Culture is a way of life of a people, the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people or a society. Isseke is a town brimming with rich and vibrant cultural activities such as; Ofala festival, Iri ji, Igba mmuonwu, etc.
The Isseke people always come out en masse whenever any of their cultural activities is celebrated. It is a general belief that these cultural celebrations fosters peace and unity among villagers and it is a form of relaxation for her people
The Iri Ji has always been celebrated individually by the different towns in Isseke, usually once a year. This celebration is accompanied with dances and eating of yam delicacies ranging from roasted yam to be eaten with palm oil, pepper and ukpaka, to boiled yam in chicken broth.
In 2014, the Igwe declared a general Iri Ji to be celebrated by all, together in one venue. It was called the centenary Iri Ji. It took place on September 13th, 2014, at the Isseke Playground. According to his Majesty Igwe Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife, the centenary Iri Ji is a means to unite the villages, to show understanding and to discuss issues affecting the town and plan ways to address it.
The Ichies gather in the palace of the Igwe and they move in entourage to the venue. At the venue, kolanut is broken and palm wine is drunk to pay homage to the creator for a wonderful day. The harvested yams are then displayed in mounds, where prayers are offered to God in thanksgiving for a successful planting season.
The Igwe and his Ichies proceed to ‘itu nzu’, just as tradition requires, they also dance to show their joy at the occasion. After the dance, the roasted yams are then brought forward and eaten, first, by the Igwe, followed by his Ichies. This signifies to the people of Isseke that it is time for all to eat the newly harvested yams.
The Ofala Festival in Igboland is usually celebrated towards the end of every conventional year as an event that marks the end of the 13th month in Igbo calendar and the beginning of another Igbo year (Igu Aro).
The festival is also celebrated as a sign of authority and legitimacy bestowed on the traditional ruler in the land to guide the people on the path of truth and wisdom. Hence, it is titled Ofo (Authority) Ala (Land). The age long Ofala festival has remained a unifying force, and part of the identity of Ndi Igbo since the days of our ancestors. It is an annual event that has been passed on from generation to generation all over Igboland.
In the olden days in Isseke Ancient Kingdom, what was celebrated was the Odi festival, popularly called ‘Igba Odi’. During the Odi festival, different dance and masquerade activities were displayed, but many evil people used that opportunity to perpetuate evil. Some evil acts such as poisoning were recorded which made the Igba Odi to be associated with fetish dealings and the Odi festival was no longer celebrated.
In 1976 a new Igwe emerged Chief Anthony Muogozie Osakwe, Ezeoha I and because of his love for unity and togetherness of Isseke people, he reintroduced the Igba Odi festival but rechristened it Ofala Festival. The Ofala festival has since been celebrated just like the Igba Odi, every 10 years, amidst dances and jubilations. The last Isseke Ofala celebration was in 2008. According to the Igbo Calendar, the next Isseke Ofala is in 2017.
During Ofala festival, Isseke sons and daughters with their families, friends, neighbours, and in-laws from different villages in Isseke and in Diaspora assemble in their respective communities at the Palace of the Igwe or an arranged venue to celebrate this important and colourful festival. Prayers are said for God’s continued mercy, protection and wisdom, and also for God to avert every kind of evil that had befallen Isseke people in the past, and for development, peace and unity all over Isseke.
The highlight of the festival is the arrival of the Igwe in his royal regalia decorated with the crown and accompanied by his queen and traditional trumpeters. The Igwe dances to the pulsating beats of the drums, before the hailing of the crowd made up of his people, friends, and well-wishers. This royal dance is another highlight of the Ofala festival.
The Isseke people believe that each edition of the Ofala festival will result to stronger bonding of her communities, and also make for her progress as a kingdom.
From time immemorial, Isseke Ancient Kingdom had a Republican type of Government which was aptly described by Oluada Equiano in his book, “The Interesting Narrative of the life of Oluadah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African” published in 1789. This political arrangement prescribed a pre ancestral rotational succession that was interrupted as a result of the conquest by the Europeans over Isseke people in the 18th century after Ezike Ihemegwe of Dimori ruling house led Isseke and won a battle against a neighbouring Awo idemili town and the white people. At this time Isseke had four (4) Villages each of which was headed by the obuoffor (the oldest man in the Ruling House).
This arrangement involved a system of Kingship where all the leaders of the ruling houses choose from among themselves a leader, irrespective of the oldest, who then became the king of the town when it is the turn of the village, and if their choice is accepted by the leaders of other ruling houses. A Caucus of this leadership and the titled men in the town constituted the Central Government of the town while the eldest man in each of the ruling houses with their titled men provided the leadership for the respective villages.
As a result of the aforementioned interruption, in the absence of a ruling king, the Isseke Ancient Kingdom depended on the oldest man in the town to provide venue for communal and collective leadership on a collegiate basis without a king for a long time. Hence late Nze AGBAKA who was for almost half a century the oldest man in the town offered his house as venue for the town’s General Assembly until the emergence of Ezeoha 1 in 1976.
Following Government proclamation in 1976 on Local Government reforms and other matters, Isseke General Assembly, under the leadership of late Ichie Vincent Muoneke, then a Permanent Secretary in the Government of Atom Kpera, Governor of the former East Central State, on the 7th of August, 1976 in Isseke Central School Hall, set up a committee to draw up a Chieftaincy Constitution under the Chairmanship of late Ichie Hyacinth Chukwudolue, also the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Establishment in East Central State Government with the following as members– representing the villages: John Mgbemena (Ubaha), Okonkwo Ojukwu (Ubaha), M.A. Okwudile (Ubaha), R.C. Anunkem (Ubaha), David Nnabuife (Edeke), Ochi Okafor (Edeke), Iheanyigwe Obi (Edeke), Emmanuel Onyeanwusiaho (Edeke), Ndinojue Chikeruba (Amudo-na-Umueze/ Ihite), Charles Nwabueze (Amudo-na-Umueze/ Ihite), Okolie Nwanne ( Amudo-na-Umueze/ Ihite), Josiah Ojiako (Amudo-na-Umueze/ Ihite), Gabriel Nwabuwa (Etitilukpor), Okolie Madubuike (Etitilukpor), Enyi Okolie (Etitilukpor), Okeke Igwe (Etitilukpor). Other officials were: E. C. Nwabuwa, C.E. Okafoeze, C.E. Nwagbo, A.O. Ejenobi, and E. Igwekezie (Secretary). V.N. Muoneke served as Adviser.
This Committee wrote the Chieftaincy Constitution that led to the emergence and installation of Ezeoha I, Chief Anthony Muogozie Osakwe in 1976.
This Chieftaincy Constitution of Isseke, Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State dated 11th December, 1976 inconsideration of Isseke customary usages and in accordance with the Anambra State Government white paper on chieftaincy matters, re-established a Stool (Office) of a Traditional Ruler of Isseke town. The appellation for the office shall be known and addressed as ‘The Ezeoha Isseke’, the first of whom shall be called “Ezeoha I of Isseke”, and in that order of succession without prejudice to all previous traditional institutions that have existed in Isseke Ancient Kingdom from ancient time immemorial.
The Chieftaincy Constitution established an institution also which prescribed that the stool of “ EzeohaI sseke” shall rotate among the villages of Isseke and in accordance with their traditional order of taking shares, that is, seniority , in the town, viz Ubaha, Edeke, Amudo-na-Umueze/ Ihite and Etitilukpor. The rotatory system adopted had as its basis the traditional village order of completing the title taking in the following order: Ubaha, Edeke, Amudo-na-Umueze/ Ihite and Etitilukpor.
The appellation for the traditional village heads was retained viz: Daraurasi (Ubaha), Dimori (Edeke), Umueze (Amudo-na-Umueze/ Ihite), and Ogbuehi (Etitilukpor). The traditional village heads exercised traditional functions hitherto allotted to them by custom but the overall reigning traditional head (The Chief) shall be known and called “The Ezeoha Isseke” while the village heads are the kingmakers and the ruling houses and shall be “Ichie”.
The Ezeoha shall be “Chief in Council, that is, he shall rule by consultation with his cabinet. A Royal Cabinet of eight members (Ichies) was established made up of the four (4) traditional village heads and four (4) other members from among the four villages at the time in the town.
SELECTION AND REIGN OF EZEOHA I:
Based on the above village structure hierarchy arrangement and the rotation of “the Ezeoha stool” hitherto agreed to, the first village traditional head “Daraurasi” from Ubaha village, Nze John Mgbemena was requested to present his candidate. After due consultations, Nze John Mgbemena presented the person of Nze Anthony M. Osakwe (from Ubaha) to occupy the stool of “The Ezeoha I of Isseke”. He was unanimously accepted. On the 22nd March, 1977, he was accompanied by the following Village Heads to Enugu for formal recognition and issuance of Staff of Office by the Anambra State Governement: Nze John Mgbemena from Ubaha
Nze David Nnabuife from Edeke
Nze Okeke Chikeluba from Amudo-na-Umueze/ Ihite
NzeGabr i el Nwabuwaf r omEt i t i l ukpor
Mr E.O. Igwekezie, the Clerk of the Royal Cabinet was in the company.
Chief Anthony M. Osakwe (from Ubaha) was installed the Ezeoha I of Isseke on 21st -24th December, 1977. The installation was carried out by the following traditional village heads amidst pomp and pageantry:
Nze John Mgbemena –representing Daraurasi ruling house –Ubaha
Nze David Nnabuife –representing Dimori ruling house –Edeke
Nze Michael Madubuko –representing Umueze ruling house –Amudo-na-Umueze/ Ihite
Nze Gabriel Ozuome Nwabuwa –representing Ogbuehi ruling house –Etitilupkor.
The Ezeoha was flanked by the four traditional village heads. The traditional head of Ubaha village placed the Crown on his head. The other three traditional village heads decorated the new King with his Staff of Office and other regalia as prescribed by the Constitution.
HRH Igwe Anthony M. Osakwe, commenced his reign by introducing open, pragmatic and purposeful leadership. He showed an open arm to all and sundry. He exhibited great charismatic and inciting friendship to both great and small. He endeared himself to all. The new King sort for and obtained the consent of the General assembly for constitutional amendment, increased the membership of the Royal cabinet from 8 to 16 and later to 24 who will equally represent the villages in the Royal Cabinet .
During his reign there was peace and tranquillity in the town. The Isseke town made giant stride in its annals of development. He encouraged the town to undertake the following meaningful developmental projects:
- Electricity was installed and energized through self-help effort by the citizens of the Isseke town ahead of most other towns in the Ihiala Local Government, commenced in August 1986 and energized in October, 1987.
- Rehabilitation of water supply (at Amichi, Isseke)
- Afor Isseke Market was expanded and modernized.
- Isseke Community Secondary School.
In the political front, he mobilized the Ihiala Local Government Area into a family and political hostilities were eliminated and rotatory formula for choosing candidates for political parties was introduced .He played a fatherly role to the entire Local Government Area. He was later to become the Chairman of the Traditional Council in Ihiala Local government Area.
He established Palace Court through which disputes were reconciled and settled. There was great unity in the town. There was religious harmony all through his reign. Within the State, he served as a Chairman of Anambra State Panel on Conflict Resolution that resolved the Abagana Chieftaincy dispute.
The reign of the Ezeoha I of Isseke lasted for twenty-four (24) years, with the last ofala festival on 7–11th January , 2002 Having passed on to his ancestors on the 12th March, 2000. His passage rites was performed by the Isseke Progressive Union, the Royal Cabinet by five (5) villages of Isseke with Ihitediji emerging as the 5th village and attended the last ofala as an autonomous village subject to a constitutional amendment and formal proclamation.
Thereafter, the Traditional Council in their wisdom, elected Ichie Lawrence Amanambu Agudozie to preside over the Royal Cabinet as Chairman until another King is installed.
THE SELECTION AND INSTALLATION OF EZEOHA II
Subsequently, the Royal Cabinet met with and agreed with the Isseke Progressive Union to implement the provisions of the Isseke Chieftaincy Constitution in determining a successor to Ezeoha I. Hence, Edeke village (Dimori ruling house) which was next in succession was requested to present a candidate in consonance with the Isseke Chieftaincy Constitution. Consequently, Chief Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife was selected by Edeke village (through his nomination by Chief Sylvanus Ezike, Head of Dimori ruling house).
On the 28th August, 2003 the Royal Cabinet met with the executive of the Isseke Progressive Union to receive the nomination of Edeke village. The joint meeting setup a screening committee headed by Dr L. O. I. Ogueze to screen whoever Edeke village would present. Other members were Chief (Dr) C. E. Nwagbo, Rev. (Dr) Donatus Nsobundu and Mr Raphael Igboanusi.
At this joint meeting, Chief Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife, led by the following elders of Edeke, namely:
Nze Ndeonu George
Chief Sylvanus Ezike
Chief Igwe Agbaka
Was presented by Ichie Vincent N. Muoneke as the candidate of Edeke village to occupy the stool of Ezeoha II of Isseke. He was immediately screened and approved by the Ogueze screening committee after answering the necessary questions. It was their recommendation to the joint meeting of the Royal Cabinet and the Isseke Progressive Union Executive that Chief Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife met all the conditions as required by the Constitution of Isseke, and as such a fit and proper person who should be accepted as the Igwe and Traditional Ruler of Isseke town to occupy the Ezeoha Stool .The joint meeting accepted unanimously the report of the screening committee in a motion moved by Dr Lawrence Ogueze in a meeting presided by Ichie Ebenezer Nwabuwa as Ichie Agudozie was absent on medical grounds.
At the meeting of Isseke General Assembly held on 27th September, 2003 the joint body of the Royal Cabinet and the Executives of Isseke Progressive Union presented Chief Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife for acceptance and confirmation by the entire Isseke town as the Traditional Ruler to occupy the Ezeoha II Stool of Isseke.
Immediately after the presentation, the President General of Isseke Progressive Union, Chief (Hon) Ifeanyi Ernest Nnabuife invited the five villages to give their respective acceptances and affirmation or rejection of Chief Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife as a suitable candidate for the Stool of Traditional Ruler of Isseke, the Ezeoha II .The following persons spoke for and on behalf of their respective villages in favour of the candidacy of Chief Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife, namely:
Ichie Okafo Eze Cyprain -Ubaha
Sir Geoffrey Anyaso –Edeke
Nze Aloysius Ochiulo –Amudo-na-Umueze
Ichie Ebenezer O. Nwabuwa –Etitilukpor
Ichie (Dr) Christian E. Nwagbo –Ihitediji
Given this unanimous approval and affirmation, Ichie Lawrence Amanambu Agudozie, as the oldest Ichie from Ubaha and Chairman of Royal Cabinet of the Traditional Council, then crowned Chief Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife with a red cap as the Ezeoha II and the new Traditional Ruler of Isseke. This is symbolic as this signifies the confirmation/installation of Chief Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife as the new Traditional Ruler of Isseke and as the Ezeoha II of Isseke Ancient Kingdom. It is also more significant as this action transferred the reign of Ezeoha I to Ezeoha II. Chief Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife was asked to make his acceptance speech in accordance with the laws, custom and traditions of Isseke. His speech was captivating and reassuring of greater things to come promising to be innovative and to improve on the legacy of Ezeoha 1, by engaging and involving everybody in the affairs of the town. This marked the commencement of the reign of Ezeoha II of Isseke in the person of Chief Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife.
His Majesty, Igwe Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife, the Ezeoha II was presented to the Ihiala Local Government Council on 4th July, 2005 and was accepted for presentation to the Anambra State Government. Anambra State Government invited the Ezeoha II on 23rd December, 2005 for recognition, presentation of Certificate and Staff of Office, having met all conditions set for them by the State Government, State Security and other law enforcement agencies. At 2.15pm, in the Conference Hall of Government House Awka, His Excellency Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige, OON, Executive Governor of Anambra State, presented Certificate and Staff of Office to His Majesty, Igwe Emmanuel Nnabuife and seven other Traditional Rulers who were so invited. Friends and well-wishers who accompanied Ezeoha II were later entertained by the President General Ichie Leonard Eleanya.
THE REIGN OF EZEOHA II TO DATE
His Majesty, Igwe Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnabuife commenced his reign on his installation by Ichie Lawrence A. Agudozie on 28th September, 2003.
Since his assumption of Office, he has carried out the following activities:
Declaration of Ihitediji autonomy as a village in Isseke
New Yam Festivals
Settling of Disputes and Maintenance of Law and Order
Attending Traditional Councils at various levels
Review of the Isseke Constitution
Promotion of Oluada Equiano Project
Representation of Isseke town as her Traditional Ruler and King at various levels of Government and functions
Mass Mobilization of Isseke people for self-actualization
Intensified security of the people by establishing vigilante groups at Isseke and village levels
Promotion of culture, Custom and Tradition of Isseke and acting as Custodian
Receiving important dignitaries visiting Isseke
Promotion of development projects by annual rehabilitation of the roads.
The expansion of electricity supply and acquisition of more transformers by securing State Government intervention.
The renovation of Community Secondary School Isseke.
The celebration of his 1st Ofala Cultural Festival October 2008 to mark his 5th
Year on the Throne.
Attracted building of more school blocks at Central School, Isseke
Lobbied for siting of Federal Government Skill Acquisition Project (ongoing)
Many more projects in Isseke
Maintained good harmony among various religious bodies in Isseke