Ebonyi History: The Okposi Salt Lake, the highest salinity of all in S’East

Obinwannem News Ebonyi History: The Okposi Salt Lake, the highest salinity of all in S'East

Okposi Salt lake is located almost two hours from Abakaliki, in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

Its water level is low during the rains and rises in the dry season. Only scaled fishes thrive in it. For 400 years, it has been the source of salt for the indigenes of the area.

According to local lore, the lake was discovered by two hunters, who when searching for drinking water found that the water could not quench their thirst. Over the years, Okposi women led the production of salt by utilizing solar energy, and the town became a notable trade centre, attracting buyers from the eastern and northern parts of present-day Nigeria. A famous market arose, called Odenigbo Okposi.

๐™๐™๐™š ๐™Š๐™ ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™จ๐™ž ๐™Ž๐™–๐™ก๐™ฉ ๐™‡๐™–๐™ ๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™– ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™™๐™ช๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐˜ฝ๐™ž๐™–๐™›๐™ง๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™’๐™–๐™ง ๐™ฌ๐™๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™š ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™š๐™–๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™ง๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™จ๐™–๐™ก๐™ฉ.๐˜ฝ๐™ž๐™–๐™›๐™ง๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™จ๐™˜๐™ž๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™จ, ๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™›๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™จ๐™–๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ฎ ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™–๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ก๐™–๐™ ๐™š๐™จ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™€๐™–๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฃ ๐™‰๐™ž๐™œ๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™–, ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š๐™™ ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™ฎ ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™–๐™ง ๐™ž๐™ฉ, ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ช๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ข๐™ค๐™™๐™š๐™ง๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™ฏ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™ค๐™™๐™ช๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™˜๐™๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™ฆ๐™ช๐™š๐™จ.

The real founders are known to be Okposi Achara but Okposi Okwu claims that it belongs to them since it was discovered in their land. As a result of the fight, it was named okposi okwu uneke ucha, so that none of the two communities will claim a total ownership.

Note: The salt lake has rules guiding the usage. The rules are:

The only pot used to fetch salt from there is crafted pot.

A woman who is on her menstrual period is not permitted to enter there.

One is not allowed to wear shoes/slippers to enter there and fetch salt water.

Before now, communities have their own peculiar day of going there in order to get salt. But presently, people from different communities are allowed to go there without being informed, but only on Orie days.

Lastly, it is worthy to note that Uneke Ucha sacrificed his only son at Mmahi salt lake so as to be recognized as the real founder.

ย Process of salt making
Pour in a basin and cook till the whitish substance totally settles and dry up.
ย Salt production in Okposi is usually done by the women, who use the proceeds to support their family. The salt is usually gotten form Okposi Salt Lake. Since then, the women have taken to salt production using traditional methods.

The process starts when a woman completes her honeymoon. She is then fetched some brine by her elderly friends in several pots. The brine would be used in making puddles with which the mud part of the Ewe or traditional hut would be built. A mound is then formed in front of the house which serves as a preservation bank for salt crystals.

The woman is then allowed to go fetch some brine from either the Mmahi Ezi, the main Salt Lake or from Enyanwu, the supporting pond.

Economic Importance of Salt to the Okposi People Salt was once a high-value good in Okposi, Ebonyi state. Salt production was done on a seasonal basis due to the flooding that occurs. Buyers would come from other eastern parts and as far as Northern Nigeria to the Odenigbo Okposi, a big market then. Salt enjoyed great patronage in the markets then and continued to be bought even with the advent of the slave trade.

The salt production formed a major industry, becoming a notable occupation in Okposi and was responsible for supplying salt to the entire eastern region during the civil war.

Lolo Ijeoma Njoku Obinwannem News Writer/ Sept 13, 2022

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