roughly between the ages of ten and twenty years were known as Umu-Ilo.
They are divided into three age-groups, the senior being in partial
executive control of the rest, with power to levy small fines on any
member who failed to turn out for any of the duties which devolved upon
them. These duties are confined to the up keep and cleanliness, as understood
by the Ilo, of paths, compound and open spaces.
the Umo-Ilo stage, young men would join together to form social clubs
corresponding to the successive age-grades. Each grade or club adopted
a name. The Ndichie would periodically select one of these grades to
act as police in enforcing their decisions. The grade so selected would
perform these duties for as long as it was considered capable of doing,
after which it would hand over it's duties to another selected grade.
See Age Grade names.
still keep their separate identifies as social clubs, but Government
with it's Police and Court Messengers has done away with the necessity
for one of the age-grade to acts as they used to. A new body based on
the age-grade system has, however, arisen to meet modern requirements.
This body, know as the Ogbo Isato, is made up of the eight age -grades
which have been formed from those who left the Umu Ilo stage after 1900.
comprises roughly all the young men in Onitsha between the ages of twenty
and thirty-five years - i.e,. the young intelligentsia. The Ogbo Isato
was founded with the objective of bringing non-partisan pressure to
bear on the Ndichie in the settlement of the Obi succession and even
if unsuccessful in this object it has come to be an unofficial power
in the Town.
head of each fmily was the senoir titled man. If there were Ndiche in
the family, then he would be considered the senior, if only Ozo titled
men, then the oldest one amongs them by age. In matters of any importance,
however all the elders whether thay had taken title of not, would attend
as well all the titled men. At such a meeting, anyone would be allowed
to air his views but the titled men would consult to decide the matter.
of the six kindreds the Ndichie Ume was the admistrative head; or failing
an Ndichie Ume, the senior Ndichie Okwa. In the kindred Council as in
the family, any one who could command a hearing might express his views
but only the title men would withdraw to counsult.
matters concerning Onitsha as a whole, or in any family or kindred affair
which required an authoritive order greater than that which the Ndichie
concerned could give, the Obi was the final authority, though he was
always first approached by, and considered the opinions of the Ndichie
before giving his decision. Confined to his house most of the time as
he was, the Obi would in practice take the advice of his Ndichie on
were divided opinon, he himself might try to obtain more detailed infomation
from other private sources or alternatively send the Ndichie away to
consult more thoroughly, and try to arrive at some single decision.
But no measure adopted would be considered to be law until it had the
Obi's consent and approval.
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