Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. (NNAUSA) is a non-profit organization of the Ngwa people ( Ngwas) of Abia State of Nigeria, residing in the United States of America. The association has as its primary goal to unite all Ngwas, promote Ngwa traditions and culture, provide a community environment which will enable all Ngwa people advance intellectually, socially and economically. Please read about the origin and history of this peace loving and industrious people.

THE NGWA PEOPLE:

In the absence of a documented account of the origin of the word ‘Ngwa’ in the pre-colonial era, one source of information appears to be booklet written a few years ago by a prominent historian and archivist, Mr. J.E.N. Nwaguru. His proximity to the National Archives in Enugu made his work an acceptable source of information. Another source would be the fireside evening stories from our grandfathers. This oral history account has it that the word ‘Ngwa’ was a short form of the Igbo adjective “Ngwa-Ngwa” meaning “quickly”.

Geographical Setting

The area covering the old Aba division Ngwa, is situated in the tropical rain forest of southern Igbo plain in the present Abia State of Nigeria. It has a population of about one million people and an area of little over nine hundred square miles. The area is bounded on the north by the present Umuahia zone, on the west by Owerri and Mbaise, on the east by Ikot-Ekpene and Abak and on the south by ukwa. The important waterways are the Imo River to the south and west, the Aba or Aza River that rises at Abayi, and flows south through Aba Township into the Imo River at a point near Okpontu. Around Nsulu to the northeast, there are two minor rivers, the Otamiri and the Ohi. At no point does the land rise above an elevation of 50ft.

The people are largely farmers, producing yams, cassava, cocoyam, maize and other tropical farm products. Major rural industries include garri and palm produce in addition to Akwete cloth weaving in which in which most women from Ihie area were engaged. The old divisional headquarters was Aba, a very important commercial and industrial center. Center of major population concentration includes Aba, Mgboko, Osisioma, Umooba, Owerinta, Nbawsi and Okpu-Alangwa Omoba.

Origins and Waves of Migrations

The Ngwas, the main body of the Ngwa clan is said to have originated from a village called Umunoha in the present Owerri zone of Imo State Nigeria. Tradition related that people of Umunoha village had taken a journey in search of new lands in which to dwell, the journey lasted many days and the group finally arrived at the banks of the great Imo-River. Tired, coupled with the fact that Imo river had overflowed to recede, and to find food to eat. The only handy food item then was yam. One group felt it would be quicker to roast the yams, while the other group preferred boiling the yams. As soon as they were occupied cooking the food, the stream began to rise. 

Three of the traveling brothers who boiled their yams
hurriedly ate the food, packed up their belongings and crossed over the other side of the river, leaving their kit and kin behind who had adopted the process of roasting their yam. The three people who gained the left bank of the river were Ukwu, Nwoha ad Avosi in order of age. They were given the name ‘Ngwa’ on account of the expeditious manner of their crossing, while the stragglers on the right bank were named ‘Ohuhu’. Till this day, all towns and villages on the other side of Imo-River 
are referred to as ‘Ndi-Ohuhu’ or ‘Umu-Ohuhu’.

The villages of the left bank of Imo were inhabited by Ibibios, who received Ngwa Ukwu and his brothers amicably allocating to them sufficient virgin lands for their immediate needs. Ngwaukwu settled at what is now the village of Umuolike where he also established his ancestral shrine. ‘Aba Ngwa’ in a small hut ‘Okpu’ which is today the capital of Ngwa-land called ‘Okpu-Ala Ngwa’.

For many years, the three brothers dwelt around Okpu-Ala Ngwa in peace, but as their families increased in number, they moved apart in different directions. Ngwaukwu group, Mbutu, Ovuokwu and Ovengwu, and Avosi found the villages of Mvosi and all around Okpu-Ala Ngwa. According to the historical account Mr. J. E. N. Nwaguru, the origins of Ntigha and Nsulu is a bit controversial. Some say that the Ntigha crossed over from Ohuhu with Ngwaukwu and his brothers, while others say that Ntigha was the son of Ngwaukwu.

Whichever is the case, Ntigha settled at Umunachi and established the ala-Ntigha deity, while Nsulu took part of the Juju to settle at Eziala and adjoining villages. From these early settlements, the Ngwas advanced to the southwest, which include Oza, Obegu, Okporo-Ahaba, Osokwa, Arongwa, Amavo, Ngwaobi, and Amise, and to the southeast which also includes Aba-na-Ohazu, Akuma-Imo, Ahiaba-na-Abayi, Ibene, Mgboko-Umuanunu, Mgboko-Amairi, Mgboko-Itungwa, Mbutu-Umuojima, Ndiokata, Ohanze, Ugwanagbo and Uratta. Customs and Traditions.

 

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