History of OCL
This history of Ovim Community League is from the book published by one of the founding fathers of Ovim Community League, Chief. I. E. Duroha. The book titled: “A Short History of Ovim Community League”, was prefaced by non other than the great scholar Dr. E. N. Ukpabi, former Dean of Student Affairs, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The first publication of this book was in 1976, and the second publication was in 1986.
Some of the information contained in this book need an update. Hopefully, the next edition of the book will reflect the changes. For instance, Ovim is a town, not a village; Ovim is a town made up of five major villages. Thus. reference to the community as village is outdated (the reader should read this as ‘Town’).
Admin: Ovim Pavilion]
A SHORT HISTORY
OVIM COMMUNITY LEAGUE
A short history of Ovim Community League by one of the architects of the league, Chief I. E. Duroha is not, as will be seen by the drift of its rendition, mere history. It is a testimony about the past and a challenge to the youth of the day. In fact, it is more than a testimony and a challenge. It is, in addition, a handing-over note!
What history appears to do is, rehearse the past, sometimes without interpreting it, thus creating a situation of knowing history without having the sense of history.
History also teaches the wisdom of “Look before you leap”, it is conceivable that modernity teaches that it is more exciting to “leap before you look”. More faster progress may be made if one survives the latter dictum. Dear readers, whatever is your attitude to history, read this and think.
DR E. N. UKPABY
HISTORY OF OVIM
Ovim is a village in the Imenyi autonomous community of Isuikwuato ocal government area of Abia State, Nigeria. It derives its name from the Progenitor, OVUM. Ovim, as it is now popularly called, was coined by the White Man and has generally been accepted.
The population of Ovim is about twenty thousand and it covers a land area of about one hundred square kilometres. Most of the people are farmers, but through contact with its adjacent neighbours, are now very actively engaged in various forms of trade and occupations. Like many other native towns or villages in Nigeria, the youths of Ovim are scattered in many townships of Nigeria and beyond.
Ovim people came in contact with the British in about the year 1910. By 1911 the first warrant chief, Chief Eberebe Ukoha, was given recognition and staff of officec by the British Colonial administration. In the same year 1911, the first survey team connected with the construction of the railway line through Ovim to the Enugu Coal Fields arrived.
In the year 1913, the first European Missionary came to Ovim from Bende to evangelise the people. This, in its wake resulted in the bulding of churches and schools, thereby making Ovim the seat of both educational and missionary adventures in the area including the neighbouring towns and vaillages of Okigwe, Item, Alayi and Uzuakoli.
Ovim is the nerve centre of communication for the entire Isuikwuato community and parts of the old Bende District of Eastern Nigeria. This is so in view of its strategic position as both rail and major road links. The people of Ovim are education thirsty and have produced some of the best administrators and educators in the state. The town now has the best boys’ and girls’ institutions in the area and is perhaps the second town in Eastern Nigeria to found a girls’ secondary school.
Ovim is rich in cultural heritage and is about the only community that has from time immemorial preserved and mentained a well documented museum of her kings and ancestors. Two of these museums can be seen at the town squares of Ameke Elu and Amuzu Ovim and have attracted tourists and distinguished visitors from all over the country.
Community development efforts and hard work are very dominant among the people and all the completed projects you now see are as a result of the people’s efforts.
The Ovim Community League:
THE SEVEN FOUNDING MEMBERS OF OVIM COMMUNITY LEAGUE
It was on a Saturday and the year was 1935. The day was dry and dusty and by the looks of the hazy weather one could imagine it was a December noon. There were seven of us just returning from a meeting of the elusive Isu-Ikwuato-Union. We were tired and dejected as a result of a long and ardous journey from Ovim to and from Oghughe on a mission that turned out to be impossible. The Oghughe Court hall of Isuikwuato was packed to the brim by delegates from home and abroad. At exactly ten O’clock in the morning the meeting started and until two O’clock in the afternoon when it adjourned, only one item on the agenda was discussed and without any agreement. In the midst of dicord and uproar that ensued, the question of finding an acceptable name for the union eluded the delegates. Some members opted for “Isu-Ikwuato Union” others suggested Ikwu-Ato Patriot Union”, while others insisted on “Obiangwu Progressive Union.” None of the proposals gained the support of the other and so ended in a fiasco the last but desperate effort to find an acceptable name for an “Isu=Ikwuato cultural Union.”
On the outskirts of Amokwe Obayi village, (then called Umuekemkpu) in the shade of the famous Uzii tree, the Ovim delegates assembled and took stock of the day’s ventures. After some rather lenghty debate, the delegates resolved to form an Ovim Union capable of bringing the entire Ovim community under one organised unit. Several names were suggested but finally the members unanimously adopted “Ovim Youth League”.
The seven member delegates thus became the foundation members of the league. Each member donated on the spot the sum of two pounds (four naira) for the purchase of stationaries and other contingencies. There was no election but the members voluntarily assumed some key offices. The offices were those of the Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Financial Secretary. I became the first financial secretary and my office eventually covered that of a publicity secretary. Some few weeks later, a mass meeting of all Ovim elements was summoned by the foundation members. This meeting was widely advertised and as every one had looked up to such a meeting, the enthusiasm of the entire community was given expression by the large attendance and the unanimous agreement reached on all matters discussed. The decision of the seven foundation members to found the Union was upheld and the offices they assumed were also ratified.
THE AIM OF THE LEAGUE:
The aim of the League can be summarised as follows:-
(a) To encourage the community to develop the spirit of love, unity and co-operation.
(b) To fight disease and ignorance at all levels through self help and
(c) To make education the hob on which our wheel of progress revolves.
As a result of political awakening in the country, the colonial government introduced what was then known as “Public Collection Ordinance”. This law made it impossible for peoples and organisations to collect monies from the public except for cultural or humanitarian purposes. For the League to collect the money it needed for its various development projects, it was imperative that it be registered as a recognised cultural union. To this effect, the secretary, Mr. D. O. Okironkwo was mandated to obtain the services of a lawyer and get the League duly registered as a cultural union. The secretary accordingly secured the services of a lawyer, who having studied the aims and objectives of the union, and the composition of its membership, saw it was obvious that “Youth League” could not satisfy certain conditions as required by law for the registration of a cultural union. Finally “Ovim Community League” was adopted and duly registered.
In a mass meeting held soon after the registration,. a resolution was taken and the officers mandated to work towards the immediate restoration of the full status of Ovim Central School which was lost as a result of gross inefficiency apparent in the management of the school’s local administration. With great dedication, the League set to work and with the untiring support of the community, the standard six classes which had since been withdrawn by the ministry of education were restored. This singular achievement by the league generated hope and confidence in the people as to the ability and dedication of the union to lead the community.
Along side education and sanitation, medical problems were equally tackled. Open latrines rampant all over the town were banned and pit latrines introduced. On communication, a small but very efficient Postal Agency was re-established and a nucleus of a modern maternity was also established. Through connunal efforts elementary schools for boys and girls are now scattered all over the town with connecting motorable roads. There is now a well equiped maternity and modern sub-post office likely before very long to be replete with telephone facilities. The community has recently on its own built modern staff quarters to house the ministry of communications. There is a net-work of motorable roads, connecting all the hamlets in every part of the town.
The students union has evolved a powerful students organisation responsible for the directorate of education. They plan the educational needs of the community and encourage students to pursue certain lines of profession commensurate with the immediate and future needs of the community. As of now, no less than ten of its members enter various universities in the country every year for the pursuit of higher education. For the convenience of students coming home for the long vacation, there is a library and here too, various indoor and out-door games are provided for both their pleasure and exercise.
In 1967 during the civil war, the presence of almost the entire population at home gave rise to an innovation which has now become a regular event. It is the convention of “Ovim Day” which is an occasion set aside for stock taking of the Union’s activities. It is also a day for the launching of any major project requiring the approval and contribution of every citizen both at home and abroad. The 1967 convention was historical and very rewarding though unfortunately the huge amount of money raised on that august occasion was lost as a result of the civil war which made it impossible to prosecute any of the projects for which the money was collected. In that convention, the community in its humble appreciation of the services rendered to the town through the instrumentality of the union, presented certificates of honour to the seven foundation members in the person of Chief Oji Eberebe, Dr E. N. Ukpaby, Messrs P.A.T Egbe, H.O. Ugoji, F.C. Achara, D.O. Okoronkwo and I.E. Duroha.
This short history will be most incomplete if I fail at this juncture to remind readers that all but one of the foundation members of the union are still living. Of the seven, I happen to be the youngest. Now I am sixty years old and so you can imagine how old the rest must be. Our age is challenge to the young. The union is overdue for re-organisation and youth leadership. Times have changed and the needs of our people are greater and more complex. The youths have been groomed long enough to take over. Must there be a coup before they can step forward to meet the challenges of their time? The job ahead is certainly gigantic but where there is a will there is a way. The Youths have the will so let them make a start for as Charles Kingsley puts it, “…There is a better thing on earth than wealth, a better thing than life itself, and that is, to have done something before you die for which good men may honour you, and God your Father smile upon your work”. Long live Ovim Community League, long live Ovim.