Onitsha Omu - the Female Chiefs

The King of Onitsha is not without a queen mother, otherwise known as "OMU". The queen, according to Onitsha tradition, is not necessarily the King's wife. She is selected and installed by the Obi from among the entire women population of the town.

The candidate for such exalted office must be a woman recognized for her high socila standing in the community. She must possess a proven ability for patriotism and dynamic leadership.

While the candidate for the Obiship must come from the Umuezechima kindreds, the lady chosen for the Omu title may come from any kindres group in Onitsha, irrespective of affiliations.

As the Obi has his Ndiche(Chiefs), so the Omu has women chiefs whose titles are more than not, similar to those of the male chiefs.

The duties of the Omu and her chiefs are to look after the public affairs of the womenfolk generally, to ensure that women organizations are peacefully run, to supervise village markets, to settle disputes mostly of maritime nature, to disseminate information of public interest, to ensure strict observance of customary practices, to render socila and political services.

The Omu is a member of the Obi's cabinet. In the palace, she takes her seat with her chiefs on the far end of the rectangular court opposite the Obi's throne. thus, the sublime status of the Omu clearly shows the high esteem in which Onitsha people hold their womenfold.


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