Age grade system is one of the most important socio-political institutions in Igboland. No body today knows how and when age grade system came into being in Igboland because the system is older than all the Igbo people living today.


However, Age-grade system started in Amawbia many decades ago with Ulomma or Umuatu age grade (1854-1859) being the first recorded/documented age grade (Inspectors Digest August 29, 2008 p. 29).


The Constitution of Amawbia Town Union provides for constitution of Age Grade at EVERY OTHER MASS RETURN by Isi-Isiakpu from Amawbia male citizens who have attained the age of eighteen years and above within the six year period i.e. between every other mass-return. All male citizens who have attained the age of eighteen years are regarded in Amawbia as having attained MANHOOD i.e. IWANYE OGODO (literarily putting on loin cloth – an archaic ceremony marked with little entertainment to indicate that a male has attained manhood and is liable to duties and privileges. It has become obsolete).


The nascent age grade is free to choose its own name and must register with the Amawbia Central Council and inducted. It is mandatory for the new age grade to inform Okpaligwe Amawbia – the traditional ruler of Amawbia of its formation. Isi-Isiakpu-a council of elders made up of the elected members of three most senior age grades in Amawbia, is responsible for regulating the lifespan and mode of operation of all age grades in Amawbia.



OGANIRU AGE GRADE is the sixteenth age grade formed in Amawbia since 1854. Its formation followed the discriminatory and disparaging treatment meted to its members by the Igwebuike Age Grade (1934 – 1938) who were the immediate senior age grade to Oganiru Age Grade. Dissatisfied with such treatment, Nze Peter Nwisu of Umueze village embarked on a compaign of mobilizing all Amawbia males born between 1939 and 1943 in all the six villages in Amawbia into a cohesive group.


Oganiru was thus formed and after meeting with all the conditionality as stipulated in the constitution was formed in 1964. The first chairman of the grade was Nze Peter Nwisu while Chief D. C. Maduka (Ugochimalueze) was elected his Vice and Dike Nwalusi Secretary and Mazi Nwankwo, Financial Secretary. Nze Peter Nwisu and his team ruled Oganiru Age Grade for twenty four years. But activities of Oganiru Age Grade was disrupted by the Nigeria – Biafra – War.


Oganiru Age Grade was reorganized after the civil war in 1970 with Mazi Chukwudi Nworah as the immediate postwar chairman. He was however replaced after election by Nze Peter Nwisu with Chief Dan Maduka as the financial secretary, Anene Nwude as secretary. Monthly – meeting continued to be held on the last Sunday of every month at the Amawbia Community Council School hall until it was changed to be held in member’s compound in rotation while maintaining the date and time of the meeting.


Members of Oganiru age grade address one another as DIANYI meaning “Age Mate” and greet one another by striking the back of their right hand palm three times, shouting with each strike “oganirue” before closing up with a warm handshake. Members of the other age grades are only entitled to two strikes of the right hand palm but without the word “oganirue”. The wives of Oganiru members though do not form a separate union are regarded as HONOURARY MEMBERS of the age grade and are entitled to address Oganiru members, their sons and themselves as “DIANYI”. Oganiru Age Grade is a fraternity whose conduct is guided by a system of rules, regulations and Oganiru constitution. Patriotism, civic responsibility, community development and security are uppermost in the mind of every Oganiru member.



Oganiru Age Grade in Amawbia is adversely affected by the socio-political and historical antecedents of Nigeria. Members were born during the Second World War, a period characterized by global economic recession and massive conscription of members’ fathers into the British Army. Many of their parents never returned and many of its members died in infancy. Those who survived again were adversely affected by the crisis in Nigeria from 1966 to 1970. Some members were then dismissed from Federal Civil Service, transmigrated to Amawbia, while many of the members died in the war front or by bombardment. Those who survived had to face structural adjustment programme (SAP), military dictatorship and the massive corruption and maladministration. Today most members are over seventy years and find it difficult to cope with unenviable realities of the present day.



Akuebilisi is a masquerade for which Oganiru Age Grade is known. It is a very “big and powerful masquerade loaned from Orji Village Enugwu-ukwu. The masquerade performs only on very important occasions on invitation, funeral ceremony of dead members or very important personalities in the town or state.


A day or two before Akuebilisi makes a public appearance/performance, “Oshi-ashili” (rumour monger masquerade) which compliments Akuebilisi goes round the town, announcing the time, date and venue of appearance of Akuebilisi and fore warning villagers/spectators to keep their distance from Akuebilisi when it appears because the masquerade is powerful, peaceful and unpredicatable when confronted. Oshi-ashili during its go round extends greeting from the land of the dead where he claims to have recently left. Greetings from parents and relations of persons from the land of the dead are passed on to those living. Furthermore, the Oshi-ashili uses the opportunity to reveal, past and present scandals in the town including revealing thieves, criminals and immoral persons by euphemistically telling the audience not to let those named to know he revealed their activities.


Just before the appearance of Akuebilisi at any arena for performance, the “Opiaomu” (the palm frond stricker) who is not masked appears on the arena,  striking the ground of the arena with agility to inform the audience that Akuebilisi shall perform with “clean hands” and would not like to be tempted with metaphysical or evil powers. This activity is quickly followed by the “Obu Okuku” (the carrier of “okuku” or calabash or pot containing powerful concoctions for exorcizing any evil spirit in the arena). The Obu okuku sprinkles the concoctions around the square or arena. Then the Akuebilisi appears and performs at the arena, controlled by the Opiaomu who throws palm fronds at the Akuebilisi to direct his movement and prevent him from crossing the metaphysical barrier.


The performance of Akuebilisi is both majestic and gorgeous with good display of prowes and agility.



Oganiru age grade has both political and social functions;



Among the political functions of Oganiru Age Grade are

  • The members are represented and are consulted in village and town councils.
  • Maintenance of market
  • Building and maintenance of village roads including their rehabilitation
  • Maintenance of law and order in Amawbia
  • Settlement of intra/inter party petty cases
  • Provides material/financial assistance to Amawbia town.
  • Entertainment at village and town occasions
  • Military – supplying able bodied men as soldiers during emergency periods
  • Maintenance of security especially internal security in Amawbia.



  • Entertainment, dances, masquerades
  • Maintenance of good neighbourliness among members and with non-members
  • Make rules guiding social conduct of members/discipline and obligations to the people.
  • Undertake free works in turn for their members, usually on village levels
  • Social and economic insurance for its members especially those who dare destitute.
  • Plays important role in funeral ceremony of members, supplying labour and making such funeral warm and high including supplying requirements for burial of deceased member.
  • Collaborative farming for member in turn (no longer practiced today).



  • Oganiru in collaboration with some age grades built and equipped Amawbia Boys High School (now Union Secondary School Amawbia)
  • Oganiru in collaboration with two other age grades built and furnished the prestigious Amawbia Town Hall Eziokpaligwe and Eke Market Amawbia.
  • Oganiru Age Grade crafted the awe-inspiring Akuebilisi masquerade and continues till date to operate the intricate masquerade.
  • It is on record that of the fifteen Presidents General elected into Amawbia Town Union between 1950 and 2009, Oganiru Age Grade produced six of those Presidents General including the Transition President General.



Find attached to this document the list of registered Oganiru Age Grade members. A large number of members in diaspora who are not financially current are not reflected in the list of members.



It is the turn of Oganiru Age Grade to take up the leadership of Isi-Isiakpu Amawbia following the retirement of their immediate senior age grade Igwebuike Age Grade (1934-1938) in tandem with the constitution of Amawbia Town Union.




MAZI EMMANUEL EKENTA                             COMRADE GAB. E. NWOBU

Secretary, Oganiru Age Grade                          President, Oganiru Age Grade

Amawbia                                                                    Amawbia

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