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Meet the Esogbue Family of Isieke, Ibusa

“Esogbue” is the collective family name of a group of people closely related to each other including those who are dead found in Umuafene, Isieke in Ibusa, Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. It is one of the largest and famous families in the town. The family has borne this name longer than anyone can remember as individuals are not known to often do a change of name resulting in the abandonment of the name. It is a name the bearers have found prided in, publicly flaunting it as that which fulfils what it sounds.

The origin of the name can be traced to Ibusa and is less commonly borne even by the people of Ibusa. The name “Onyesogbueziem’ means “No one should bother me” or “Let nobody trouble me”. However, for easy pronunciation, it is often shortened to “Esogbue”. The name is derived from the Enuani language of the people and significant in everyday usage where “Esogbuziem” meaning “stop bothering me” is always used as an exclamation to ordinarily reject unwanted gestures. The members of this family collectively believe that any human being not bothered often achieve what God has positively destined for him.

The family is a happy and united one under the social leadership of a “Diokpa”. A Diokpa in the tradition of the Anioma is a family head entrusted with the day to day leadership of a family. Diokpaship naturally comes to individuals and never elected or voted in. A person could become a Diokpa on account of age if he is the oldest man in his entire family. Being the eldest men automatically confers the statue on any man; he is thus recognized as such wherever he finds himself, never to be disrespected by any one member of his family. Diokpaship is a masculine status never enjoyed by woman.

There could be Diokpa within the immediate family level, which means that the first son of any parents naturally and automatically becomes their own Diokpa. There could also be a Diokpa within the extended and compound family relationship, within the village level and indeed the whole of the town. The Diokpa of Ibusa is for instance called the “Senior Diokpa”.

Diokpaship is a natural form of democracy which ensures orderliness in a family and sees to it that the oldest remains in the helm of affairs. The Esogbue family is not different from this seeming family political system as the family is headed by a Diokpa whose major duty it is to unite the various people of the family whether married or not. Decisions are usually put to vote by the members of the family, while the Diokpa of the family has the final say where a particular decision is difficult to reach.

The Esogbue family is a larger family of Afene descendants where the various families are believed to be related having all descended from Afene, a woman said to be the found of the large family unit. The name of the clan is thus derived from the Afene, the said founder of the clan. It is for this reason that the clan is called “Umuafene” (Children of Afene) there are some historians of the town such as Chief Willy Okobi, the present Diokpa of Umuafene who holds that it is more appropriate to refer to Umuafenea as “Umugbe” for the reason being that Afene is woman and it is inappropriate to for a whole clan to bear the name of a woman. He suggests that that the clan reverses Umugbe as the name of the town since children should bear their father’s name.

It is obvious that the family units that make up the clan are closely linked so there are many close families to the Esogbue within the Umuafene. It is a relationship that extends to Isieke being another larger clan that accommodates many more families also believed to be part of Umukea lineage. Umuekea is one of the quarters in Ibusa meaning the children of Ekea. Oral tradition states that Ekea was a successful business woman who journeyed from Obosi and first found a husband in Asaba. Following a divorce with her Asaba husband, she remarried an Ibusa man had children for him. The people of Umuekea in Ibusa and Ekea in Asaba are her today’s descendants. This is the link between the Isieke of Asaba and Ibusa.

Many years ago, the Umuekea descendants of Ibusa and Asaba were not allowed to intermarry based on the close relationship that existed between them just as the Ibusa people never married from any part of Isu of the Igboland of the South-East because it is believed that Umejei, the chief founder of Ibusa originated from Isu of the Igboland. It was a period that the Ekea descendants shared closer ties with their Ekea brothers and sisters from Asaba. History records that the Ekea children from Ibusa have discouraged series of wars that the Ibusa people would have entered with the people of Asaba on account of the relationship that existed between the larger descendants from both towns.

Intermarriage is never encouraged among the descendants Umuekea Quarter; it is thus forbidden for anyone Umuekea illustrious son or daughter to think of marrying another Umuekea son or daughter. This is well known among the people of Ibusa. The traditional greeting of the members of Esogbue family as well as the entire people of Umuekea and Isieke of Asaba is “Omogwu”. It is difficult to establish the meaning of this greeting but it is a traditional greeting that has lasted for generations. Omogwu is often returned with Omogwu.

The entire members of Esogbue family are freeborn, and are not carrying any form of taboo. No member of the family has been known to be ostracized for any reason and the family has grown to produce an Eze title holder in the town.

The renowned Prof. Onwuyalim Esogbue, a scientist and the Only African in service of NASA based in the United States of America is a member of the family.

By Emeka Esogbue 


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