Photo: NeniTown.com

Throwback Times Nigeria have gathered some top facts about Neni, a town situated in Anambra State, Eastern part of Nigeria.

According to oral information produced by some very elderly people in Neni, though not absolutely verified. It was recorded that Neni was founded by one of the sons of Nnebo, whose influence was extended up to the present site of Nkwo market in Igbo-Ukwu, as well as old Aguata LGA.

It was perhaps due to his influence that he was later referred to as Eze-Nnebo. The two sons of Ezennebo were Akwaikwamobi (Akwa) and Enenisiubosi (Eneni). Akwa which is today known as Akwa-eze (in 1957), while Eneni was today known as Nneni but spelled as ”Neni".

In the twilight of his reign, Ezennebo divided his domain between his two sons. He gave the Obu (ancestral home) to Akwa, the founder of Umuajana kindred of Umuezeani village in Akwaeze. 

To the younger son, he gave the Ajofia Obiajulu, territories to the west of Aguezennebo (This territory is contiguous to the present Uhuani area).

This was to enable him to check the constant attacks by the Nri people from that sector of the town. When the frontier of hostility shifted towards Ora-eri


Neni was forced to relocate to his command base in the center of his territory (Etiti, which later became Etitinabo). However, the division of property by Ezennebo between Akwa and Nneni, was not intended for strategic purposes, thus, to sustain the spirit of brotherhood, such common institutions as Ana Akwaeze na Nneni 

Ibenne Akwaeze na Neni and ofo Akawaeze na Neni were established. Added to these was the institution of Ihu (homage) by Neni to the Ancestral home occupied by Akwa. 

In his book, Akwaeze has been the traditional right of the Etitinabo people of Neni’. There was also a joint market between Neni and Akwaeze. Funerals were also observed together by Akwaeze and Neni, coupled with sports and festivals in those days.

The Peopling of Neni 
Shortly after the rise of Neni as a separate entity, there followed the influx of people from various Igbo communities. The surviving oral tradition maintains that there are parts of some villages in Neni that were indigenous and were related to the people of the ETITINABO village. 

For instance, since the 1980s, the OKOFIA people have been claiming aboriginality over and above Etitinabo. It is also believed in some quarters that a section of Etitinabo moved from the Oye axis to the Ajo-Ofia-Obiajulu and became the Umuobinoye kindred that founded Okofia village, just as the fleeing Etitinabo refugees settled in UMUABANI and became the Obimpam kindred. 

The rest of the Umuabani people came from Nimo, a faction of whom later moved towards the Oye axis and became UGWUDUNU village. 

The Umu-Nyeke of UMUEZE village is related to Etitinabo and, therefore has been on the ground before the arrival of Ezeoka and his group from Umueze-Uga in Aguata. 

Similarly, the Umueke of EZINENI village claims a blood relationship with Etitinabo and, therefore, has been on the ground before the arrival of the Ezineni immigrants from Abba in Njikoka and from Amakwa Eziaja. 

The people of UMUDIOKA village came from Ugwudioka Dunukofia. The UMUKABIA people came from Agulu, while EZIAJA is made up of immigrants from Awka-Etiti as well as from Amakwa Ozubulu, some of whom later relocated to Ezineni to form Umuowa kindred. 

The UMUORI (now misrepresented as Umunri) were of the Ozu stock, the descendants of Okolo Idozuka from Arochukwu. 

The Emergence of Neni Town: from Ebeteghete to Ebeneri Confederacy 

From the foregoing account, Neni is made up of ten villages, namely, Etitinabo, Eziaja, Ezineni, Okofia, Ugwudun, Umuabani, Umudioka, Umueze, Umuakabia, and Umuori (in alphabetical order). 

Each of these villages settled and was doing things in its way, with a separate pantheon and market. However, due to the incessant Ogu egbe (wars fought with guns) and Ogu mgbulu (wars fought with clubs), various communities in Igbo land began to join forces through the process of amalgamation and unification. 

This was the case in Neni. The then nine villages in Neni (minus Umuori who came later) entered into a confederacy, known as ‘Ebe-teghete’ (Nine communities). This is sad to have taken place in c.1750s. 

When the Umuori people joined the confederacy, it became ‘Ebe-Neri’ (Ten Communities). This confederacy has carious implications for the development of the Neni civilization, namely, it led to the creation of common institutions of unity. 

To be sure, the united villages of Neni founded a common pantheon, headed by a female deity named ‘Okagba-Eze-Nwanyi’, the daughter of Eze-Epeghi of Umuabani, who was brought from Nimo by Chief Ezealo and Okpala Ejeganaghi. 

Neni confederacy also founded a common market known as Oye, which harbored the central pantheon. Central festivals such as Igbujinku and Nni-Oye were created. 

Within the confederacy, Etitinabo was acclaimed to be the ‘Isi Oha’ (the head of the people). As Isi Oha, Etitinabo was entrusted with the responsibility of making sacrifices to the deities in the central pantheons at Oye [also located in Etitinabo], on behalf of eh rest of the Neni people. 

The confederacy also upheld the observance of the Ihu payment to Akwaeze. In this way, the other villages in Neni carried Ihu Obu Isi Oha in Etitinabo, for onward conveyance to Akweze. This had been the tradition before the colonial intervention in the early 20th century.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF NENI By Olisa Godson Muojama
More About Neni Town History
It’s important to note that Neni Town is one of the ten towns/Communities that makeup Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State

And also the headquarters of Anaocha LGA. While we have said that Neni Town is made up of ten villages namely – Etitinabo, Eziaia Ezineni, Okafia, Ugwudunu, Umudioka, Umueze, Umukabia, and Umunri in alphabetical order. 

The town has a governance history when Ndi Nze na Ozo was epitomized by Ndi Ozo Ezeari Judges and ruled the people before the Anambra State Government 1976 established the traditional Council led by Chief Iwobi Enemuoh was installed in 1976.

Missionaries came to Neni to establish schools and churches first by CMS missionaries in 1912 followed by Roman Catholic ones in 1914. Today majority of the people of sincere Christians with a handful of traditional/program worshippers. 

The town has recorded tremendous progress in the educational sector since then. Ezeani Obidigbo Primary School was founded in 1918. 

Flora Azikiwe Modern comprehensive Secondary School was founded in 1965. Dr. G. A. Obiorah (1953) was the first Neni University Graduate while the first Lawyer was Barrister A. O. Ezeani.

Today the town has a plethora of men and women who are leaders in their chosen area of profession – professors Medical Doctors, Pharmacists, Engineers, Lawyers, Lecturers, Accountants Scientists, and Administrators. The town now has 7 primary Schools, a vocational and technical, and other vocational training and commercial set.  

Chief F. A Odoye, F. O Umeh, P. U Modum, C. A. Ekwenibe Chief B. N Mgbemene R. C.Udeze (Ukacha), etc. presently Neni has a good number of captains of the industry which include: Chief A. O. Enukeme (TONIMAS), Chief Simeon Eyisi (Sims SAMSUNG), Chief Patrick Chidolue (Chelsea Hotel), Chief B. C. Ezeadikwa Eze and Bros), HRH Igwe O. Ezeani Innovation Era), Chief A. Ibeanu and Chief F. G. Onyenewe, etc.  

In sport, Neni had also produced the unbeaten world wrestling Champion. Late Chief Michael Okpala and Mr. Mathias Obianika of Rangers fame, presently, Mikel Obi is making waves in Foot Ball Club and the Nigeria National team. Neni had also produced a State Military Governor in the person of Chief Nnaemeka Akonobi .

Neni people are bound together by economic sociological, cultural, love, and customary factors. Thus cultural festivals abound in the town. These include Uwudioka Arts and Cultural Festival, Ogwe Cultural Festival, Village Cultural Day Celebration, Manwu masquerade relaxation, and entertainment spots in the town.

Referencing: Nenitown.com