By Hon. Emeraghi Inem on November, 19 2014
Introduction: Abiriba women, are synonymous with treks. There had been series of women treks in Abiriba history; since the earlier 1930’s,. there had been the noble treks to Nde Ebe-Ebham, (the first of it’s kind). Led by the famous Nnem Iyiojo. There were similar occurrences of Abiriba women treks to Umuahia in the 1940’s Ohafia in the late 1950’s; Igbere in the mid 1960’s; Agmuru-Ebham in the early 1980’s; and Nde Ebe-Ebham in the mid – 1980’s. the last two treks were sessional and not Universal; unlike the previous one. In 1992, there was the Great Trek, which led the Abiriba, women universally to the Government House, Umuahia; during the reign of the Queen, “HRH”, Nnem Uwaezughoke Imeri a.k.a. Mgbo Jumbo.
The interest of this peace, is on the 1992 Trek to Umuahia, tagged;The Great Trek during the tenure of Governor, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu of the Old Abia State, Nigeria. The episode, occurred on the night of eve of November 22, and the Evening of November 25, 1992. though, the city of Rome was built in a day the trek was planned in the night of the 22nd Day of November, 1992; executed in the early morning of the 23rd Day of November, 1992; mourned on the 24th Day of November, 1992 and ended at home on the 25th Day of November, 1992. when a resolution for peace reached and signed by the concerned citizens of the Abiriba Ancient kingdom: under the auspices of the Okezie Age Greade of Abiriba (retired) as the Ukejiagbala – Uche of the season.
We, wholly, accept it to mean thus: that
The 22nd Day of November is the logistic Day;
The 23rd Day of November; the Havoc Day;
The 24th Day of November; the Exile Day;
The 25th Day of November; the peace Day;
In honour to the reserved peace of the 25th Day of November, 1992, this Day was put aside by the Enachiokhen – in- council, during the reign of Eze U.U. Ukiwo and Dr. Mang Egwuronwu Obasi, the General president of Abiriba Communal improvement union, as the Abiriba Day was observed by pen- pushes of Chief O.k Uben, the palace secretary and Chief Ejit-Egwhu, the Administrative Secretary of A.C.I.U. world – wide.
Hence, November 25, being the usual Day for the celebration of the Abiriba women Day each year.
I remember the Abiriba women trek of November 23, 1992 as if it were yesterday. I remember the event very well, as a mother does to her child. On that memorable day in our history, so remembered; “it was 2.00 A.M on that fateful day; the whistle sounded, calling the women out. Even, those who knew, it would not be easy for them to leave their homes that early, without drawing the attention of their husbands; made alternative arrangement to sleep outside their homes. Discreetly, the women left their husbands and children then, the young, the old, the nursing mothers, with their babies on their backs and even the pregnant ones. In one accord and with noiseless footsteps, they left the town. It was a long trek – a great trek for peace. Indeed, miles away from the town, they sang songs of sorrow, anguish and agony as they marched along. Infact, no one complained, nor was their any serious casualty. It was a divine act of God (approving of their action). Women from nearby communities came out in -masse, to support them morally. “the allusion so quoted above, is to bring out the poetic device of the eventful classics in literary terms because of time limits
THE BITTER EXPERIENCES
The 12 – year Eclipse of Abiriba unity (1980 - 92), which rained like brimstone in the most respectable city kingdom of Abiriba, was the casual agent of the Great trek. When all attempts for peace fell, the alternative was the women to seek for a way out in their secret meetings, the answer to the problem on Abiriba crises was to demonstrate for their annoyance through, a long trek to the government House, Umuahia as the news got Aba, the roots of Abiriba town conflicts.
I remember the events of the 23rd day of November, 1992 as if it were yesterday; the fortified women were in their great mood march to Umuahia, calling one another by tapping at the doors of each other’s door, to come out for the trek. So they did, all around the town, unknown to the men. All roads led to Abamkpughuru junction/Abiriba Round about. The oldest women and the sick among them on the race, were dropping on the way as they went. The first set of them stopped at Agmaukwu, next at Orie – Ekwha. Others stopped at Okpuachi, Otulaoblia, court/Tower, Agbomini and Enuda college Gate, while the able – bodied women, got to the Abamkpughuru for the Great Trek.
The trek, took off from the junction in sorrowful songs, sang in revolutionary groups; recalling the agony and anguish of the years. Some women, who could not proceed on resided at the rendezvous; directing the late – comers to wing in. Their stop – over points, were Igberhe, Alayi, Ughuekhe, Akara, Ihenzhu, Ekoli Imenyi, Agmojhi, Ozuitem, Ozuekoh, Ubani, Umu- Umuagga and junctions, before they got to Umuahia, the capital city of the God’s own state (Abia) in the day.
The reactions of the various rural dwellers on the wayside, were pitiful and hospitable to the women along the Abiriba – Umuahia Federal Road. The police stopped their movements at the police check-points but all proved in no avail. They continued their motive plight to the end.
The flight to Umuahia, first, called at No. 23 Eket Street, Umuahia; where they were received by the well – meaning Abiriba sons, to register their presence with the Inyimoka Chamber of commerce in the house of Chief Ukuku Dike, an illustrious son of Abiriba, amidst other dignitaries as they revealed their grievances. They were catered for food and accommodation. they proceeded to the Government House, Umuahia on the absence of the Governor. Chief Ogbonnaya Onu but were respectfully welcomed by the Deputy Governor of Abia State. Dr. Clement Chima Nwafo on their way to the Government House, where they sat on the bare earth and reposed the spirits of the ancestors…. Still on songs. Though, the absence of the Governor, assurance was given to the Abiriba women by the Deputy Governor that something special would happen to combat the situation at Abiriba.
Information reached the Abiriba people at Aba, some men arrived Umuahia and they cared for their relations. Some of them, carried their mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, and female – cousins to rest at Aba while others passed their night at Umuahia (at Eket street). The reactions of the various rural dwellers on the wayside, were pitiful and hospitable to the women along the Abrirba – Umuahia Federal Road. The police stopped their movements at the police check – points but all in no avail. They continued their motive plight to the end.
The plight to Umuahia, first, called at No. 23 Eket Street, Umuahia; where they were received by the well-meaning Abiriba sons, to register their presence with the imyimoka chamber of commerce in the house of Chief Ukuku Dikhe, an illustrious son of Abiriba, amidst other dignitaries. They were catered for food and accommodation. They proceeded to the Government House, Umuahia on the absence of the Hovernor, Chief Dr. Ogbonnaya Onri but were respectfully welcomed by the Deputy Governor of Abia State, Dr Clement Chima Nwafo on their way to the where they song their songs all through the night.
At Umuahia, the women refused, to go back to Abrirba the next day (24/11/1992), unless the court cases, filled in courts the leaders of Ameke and Agboji/Amogudu clans concern of the feuds, were withdrawn from the various courts in the state. The men discussed the mind of the women and agreed to withdraw the court cases, to let the sleeping dogs lie. The women then agreed to return home with the peace resolution. Then, vehicles were kept by the Abiriba men at Umuahia and from Aba. They got Abiriba towards the evening on the 24th Day of November, 1992. the while town was silent; no movement on their return.
There was a lot of joy and happiness in the town as the men and children came out in anticipation to welcome their wives, mothers and relations. There were canon salutes at Okpu – Achi for accepting the women back from the long trek. There were relieves in the faces of all ……. And there was a re-union. A resolution prepared to unrest the situation, was put together by the Ukejiagbala Okezie Abiriba - Ofhu and signed by the responsible persons at Agboezsi palace, before His Royal Highness, Eze U.U Ukiwo on the 25th Day of November, 1992 and the day was reserved in remembrance of the Abrirba women Great Trek.
November, 25th, 2014 is the 22nd celebration of Abiriba Day. The first occurred on the 25th Day of November, 1993 while the last celebration was done on the 25th Day of November 2013. the Abiriba women Great Trek occurred 22 years ago. Now, we all are remembering the event, a if it were yesterday and it must be continued to be celebrated as an Anniversary.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE GREAT TREK
Consequences of the Great Trek are recorded as inter-alia.
1. The women witnessed a great trek, recalling to memory the past trek,
2. The women experienced biter experiences of the great trek as they never before
3. The Grievances of the women, were shared by the Government of the day for away – out.
4. The men for the first time, showed a much concern of the crises in Abiriba to resolved
5. A resolution paper was prepared and signed by the authorities for a lasting peace.
6. Peace was restored and unity regained by the three sessions of the town
7. Men and children missed their wives and mothers on treks
8. The busting city of Abiriba became silent as the grave
9. The men and children suffered hunger while the women were away on trek No reserved foods were kept at homes and no places to buy food either.
10. Curfew was made in the town as people feared to move about
11. Vehicles were not allowed to come in or go out of the town
12. An Abiriba women got jammed at Aba
13. A women fell sick and was admitted into the hospital
14. There were motor accidents at Umuahia Junctions and Ugwu college
15. There was canon blast at Okpu-Achi which wounded a women of Nde Ukho Amangwhu, Amogudu on the leg. A piece of its iron, flew into the compound of Chief Ndukwonta but injured no one
BY HIS HON.EMERAGHI INEM A.K.A PRINCE NNAM-MBIRIBA UGBAGHA-ENUDA, B.S.C (HONS).