Nri Obalike with his attendants and Chiefs, during the abrogation of nso and alu, 1911

HomeHistoryNri Obalike with his attendants and Chiefs, during the abrogation of nso and alu, 1911
Nri Ọbalike with his attendants and Chiefs, during the abrogation of nso and alu, 1911
Nri Obalike with his attendants and Chiefs, during the abrogation of nso and alu, 1911. Image courtesy: Ukpuru on X

The photograph above, taken in 1911 by Northcote Thomas, captures a critical moment in Igbo history: the abrogation of nso (pronounced [ēnsò]) and alu (pronounced [ālú]). This powerful image shows Nri Obalike, the Eze Nri (King of Nri), surrounded by his loyal attendants and chiefs.

The solemnity of the scene highlight the immense significance of this event. It was a time of upheaval, as British colonialism began to reshape the Igbo way of life.

Witnessing Change

The photograph was taken at the Nkwọ Marketplace in Enugwu-Ukwu, a central location within Igboland. This marketplace served not only as a place for trade but also as a vital space for social interaction and cultural exchange. Here, under the watchful eyes of the British colonial officers, Nri Obalike was forced to denounce nso and alu.

The abrogation of these practices at a public gathering of Eze Anị (chief priests of the Anị deity) marked a symbolic victory for the British. Traditionally, the Eze Nri wasn’t allowed to leave his domain. However, the British compelled him to travel to the Native Court at Ọka, where he was pressured to relinquish the authority associated with his sacred position.

The Decline of an Era

This event marked a turning point in Igbo history, signifying the decline of the Nri hegemony. The Nri kingdom, for centuries, had held a position of immense influence across Igbo communities. The Eze Nri, considered a spiritual and political leader, wielded significant power.

Despite the British efforts to dismantle traditional structures, the Igbo people demonstrated remarkable resilience. Their rich cultural heritage, passed down through generations, continues to endure today.

Call to Discussion

This photograph offers a glimpse into a pivotal moment in Igbo history. It raises important questions about the impact of colonialism and the enduring strength of Igbo culture.

  • How do you think this event shaped Igbo society?
  • What aspects of Igbo tradition have survived the test of time?
  • What are your thoughts on the legacy of the Nri kingdom?

Share your thoughts in the comments below. We encourage a lively discussion that sheds light on this significant chapter in Igbo history.

Explore Further

Politics, Culture, And Origins In Nigeria: The Igbo And Their Nri Neighbors – July 15, 2020 by Nwankwo Nwaezeigwe Ph.D.

Nwankwo Nwaezeigwe’s revelatory study of the Igbo people and their Nri neighbors presents a paradigm shift in the interpretation of Igbo history and culture. British colonial ethnography held that the Nri, who form part of a larger Igbo subgroup named Umunri, are the scions of a remote historical kingdom that once ruled the entire Igbo land. It further advanced the thesis that before the coming of the Nri, the Igbo as an ethnic group had no culture defined as Igbo except what the Nri introduced to become what is defined today as Igbo culture. By this definition of origin, Politics, Culture, and Origins in Nigeria posits that the Nri were not originally Igbo but recent immigrants from Igala kingdom of Idah who arrived in the early sixteenth century and that the Nri origin myth is factually and historically invalid.

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The March of Igbo Civilization, Vol. I – August 1, 2017 by John Anenechukwu Umeh

This book authoritatively supplies the missing chapter in Igbo, African and world history. The Igbo went into the world’s 4 quadrants, not to conquer, subjugate and exploit but to open up and settle in virgin lands or civilize peoples of other climes. It is like no other book – revealing Igbo origin from meta-historical perspectives; shows they flew extensively by Ekili earning appellations of shining ones/moons and Tuata nde danana/drops-in who landed on ground. Igbo civilization marched from: Matriarchy to Patriarchy, Monarchy to Democracy, and rural mud cities to individual compound cities whose front wall shown in this book cover spots multum in parvo ‘library’ in Uli wall writing, carved door and carved Afa code. The volume attained earth-moving, focused and handled what Tibetan, European and other writers grappled with for centuries without success: Shambala’s location identity of her people who civilized ancient world, and their benign mission’s fulcrum. Origin and significance of ichi scarifications are handled. It concludes with origin, identity, and teaching of Kelts whose civilization profited European and other nations’ development.

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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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