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Ibusa: A Community enmeshed in frequent and unending factionalisms

The history of the Ibusa community is curtailed without the mention of factional conflicts and infighting. Internal strife is common to Anioma communities and intense in other places like Issele-Uku, Ogwashi-Uku, Onicha-Olona, Obiaruku, Igbanke and Okpanam among numerous others but Ibusa unfortunately represents the peak of internal bickering. It is very vital to point out that the nature of feud in Anioma does not necessarily lead to communal clashes but factionalism. The people have so mastered the implications that they remain unshaken from the ugly scenarios. Sadly, it affects both the rich and poor in various ways but not much is often done to bring about reunite feuding parties and Quarters in a little community that belligerents trade guilt. This is my regret about human relationship in the town.

The community is a tripartite one but the initial arrangement that led to its foundation is traceable to Umejei and Edini. History records that it was the peaceful oral treaty between Edini from Nshi (Nri) and Umejei from Isu that gave birth to the union of Ibusa. In the later part of the history of the people, other migrants from Benin (Ezechime) migrated to Ibusa. In fact, many families that are today of Ibusa origin cannot idyllically and authentically trace or establish their ancestral roots in Ibusa. However, everyone has developed a place and owns a stake in Ibusa community.

Ibusa is ancestrally linked to many communities within and outside the Anioma community. The Ibusa progenitors are from Nshi (Nri) and Isu while still historically retaining links with the Ogboli families of Ogwashi-Uku, Issele-Uku and a few others in Igbo land, the progenitors of the community also share ancestral relationship with Asaba (when Eke married in Ibusa after a failed marriage in Asaba) Ejeme-Unor, Isheagu, and Oko. As said earlier, there are the Ezechime descendants from Benin . It is for this reason that Ibusa shares names of Quarters and clans with other communities such as Ogboli, Umuekea, Isieke, Ogbeowele etc

It must be understood that the nature of disputes in the town cannot be linked to its divergent history of foundation as mere disagreements between people and quarters have often led feuds that involve the entire community. It was an attempted arrangement by Ibusa Community Development Union (ICDU) in the 1990s to give the town a new face in traditional headship that manifested in the lingering crisis the community is facing. The creation of the Obuzor institution though befittingly perfect for the community, badly conceptualized thus clashing with the already existent age-long gerontocracy that bi-polarized the entire town. This is the biggest problem the community is facing in its entire history.

The bad conceptualization recognizes that the crafters of the Obuzor institution should either have totally abandoned the gerontocracy order already in place and enthrone the Obuzor institution or forever drop the institution dream and retain the gerontocracy political arrangement . With the gerontocracy-advocates strongly pushing for the retention of the Diokpa as the head of the town and the present Obuzor laying absolute claims to kingship by virtue of his Supreme Court judgment, it is a tale of a community with two kings. With sometimes the involvement of the police at the slightest provocation to settle matters of communal family interest or scuttle meetings geared at the administration of the community, unity and oneness will continue to evade us.

In December 2009, there was a word from stakeholders of the town and as reported by ICDU Newsletter, a publication of Ibusa Community Development Union, Port-Harcourt Branch that the Governor of Delta State, His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduagha was preparing to wade into the disputes limiting growth and development in the town with a view to mollifying the belligerents but till date nothing else has been heard and the situation has remained as static as it was in the very beginning. However, the people are still waiting to breath with relief.

The Ibusa people in Diaspora appear to enjoy better affinity. The people of the town are so volatile that even trivial social issues can elicit division among the people. Typically, the people are usually and irreconcilably divided along two separate and distinct lines that often never meet for any reason. It is painful. Perhaps the nature and history of the closely knit community may be required to unravel the mystery surrounding the factionalisms that are bound to quickly occur among the people. What is clear in this case is that the people are often quick to embrace factionalism which in the end rarely culminates in violence of any sort.

The origin causes and types of factionalism typical to the Ibusa community may also need to be studied in order to gain an exhaustive insight on how to prevent and manage the social problem. A thorough discussion on this study will be left for another time. Oral tradition of the community traces the history of factionalism to the “Eze Ofu Ani” account in which a particular King of the community was dethroned in a strange circumstance leading to his enchantments on the town, invoking disunity for the people.

The authenticity of the account may not be different from those of other communities that have become too trite to be attached with credibility however; that the history of Ibusa cannot be written without consideration to unending wrangling is absolutely factual. I have discovered that no single quarter in the town is free from bickering just as the entire town itself is divided along two parallel lines that never meet.

As you read this piece, every Ibusa indigene consciously or unconsciously belongs to either “Otu Diokpa” or “Otu Obuzor”. Sadly, it affects even indigenes in Diaspora who were never part of the internal strife that culminated in the factionalism. The other side of it is whenever the infighting has occurred; you are immediately made to identify with the camp to which the larger part of your family belongs unless you feel otherwise. Again, ignorance of the problem at hand is never justification as you only become aware of the matter when you or any member of your family has traditional marriage or funeral to celebrate. Interestingly, even your mom and dad may not be in attendance if you choose to identify with any of the groups.

Many of us in Diaspora are evidently tired of being made to become slaves to insignificant issues we originally do not know about and not part of. Why on earth should any person or group of people insist that I identify myself with a group to ascertain eligible guests to my traditional marriage? Why should even some close relatives shun the attendance of funeral of close relatives on account of perceived membership of opposing group? These problems are occasioned by greed and selfishness, and are piloted and enjoyed by tired elders to the detriment of their children. The elders of the community have again failed us. For nearly 30 years now, the Ibusa community is seemingly traditionally headed by two traditional leaders each claiming to have the valid blessings of their subjects, backed by other greedy individuals too.

In the Umuafene clan of Isieke, a certain irrelevant dispute has since forced the people to “choose this day whom to serve” the Isieke or Umuafene group that suddenly emerged. The cases of family members who refuse to identify with any of the two existing groups have been subjected to absolute abandonment by members of both groups. Indeed there are people who feast on the meaningless and cheap bickering maintaining indefinable, palpable and imperceptible grounds to matters to only a few people with similar aims. This is a situation that is fast sending illustrious sons and daughters to flee from the community or at least the clan. The youths are here to learn from the elders that have continued to fail us as everything continues to divide before us all.

Implications for any community such as Ibusa in this state are rife with social disaster and needs not be explained here any further. Disunity has become ubiquitous in the “hilly dusty little town”. Parents and children may belong to opposing camps. Cultural demands once commonly held in endearment by all have also split along two separate lines. Indigenes now have the choice to decide on which “Okanga” and “Aguba” to use during funerals. The good effects of social developments have also eluded the community when in 1991; the Abacha regime without conviction by neglected the community to proclaim smaller Akwuwku-Ukwu headquarters of newly created Oshimili North Local Government North. It was also shocking that Ibusa geographically lying about six miles away from Asaba is located Oshimili “North” and not Oshimili “South” with closer Asaba. At least no one queried the government’s decision and it is still so. What the town is losing as result of strife, other communities are gaining for their growth as result of relative peace.

We appeal to our elders to shun rancor and strive to build a peaceful society for the betterment of all including their children.

By Emeka Esogbue 

 

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