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Igbuzo: One Community With Different Names

The arbitrary change of the name of the community lying across the West of the Bank of the River Niger by the British without consulting the people to determine their fate is one of the wrongs done on the collective social will of the people of the community. It is for this reason that researchers are today working round the clock to factually determine what name the town bore before it was anglicized because the British lacked the ability to pronounce the name of the town. It is hoped that researchers will successfully conclude this and determine the true native name of the town.

The history of the undue dominance of the Anioma land lying in today’s Delta State , south-South of Nigeria shows the arbitrariness of the former colonial masters of the country in dealing with the communities of the Anioma region. The same British missionaries and traders who advised that such names be changed never made efforts to do proper documentations of the native names borne by these people thus leaving room for troubling social controversies to set in. Ahaba was anglicized to Asaba and interestingly it was the “h” in the name of the town that constituted the difficulty in the pronunciation of the name by the British missionaries and traders. Isei-Ukwu,became officially twisted to sound as Issele-Uku. Ogwa-Nshi-Ukwu was transformed to Ogwashi-Uku, Isei-Mkpitime resulted in Issele-Mkpitime. Okpam became Okpanam, Alaa, Ilah. Igbuzo (or maybe Ibuzo) suddenly became Ibusa.

The Anglicization of Igbuzo caused it to terribly lose its actual native name as well as history of origin of settlement. Igbuzo or/and Ibuzo are more precise and meaningful and clearly declares the history of the settlement of the people rather than the “Ibusa” foisted on the people by those who could not even speak the language of the people. Historians of the town believe it constitutes another major impediment studying the history of the people as a proper study of a people must begin with place of name in their history.

One must not also lose sight of the fact that it is also an outrage to the people who have since been made to bear a name that means nothing in any language. The name “Ibusa” is thus like a nickname because the people have since unofficially reverted to the generally known native name of the town. In any gathering requiring greeting the people collectively and traditionally, what is often heard is “Igbuzo Igwe Nu O” “Igbuzo Igwe, Igwe Nu” but never “Ibusa” Igwe Nu O. Not even “Ibuzo” Igwe Nu. So Igbuzo may be closer to being the actual name of the community before Anglicization took place though a much more thorough research needs to be done to confirm this.

The name “Igbuzo” is more recognized in the native dialect of the people and has been in frequent usage. Critics of the name “Igbuzo” harangue that it was a name foisted on the people by its Igbo neighbours on the other side of the River Niger for historical identity instead of Ibuzo which reflectively denotes the history of the settlement of the people. Still, a handful of historians hold that “Ibuzo” was nicknamed on the settlers by the other Anioma communities and made popular by the people of Asaba, Ogwashi-Uku, Okpanam and Oko. Both “Ibuzo” and “Igbuzo” may have been truly foisted on the people by their neighbours. If this is true then all the names by which the people are known have been foisted on them by the different communities including the more officially recognized “Ibusa” now generally pronounced as “Igbu-zor” foisted by the British.

The people of the town will do well to officially reverse to the native name of the town before the said Anglicization occurred and the name “Igbuzo” is by far a better suggestion since the indigenes and teeming inhabitants of the community have already known the town by this name. “Igbuzo” should therefore be it.

By Emeka Esogbue 


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