Arts and Culture

THE PEOPLE OF MBAISE IN IMO STATE

The people of Mbaise are located in Imo State, Southeastern Nigeria. A member of the Igbo tribe, it includes several towns and cities. The name ‘’Mbaise’’ which has the ‘’a’’ in it silenced in the pronunciation was derived from five Igbo clans: Agbaja, Ahiara, Ekwereazu, Ezina Ihite and Oke Uvuru. There are three local government areas of Mbaise. They are; Aboh-Mbaise, Ahiazu-Mbaise and Ezinihitte Mbaise.

SHORT HISTORY

Until the advent of European adventurers into Nigeria, the main source of income in Mbaise was subsistent agriculture. The system of government here is largely dependent on kinship relations and shared custom. The village group was the highest level of socio-political organization with the ‘’Amala’’ exercising all power. The weekly gathering of the male family members around the fresh palm wine keg (awuru-awu or manya-orie) constituted the forum for discussing matters. This is clearly pictured in ‘’Things Fall Apart’’ by Chinua Achebe.

The earliest missionary and educational activities commenced in Mbaise about 1915. This is the main reason why 90% of her indigenes are Catholics. Today, there are several Catholic priests and clergymen of the Anglican Communion serving worldwide. In 1934, an Irish nun established a Covent in Ogbor Nguru that servedOrlu, Ikeduru, Okigwe and Obwo. Mbaise daughters received early education at the Regina Caeli College, Ogbor Nguru and attracted suitors from all over the former Eastern Region of Nigeria and beyond.

CULTURE AND TRADITION

Some of the cultural and traditional ceremonies that takes place in Mbaise are; The Ahianjoku festival (yam deity), Iriji Mbaise (The New Yam Festival), Oji Ezinihitte (celebration of the people’s unity) and Itu Aka Nguru (an annual event before the farming season).  One unique feature of Mbaise is the high fecundity among their women called ‘’Gbu Ukwu’’. To qualify to be a member of this club, a woman must have a minimum of ten children.

A local food of Mbaise is a local salad called ‘’Ugba’’. It has a special taste and aroma. This goes with the local raffia palm wine tapped in Mbaise. They are just like bread and butter in the traditional setting. The people are also rich in music and there are several musical instruments. They are different dance for different occasion. The dance steps here include; Alija,  Ogbongelenge, Eseike, Esse, Ekwerikwe, Mgbe, Uko, Ekpe, Nkwa Udu and so on.

NOTABLE PEOPLE

Mbaise has contributed to Nigeria in all fields. They are well represented in politics, sports, education, music, arts and theatre and so on. Notable sons and daughters of Mbaise include; Chief Damian Anyanwu, Kanayo. O. Kanayo, Genevieve Nnaji, Rita Dominic, Okey Bakassi, Chiom Ajunwa, Chidi Chikere, Eucharia Anunobi, and newly elected governor of the state, Emeka Ihedioha among several others.

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