Ngwa people (Ṅgwà IPA: [ŋɡʷa]), an Igbo group, constitute the largest and most populous sub-ethnicity, or clan, in southeastern Nigeria.[1][1][2][3] They occupy an area of about 1,328 square kilometres (513 sq mi),[4] although some accounts read at least 2,300 km2 (900 square miles).[5] In 1979, their population was held at an estimate of approximately 1.8 million people.[6] Within the seventeen local government areas of Abia State: Nigeria, Ngwa people occupy nine Local Government Areas which include: Aba North, Aba South, Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Obi Ngwa, Osisioma, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa East, Ukwa West.

Ngwa People
Total population
1.8 million (1979 est.), 4 million+ now
Regions with significant populations
Native/Vernacular: Ngwa
Predominantly: English, Nigerian Pidgin, Igbo

Aba North and Aba south make up the popular commercial city: Aba which is known for business, creativity and industrialization. Their ethnonym Ngwa is used to describe the people, their indigenous territory, and their native tongue. King Josaiah Ndubuisi Wachuku,[2] who died on Monday 2 January 1950, was Eze, paramount chief and servant leader, Onye Isi: head of Ngwa people during British colonial times.[7][8][9]

Origin and journeyEdit

Some source of information include a booklet written few years ago by a prominent historian and archivist, His Royal Highness: Eze J.E.N. Nwaguru.[10] His proximity to the National Archives in Enugu made his work an acceptable source of information.

Ngwa people, are said to have originated from a village called Umunoha village in the present Owerri zone of Imo State Nigeria. Tradition related that people of Umunoha took a journey in search of new lands to dwell on. Their journey lasted many days; and the group finally arrived at the bank of the great Imo river. They were tired; and needed food to eat; coupled with the fact that Imo river had overflowed to recede. The only handy food item they had were yams. One group felt it would be quicker to roast those yams, while the other group preferred boiling them. As soon as they started roasting and boiling their yams, Imo river began to rise. Three of the traveling brothers who boiled their yams hurriedly ate, packed up their belongings and crossed over to the other side of Imo river, leaving, behind, their kit and kin who chose to roast their yams. Those three brothers who crossed over to the left bank of Imo river were: Ukwu, Nwoha and Avosi, in birth sequence. They were given the name ‘Ngwa-Ngwa’ on account of their quick manner of crossing Imo river, while stragglers on the right bank were named ‘Ohuhu' meaning 'roasters' of yam.[11]

Till this day, all towns and villages on the other side of Imo river are referred to as ‘Ndi-Ohuhu’ or ‘Umu-Ohuhu.' Villages on the left bank of Imo river were inhabited by Ibibios, who received Ngwa Ukwu and his brothers amicably; allocating sufficient virgin lands to them for their immediate needs. Ngwaukwu settled at what is now the village of Umuolike where he also established his ancestral shrine. ‘Aba Ngwa’ in a small hut ‘Okpu’ which is today the capital of Ngwa-land called ‘Okpu-Ala Ngwa.' For many years, those three brothers dwelt around Okpu-Ala Ngwa in peace; but as their families increased in number, they moved apart in different directions.[12]

Geographical SettingEdit

The area covering old Aba Ngwa division is situated in the tropical rain forest of southern Igbo plain in the present Abia State of Nigeria. It has a population of over 1.8 million people; and an area of little over nine hundred square miles (2,300 km2). This area is bounded on the north by the present Umuahia zone, on the west by Owerri and Mbaise, on the east by Ikot-Ekpene and Abak and on the south by Ukwa. Important waterways are: Imo river to the south and west, Aba or Aza River that rises at Abayi and flows south through Aba Township into Imo river at a point near Okpontu. Around Nsulu to the northeast, there are two minor rivers; namely: Otamiri and Ohi.

At no point does the land rise above an elevation of 50 feet. The people are largely industrialist, entrepreneurs and farmers, producing yams, cassava, cocoyam, maize and other tropical farm products. Major rural industries include garri and palm produce; in addition to: Akwete cloth weaving in which women from Ihie area were engaged. The old divisional headquarters was Aba, a very important commercial and industrial centre; with major population concentration in: Aba, Mgboko, Osisioma, Umuoba, Owerinta, Nbawsi, Nvosi and Okpu-Ala-Ngwa. Modern day Ngwa land is divided into: Obi-Ngwa, Aba-Ngwa, Isiala-Ngwa, Osisioma-Ngwa; spread within Abia State: Nigeria, as LGAs: Local Government Areas; namely: Aba North, Aba South, Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Obi Ngwa, Ugwunagbo and Osisioma Ngwa.[13][14]

Ngwa and Nigerian civil warEdit

Accordingly, it is said that during the Nigerian Civil War, Ngwa people suffered a lot like every other Igbo region in eastern Nigeria. Children suffered from kwashiorkor which came from malnutrition and the adults struggled to survive. The struggle for healthy eating continued until a chief reported to be Josiah Duruem Nwangwa began to collect supplies from various organisations; making his home a relief station for the purpose of helping Ngwa people survive during the Civil War. "Great suffering was experienced in the northern Ngwa region, which formed part of the Biafran 'siege economy' during the period between May 1968 and December 1969."[15]


  1. ^ "Situating the African Ngwa Clan in Acts 17:15-34: An Efficient Missiological Method" (PDF). International Journal of Philosophy and Theology: June 2019, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 83-87: ISSN: 2333-5750: Print, 2333-5769: Online: American Research Institute for Policy Development: Madison: Wisconsin: United States of America. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Richard+L.+Sklar"&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=Jaja+Wachuku+Ngwa "Federal Republic of Nigeria: Barrister Jaja. A. Wachuku: Favorite Son of the Largest Ibo Subgroup: Ngwa". African Studies Center: University of California: Los Angeles: United States of America: 1966 + Authors: Richard L. Sklar and C.S. Whitaker, Jr. 2020-03-11. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  3. ^ Oriji J.N. (1994) Traditions of Igbo Origin
  4. ^ Amankulor (1997) Vol 10, p.37-70.
  5. ^ Nwaguru Jason, E.N. (1973) Aba and British Rule
  6. ^ Oluikpe Benson, O.A. (1979) Igbo Transformational Syntax: An Ngwa Dialect Example
  7. ^ Lanre Alayande (2010-01-29). Our Rainmaker. iUniverse. ISBN 9781450206099. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Warrant Chiefs: Indirect Rule in Southeastern Nigeria: 1891-1929". EPDF Publication. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  9. ^ "The Founding Fathers". Leadership Newspaper. 2019-04-28. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  10. ^ Johnson Elewhemba Nnata Nwaguru (1973) Aba and British rule: the evolution and administrative developments of the old Aba division of Igboland, 1896-1960, with an epilogue on the emergence of a short-lived Aba province and the present scene
  11. ^ Oriji, J. N. (1981). "The Ngwa-Igbo Clan of Southeastern Nigeria: An Oral History Overview". The Oral History Review. Oxford University Press: United Kingdom. 9: 65–84. doi:10.1093/ohr/9.1.65. JSTOR 3675325.
  12. ^ "Ngwa People: Origin and Wave of Migration". Ngwa Community: United Kingdom. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Abia State: South East: Nigeria". FGN: Federal Government of Nigeria. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  14. ^ "Local Governments: Abia State: Nigeria". ABSG: Abia State Government. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Palm Oil and Protest: An Economic History of Ngwa Region: South-Eastern Nigeria: 1800-1980 by Susan M. Martin: 20 April 2006". CUP: Cambridge University Press: United Kingdom. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  16. ^ Anyanwu, O.N. 2007. The Syntax of Igbo Causatives: A Minimalist Account. Linguistic Association of Nigeria, Land Mark Series 2