Eri (king)

  (Redirected from Eri (Divine king))

Eri is said to be the original legendary cultural head of the Umu-eri groups of the Igbo people. Eri established a community in the middle of Anambra river valley (at Eri-aka); a presently uninhabited area of land bordering the extreme North of Ugume Village in Umueri with Nando and Igbo-Ezunu Aguleri. Of all that is known about this ancient history; historians disagree on which of the communities is the most ancient or even legitimately the direct descendant of Eri. Eri is said to be the founder and progentior of the communities surrounding the Omambala River Basin which include in the first place Umueri, then Aguleri, Igbariam, Nando, Nteje, Awkuzu, Nsugbe, Amanuke and Anam. Although much dispute exist about the foremost occupants of this region of the River Basin and which community is the direct descendant of Eri, one non-controvertible truth upon which historians are stuck, is that while other communities lay claim to direct descendency from Eri, none bear his name as his children except the Umueri people of Anambra East Local Government. Due to this indubitable link to Eri, a greater crop of scholars and historians look upon the Umueri people as direct descendants of the Great Eri. While scholars and historians continue their advance in the search for an equitable Igbo history, current knowledge and belief show that the ancestral stool of the Igbo lies in the Umueri Community. .[1]

Eri is the founder of the Umueri and Umunri clans, both of whom were some of the most influential and powerful dynasties of priests and diviners in Igboland and adjacent areas such as the Bini and Igala/Idoma areas. [2]

The mythEdit

When Eri was sent by Chukwu from the sky to the earth, he sat on an ant-hill because he saw watery marshy earth. When Eri complained to Chukwu, Chukwu sent an Awka blacksmith with his fiery bellows and charcoal to dry the earth. After the assignment, the Awka blacksmith was given ọfọ as a mark of authority for his smithing profession. While Eri lived, Chukwu fed him and his people with azu-igwe. But this special food ceased after the death of Eri. Nri, one of his sons, complained to Chukwu for food. Chukwu ordered Nri to sacrifice his first son and daughter and bury them in separate graves. Nri complied with it. Later after three Igbo-weeks (12 days) yam grew from the grave of the son and coco yam from that of the daughter. When Nri and his people ate these, they slept for the first time; later still Nri killed a male and a female slave burying them separately. Again, after Izu Ato, an oil palm grew from the grave of the male slave, and a bread fruit tree (ukwa) from that of the female-slave. With this new food supply, Nri and his people ate and prospered. Chukwu asked him to distribute the new food items to all people but Nri refused because he bought them at the cost of sacrificing his own children and slave. Nri and Chukwu made an agreement. According to M. D. W. Jeffreys (1956:123) a tradition has it that:

"As a reward for distributing food to the other towns, Nri would have the right of cleansing every town of an abomination (nso) or breach, and of tying the Ngulu (ankle cords) when a man takes the title of ozo. Also he and his successor’s would have the privilege of making the Oguji, or yam medicine, each year for ensuring a plentiful supply of yams in all surrounding towns, or in all towns that subjected themselves to the Eze Nri. For this medicine all the surrounding towns would come in and pay tribute and Umunmdri people then could travel unarmed through the world and no one would attack or harm them" [3]


  • The Nri Kingdom by Eze Nri, Nri Enwelana II, Obidiegwu Onyeso
  • Interpretive Archaeology By Julian Thomas (Google book search) ISBN 0-7185-0192-6
  • ỤZỌ NDỤ NA EZIOKWU - Towards an Understanding of Igbo Traditional Religious Life and Philosophy by Rev. P. E. N. Onwu - 4 November 2002
  • Worship as Body Language By E. Elochukwu Uzukwu (Google book search) ISBN 0-8146-6151-3
  • Foreign Missionary Background and Indigenous Evangelization in Igboland By Nkem Hyginus M. V. Chigere (Google book search) ISBN 3-8258-4964-3