Umu Ada Biafra

By Odirah Ezeobi

The political administration in Biafra town and villages before the advent of colonialism was a "democratic village republic type" before the colonial invasion. 

The political and cultural structure within the Igbo group in Biafraland is an example of how Biafra society operates in general.
Before the colonisation there was a well organised political structure within the various groups, Igbo speaking group is one of an excellent example of democratic structure unlike Yoruba monarchical system and Hausa-Fulani feudal system. 

When the British colonial invaders arrived in Biafraland, they were astonished to meet a democratic society in African. That challenged their perception of African culture, which it did not please them either because the democratic structure in Igboland won't allow them easy access to the resources they came to steal. 
Moreover, to their disbelief, our democracy predate most of the European society where they used to think that Africa is the land of the savage. British monarch system of govt is an example of their once nondemocratic society. 

The Igbo land was stateless. Its political authority was also diffused. It was shared by the council of elders who holds - Ofo title, Ozo title holders, Diviners. There is also Age grades and Umu Ada.

Ofo title: 
The Ofo title was held by the leader of each of the families called DIOKPARA. These Ofo title holders formed the council of elders. The holder of the biggest Ofo led the council and made only suggestions which must be deliberated before been accepted. The Ofo title was never held by a woman.

Ozo title holders: 
Then we have the Ozo title holders who exercise a kind of political authority because they could settle disputes between or within the village. They were only consulted and their advice sorted by the council of elders. The Ozo title was non-hereditary, but only people of proven integrity will be qualified to hold the title if he successful pass through the rites.

The diviners who were the intermediary between the people and the ancestors pronounced some laws for the village; punishments are given by the diviners who are priests of the spirit of the earth. 

Umu Ada:
The Umuada or Umuokpu do not take part in the administration but acted as a pressure group and were always on the path of justice.

Age grades:
The age-grade which comprises of people within the same age bracket is divided into three sections. There is the young age grade, the middle age grade and the age old grade; they checkmate the abuse of power of the elders. The patrilineal family group known as Umunna is the basis of the political and social unit; families formed kindred and relatives established villages. The basis of association was the use of a single market, worship and inter-marriage. 

This article is my partial discussion about Biafra Political and cultural structure. In my next article, we shall bring a connection between the various other groups that make up Biafra nation to highlight the homogeneous nature of our society in general.


Odirah Ezeobi writing for BiafraPost
Editor: EmmaNnaji
Publisher: EmmaNnaji


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