The Role Of Obi Egbuna of Issele-Uku and Obi Ofulue (1) of Ubulu-Uku in the Fall of Ekwumekwu Resistance

The humiliating end of the Ekwumekwu resistance was not only aided by the British superior war tactics and weaponry but by the collaboration of indigenous Obis, Chiefs, Freed slaves etc.
According to a research conducted by Olisa (2016) to determine the Role of Indigenous Collaborators In The Aglo-Ekumeku War, he found that: Prominent traditional chiefs who renounced the traditional religion of their ancestors and embraced Christianity were another category of collaborators.
Among the earliest converts was Obi Egbuna of Issele-Uku, who allocated a portion of land to the Christian missions to build a church in the town.
Only members knew how it was organized and where its operational bases were located. But it was believed that its operational headquarters were located at Ogwuashi-Uku, Issele-Uku, Onicha-Olona, Ubulu-Uku, and Ezi, where it fought its fiercest battles with the British forces.
The Ekumeku resistance movement existed in many towns in the Asaba hinterland and neighbouring Afemai, except Asaba itself (Wikipedia, 2018).
However, Asaba is the only place that presently has artistic statues depicting the memories of the Ekumeku soldiers. The bombardment of Asaba by the agents of RNC in 1888 frightened Obi Egbuna and his chiefs, and they willingly submitted to the Royal Niger Company army. Obi Egbuna was disturbed by the heavy military campaign on Asaba, and he expressed his fear to Revered Father Zappa in this way: “I know you are a soldier and that you have brought the word of God, but that not withstanding, the white men frightened me.
The Obi’s fear was also expressed in other towns and communities in Western Igboland. Frightened by the British gunfire, some communities and towns willingly capitulated without putting up any resistance.
The Catholic mission established in Issele-Uku in 1893 made some progress, and by 1898, it had a quite number of Christian adherents. A variant of the Issele-Ukwu tradition maintained that Obi Egbuna, who was formerly one of the patrons of the Ekumeku secret society, used his new status as a convert to defy and render some of the Ekwumekwu war charms impotent. The tradition further believed that Obi Egbuna identified and revealed the identity of the Ekumeku members and its planned attacks to the British officials. This led to successful pre-emptive expeditions against his people by the British forces. After the defeat of Onicha-Ugbo and other neighbouring communities by the RNC forces in 1898, the people of Ilah willingly submitted to the RNC forces, giving them with gifts of 400 tubers of yam and 4 bullocks to them. This peaceful submission enabled the British to set up a Christian mission in the town, and the town served as a base forts punitive expedition on other hostile communities (Olisa, 2016).
In Ubulu-Uku, which according to Elizabeth Isichei was the strongest of them all, Obi Nwajei, Nwaolise, Nkwo, Mordi, and Idegwu etc formed a strong army that resisted the British who moved to form their base in Ogwashi-Uku. The Ogwashi-Uku people had matched the British and resisted them until 1911.
The final act of the Eureka drama began in late 1909. The occasion was a succession dispute in Ogwashi-Uku. One of the claimants, Nzekwe, the son of the last Obi, feared that the British would deprive him of his throne, and decided to fight for his inheritance.
On 2 November 1909, the British sent an expedition to Ogwashi-Uku but they failed in the expedition (Wikipedia, 2018). Ogwashi-Uku would later fall in 1911 and become a base for the British colonialists.
The poor Health status of Obi Obanua, the new king of Ubulu-Uku between 1912-1925 meant the Ubulu Ekwumekwu Resistance was weakened.
Also, Esther Wright (2017) reported the collaboration of some Ubulu Okiti people in the Ubulu-Uku invasion. However the last straw that broke the Camel's back was the conversion to Christianity of Obi Okonkwo William Ofulue (1) to Christianity. He had apportioned more land to the Church, mainly the Anglican mission where he worshipped despite fines imposed on him by the kingmakers for accepting the 'white man's God'. As consolation, some heroes of the Ubulu Ekwumekwu Resistance such as Idegwu Otokpoike and Nwanoli (Who was then the née Ubulu) are immortalized with schools named after them, while there exists no documentation of the consolation offered to others such as Mordi, Nkwo.

The aftermath of the resistance is credited to have cemented the Anioma nationhood, as they fought together a common enemy. By Onwordi Ngozi Fortune.

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