An elder of Obomkpa, c. 1912-13

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An elder of Obomkpa Photographed by Northcote Thomas, c. 1912-13. Credit: Uchechi Ogbonna
An elder of Obomkpa Photographed by Northcote Thomas, c. 1912-13. Credit: Uchechi Ogbonna

This photograph, captured by Northcote Thomas around 1912-13, presents an elder of Obomkpa, providing a unique glimpse into the heart of this community. The elder’s expression and attire reflect the wisdom and traditions that define Obomkpa.


The Historical and Cultural Context of Obomkpa

Obomkpa’s lineage is deeply connected to the Umu-Ezechima clan, tracing its origins to the migration from the ancient city of Bini. According to legend, Anagbanogidi, a significant figure, journeyed from Bini and established himself as the first Obi of Obomkpa. This photograph is more than an image; it embodies the enduring leadership and wisdom of Obomkpa’s heritage.

Today, Obomkpa is a prominent part of the Aniocha North Local Government Area, symbolizing the resilient spirit of its people. The descendants of this storied community honor their ancestors’ legacy, and their achievements resonate throughout Nigeria and beyond. This photograph celebrates not just an individual elder but the collective spirit of Obomkpa.

Northcote Thomas and Colonial Documentation

Northcote Thomas, a British Government Anthropologist, played a crucial role in documenting various aspects of Igbo culture, including communities like Obomkpa. His work, while serving colonial interests, also preserved valuable insights into indigenous cultures. Thomas’s collection of photographs and artifacts, now part of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s collection, offers a tangible link to our past.

The Significance of the Elder’s Image

The elder’s image in this photograph serves as a reminder of the rich cultural heritage and the importance of preserving it. His gaze invites us to delve into our history, appreciate the depth of Igbo culture, and ensure its traditions continue to inspire future generations.

Join the Conversation

We invite you to share your reflections in the comments below. Here are some questions to consider:

  • How does the photograph of the elder from Obomkpa deepen your understanding of Igbo heritage?
  • What aspects of Igbo culture are most important to preserve for future generations?
  • How can communities today honor and keep alive the traditions of their ancestors?

Explore Further

To learn more about the history and culture of the Igbo people, we recommend this book available on Amazon:

The Roots of the Igbos: Uncovering the Origins of Nigeria's Cultural Giants (The Indigenous People of Africa) – February 14, 2023

The Roots of the Igbos: Uncovering the Origins of Nigeria's Cultural Giants" is a thorough and engrossing investigation of the earliest history of one of Nigeria's most illustrious and powerful ethnic groupings. This book explores the different hypotheses and traditions that have developed about the origins of the Igbo people, who have a long and colorful history.

This book reconstructs the history of the Igbo people, tracing their ancestry from prehistoric times to the present, using significant study and analysis. The reader will go on a historical trip while learning about the cultural, social, and political influences that have helped to create the distinctive and vibrant group that is the Igbo people today. To put together the history of the Igbo people, the author consults a variety of sources, including historical documents, oral traditions, and archaeological data. Maps, pictures, and illustrations throughout the book vividly depict the Igbos' rich and varied cultural heritage.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

This book offers a comprehensive look at the Igbo people’s history, including their migration, cultural practices, and interactions with colonial powers. Dive into these texts to gain a deeper appreciation of this vibrant and resilient culture.


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Onyeka Nwokike
Onyeka Nwokike

Onyeka Nwokike, a graduate from the University of Nigeria Nsukka and a writer at Igbo Archives, is working to challenge common misconceptions and broaden understanding. He has curated a collection of historical photographs and artifacts for Igbo Archives, which helps to fill the educational gaps left by mainstream media and school curricula. His commitment to the celebration and conservation of Igbo heritage has made Igbo Archives an essential resource, cultivating a strong sense of pride and cultural identity within the Igbo community.

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