Not many historical literatures on the Obollo people exist for the usual reasons associated with our people who prefer to write the history of mighty and populous peoples already enriched with volumes of historical accounts and records. Thus while there are historical documents on other peoples of Igbo, for Obollo, it is the story of dearth of documents.

However, it is within my historical concern that the rich history of this part of Igboland be adequately researched into, documented and preserved for the future generation. I do not hail from this part of Igboland but my historical background, interest and curiosity propelled me towards the acquisition of both oral and written information to put this material together.


The various Obollo communities comprising of Obollo Afor, Obollo Etiti, Obollo Eke, Obollo Orie and Obollo Nkwo are strategically situated at the regional boundary between the South-East and North-Central geo-political zones of the country and accordingly providing thorough passage to the communities of the far North.

They are located in Udenu Local Government Area of enugu State. Situated at the Northern part of Nsukka, Obollo is bounded on the North by Enugu Ezike, on the South by Ezim, on the East by Ikem and on the West by Iheakpu-Obollo all in Enugu State.

One may best describe Obollo and Nsukka as a land of hills and valleys thus the usual “Ugwu” in the family names of many of its indigenes. For instance, Ugwuenegbe hillock with stony valleys geographically separates Obollo-Afor from Obollo-Etiti and Obollo-Eke.

The area is not completely without water as it is supplied with water though Obollo-Eke and Obollo-Etiti are more watered with streams and springs. There is Abonyi River, now commonly called Ebonyi from which Ebonyi State derives its name. This majestic river lies by Umuitodo.

Geographically, Obollo is dusty with dry and somewhat sun-baked clayey soil and as a result of which the soil is hard thus requiring double hard-work and efforts from farmers to till the land. Obollo-Etiti in particular has a loamy soil which is fertile for the growing of crops, only that the loamy soil is hard.

Erosion is one natural militating factor that the people of Obollo have struggled to find a way to live with over the centuries but the menace still naturally lives with the people Like the situation with the rest of Igbo communities, Obollo people have been trying their hands on the employment of local means of preserving their own soil from being erosion.

The effect of erosion which is gully in nature is visible in Obollo as tree trunks and building foundations are exposed, a situation quite adverse to crops and buildings. During the dry season, roofs of houses and leaves of crops are seen covered with reddish dusts. Wet season makes many of the roads in the area impassable because of the floods and attendant damage.
Pattern of settlement
It is observable that the traditional form of settlement of the people of Obollo is that in which habitable structures are located in the interiors where they are completely hidden and covered with palm trees and other trees that are very thick. The kind of palm trees found in Obollo land are with unbranched trunk, yet beautifully crowned by pinnate palm leaves of green colour. For this reason, the people do not mostly reside along major roads as may be expected. This typical pattern of settlement may be due to the series of civil or inter-tribal wars that the people feared. More so, houses are sparsely located with paths created to lead to the houses of individual families.


The closest important commercial town to Obollo is Onitsha in Anambra State but they are also very close to Idoma people of Benue State. The area again provides an intermediate between Anambra and Benue States on one hand, and North and South on the other hand. This development puts the people in a state of commercial vibrancy. The population is fair with Obollo Afor with her many shops and offices being the most populous perhaps due to her strategic location.


All the various Obollo communities are seen as historically and culturally related although it is doubtful whether there are any particular ceremonies that require the collective activities all towns together. Nonetheless, the ancestral relationship that binds Obollo communities is so thick that one may not be wrong if he describes them as a tree and branches, planted and watered by only one hand. Obollo-Afor is the tree and Obollo-Orie, Obollo-Etiti, Obollo-Nkwo and Obollo-Eke are all its branches. Obollo people do not trace their origin to Israel, Egypt, Ethiopia or any distant place like many African people do.

Popular oral account of the people states that Nnam Edu who hailed from East-Abakaliki had three male children who were Olenyi, Otase Enyi and Igwuru Enyi. Olenyi was the father of Obollo; Otase Enyi fathered Asakwo who also fathered Ikem while Igwuru Enyi fathered Eha Amufu. When Olenyi grew up he married four wives who bore one male child each for him amounting to four sons. These four sons were Ezejo who was the eldest; Ekpa Olenyi, the second son; Ugbabe was the third and Ohullor was the last of his children. The four sons who later grew up preferred to settle at the four regional ends of the land i.e. north, east, west and south. However, history also records that the people of Obollo are the direct descendants of the four children of Olenyi. The family tree here exemplifies the close relationship of Obollo with Ikem and Eha Amufu but owing to frequent strife arising from land disputes as one elder relayed to me, that closeness only exists in genealogy as seen today. Recently there have been series of reunification attempts aimed at restoring the closeness that the various people of Obollo, Ikem and Eha Amufu once esteemed but it has not really the light of the day perhaps due to the approach or unwillingness of the people to revisit their history. But it is hoped that the intimacy that once existed among them be rediscovered.
Migration theory
Ulon’Obollo is believed to be the place where Obollo migrants first settled. It was from this point that they spread to the other places that they can be found today. Also at a time in history there was a scramble for the occupation of lands leading to migrations to unsettled lands from the original place of settlement. Ezejo moved to Ada and Umuitodo. Ezejo as the head of Olenyi descendants is said to have realized that the unoccupied lands of Umuitodo was more suitable for him than the land he previously settled so he decidedly did not waste any time in determining that he and his family members settle on the land which was considered arable. Later in history, the present Obollo-Eke land opened up and the mad whirl of desire to settle in that land became so severe at the time that there was were organized fighting by young men to settle in that land. This mad rush to settle in Obollo-Eke also led to near abandonment of Obollo-Afor by young men from Obollo-Afor who scrambled to settle in Obollo-Eke.

Within a short while, Ikem and Leke people were driven from Obollo-Eke and replaced by Obollo-Afor settlers. Today, the Ikem and Leke are found in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of the state of the state. In recent times, other Obollo communities have developed as a result of series of migrations from the original place of settlement. However Obollo-Afor traditionally remains the mother home of the Obollo people within which every single Obollo indigene is thought to have ancestral link. It is therefore not surprising that the town accommodates Obollo indigenes from Obollo-Afor, Obollo-Eke, Obollo-Etiti and Obollo-Nkwo. As the” capital” of Obollo communities, it is a town that has undeniably grown to an urban town from a little known settlement.


Formerly, the people of Obollo practiced African religion but with the advent of Christianity, a good percentage of them have converted to the new religion. Thus the dominant religion of Obollo community today is Christianity and the people are mainly Catholics. It is therefore not surprising that many of the illustrious sons and daughters of Obollo are reverend fathers and sisters. There are at least one parish and another eight outstation catholic churches in Obollo-Afor alone so that nearly all the communities that make up the town has at least one outstation. Obollo-Etiti has one main parish with four other outstations scattered around the town. Catholic as the predominant faith of the people testifies to the swift acceptance of Christ by the people. It therefore makes it impossible for the history of the people to be written without recourse to catholic as their faith.
Obollo people are agriculturalists who grow such crops as cassava, yams, cocoyam, cashew and palm kernels which they carry to the market places to be sold. This area is so rich that it also feeds neighbouring regions and states with people coming as far as Onitsha, Idoma and Tiv to trade with them. It is known to possess abundant palm-nut trees which make the communities rich in palm-kernel, palm-oil and palm-wine. In those days, forests in Obollo were rich in iroko trees and mahoganies but houses that recently sprang up to shelter people occasioned the deforestations that were responsible for the near extinction of these trees especially in Obollo-Afor. Some of these iroko and mahogany trees can still be found today. The dry season affords the people the opportunity to engage in bush burning. After the burning of bushes, breaking of the ground follows immediately to give way for planting. Planting is therefore ready to be embarked on. Pottery and basket making is also common among the people.

Obollo is known for their beautiful art of pottery which made Obollo-Afor the pride of Nsukka. They also reared animals like goats which were in high demand. In the years before now, several indigenes were enriched by timbers and mahogany trade which prospered in the region and carried to distant places like Benue State and far North.
The Cuisine
The typical meal of the Obollo people is pounded yam with “Ogbono” or ground pea soup. Fufu may be prepared but the average Obollo family may prefer pounded yam. Nowadays, these dishes may be complemented with wheat meals. There is also “Okpa” quite synonymous with them. As typical with the Igbo, roasted yam may also be eaten with palm-oil. Important Obollo dishes are served and digested with very tasty palm-wine.
Culture of feasts/festivals
The Feast of Omabe
There is Omabe feast in which a masquerade of heroic deeds comes out but only once in four years to the jubilation of anxious people. “Omabe” is believed to be the name of valiant masquerader with great achievements. The feast may therefore symbolize heroism and braveness of some sort in the life of the community. Omabe feast is also celebrated within distant places of Aku and Ikem and is known as “Odo” (Odoh) in these places.

Heads of pigs are specially prepared to celebrate this feast with kegs of palm-wine commonly used to entertain friends. “Odo(h)”, another popular name of the people is derived from the feast and masquerade. This feast may signify “plenty” in the culture of the people.
The Feast of Onwa Eno
The feast is celebrated by the Obollo and is one of the most important feasts of the year, calculated for four native days from the first day that the moon appears. This feast is celebrated at the fourth month of the year. On this occasion, images that embody the dead are made and worshipped by the people in connection with the people’s belief that the dead demand food and drink from their loved ones who are still alive. The Onwa Eno feast usually commences on an Oye (Orie) day and symbolizes a link between the living and the dead in the culture of the Obollo people.
Feast of Onwa Esaa
It is a feast that takes place beginning from the sixth to the seventh month during which indigenes have the opportunity to see “Akatakpa” masquerades ravage the town to beat both men and women in the town except the aged. Akatakpa masquerades are traditionally known to arm themselves with long whips in the evening. These masquerades are seen despoiling every corner of the town while chasing their unsuspecting victims usually with excitements of some sort, attempting to whip them so that noise prevails while clamours for safety by individuals are paramount to circumvent the devastating masquerades. Only old men and women are free from the whisking of these masquerades because of their weakness. The feasts draws to a close on the last day when the much dreaded masquerades are ushered out of the town ready to reappear in another four years to come. During the Akatakpa, which provides the people cultural fun and pleasure, spectators are usually sighted around hundreds of masquerades jubilating and scampering. These masquerades are often moving around looking for people to appreciate their culture and either in cash or kind. It is also noticeable to find these masquerades wielding canes flog people who turn out unfriendly to them.
Other types of masquerades in Obollo land not considered harmful are Okikpe, Okpokwu (Okpokwu is also present among the Idoma people of Benue State), Ukwuidenyi and Mgbudike. Perhaps, it is from the name of this masquerade that Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue, largely inhabited by the Idoma is derived.
New Yam Festival
Like the rest of Igbo communities, the Obollo celebrate the New Yam Festival which is known as “Isiji” in the custom of the people. The celebration of isiji begins at the tenth month of the year. A traditional gathering of notable people of Obolloland is required at Umu Attama Ezeme where fried ground pea is eaten as customarily demanded. The tradition of assembling to eat the fried ground pea witnesses the commencement of New Yam Festival in Obollo.
The relevance of Isiji to the Obollo community cannot be emphasized as it affords the people an opportunity to offer “Ushajioku”, the god of crops sacrifice. The eating of new yam for the year thus begins with the offering of this sacrifice.
Perhaps due to its extreme location, early European missionaries did not visit Obollo early enough to embed education as they did in other places. This affected the people educationally but the eventual brisk acceptance of the educationists when they visited the town in no small way brought progress to the community educationally. The residence of Ugwu Abonyi (the first Eze of Obollo) is believed to have housed the first school in Obollo. He was also said to have haboured the first set of teachers that arrived the community and his boys were the first set of students to be regularly taught by the European educationists.
The teachers were later given a land at the present site of St. Patrick’s School, Obollo-Afor. St. Patrick’s School of today is housed inside St. Patrick’s Catholic parish in Obollo-Afor. A former principal of that school, Mr. Titus Obetta Ugwuanyi is a native of Obollo-Etiti who is a highly respected disciplinarian with gift for instilling discipline in students. He is scholarly sound and duly accorded respect by his people having groomed several of their children in and out of school. The church has several rooms for accommodating Seminarians and Rev Sisters. Upon my physical visit, I noted it to be a 3-storey building with Games House and a Library. I was also given the understanding that the earliest graduates of the school were later employed as interpreters, in local courts and other government establishments. Later PTC was instituted by Very Fr. P. Horgan for the training of teachers.

This school was later converted to Elementary Training College with Very Fr. Horgan becoming the first principal of the school. Today, however, Obollo has become a leading society in producing highly educated individuals many of who are contributing to the development of the community and Nigeria by extension.

Happily, Obollo communities are today located in Enugu State, South-Eastern part of the country under the Nsukka Division but with the wind of agitation blowing the demand for creation of states in Nigeria or perhaps, additional states for the people of South East, Nigeria, the Obollo communities began to seek self-autonomy within the Nigerian federation; praying the Federal Government of Nigeria to grant them Adada State as one of the units of Federal Republic of Nigeria and make it their permanent home and I am very much in support of the creation of Adada State as I share the opinion that their location in the proposed Adada State will guarantee the development of the various Nsukka, Obollo and other communities.

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