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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Warfare in pre-colonial Igboland: the case of the Obowo of Imo State, Nigeria
Author:Anyanwu, Ukachukwu D.
Periodical:African Notes: Bulletin of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Geographic term:Nigeria
traditional polities
Abstract:This article uses the Obowo case to illustrate the causes, course and significance of warfare in precolonial Igboland (Nigeria) up to 1904. Oral traditions refer to wars which can be dated back as far as the mid-18th century. Various social, economic and political factors could lead to war in Obowo: the failure or refusal to pay debts, land disputes and disagreements, commercial disagreements, religion, marriage problems, slave raids, and other wars. With respect to the organization of warfare, the following features are examined: the fact that the Obowo had no standing army and there was little or no military training, steps taken to prepare the soldiers for effective operations - a medicineman prepared protective medicines and charms, traditional priests offered sacrifices, the battles were preceded by intensive intelligence activities -, leadership, arms and ammunition (particularly knives, stones, spears, bows and arrows), fighting strategies, war codes, and peace negotiations. In order to illustrate these issues, a description of two wars (the Mbara-Ikpa War, c. 1820-1880, and the Umungwa-Umuokeh War, c. 1891-1894) is presented in conclusion. Notes, ref.