respectively, of Anambra state, is seemingly getting sour based on their
laying claims of having right of primogeniture among the sons of Eri
These claims came to the fore when the traditional ruler of Enugu-Ukwu,
Igwe Ralph Obumnemeh Ekpeh, adorned in his royal liveries, read an
address at the inauguration of their new Obu Okpalanakana ‘Isi-Nri
Museum,’ which contexts were perceived as an affront and demeaning,
antithetical to what Nri kingdom represents.
The contextual statement reads, “Agukwu has usurped the place of the son
of Nri who is Okpalanakana-Ukabia Nri. Nevertheless we cannot stop
commending the effort of Agukwu to preserve the glories and artifacts of
“In doing this, they should not forget to accord respect to the first
son of Nri who is Okpalanakana-Ukabia Nri. Quick realization of this and
cooperation would help Nri Kingdom to restore its place in history.
“Together we shall move mountains, but in rancour, disintegration and
incoherent achievement is the consequence.”
Also contributing, the Traditional Culture Minister of Enugwu-Ukwu,
Chief Jude Ekwunife said that Enugwu-Ukwu is the first son among the
nuclear children of Nri and Nri was one of the sons of Eri.
” Nri who migrated from Aguleri spent most of his active life at a spot
known as Nkpume-Onyilienyi in Ugwu Awovu area of Isionye quarter of
” It was while sojourning at Nkpume-Onyilienyi that Nri begat
Okpalanakana, the revered father of Enugwu-Ukwu.” Ekwunife posited.
Nri is the oldest kingdom in Nigeria as it existed since 900 AD and the
next is Kanem Bornu empire that also existed in the mid 900 AD.
It was anthropologically researched and universally acknowledged that
ancient Nri kingdom has been the ancestral home of Ndigbo and custodian
of Igbo culture and traditional values.
It is said that history owes its excellence more to the writer’s manner
of which it is composed; therefore, the indigenes of Nri kingdom believe
that the royal father couched the statement with elements of doubt, thus
skewed the historical narrative.
In reaction, Prince Engr. Charles Tabansi, the former President General
of Nri kingdom and great grandson of the former Nri king, EzeNri Tabansi
Udene Nrijiofor, frowned at the word ‘usurpation’ used, stating that,
“It is obvious from the many utterances of prominent men of Enugu-ukwu
and now the big masquerade himself, the Igwe of Enugu-Ukwu, that our
Enugu-Ukwu brothers have lost sense of their history and ours too.
“The following write-up is intended to educate them on the History of
Enugu-Ukwu and Nri and the filial relationship between the two. One
hopes that this will help them know and appreciate who they are, so that
together we move forward as aptly stated by the Igwe.
“Narrating the history, Tabansi said that the children of Eri are made
up of Agulu, Ogbodudu, Onogu, Iguedo (female), Onuoja and Menri.
Eri was a very spiritual and a mystic man with great charisma. His son
Menri inherited his spiritual powers and mysticism but decided to
distance himself from such practices even taking over his father’s
powers, he then started wandering about under the influence of the
His first port of call during his wandering life was Amanuke, then to
Ugbenu and later to Ugwu Iru Okpu or Mkpume Onyilenyi at Enugu-Ukwu.
He settled in the area at a place now called Osili village in Enugu-Ukwu
and by then had four children; the progenitor of Enugu-Ukwu called
Okpalanakana (also called Kanu Ukabia); the progenitor of Isu-na-Agidi
(presently known as Enugu-Agidi), the Umenekanu, progenitor of Nawfia
called Ariam; and the progenitor of Oruora that became extinct.
“At this time, Menri was under the inspiration of the spirits and was
behaving abnormally. Because of Menri’s delay in taking on the powers of
his father, Eri, and taking the title of Nri (the highest title that
could be taken in Nri sphere of influence), as sanctioned by Chukwu and
the ancestors, tragedy struck him and he started losing his children
“First to die was Okpalanakana, Ariam and then Umenekanu. Menri was
still under a spiritual torment, and he then abandoned the Osili sojourn
and migrated down into the Valley of Agulu Lake where he founded a new
settlement called Agukwu (being the name the area was called because of
its thick forest nature).
“At Agukwu, he finally took the title of Nri and became Eze Nri
Ifikwuanim, the first Eze Nri of Agukwu. Normally when one takes the
title of Nri, one takes a new name after his symbolic ‘death’ funeral
rites and ‘resurrection’ which occurs during the coronation. “Tabansi
Continuing, during this symbolic death, his wives mourn him as being
really dead and after his resurrection; he takes a new name and marries
new wives. This is what was said that happened to Menri.
After his symbolic resurrection, he took the name of Nri Ifikwuanim and
married two new wives who gave birth to Onyiora (progenitor of
Agbadana); Alike (progenitor of Uruoji), Ogboo (progenitor of Obeagu)
and Odili (who died early and his brother from the same mother, Onyiora,
took custody of some of his children (Uruanata kindred of Agbadana).
While his wife who hailed from Orji village in Enugu-Ukwu went back to
her people with some of the very young Odili’s children who grew into
Urunebo of Enugu-Ukwu).
Actually, the Urunebo descendants have strong tie of consanguinity with
Agukwu Nri and were the ones doing all the traditional and spiritual
jobs in Enugu-Ukwu in the absence of Nri people who are exclusively
responsible to perform such rituals like spiritual cleansing (Ikpu Alu)
and Igbaye atali (granting Nze titleship).
Nri Ifikwuanim equally built marriage ties with the aborigines he met.
In the South he met Akamkpisi people led by one Ezikanebo whom he gave
his daughter in marriage.
In the North side of Nri kingdom where the Diodo people, his cousins who
are also descendants of Eri were led by a man who had also taken the
Nri title and called Nri Namoke na Ogbodudu.
Nri Ifikwuanim further took Namoke’s daughter in marriage for his third
son, Ogboo, which formed the basis for the unity that prevailed among
the three sections into one town,Nri.
At this point, Tabansi contended that, “from the above history, it is
obvious that Enugu-Ukwu cannot claim to be Nri because their progenitor,
Okpalanakana was born before Menri became Nri.
“With his symbolic death, the old person had gone and with his symbolic
resurrection, a new person (half spirit, half man) was born.
“So, even though in reality, Enugu-Ukwu is Agukwu Nri’s senior brother
and the first son of Menri and by the dictates of our tradition as
earlier illustrated, they cannot claim Nri, talkless of being the first
born of Nri.
“According to Igbo tradition, if the male child or children of a man
dies before the man, they loss their position in the inheritance ladder.
So, being that Okpalanakana died before his father, he lost the position
of Okpala of Menri and so cannot claim to be Okpala or claim right of
“A life example is Eze Nrijiofor the 2nd, who in his live time before
his coronation begot my father, Prince R.N Tabansi and his brothers.
When Eze Nrijiofor the 2nd travelled (died), the person that inherited
his palace was my uncle and age mate, Prince Augustine Tabansi, who is
the first son of Eze Nrijiofor 2nd after his coronation.
“Enugu-Ukwu, therefore cannot answer Isi-Nri or Okpala of Menri or Nri
as they are neither. They cannot even answer anything Nri.”
Tabansi appreciated the sound advice of Igwe Ekpeh of coming together as
one family to protect what is theirs by extension, stressing that the
four towns comprising of Enugu-Ukwu, Enugu- Agidi, Nawfia and Nri have
common Ancestry in Menri who was better known as Nri after his
“Nri was the name known and documented by the early writers. By
answering UmuNri, they sought to capitalise on a known quantity. The
real name of the group should have been UmuMenri.
“The term UmuNri was a creation of the 1970s by people like Chief FGN
Okoye, Chief R.O. Nwocha, (both of Enugu-Ukwu); Chief Ikeanyi, Chief
Umeano (both of Enugu-Agidi); Chief F. F. B. C. Nwankwo (Nawfia); Prince
R. N. Tabansi (Nri); etc, and was created to build brotherhood and
common front to seek for common good,” he stated.
Reacting Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo, the traditional ruler of Nawfia kingdom
in Njikoka local government council, Anambra state, at his country home
who also spoke raging issue said “No,
if the first son dies before the father, he has no inheritance in that
family and he losses all his entitle.
Well, from everything I can understand in that issue, the first son
died, Menri who took a title of Nri became EzeNri and re-married. The
issue now is whether Enugwu-Ukwu who died as the first son before their
father, according to the tradition, the next wife who had Agukwu-Ukwu
Nri is entitled to first son.
From my own understanding, if a child dies before their parents, they
are not usually given proper burial because it is an abomination.
So, if that is the case, I don’t see what we are fighting about except
to sit down and have a dialogue and give the thing to whom it belongs
By the way it seems now from everything we are putting together, it
falls on Agukwu-Nri.
The reason is that the first son died in front of his father. I never
knew these till I did an indepth research which gave me impetus to
honour this historical interview.
The thing is that once you are the first son and died before your
father, even your son cannot inherit anything because you cannot inherit
what your father doesn’t have, it immediately ends there.
If government takes your father’s house, you don’t have the house
anymore and that is my rereason.
On the former Igwe Agwuna of Enugwu-Ukwu claiming the head of UmuNri
clan comprising Enugwu-Agidi, Nawfia, Agukwu-Nri and Enugwu-Ukwu, he
posited that there was nothing wrong with what late Igwe Agwuna was
doing. He said he was elected to be the head uof UmuNri clan, perfectly
right. You can be the chairman of Ozo title holders but can’t be the
head because the head is the man that first took the Ozo title.
“Nothing wrong only if he used that elected position to claim the first
son, that is where it will be wrong.
“You don’t create first son by election but by inheritance which is a
natural phenomenon. The first son is by nature not by election,” Igwe