One of the functions of intellectual property law (trademark law especially), says a research report, is to construct and enforce particular notions of corporate identity as a property right. Intellectual property law it added creates proprietary right over intangible assets-the patented formulas, the copyright protected works, and the trademarked signifiers of corporate self representations—and thereby create legal rights and obligations to control their appropriations and interpretations. Through intellectual property law, symbolic practice is transformed into symbolic capital-a “strange” sort of alchemy that even Marx could not imagine.
In a similar vein, there is no longer credible basis for doubting that Anioma nation of Delta state, a people with an estimated total population of approximately 1.1 million people have become a cultural and ancestral melting point where many Nigerian ethnic groups met and synchronized.
There are many noteworthy aspects to this assertion.
Fundamentally, Anioma culture-particularly their language is one area that did probably more than anything else to convince the world of this assertion. Anioma language ‘is not just about communication, it is about the activity of life and their whole culture is built into the language. Like other major ethnic groups both in Nigeria and across the globe, Anioma language has a design that has many levels according to the context of the conversation. That; however, is why our culture is unique’.
As unfolded in a recent discussion with Elder Emeka Esogbue, an Anioma Historian, the geographical landscape today referred to as Anioma is but an almagam of ‘movements’. From ancient Nri Kingdom were migrations that led to the foundings of Igbuzo, Ogwashi-Uku, Akwukwu-Igbo and many more. These movements were followed with the migrations from Isu of the Igbos. The Isu migration became the more important in terms of number in Igbuzo, Ewulu etc. But there were the likes of Benin origin who were the original settlers in Ogwashi-Uku.
The earliest waves of migrations were of the Ife and Akure of the Yoruba race led to the foundation of a number of Yoruba communities in the Enuani region of the Anioma area and it gave rise to the foundation of Olukwumi communities that are Ugbodu, Eko Efun (Ukwunzu), Ogodor and many more. Surprisingly, little did early Yoruba historians record the Yoruba communities in Enuani enclave until recently.
The Igala, known for their exploits also founded a number of communities within the Enuani region and in some cases, added their populations to already existing settlements. The biggest examples of the Igala settlement in Anioma are the Oko, comprising Oko-Amakom, Oko-Anala and Oko Ogbele; Ebu and Amai. The Ebu community is located in Oshimili Local Government Area while Amai is in Ndokwa region. Other Igala populations are mixed in Asaba, Okpanam, Illah. Ibrede is an Isoko community in Anioma. The Ika are a mixture of Igbo and Bini but the purest Bini ancestry seems the Ozanogo, a settlement that has since been making agitation to relocate to Edo State.
The effect of the heterogenous origins of the Anioma people can be found in their culture and different languages spoken by the people. Pertinently, Igbo is intelligible to all the people of Anioma but Bini is spoken by Ozanogo, Yoruba names are born with Yoruba language spoken by Olukwumi communities. Ibrede speaks Isoko while Ebu speaks Igala.
The second consideration is that in material terms, the Anioma people have through hard work, planning, improvising established themselves in all sectors-finance, science/technology, sports and education among others. Appreciably also, they daily manifest signs of a people that have left behind third world challenges of illiteracy and poverty, to become a successful centre for the dissemination and distribution of best human capital resources across the nation.
But the biggest helping hand that did so well to fast track the development of Anioma culturally came from the formation of the Organization for the Advancement of Anioma Culture popularly known as OFAAC, in 2002, by Arc Kester Ifeadi, a well-informed, self-contained and quietly influential Anioma son. The OFAAC trustees are Chief Newton Jibunoh who is the Chairman, Prof Pat Utomi, Hon Emeka Nmadu, Arc Kester Ifeadi among other illustrous sons and daughters of Anioma nation.They deserve praise for their indefatigable contributions towards the promotion of Anioma culture.
Essentially, the proponents of OFAAC understand that at different times and places Anioma witnessed the pains, neglect and indifference caused by various communities.They also understood the fact that due to the influence of westernization, civilization, Christianity and others, when people hear the mention of ‘culture’, they tend to flee immediately.
From the above, it is obvious that the major objectives of OFAAC are to bring the Anioma people together culturally, promote their culture and project and preserve their cultural identities-and have reasonably succeeded in all of these. The group believes that Cultural practices such as; Anioma dances, traditional wrestling, flute competitions and others are aspects of our cultures that must be preserved to bequeath to the future generation.
OFAAC in the words of Elder Emeka is about the promotion of the culture of the Anioma people. The Anioma Essence Magazine is to promote researches on our people. We also put together a microfinance scheme and organize the annual Anioma Cultural Festival in Asaba. As they have come to know us globally, OFAAC is the culture umbrella of the Anioma people. Through the annual Anioma Cultural Festival, we have been able to bring together heterogeneous Aniocha, Oshimili, Ukwuani/Ndokwa and Ika to showcase their cultures.
When Anioma people are prepared for traditional marriage, they remember their Akwa-Ocha instead of the bogus Agbada of the other group. Aniomas have a place in Nigeria because they have a common identity. All they currently need is to love and believe in each other, support the OFFAC initiative, and do away with the docility that their forebears suffered in the hands of other groups in the country.
The world itself has turned a global village. And whether Aniocha, Oshimili, Ika or Ukwuani/Ndokwa, Anioma is your home. Those who say I am not Anioma but Ika or I am not Anioma but Ukwuani are greatly mistaken. Anioma is our collective destiny. The truth is that achieving the collective socio-economic and political interest of the entire Delta North Senatorial District of the state depends largely on the level of unity that exists among Anioma people, he submitted.
*** Jerome-Mario Utomi writes from Lagos, Nigeria / firstname.lastname@example.org