Umuleri also known and pronounced as Umueri is a town in Anambra State of Southeastern Nigeria. The people of Umueri town belong to an Igbo ethnic group and has an estimated population of 942,000.00 It's located within the Anambra Valley, bordered by Anambra River (Omabala River) and Anam communities in the north, Nteje to the south, Aguleri and Nando in the east and Nsugbe in the western flank.
The origin of Umuleri is surrounded by myths and legends as in other ancient Igbo communities. However, there are generally acceptable oral origin stories which were passed from generation to generation which emphasize the area as the first area of human settlement east of the Niger River. Therefore, the origin of Umuleri, which literally means "Children of Eri", can be traced back to the ancient Eri Kingdom, which dates back to the 9th Century. The Nri Town in Anambra State is also a descendant of Eri. They migrated to the present place from the Omabala River Valley.
According to tradition, Eri was a great warrior, hunter and polygamist. He had a lot of children and wives. His most famous wife was Iguedo, presumably from the lineage of Ogiso (Bini), who was amongst the crowd of migrants at that time. She was also mother to the founders of Ogbunike, Awkuzu, Umuleri and Nando, and a daughter who was amongst the founders of Oboli Quarters of Onitsha (this explains the relationship between Umuleri and Onitsha and other Iguedo clans). Eri, due to his influence was said to have snatched (remarry) Iguedo from Nnamenyi (another of the migrants), and she bore to him Dabawor who founded the modern Umuleri clan. At the demise of Eri she remarried, again to Iru, a hunter and herbalist who was said to be part of Eri Company.
Division and administration
Traditionally, Umueri is broadly divided into 3 clans: Ezi, Ikenga, Ivite. The clans are further divided into villages and sub-villages. But with advent of colonialism and modernization, the town has consciously grown and governed just like other Igbo Communities . The three traditional clans of Umueri are written down below with their corresponding Villages:
- Ezi: Belongs to Nneyi Village which is also divided into further sub-villages
- Ikenga: Comprises Ugume, Umudiana, Umunchezi, etc.
- Ivite: Umuatuolu, Ogbu and Mgbede
The pre-colonial Umueri government was a republican but with influence of Bini Kingdom in that part of Igboland, it changes to Monarchical in nature in which the Eze resided in Ivite. The Prime Minister (Onowu) & Ajie in Ikenga and Ezi respectively. Modern administration since colonization relegated this system and enthroned the Igwe Dynasty which is prevalent Institution till date.
Below is the Structure of Present Umueri Administration:
- Igwe in-Council - The Traditional Ruler and his Cabinet[Igwe Cabinet]
- Council of Elders[Ndichie] - The Elders of the Community
- Umuotu - An Elite Age Grade that helps in implementing laws in the Community
- Town Union - Umueri General Assembly [UGA]
- Policing Age Grade - An Age grade in charge for enforcement of local laws made in the town
- Sanitation Age Grade- An Age Group in charge of clearing and maintenance of rural road, Village Square and of all Public Utilities
Prior to the coming of Europeans, Umueri people practiced traditional religion with the worship of various deities. However, they had since embraced Christianity about a century ago. Today, there are more than 85% Christians in the town. The major Christian faiths are the Catholic and Anglican denominations.
Some other churches, especially of the Pentecostal faith, have emerged in Umueri in the past fifty years. The town is also referred to as a pinnacle of Anglican evangelism as it has one of the oldest churches east of the Niger. Churches that are bound in the town include and not limited to the following: St Immanuel Anglican Church (founded 1904), St Gabriel Anglican Church (1912), Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church (1975), St Marks Catholic Church Nneyi etc.
Umueri(Umuleri) is blessed with natural resources like
6. Fertile Soil for farming,
7. Natural Reserve Forests
Most of the public basic infrastructure in the town is built by the community. The community-built infrastructures are as follow: Umueri General Hospital, Umueri Town Hall, Recreation Club House, Umueri Girls High School, Ugume Umueri, Umueri High School, Obinetiti (formerly Umueri Technical College), Community Secondary School, Umuatuolu, Umueri Development School, Nneyi, Umueri Postal Agency, Umueri Community Bank, Afiama Market, Eke Market, Nkwo Nneyi Market, etc.
The few infrastructure owned by government includes the following: Umueri Nomadi School at Umudiana-Umueri, Local Government Secretariat, Umueri Head Bridge, Boreholes Projects sunk around the Villages and proposed and ongoing projects which includes the Orient Refinery, Anambra State Umueri Cargo Airport, Orient Low Staff Residential Quarters etc.
- Nwabunwanne Ifediorah Christopher. “Umueri Head of Ancient Umueri Clan”
- Nwabunwanne Ifediorah Christopher. "Anambra Day Break Series"
- Isichei Elizabeth. “A History of Igbo People” (London, ENGLAND: MacMillan, 1976.)
- Patrick Chidalu Chukwuma. "Umueri, The Okebo City of Nigeria"
- Patrick Chidalu Chukwuma. "Okebo City Portal" (Bachelor Computer Science, University of Wollongong Australia )