Category: History


Edo State History

EDO is what you can describe as the “generic name given to a group of people who have a common ancestor and have a common language, with some different variants, depending on the distance between the group and the ” tap root, ” resident in and around the present-day Benin City. In short, the land, the political state, the people, tribe, language and the principal city. Benin City is called EDO. At a point in the history of these people, another name called BENIN came into use. These Edo- speaking people are divided into the following clans today:


Bini – derived from the word Benin for people living in and around Benin City, in Edo State. People were living in and around Benin City, are gradually accepting the word BINI, as descriptive of their clan. Otherwise, they prefer to be called EDO.


Esan/Ishan-for the immediate neighbour to the north are people living in around Irrua, Orhodua, Uromi, Ubiaja, Ewu, Ewatto, Igueben and the almighty Evbohimwin (Ewohimi))” the city by the big river ” or ” the city of Ikhimwin trees ” etc. ESAN/Ishan occupies the central part of Edo State. The Esan land is made up of thirty-four kingdoms, which are ruled by different monarchs. The Esan land is a flat landscape, which is suitable for agriculture. The Igbabonelimhin cultural dance is synonymous with the Esan people.


Afemais is known as IVBIOSAKON by those living in and around Benin City to the north of Ishan/Esan clan. The Afemai people occupy the northern part of Edo State with its headquarters in Agenebode. They are believed to have migrated from Benin during the reign of Oba Eware. Afemai is made up of different kingdoms and clans which have their traditional institutions and rulers.


Akoko-Edos based in Igarra, Ibillo and its environs to the north of Afemais.


OwansOras occupying Eme, Sabogida-Ora, Afuze, etc. Uhobe (SOBE) and Ifon in Ondo State. The Owan and Ora people trace their history to Oba Ozolua who ruled them when he was still a Prince. The Oras are called the children of Ozolua. They are in charge of propitiating the physical earth and are responsible for exorcising any harm that might come upon the Edo land as a result of a violation of sexual or other taboos.


Ekas-to East of Benin. A sizeable chunk of the Edo speaking people flow across River Niger and ending at ONITSHA.


Isoko, Urhobo, Itsekiris and about 70% per cent of western Izon (Ijaws) in Ndegeni and its environs. A sizeable chunk of the Edos is found in the River States and the Balyesa States, e.g. Ogba land and Diobu, Port Harcourt.


A sizeable chunk has been ” Yorubanised in Ondo, Ekiti, Lagos and Ogun States. The descendants of Edo soldiers stationed in Akure are referred to today as ADO- AKURE (Edo ne ’Kue) There are many Edos in Ekiti land, Idoani, Idanre etc. going through life in Nigeria with Yoruba names. Acculturation has taken place. You are either a Yoruba man, or you go nowhere.


The Ilaje community at Okitipupa and its environs. The Edos who conquered and settled far away lands like Dahomey, Togo and Ghana.


The Edo language is part of the Kwa-Niger group of languages according to Linguist. These people have lived where they are now for ” Thousands of years.” The monarchy centred in Benin City is about 6000 years old, including pre-ogiso and Ogiso era of history. All the clans had various functions, which they perform at the palace. For example, the Ishan’s/Esans were principally the medicine men and warriors of the ancient empire. They were the medical practitioners. The chieftaincy groups responsible for the Oba’s well being are dominated by Ishan/Esan descendants. The Ivbiosakon (Afemais) was the dental surgeon of the palace. That is the origin of the name IVBIOSAKON. Oba Esigie assigned that function to them in the c1500’s.

The Owan/Ora people were the propitiators of the physical earth for the Oba of Benin. It was their responsibility to prevent things like earthquake, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes and anything associated with geological disturbance to occur in Benin. In short, they were the geologists and weathermen of their day, forecasting and preventing physical calamities. Those we call BINIS today, were the traditional bureaucratic administrators and military generals. The Izons (Ijaws) were the ” OZIGUE” -SAILORS The Ekas were farmers. They were in charge of the royal farms.

The Ibos across the Niger call the Edos, IDU, the name of the progenitor of Edo race; the Yoruba’s call us ADO, which is a corruption of the word EDO. However, the Itsekiris, another subgroup in the Edo clans call us UBINI. Tradition asserts that it is derived from ILE-IBINU, which is descriptive of the exasperation and frustration encountered in Benin City, by Prince Oranmiyan of ILE-IFE. Further research may prove that it was the Itsekiris who gave that name, to the people living in and around Benin City. The Itsekiris told the white man of the powerful overlord living in Igodomigodo. It was the Itsekiris who told the Whiteman that the name of the tribe of this powerful king was UBINI- a term, which Whiteman corruptly wrote down as Benin. For example, the name of the eldest daughter of Oba Osewende, the mother of the OSULAS and the AIWERIOGHENES is today known as AGHAYUBINI. A closer examination of that name would reveal that the name is an Itsekhiri phrase-” The Ubini Lady or woman,” i.e. the woman from Benin. Aghayubini was a very wealthy trader among the Itsekiris, from whence she got the money she used, is getting the throne for her brother, who became Oba ADOLO. An Itsekhiri descriptive phrase has overpowered her original Edo name, to the extent that nobody knows anything about it now.

The ancient Edo/Benin Empire covered the whole of Bendel, parts of Bayelsa State and I repeat Balyesa State. The second son of the Enogie of Brass, popularly known as IYASE NE OHENMWEN became the Iyase of Benin under Oba Osewende. Iyase Ohenmwen is the ancestor of the OTOKITIS, THE OKEAYA-INNEH AND THE AIWERIOGHENES of Benin today. It also covers the IGBO-speaking areas of Delta State stretching to Onitsha. People hardly know that the actual title of the Obi of Onitsha is AIGBOGHIDI. The historical Chief Agho Obaseki of Oba Ovoranmwen era and later the Iyase of Benin under Oba Eweka II was a descendant of the second son of Enogie of NSUKWA now in Delta State. It extended to the whole of Ondo State, parts of Ekiti and Ogun State and the whole of Lagos State including BADAGRY. It stretched to southern Dahomey (Republic of Benin) and on to the coast of Togo and Ghana.


The Owans /Oras

Oba Ozolua is traditionally regarded as the ancestor of the Owans/Ora. He was known as Prince Okpame before he became known as Oba Ozolua. He had sought refuge in Uwokha in Ivbiosakon areas in c1473. From Uwokha, Oba Ozolua founded Ora and other villages. Oba Ozolua was a warlord. He beat the people of Uzea near Uromi to a pulp when there was a revolt. He extended his carnage to Uromi when the Enogie was reported to have been rude to his messengers. He went up through Akoko land, wandering into Nupe lands where he acquired a lot of sophisticated weaponry then. He attacked the Igallas and Igbirras in the present Kogi and Kwara states. After spending the greater part of his life in ORA, he left behind his son UGUAN and returned to Benin City.

But before he left, he proclaimed everybody free men and free women, entitled to enjoy the privileges of Edo princes and Princesses, for all the services they had rendered in his military campaigns. That is why the Oras call themselves today, the CHILDREN OF OZOLUA. Besides being in charge of propitiating the physical earth,

They are responsible for ritually exorcising any harm that might come upon the EDO NATION-the land due to violation of sexual or other taboos. Their GUILD, quartered at EVBORHAN quarter in OGBELAKA in Benin City by Oba Esigie, demands steep fines from the culprits for their services.

A few years ago, the Oba of Benin created Ogie-Duke-traditional rulership for the Oras because of popular demand


Benin Prehistory: The Origin and settling down of the Edo People and their analysi

 By Dmitri .M. Bondarenko and Peter .M. Roese

First of all, let us set up in chronological order several different statements from the mythology of the Edo. One of the earliest reports comes from the English trader Cyril Punch who stayed on the coast and visited Benin City from the end of the 1880s up to the 1890s several times. He had good contacts with the royal court. He reported, “tradition says the Bini came from a place north of the Niger originally and lived under a king Lamorodu” (Roth 1968:6).

The Benin chronicler J.U Egharevba collected material in the 1920s and 1930s. He writes: “Many years ago, the Binis came from Egypt to found a more secure shelter in this part of the world after a short stay in the Sudan and IIe- Ife, which the Benin people call Uhe. Before coming here, a band of hunters was sent from Ife to inspect this land and the report furnished was very favourable to met some people who were in the land before their arrival “These people are said to have come originally from Nupe and Sudan in waves (Egharevba 1960) 1: see also Egharevba 1956: 1). In another work, Egharevba specifies that the first wave of migration took place from Sudan via the present-day Nupe land in the 7th century

A.D and the second, from Egypt via Sahara and Ife at the beginning of the 8th century (Egharevba 1965: 8 f). But very soon he declares: “It is known that the Bini came to this Land in 3 waves. And not 2 as was previously supposed” The first (without a definite date) was from Nupe, the second- from Sudan via Nupe in about the 7th century A.D and the last one, without a date again was from Egypt via Sahara and IIe- Ife (Egharevba 1966: 7-9).

At another place, Egharevba also writes about three migration waves. The first came from Nupe land the second from Sudan via Nupe land and the third from Egypt through the Sahara and IIe Ife (Ife). This was “…one of those migrations common to many tribes seeking more fertile land and more secure retreat from an enemy during the Islamic crusade from 600 A.D. “(Egharevba 1969: preface; see also Egharevba 1964:6). The newcomers united after some time. But another, a later Bini chronicler prince Eweka, practically recognizing the Egyptian version, the popular among his compatriots, considers the question open because there are no real proofs of the exodus from Egypt. He admits that the Edo could be autochthonous in their area being genetically connected with the population of Nok (Eweka 1989: 9 f.).

Glottochronology suggests that the separation between the kwa peoples’ protolanguages, including the Edo and the Yoruba, happened about 2,000-3,000 years ago (Darling 1984/I: 63), or even earlier, between 3,200 and 4, 600 or about 5,000 years ago according to Armstrong (1962) and Smith (1988; 11). Bradbury’s date it later than 4,000 years ago (1964: 150). Never mind, some of the Yoruba Ododuwa myths (those not deriving the Yoruba and the whole mankind from Ife) have much in common with the Edo ones cited above. This fact makes them helpful for our analysis. Generally, such myths connect the Yoruba origin and migration to western Africa with basically the same geographical regions and historical events just as those of the Edo do. Studying Yoruba myths, Talbot has come to the conclusion that the Yoruba had arrived in Nigeria from Egypt possibly in the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C being pushed out of their motherland by the Nubian wars of the 19th century B.C or the Hyksos’ conquest of the country (1926/I: 276, II: 2) Samuel Johnson, whose dealing with the myth is best-known, has also argued that the Yoruba had resettled from Upper Egypt or Nubia. Following sultan Bello of Sokoto (see Hodgkin 1975: 78 f), he writes that Lamurudu, Whose subjects they were, was Phoenician numrod, the conqueror of Egypt. Those people accompanied him in military campaigns and reached Arabia with him from where they were expatriated for their devotedness to their religion, paganism, or more probably, a kind of Eastern Christianity (Johnson 1921; 7f) Biobaku has developed the version more than anyone else. He sees the Yoruba home country in Upper Egypt and introduces the idea of two waves of migration from there to Western Africa in about A.D 600 and about A.D 1000. The latter, just reflected in the myth of the migration under the leadership of Oduduwa, was provoked by the spread of Islam according to Biobaku. Having crossed the Niger in the Nupe area, the Yoruba went southwestward-founded IIe- Ife and settled there (Biobaku 1955: 1958: 24f.). It is worth mentioning that the data of the first wave of the Yoruba migrations, according to Biobaku, corresponds to the last wave of the Edo’s advent in the final, 1969, concept of Egharevba. i.e. about A.D. 600. But while the latter connects it just with the Muslim pressure, the Yoruba historian ascribes it to the second, the Oduduwa migration of his people about A.D. 1000.

There is even no necessity to stop for a long time on the apparent fact that, if someone of these two prominent Africans were right, it could not have been Egharevba in any case. Islam only appeared just at the beginning of the 7th century A.D. (622) in Arabia; though in Africa, Egypt and especially Ethiopia played a significant role in disseminating the ideas that laid the groundwork for the emergence of Islam. But Egypt assured a leading role in the development of the Islamic civilization not earlier than in the 9th — l0th centuries. Towards the brink of the millennia, Islam in the form of Kharijism Lind Sunnism made its way with the caravans of merchants into the countries of West and Central Sudan. In the 10th and mid- 11th centuries,  the new religion was formally accepted by the rulers of several states of this or that way subordinate to large Christian xum, Nubia) and pagan (Ghana, Zaghawa) kingdoms. The movement of the Aimoravids in the name of jihad, a significant event of this period, resulted in the integration of Sahara, West Sudan, Maghreb, and Spain into a political, religious, and ideological union. Concurrently, the entire regional system of states was reshaped, effecting the disintegration of the Christian (Axum, the united Nubia) and pagan (Zaghawa, Ghana) kingdoms that had been hindering the progress of Islam into the heart of Africa (Kobishchanov 1987: 14—40). It seems reasonable to come to the conclusion that Islam could indirectly influence the territories rather far south of the area of its immediate just at that time, not earlier.