(Investiture of Nze Boniface Oguzie Nwokemeribeya Chinedu, In Mbieri Ancient

Kingdom: A Case Study)

Author: J.C.Jan (Public Analyst).


The Igbo culture in Nigeria is renowned for its rich tradition and customs that have been passed down from generation to generation. One of the most prominent and fascinating aspects of this culture is the ‘Nze n’Ozo’ title system. This article aims to shed light on the significance, symbolism, and practices associated with Nze n’Ozo providing researchers/readers with a comprehensive understanding of this cultural phenomenon using the investiture of Nze B.O.N Chinedu.

Keywords: Afroxiology, Nze n’Ozo, Igbo, Titleship.


The system of Nze n’Ozo is a form of social and spiritual stratification that recognizes individuals who have achieved a certain level of success, not necessarily in the area of wealth or riches but status in their community based on integrity and dignity. This article explores the cultural significance of this title system, its values and impact on the people of Mbieri Ancient Kingdom, Igbo society and the world at large.

Afroxiology is the study of African values. It includes traditional, medieval and contemporary importance of the African world. It is derived from two words: afro, short term for Africa, and axiology, the study of values. This article is motivated by a desire to promote and sustain the Igbo value system built around the anthropological, existential reality of the Igbo culture, as we can see in the symbolic picture above. The case of the traditional titleship of Nze Boniface, Oguzie Nwokemeribeya Chinedu, stands as an example to illustrate the concept of Nze n’Ozo. Moreso, we will dive deep into how these titles shape the social fabric of Mbieri Ancient Kingdom and the society. The origin of the title and what they represent for the people.

While Afroxiology is the study of African values, ‘Igbology’ is the study of Ndi-Igbo and their way of life. Igbo people geographically speaking are indigenous to the Southeast area of Nigeria. They are well known around the globe for their undoubtedly entrepreneurial spirit and hard work.

In the same vein, Mbieri is an indigenous ancient kingdom in Igbo clan. History has it that it conquered some areas of the old Owerri Province in Imo State of Nigeria. In the old order, Mbieri is the biggest town among the nine towns in Mbaitoli local government area. Mbieri people are particularly known for their philosophy of distributive justice; ‘Oke ka nma, ekeya ekee…’ meaning ‘buffet is a bad idea for those who eat rabbit’.

Meaning of Nze N’Ozo

In Igbo culture, the terms Nze n’ Ozo carry significant meanings. There seems to be a suspicion that the meaning and, in some cases, the spelling, has been slightly tempered with. In any case, the general consensus has been maintained.

Nze n’ Ozo is considered the most important spiritual, religious, and social grouping in Igbo society. The initiation into this aristocratic society marks a person as nobility, with the title of Ozo implying that the holder is now an ‘Nze’ signifying living up to a certain admirable standard of behavior and character [1].

The custodians of the earth and her sacredness had the Nze na Ozo at it’s helm,  Nze comes from the root ‘Nzerem’. It means ‘one who dodges or abstains’, that is to say, ‘one who abstains from evil deeds or deeds that corrupts the Earth because the Earth is hallowed and holy (Ala/Ali nso)’ [2]. The word ‘Nze’ goes hand in hand with ‘Nso’, which means something that is avoided or hallowed. It is a vocation that is as old as the Igbo culture.

Before one becomes Nze, they must be recognized as an upright man with wisdom by the people (oha-the society) and must be approved as such by God, and the Ezeala performs the investiture. Thus, ‘Nze’ has a different meaning from ‘Ozo’. The ‘Nze’ primarily functioned as adjudicators and protectors of the shrines and keepers of the religious affairs in the community. They were the guardians of the law. As such, they functioned as minor priests. 

Etymologically speaking, Nze n’Ozo means ‘Nze’ di n’Ozo or ‘Nze’ no na ‘Ozo’ [Nze inside Ozo], ‘Nze is inside Ozo’, or ‘Nze because of Ozo’. ‘Ozo’ then, becomes the title that ‘Nze’ has received. Literally meaning, because one has received this Ozo title’ therefore, one hence forth, [here and now] going to be known, called or refers to, as ‘Nze’. It then follows that what makes one ‘Nze’ is the ‘Ozo Title one has received.

Many people including researchers/writers misunderstand the meaning of ‘Nze n’Ozo in this sense. They refer to it as Nze and Ozo [Nze na Ozo]. Even this spelling is wrong in Igbo language. There is no such thing as ‘Nze na Ozo’ in Igbo class room. ‘Nze n’Ozo’ is only one title. Any suggestion that one can choose between Ozo and Nze is anti-Igbo and very misleading. One cannot be given ‘Ozo title’ and later, be given Nze title, because there is no such thing as Nze without Ozo.

It is the Ozo that gave instant birth to Nze. “Kedu afa Ozo gi?” meaning, what is your ‘Ozo’ name? This popular Igbo question suggests that every Ozo title must have a name. Just as in the case of Nze B.O.N. Chinedu, who has chosen OPARA GBURUGBURU 1. (all round number one first son) as his Ozo name. No, or little wonder no one in Igbo land has ever asked: Kedu afa Nze gi? [What is your Nze name? No! Never.

There is also another Igbo popular saying that: ‘A gaghi m ahapu ebe an’echi Ozo, gawa ebe an’aru agwu’ meaning I will not leave Ozo coronation for “Agwu” institution.

The entitlement of ‘Nzeness’ is because of the ‘Ozoship’.  The ‘titleness’ of Nze can ONLY be found in the Ozo title. Meaning, because one has been titled in Ozo therefore, one is entitled to the title of Nze.

Nze n’ Ozo can be seen as “Holy two-nity in one title” (abuo n’ otu di n’echi chi di ngozi)

Nze n’Ozo is like marriage and wedding. Not many people know that there is no wedding without a marriage. One can have marriage without a wedding but no one can have wedding unless there is marriage. It is the marriage that gives validity to the wedding. Almost every application form will ask: “Are you married or single?” Not are you wedded or single.

What is Ozo?

Ozo in this sense, is ‘Saviour’ “a person who saves someone or something from danger or difficulty” The purpose of Ozo, therefore, is to save life, save property and protect the community from danger.

What is Nze? 

In the same vein Nze denotes ‘nzere’ [abstaining], as we have already stated, before one comes for Ozo title, one must have been abstaining or restraining oneself from doing evil. So that it will not be difficult for one to stay clean after getting the Ozo title. [Ana ghi a mu aka ekpe n’ nka]. Simply put, [Nze bu ndi n’ezere njo] people who abstain from evil. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,”(2 Corinthians 6:17)

The Origins of Nze n’ Ozo

Origins: Nze N’ Ozo is an ancient cultural institution among the Igbo people that can be traced back to their ancestral roots. The term ”Nze” refers to a titled man in Igbo society, while ”Ozo” denotes the highest rank that can be achieved within the Nze title system. Thus, Nze N’ Ozo represents the pinnacle of social status and respect within the community.

The origin of Nze n’ Ozo is not free from controversy. The bable of voices in the historicity of the origin of Nze n’ Ozo has not been able to temper with the authenticity and the authority of the title. “it may have been an ordinary title of the wealthy and warriors in the Agaja clan, but the Eze Nri borrowed it and turned it into a guild. The Ozo system was a guild of Nze and Eze title holders amongst other title holders; they were at the top cadre of ‘Odinani’ and spirituality in the Northern Igbo communities, The Eze Nri formed it; hence it spread to all the areas of Nri influence, including Western Igbo, where it is known as Ichi Mmuo”

The Significance of Nze n’ Ozo in Igbo Culture

The Nze n’ Ozo titles hold immense importance in Igbo culture. They are considered the highest and most important spiritual, religious, and social groupings in Igbo society. Initiation into these titles signifies nobility and a commitment to upholding the values and traditions of the community. The Nze n’ Ozo titles are not merely.

These titles are honorary and come with responsibilities such as advising leaders on essential matters and maintaining peace within their communities [3]. Overall, these titles are crucial in maintaining order and tradition within Igbo society. 

Eligibility and Initiation: 

Following the sacredness and prestigious nature of ‘Ozo’ title and status, those seeking this are upright. because Nze n’ Ozo title holders are regarded as the custodians of truth, dispensers of justice and moral compass of the society. That is,

“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3-4)

Becoming an Ozo titleholder is not a task to be taken lightly. It requires fulfilling specific criteria and going through a series of elaborate rituals. Generally, only men who have attained a certain level of social standing, wealth, and moral character are considered eligible for initiation into Nze N’ Ozo

In the case of Nze Boniface, Oguzie Nwokemeribeya Chinedu, a man who has showed charismatic leadership both in society and the church based on his belief in God and service to humanity. He believes that any service rendered to humanity is a service rendered to his God (chi, chi-ne-eke, which means God the creator). His role as a leader since his childhood, for instance; catechist, choirmaster, Chair-man for twenty four years, men-leader for eight years, youth motivator, father figure  and a royal model testifies a lot in his life as a custodian of truth, a harbinger of peace, an epitome of trust and a pathfinder of progress. These portray a faithful and morally trusted personality worthy of the Nze n’ Ozo title in Mbieri Ancient Kingdom and Igbo land in general.

The Future of Nze n’ Ozo

The future of Nze n’ Ozo in Igbo society is still being determined. While these titles have been an integral part of Igbo culture for centuries, there has been a decline in their significance in recent times. Many young people are no longer interested in pursuing these titles, and some argue that they need to be updated and more relevant in modern society. 

However, some still believe that Nze n’Ozo titles are essential and should be preserved. They argue that these titles represent the highest level of achievement and honour in Igbo society and losing them would mean losing an essential part of their cultural heritage. It remains to be seen whether Nze n’ Ozo will continue to hold significance in the future or if they will eventually fade away. Regardless of what happens, it is clear that these titles have played a significant role in shaping Igbo culture and will always be an essential part of their history. (1) (6) (2)  

Futuristically speaking, the college of Nze n’ Ozo in Mbieri Ancient Kingdom, expressed ”open hand” and renewed commitment to creating better awareness that will keep encouraging the people of their community to maintain righteousness. “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” 1 John 2:29. The president of Nze n’ Ozo in Mbieri Ancient Kingdom, Nze Ethlbert Eronini believes that the future of Nze n’ Ozo lies in the righteousness of the people. The more people are righteous, the more people come forward for the title, for it is righteousness that exalts a nation. (Proverb: 14:34). For it is through righteousness that Nze N’ Ozo is produced.


In conclusion, the concept of Nze n’ Ozo in Afrioxiology is a vital aspect of Igbo culture passed down from generation to generation. These titles hold great significance and are not just symbols of status but also represent a deep sense of responsibility towards the holders and their communities. The role of Nze n’Ozo in Igbo society cannot be overstated, as they serve as custodians of tradition, culture and values. As we look towards the future, preserving these cultural practices while adapting to modern times through cross-cultural diplomacy is essential.

These vital Cultural values are not in any way standing against the aura of our technological modernity or religious inclination, hence, Nze B.O.N Chinedu is a staunch Catholic who requested the attendance of his bishop and parish priest. A request the ‘College of Nze n’ Ozo did not frown at or reject.

Avoid our culture and the igbo tradition will disappear(Ahamefula). The ‘Nze n’ Ozo’ titles should continue to be celebrated and respected for their contributions to Igbo society and beyond. The Afroxiology of ‘Nze n’ Ozo’ in the Nigerian context, Igbo perspective, highlights the cultural significance of this title system and its impact on Igbo society. It is a system that promotes social cohesion and unity. It assures justice and equity within the Igbo community and can serves as a model for other African cultures and the world to embrace.


1. Pantaleon Iroegbu, Metaphysics, The kpim of Philosophy, International university Press, 1995, p.314.

2. Iroegbu, A. Echekwube, Kpim of Morality Ethics, general, special & professional, (edited),Heinemann Educational Books, Nigeria. 2005, p.278. 

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nze_na_Ozo


5. https://docslib.org/doc/7543846/nze-na-ozo-title-in-igbo-culture

6.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325085098_Ozo_Title_An_Indigeno us_Instituti on_In_Traditional_Religion_That_Upholds_Patriarchy_In_Igbo_Land_South-Eastern_Nigeria  

7.https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5a0c/e282e4ef4294d82ebc43937dd7378864f fe9.pdf

8.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/362554654_OZO_Title_and_Indigenous  capital_Formation_in_Igbo_Society_Southeast_Nigeria_1900_-2015

9. The Bible.