ONITSHA MATTERS:

ACCOUNTS FROM EARLY TIMES TO TODAY

The Webmaster of this site (Richard Henderson 2011) will insert various works (both essays and chapters of a larger volume) he has written (and sometimes, illustrated) about Onitsha (the great city in what is now Anambra State in Nigeria), focusing largely on the Onitsha people (ndi-Onicha), who live in or anyway derive from the community by that name. He will also present materials by other authors as these seem appropriate to the website, and will include essays that discuss other peoples related to Onitsha. To contact the Webmaster, use email: rhenders@email.arizona.edu

Click on the blue-underlined links below to gain access to each set of materials.

"In the ten years since Mr. Ulli Beier first drew the attention of the outside world to the amazing pamphlet literature of the Onitsha market... One of the most intriguing questions concerning this literature -- Why did it happen in Onitsha? -- has however, not yet been answered fully and I suspect never will be.... It is this area which interests me -- the esoteric region from which creativity sallies forth at will to manifest itself. All we can do is to speculate. Onitsha is such a phenomenon. Whenever I think of it, a phrase from Frantz Fanon comes immediately to my mind: a zone of occult instability." [Chinua Achebe, 1975, "Onitsha, Gift of the Niger", in Morning Yet on Creation Day, Anchor Press, p. 153. Emphases added.]

1961........................................................11992

Umu-Anyo Houses at one location

..

 

1961........................................................11992

Iru-Ukpo of Igwe Enwezor

..

Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind,

Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind,

An’ the poet and the painter far behind his rightful time,

An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

[Except from Bob Dylan, “The Chimes of Freedom Flashing”, In Another Side of Bob Dylan, 1964]

 

1. GREATER ONITSHA (in HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE)

Onitsha Waterside (Otu-Onicha): An Ancient Crossroads as Seen in 1960-62

Enu-Onicha ("The Inland Town") 1960-62

"Deep History": from the Mists to the Niger Missions

2. SOME RITUAL SYMBOLISM MATTERS

Leadership Symbolism in Igbo Crowns and Ijele

[By Richard N. Henderson and Ifekandu Umunna, African Arts Feb. 1988, Vol. XXI, No. 2]

 

3. A MIGHTY TREE HAS FALLEN:

"Birds Who sheltered in its branches

now have no abode"

[By Richard Henderson, with the assistance of Helen K. Henderson et al]

PART ONE: INSIDE A GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL:

"The Iron is Broken": Onitsha in February 1961

Kings, Nation-States, and Killings

Power and Ritual Paradox in Onitsha

Newcomers' Experiences and Wider Realities

PART TWO: MEANINGS OF "ONITSHA IBOS" AND "NON-ONITSHA IBOS":

Concerning Historical Constructions of Ethnic Stereotypes

{note that the following "framings" of this issue can be skipped for those who mainly want to pursue the narrative line for 1961-62 Ndi-Onicha "when the Obi is sought but not seen", without so much interpretive interruption. This is academic background, but that's not to say it's without importance.)

Precolonial Regions and Contrasting Cultures

Ethnic Divergence during Colonial Times

Cultural Politics and the Onitsha Improvement Union (Home Branch)

Dynamics of Late Pre-Independence Onitsha Politics

PART THREE: ROYAL DEATH AND BURIAL

Obi Okosi II: Death and Burial, March 1961

PART FOUR: INTERREGNUM AS CHAOS

Umu-EzeAroli Histories

Active parties proliferate

[This portion still under construction,]

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Writings by Indigenous Authors

M. Ogo Ibeziako, 1938, The Founder and Celebrities of Onitsha

Other Relevant Works

A Tribute to the Late Mbanefo Odu

(An essay written by Richard Henderson in 1995)

Visit to Opobo Town, Niger Delta, December Solstice 1961

(By Leonard Plotnicov, Richard Henderson, and Helen Kreider Henderson)


Email contact: rhenders@email.arizona.edu