The Ikwerre (natively known as Iwhuruọha are one of the Igbo subgroups in the state of Rivers.
Ikwerre is one of the largest ethnic nationalities in present-day Rivers State. Traditional history has classified the Ikwerre into seven groups called “Ikwerre Essa”.
They are the Elele group, Isiokpo, Rumuji, Ernohua, Choba, Aluu Igwuruta and Obio.
The Ikwerre are a subgroup of the Igbo people of Nigeria. They are the descendants of an Igbo migration from the Awka and Orlu areas to the south.
They are part of the southern Igbo. Before the civil war, there had been dissident voices claiming that Ikwerre migrated from the Owerri, Ohaji, Ngwa and Etche areas of Igboland. But when Port Harcourt was conquered by Nigeria during the Biafra War and the Igbo from other parts of the Igboland fled the territory, a UN report states that the Ikwerre decided to claim that the Ikwerre was not Igbo for convenience.
The Ikwerre are officially recognized as a separate group in the 1979 Nigerian Constitution.
Theories of Ikwerre Origin
Some Ikwerre emigrated from Ika, a subgroup of Igbo in the Delta state and Edo state, while some emigrated from Ngwa, Arochukwu and Ohaji / Egbema.
The Aro first arrived in the Ikwerre region via Ozuzu-Etche, settling in Isiokpo, Igwuruta, Omagwa, etc.
As predicted by pre-literate African societies, the history of the people is shrouded in myth and mystery. This presupposes that the historian may have to resort to oral tradition for the justifiable / credible reconstruction of popular history.
From the postcolonial pantry to the present day, professional historians and other personal characters have attempted to reconstruct the history of the people. For example, Elechi Amadi’s works, most notably The Concubine, The Great Ponds, Lo schiavo (novels) and Isiburu (a play in verse) are a literary attempt to reconstruct a semblance of Ikwerre society in the pre-colonial era.
In the absence of valid historical records, historians accept oral tradition as the primary source for writing African history, despite the flaws associated with this method.
However, The history of the origin of the people can trace back to the migratory waves from lower Niger and the delta regions.
The Ikwerre people found in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. They are located within the rainforest belt which receives high annual rainfall.
Some parts blessed with coves running through Rivers State. There is also an abundant forest of raffia.
The villagers of Riverine Ikwerre engage in fishing in addition to the general occupations of agriculture and trade.
Which tribe is the majority in Rivers State?
Rivers State is a diverse state that is home to many ethnic groups, the majority being Igbo or Igboid, but also including the Ogoni and Ijaw.
The Ikwerre language is classified as an Igbo dialect.
However, Kay Williamson stated that the Ikwerre, Ekpeye, Ogba, Etche and Igbo languages belonged to the same language group and were not dialects.
However, Igbo, Ikwerre, Ogba and their sister languages apart from Ekpeye form a “language group” and are mutually intelligible.
There are also indications that Ikwerre society was bilingual in pre-colonial Nigeria.