Names of Some Communities Renamed by The British That You Never Knew

The British colonization of what is today Nigeria led to significant cultural alterations, one of which was the renaming of various indigenous communities.

These name changes, often imposed for the convenience of colonial administration or to Anglicize and simplify local names for easier pronunciation, have lasting impacts. Here, we explore some communities whose original names were transformed during British rule:

1. Owerri: Originally known as Owe Ere, this area’s name was shortened during the colonial period.

2. Orlu: This community was initially called Ọlụ, a name that underwent minimal alteration but lost some of its linguistic nuance.

3. Awkuzu: Known pre-colonization as Ọkụ Ụzọ Achagbunam, this name was simplified by the British.

4. Okigwe: Originally Oka Igwe, this name was also subtly changed, possibly for ease of communication.

5. Enugu: Known as Enu Ugwu, meaning “mountain town,” this name was adapted slightly, but retained its descriptive nature.

6. Okpaala: Initially called Ọkpụ Ala Ngwa, the colonial authorities simplified this name, altering its original meaning and significance.

7. Port Harcourt: Formerly Igwe Ọcha, this area was renamed after Lewis Harcourt by the British, a stark departure from its indigenous name.

8. Opobo: Known originally as Igwe Nga, it was renamed after King Jaja of Opobo for colonial administrative purposes.

9. Umuahia: Originally called Ọma Ahịa, this area’s name was Anglicized, simplifying its rich linguistic structure.

10. Abakiliki: Known as Abakeleke, this name was one of many that were slightly modified by the British.

11. Onitsha: Known as Onicha before British intervention, this is one of the many cultural landmarks that underwent naming transformations.

12. Asaba: Initially called Ahaba, this is another example of a slight modification that was likely adopted for ease of administration.

13. Oyigbo: Previously called Obi Igbo, this renaming was part of the broader pattern of simplifying or changing local names.

14. Awka and Awkunanaw: Originally Oka and Okunnano respectively, these names were subtly changed during the colonial era.

15. Ogwashi: Known as Ọgwa Ahi, this community’s original name connected it to the historic kingdom of Nri, an association diminished by renaming.


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