gods in various quarters, families and households.
Edo is the main deity worshipped in common in most towns of the Anaedo clan. Other deities worshipped were Ana, Ogwugwu, Anumanu, Mgene, Ubulu-Egbe, Mkpulu-Oba and Nne-Nkisi.
Some of these are peculiar to specific villages. Each of them has its particular culture, practice, times and modes of worship.
The people enjoy many social activities but some of these activities were associated with worship of these
There were lots of sacrificial feasts at the shrines often accompanied with dancing and merriment.
For example, the great "Ikwu aru which takes place once in twenty (20) years involves the slaughtering of cows by heads of families is in honour of Edo deity.
Other feasts which though cultural in nature and very popular but still idolatrous are: New Yam festival
(iri-ji), Afia Olu (or Ufie-ji-oku), title taking (ichi Ozo) etc.
Masquerading had its deep root in Oraifite tradition. Apart from being entertaining it was an instrument for the maintenance of law and order in the traditional society but it is grounded in juju worship and practices.
Generally, the people went about half nude. They lived in fear and dread of their gods, dangerous animals
from the nearby flood plains and forests, and even their fellow men especially in regard t witch-craft and
frequent wars. Ostracism and taboos were common.
---More to come---have a break for now---
Please note: some extract was taken from Mr. Sam O. C. Efobi's Oraifite Chieftaincy Crisis book.
A BIG thanks to Mr. Sam Efobi for his kindness in dedicated his work to all those Oraifite citizens who are seekers of the greater light and in whose hands lies the special responsibility of influencing the people of Oraifite out of the path of falsehood.
[source: Basic facts about the Igbo land was taken from Igbo Studies Association (ISA) -
an Affiliate Organization of the African Studies Association]