I would not have known Ikwo’s land if not for the fact that I was opportune to be there as a student at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi state. Yes, Ikwo is a place situated in the south East, in Ebonyi state which is Headed by His Excellency, Engr. Dave Umahi. Ikwo is the single largest Local Government Area in Ebonyi State. It is located in the eastern part of the state. The big city and local government area has a land mass of close to 500 square kilometers and shares a border with Abakaliki, Izzi, and Ezza Local Government Areas as well as Cross River State. Ikwo is also the homeland of Chief Martin Elechi, the former Governor of the state. Ikwo is the home to Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo (FUNAI) Which was recently renamed to Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo (AEFUNAI), shortly after the demise of the then Nigerian Vice president in the person of Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ewueme. AEFUNAI is one of the world-class Universities established by president Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. Ikwo also plays host to Ebonyi State College of Education at Ndufu echara, Folk polytechnic, Ikwo. The local Government Headquarters is at Onu-Ebonyi Echara, Ebonyi state.
Asides from Ikwo being the largest local government, it is also a town being the ancestral home to a lot of families in Ebonyi state. People who today inhabit Ikwo land are descendants of a warrior and a unique leader named Enyinwegu. Many years ago, Enyinwegu, who is said to be the father of the modern-day Ikwo, Just like Abraham, set out from his homeland on a long journey looking for the promised Land. Almost like Abraham in the Christian Bible. One will not say his case was the same as Abraham’s because he (Abraham) was called by God to go to a land he wasn’t aware of. Enyinwegu not so satisfied with his place of birth, needed a new settlement, a place to call home where he and his generations could prosper.
On the course of this very long and promising journey, he encountered a lot of people and many lands but when he finally arrived in Nchonu which is the present-day “Ikwo Noyo” he knew deep down that he had found his own promised land, at last, a place to call a perfect home. In Nchonu, his crops grew and flourished. His goats, cows, sheep, and other livestock multiplied. In that land, His household expanded.
In all aspects, Enyinwegu’s settlement at Nchonu was blessed. In a short time, he became like a seed planted by the riverbank. Enyinwegu prospered both in season and out of season, he became something out of nothing, he perhaps saw the blessings in the land and decided to change its name from Nchonu to Ikwo which translates “Blessed Land”
Enyinwegu was a polygamous man who had two wives each blessing him with children. His first wife was named Nworie Enyi who bore him Ezekuna whose children are today the famous Ezza people. Enyinwegu’s second wife Una Enyi gave birth to two sons: Noyo and Nnodo who was said to have later founded Ikwo and Izzi clans respectively.
With time these sons became men and needed to establish their households in secure lands where they could also have access to enough farmland and as well groom their livestock. Just as the Tradition entailed, Ezekuna moved out to establish Ezza land while Nnodo traveled northward to establish Izzi land but Noyo saw the blessings in Ikwo and hence decided not to leave, he remained there to take care of what his father has started. Soon he and his wife Opefi began to build a mighty dynasty. His four sons were a bundle of immeasurable joy to him. Those sons are Agala, Omaka-Aja, Agom-Ugbala, and Enyi. They all started from an early age to display the traits of greatness. Just when Noyo saw the promises in his first son Agala beginning to bear fruit, Agala died without having a family to live with to continue his immediate lineage.
Noyo saddened by this incident did take consolation in his other sons, however, and groomed them to be men of valor and men with fruitfulness.
With Agala’s death, Omaka-Aja became the okpara (first son) and his descendants are today what’s known as Unweka. His Third son Agom-Ugbala had two sons who were Alike and Echara. Noyo’s youngest son was named Enyinwegu after his beloved father founded what’s today known as Mgbabu community consisting of Amagu, Igbudu, and Inyimagu communities. Unweka, Alike, Echara, Mgbabu, and Okpoitumo constitute the five principal communities in Ikwo Noyo, Ebonyi state.
Okpoitumo constituted the merging of Ikwo sons together and hence it is regarded as a very special community in ikwo, for in those days, wars were very frequent and the sons gathered to form a very strong Army. Their ancestors fought local inhabitants, chasing them out of Ikwo land to the land beyond the River that is today called Cross River. Strong men were chosen from every community and sent to fight at the border. These warriors eventually settled at Okpoitumo to fight off invaders and safeguard all Ikwo children. To instill law and order amongst the okpoitumo clan, a very regarded warrior and leader, Itumo, was asked to preside as a Lord over the people. He was to serve as a judge and a mediator. In relating with the warriors, he knowing to the fact that they are ungovernable. They were too strong for a whole Itumo the Great. When the men went home they told everyone how the warriors could not be governed by Itumo the Great. Those warriors did not like Itumo and the land they inhabited eventually became Okpoitumo. On one of the occasions when all of the Ikwo clans gathered from far and near at Nchonu, Itumo came with tears in his eyes, his face wrinkled with stress, his heart broken by his people. He admitted before the leaders gathered that the warriors he was asked to govern had proved too difficult for him to handle. Today, Ikwo is known and regarded as one of the most productive places in Ebonyi state. Ikwo has been able to count big in various areas across the state. Just like every other people, Ikwo has their Traditions and Various Festivals they hold abreast.
Below are some of the Notable people that Ikwo has been able to project to the public;
1. His Excellency, Chief Martin Nwanchor Elechi MFR, CONFormer Governor, Ebonyi State, former Commissioner in old Anambra State.
2. His Excellency, Barr Eric Kelechi Igwe PhD
Current Deputy Governor, Ebonyi State.
3. Elder Hon. Stephen Orogwu
Current Executive Chairman of Ikwo LGA.
4. His Excellency, Ambassador Frank Nchita Ogbuewu
Former Minister of Culture and Tourism, former Nigerian Ambassador to Greece, Chairman, Ebonyi State Elders Council, Pro chancellor, & Chairman Governing Council, Ebonyi State University Abakaliki.
5. His Excellency, Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku
Former Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Former Nigerian Ambassador to Mexico, Former Federal Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
6. Hon. Comrade Chinedu Ogah OON
Member, Federal House of Representatives.
7. Chief Lastborn Onwukaike Egwu MNSE, FIIE, MNIAE
Former President, Nigerian Squash Rackets Federation, Member of the governing body, World Squash Federation (WSF), Group Managing Director/CEO Goldspot Group.
8. Distinguished Senator Emmanuel Onwe
Former Senator of the Federal Republic.
And too many others to Mention.