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Igbuzo or Ibuzo: What is the True Native Name of Ibusa in Delta State?

It was very interesting listening to reasons in favour of and against the appropriate native name of Ibusa in Delta State before the British colonial government anglicized the name to sound as “Ibusa.” Contenders racked their brains to churn out points to back up their arguments.

Amazingly, the natives of this town refer to themselves and indeed the town as “Igbuzo” a fact which cannot be disputed while others outside the nativity of the town refer to them as “Ibuzo” still a lot of people exist who in their reference to the town spell the name of the town as either “Igbuzor” or “Ibuzor.” Different people have different names for the town which I find remarkable having a town with four different names, still all the names are similar and but divided along the border of meanings and spellings.

This development has given birth to two Schools of thought with two parallel opinions, theories and arguments, some of which are typically described below:

(i)                 Igbuzo School of thought

Those belonging to this school are of the opinion that the actual native name of the town before the British anglicized it was “Igbuzo” and still remains so till today. They attribute the continued usage and survival of this name as evidence that the people have not forgotten their history, as they know where they have come from and who they are. “Igbuzo” (Igbu-Uzo) means the Igbo living on the way or road (Please see Ibusa (Igbuzo) People) another article by this author.

This they argue is buttressed by the present geographical location of the town. They conclude that Umejei, the founder of the town and his followers settled along the road where the indigenes of the town now find themselves.  It is believed that it was in reference to this strategic location that compelled other later settlers to refer to them (Ibusa) as “Igbo bi na uzo.”

(ii)               Ibusa School of thought

This School of thought hold that “Ibuzo” (Where you the first to settle here?) is more an appropriate name of the town and the town has since immemorial been addressed as one and that their neighbours all have taken this recognition of them. To them, no name could have been more appropriate for the earliest settlers who might have greatly admired by the said neighbours. That Ibuzo were the first to settle in the Asaba-Ibusa-Ogwashi-Uku axis is no small task.

It is therefore this development that has come to respectfully earn them the name “Ibuzo” It was therefore this name that the British met and transformed to “Ibusa” in the years that followed. This school will support this argument with the fact that similarity exist in pronunciation as well as spelling between “Ibuzo” and “Ibusa”

The two other forms of name of the town “Ibuzor” and “Igbuzor” arise as a result of spelling differences with the two names ending in “r”

Could it be that Ibusa have borne both names at different times or even together before the said Anglicism took place? For instance, the natives of the land are not known to have ever referred to themselves as Ibuzo or even the town indigenously. We know this for sure. At least Ndi-igbuzo (Igbuzo people) Onye-Igbuzo (Igbuzo indigene) Igbuzo Okokoko (Exclamation) Igbuzo Kwenu and Igbu-Ebi Ili (The ten quarters of Igbuzo) are all spoken in the native tongue of the people. Is it possible that while the people addressed themselves and the town as a whole as “Igbuzo” others address them as “Ibusa?

On the other hand, it is also likely to reason that as the first settlers on the present axis in which the town presently exists; Asaba, Ogwashi-Uku indigenes etc might have referred to them as “Ibuzo” causing other Anioma people to refer to similarly refer to them alike in their relationship with the Igbuzo or Ibuzo people. But far from being a mark of respect and regard for the people, only a contention over was the first settlers on that very axis might have occasioned the name “Ibuzo” meaning where you the first?

 I postulate that with time, other settlers maybe from Asaba, Ogwashi-Uku etc might have began to challenge the Ibusa people over the ownership of certain lands thus occasioning the contention on who was the first to settle in the areas. The Ibuzo people might as well have replied them every time this issue arose with “Ibuzo?” i.e. Where you the first to settle here? And with time in imitation of this, “Ibuzo” became the name of the people. If this had taken place years of the settlement of these people, then the people could have been earlier known as Igbuzo people but with later events as described here Ibuzo, yet the people retained their original name Igbuzo.

Recently (June 14, 2008) while in the town, I took notice of a message clearly written on a signpost in front Omu Primary School located in Eziukwu Quarters of the town. The word “Ibuzo” clearly attests to the name of the town as written on the signpost in form of address. This school was founded in 1931.

Only serious researches will again unravel the true native name of the town before Anglicism by the British, and one thing I can assuredly state is that records must be in existence with the British as to what appropriate name they met, and only proper conduct of researches will help us discover this as I call on the people of the town to ensure that the town officially reverts to the original name by which it is known not the very meaningless “Ibusa”  

By Emeka Esogbue 


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