A brief look at the Anioma (Western Igbo/Delta Igbo)
WHO ARE THE ANIOMA?
The Anioma are a diverse group of Igbo speaking communities indigenous to the northern half of Delta State. The name “Anioma” is an acronym derived from the regions that make up the area: Aniocha (A), Ndokwa (N), Ika (I) and Oshimili (O). The last suffix “MA” gives it meaning in the Igbo language, in Igbo ‘ani oma’ means good land.
The origins of the Anioma people is often debated. Historically, the region experienced interactions between various groups due to wars that resulted in the displacement of people, trade, community expansions and migrations. Consequentially, it’s likely that the region is an amalgamation of peoples whose origins can be traced to neighbouring Igboid, Edoid and even Igala communities. This is evident in languages like Ika, which is classified as a Nuclear Igboid language but has some Edoid influences.
Anioma people are known for wearing their traditional cloth ‘akwa ocha’ (white cloth) during special occasions e.g: weddings, traditional ceremonies and funerals. The cloth is made from locally produced wool and is hand-woven by women.
The Omu of Okpanam is an okpu ododo ‘red cap’ wearing Obi, a female traditional leader who is in charge of women, markets ancestral shrines and business.
Aniocha, Oshimili, Ndokwa and Ika subgroups have a long historical relationship, in ancient times much of the region was encompassed within the Nri Kingdom’s religious sphere of influence.
The Ekumeku movement was an impressive well organised guerrilla resistance against British colonial forces, the society was a uniting force for the Anioma region and resisted British domination for decades (1883 – 1914).