Friday, February 8, 2013

IJAW PEOPLE: NIGERIA`S ABORIGINAL WATER PEOPLE OF NIGER DELTA

Ijaw (also known by the subgroups"Ijo"or"Izon") are a collection of peoples indigenous mostly to the forest regions of the Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers States within the Niger Delta in Nigeria. Some are natives of Akwa-Ibom, Edo, and Ondo states also in Nigeria. Many are found as migrant fishermen in camps as far west as Sierra Leone and as far east as Gabon along the Western Africa coastline.They are believed to be some of the earliest inhabitants of southern Nigeria.The Ijaws currently numbering about 15 million have long lived in locations near many sea trade routes, and were well connected to other areas by trade as early as the 15th century. Ijaw people sit on Nigeria`s rich oil lands.
                                      Ijaw people

Historical origin of Ijaws
The Ijos (Ijaws) of the Niger Delta are the descendants of the autochthonous people or ancient tribe of Africa known as the (H) ORU. They were known by this name by themselves and their immediate neighbors. The Ijos have kept the ancient language and culture of the ORU. The Ancient ORU People. As to what time the ancient ORU people started to settle the Niger Delta is not clear as language studies cannot properly indicate when a people settled at the region.
     Six women from Opobo [Igbo/Ijo/Obolo; present day coastal Rivers State, Nigeria]. Unknown  photographer. 1882.

What is known is that they have existed as a distinct language and ethnic group for upwards 5000 years. Their settlements in the Benin region, Lower Niger & Niger Delta were aboriginal (i.e. being the first) and by 500 BC they may have started inhabiting the Niger Delta. The traditional Ijo narratives refer to the ancestors (the Oru-Otu) or the ancient people (Tobu Otu) who descended from the sky (were of divine origin). They are also referred to as the WATER-PEOPLE (Beni-Otu). It is ORU who established the ancient communities of mask-spirits and mermaids (mami-water) dedicated to spiritual initiation culture.


                             Ijaw women in their traditional African wear

  "Language and cultural studies prove that they are  related to the founders of the Great Nile Valley civilisation complex (and possibly the lake Chad complex). They immigrated into West Africa from the Nile-Valley during antiquity. The ORU people who went and founded the Nile-valey civilisation complex of ancient Egypt and Sudan were also known as the ONU or ANU people or followers of HORU (HORUS). Another of their names seems to have been KUMONI. It was during the time of King ADUMU-ALA (alias ODUDUWA), that ORU Princes who derived ultimately from Nubia (ancient Sudan) established city states in the Southern Nigeria region. Their names have come down to us as the ancestors ADUMU, ASARA, UJO, IGODO, NANA, ALA-FUN. These city states gave birth to different ethnic nationalities through the process of fusion and ethnic intermarriage. This is reflected in the ancestral traditions of the Ijos.

The ancestor who is known as Ujo or Ijo is also known in traditional Ile-Ife history as Idekoseroake. He is also known by the titles “Kalasuo" and "Indo-Oru'. His identification as ORU, means that he was of the tribe of Oru. His identification as Kumoni, means that he was of the tribe of Kumoni (the section that hailed from Upper Egypt), therefore he was Kumoni-Oru. In Ife traditional history it is believed that he died before his father. It is also stated that he died at Ife, although it is not known for sure that he did. All that is known is that King Adumu (alias Oduduwa) lost the service of a number of powerful and warlike sons early on during his reign. Where they went or what happened to them has never been explained by contemporary accounts at Ife. On the other hand Ijo traditions maintain that Ujo (i.e. Idekoseroake) migrated from Ife along with some brothers and a large entourage. Since these traditions are accurate and can be corroborated in regards to the foundation of Benin and Ife , then we can take it that they are also true in regards to the origins of the ancestors of the Ijo people.


BIRTH OF THE IJO PEOPLE OR ORUS

The 1st migration out of Otu-Ife (or Ile-Ife as it was later to be known) was led by Prince Ujo (alias Idekoseroake) mentioned in the ancestral tradition as being the first son of King Adumu . Prince Ujo along with the warlord Ogu (Ogun) were war commanders in the military alliance, who took part in the battles that were fought to subdue the hostile Ooyelagbo communities and establish the Yoba Kingdom. Between 650 -700 AD Prince Ujo led his migration out of Ife to the Benin region, where he encamped and established a settlement (Uzama) that later was to become the basis of Benin City. At this time other ORU people, as well as the EFA people were settling the Benin region.
                                                        Ijaw women
Prince Ujo`s instructions were to go to the Niger Delta, and establish a strategic base from which to defend the coastal region. Clearly his father King Adumu, regarded the whole southern region as a virgin territory which he would bring under his direct control. Prince Ujo proceeded to the central Niger Delta with his followers and came across isolated ancient communities of ORU people in remote settlements of the central delta. Together with these people they formed viable communities in the central delta originally based on the City-state formation. This was the birth or genesis of the Ijo people. The Kumoni-Oru who settled the Niger Delta with the most ancient inhabitants known as the ORU (TOBU OTU) gave birth to the Ijos. The original settlements were in the western & central delta, from where they spread out to people the whole Niger Delta. This period has been estimated to have occurred between 500 BC to 1000 AD. These original ancestors were spiritual initiates of the ancient African spiritual initiation system of the CREATOR TEM (TEMUNO). They made heavy symbolic ritualistic use of the water, and hence have been referred to as the "water people" (beni-otu). Later on between 1200 ? 1600 AD the Ijos of the Niger Delta received immigrants from their relatives living at Benin and the lower Niger regions, who were fleeing the various upheavals and power struggles of Benin city during the time of the 2nd dynasty. They collectively gave birth to the Ijo nation with its City-states and collective Clan communities. This is the birth of the Ijo people, otherwise known by the ancient name of ORU.

Some of the Kumoni/Oru remained behind at Benin region, indeed a section of the Oru known as the Beni, who had come from the Sudan (NupaTU or Napata) through Nupe, gave the name Beni to some of the newly emerging settlements. These were the Oru or Ijos of Benin City who later on between the 12th ?15th centuries AD fled into the delta to escape the upheavals of Benin City. Along with the EFA people they were quite prominent at Benin during the 1st kingdom between 650-1150 AD.

Ijwa Clan Ancestry/Tribes


The ancestor UJO, IJO (alias IDEKOSEROAKE), also known as UZON, IZON, IZONOWEI, KALASUO, ORU, INDO-ORU & OGULABIOWEI. THE FIRST PERE (RULER) and ancestor of the whole ethnic nationality.

The ancestor ASAIN seer/priest and companion to UJO and founder of the original Ijo community at Abo

The ancestor GBARAN, ancestor of GBARAN town in Apoi (Southern-Ijo), GBARANMATU, AROGBO, TUOMO, KABO, KUMBO AND GBARAN CLANS.

The ancestor OPU-BENI, ancestor of the MEIN, IBENI (OYAKIRI), OBOTEBE KALABARI CLANS

The ancestor OPU-OKUN, ancestor of the OPUKUMA CLAN

The ancestor KALA-OKUN (alias ALUKU-DOGO), ancestor of the KOLOKUMA, APOI, IBANI CLANS, and sections of NEMBE, TUNGBO, BUSENI, OKODIA

The ancestor APOI, ancestor of the APOI, UKOMU & AKASSA CLANS

The ancestor TARA, ancestor of the TARAKIRI, & ANDONI CLANS

The ancestor OPU-OGBO, ancestor of the EKPETIAMA & SEIMBIRI, EPIE-ATISSA CLANS and sections of WAKIRIKE & NKORO

The ancestor KALA-OGBO (alias OGURU), ancestor of the IDUWINI & EGBEMA CLANS

The ancestor OPORO, ancestor of the OPOROMA & OPEREMO, BASAN, FURUPAGHA, OGBE-IJO, CLANS

The ancestor OLODI (alias IGBEDIGBOLO), ancestor of the OLODIAMA CLANS, and sections of NEMBE

The ancestor OGULA, ancestor of the OGULAGHA CLAN

The ancestor KURU, ancestor of the KRUS? of Liberia

The ancestor OYAN, ancestor of the OGBO-OYAN (OGBIA CLAN)

The ancestor BOMOU, ancestor of the BOMA CLAN

The ancestor IBI (OBI), ancestor of the OGBOIN, WAKIRIKE CLANS, and sections of NEMBE

The ancestor KENI-OPU-ALA, ancestor of the KE

The ancestor ORU, ancestor of the KULA CLAN

Some Secondary ancestors

The ancestor OPOROZA II, ancestor of the KABO, KUMBO AND GBARAN CLANS

The ancestor MEIN, ancestor of the MEIN & KALABARI CLANS

The ancestor PEREBO-KALAKEBARI (KALABARI), ancestor of the KALABARI CLAN

The ancestor KALA-BENI (alias ALAGBARIGHA), ancestor of the IBENI (IBANI, OR BONNY) CLAN

                   Ijaw woman
The ancestor OPUBO-PEREKULE, ancestor of the OPUBO (OPOBO) CLAN



The Ijaw ethnic group consists of 40 loosely affiliated tribes. These clans are based along kinship lines and/or shared cultural and religious traditions.


NameStateAlternate Names
AkassaBayelsaAkaha, Akasa
AndoniRivers / Akwa IbomObolo
Apoi (Eastern)Bayelsa
Apoi (Western)Ondo
ArogboOndo
BassanBayelsaBasan
BilleRiversBile, Bili
BumoBayelsaBoma, Bomo
BonnyRiversIbani, Ubani
BuseniBayelsaBiseni
EgbemaDelta / Edo
EkeremorBayelsaOperemor, Ekeremo
EkpetiamaBayelsa
EngenniRiversNgeni
Epie-AtissaBayelsa
FurupaghaEdo
GbaranmatuDeltaGbaranmatu
GbaranBayelsaGbarain
IduwiniDelta
IsabaDelta
KaboDeltaKabowei, Kabou
KalabariRivers
KolokumaBayelsa
KulaRivers
KumboDeltaKumbowei
MeinDelta
NembeBayelsa
NkoroRiversKala Kirika
ObotebeDelta
OdimodiDelta
OgbeDeltaOgbe-Ijoh
OgbiaBayelsa
OgboinBayelsa
OgulaghaDeltaOgula
OkordiaBayelsaOkodia, Akita
OkrikaRiversWakirike
Olodiama (East)Bayelsa
Olodiama (West)Edo
OpoboRivers
OpokumaBayelsa
OporomaBayelsaOporomo
OrumaBayelsaTugbene
OyakiriBayelsaBeni
SeimbiriDelta
Tarakiri (East)Bayelsa
Tarakiri (West)Delta
TungboBayelsa
TuomoDelta
UkomuEdo
ZaramaBayelsa



The Ijaw speak nine closely related Niger–Congo languages, all of which belong to the Ijoid branch of the Niger–Congo tree. The primary division between the Ijo languages is that between Eastern Ijo and Western Ijo, the most important of the former group of languages being Izon, which is spoken by about four million people.
There are two prominent groupings of the Izon language. The first, termed either Western or Central Izon (Ijaw) consists of Western Ijaw speakers: Ekeremor, Sagbama (Mein), Bassan, Apoi, Arogbo, Boma (Bumo), Kabo (Kabuowei), Ogboin, Tarakiri, and Kolokuma-Opokuma (Yenagoa).[citation needed] Nembe, Brass and Akassa (Akaha) dialects represent Southeast Ijo (Izon).[citation needed]. Buseni and Okordia dialects are considered Inland Ijo.
The other major Ijaw linguistic group is Kalabari. Kalabari is considered an Eastern Ijaw language but the term "Eastern Ijaw" is not the normal nomenclature. Kalabari is the name of one of the Ijaw clans that reside on the eastern side of the Niger-Delta (Abonnema, Buguma, Bakana, Degema etc.) who form a major group in Rivers State, hence their involvement in the fight for greater oil control. Other "Eastern" Ijaw clans are the Okrika, Ibani (the natives of Bonny, Finima and Opobo) and Nkoroo. They are neighbours to the Kalabari people in present day Rivers State, Nigeria.
Other related Ijaw subgroups which have distinct languages but very close kinship, cultural and territorial ties with the rest of the Ijaw are the Epie-Atissa, Engenni (also known as Ẹgẹnẹ), and Degema (also called Udekama or Udekaama). These groups speak Delta Edoid languages. The Ogbia clan, Andoni people, as well as residents of Bukuma and Abuloma (Obulom) speak Cross River languages.[citation needed]
It was discovered in the 1980s that a nearly extinct Berbice Creole Dutch, spoken in Guyana, is partly based on Ijo lexicon and grammar. Its nearest relative seems to be Eastern Ijo, most likely Kalabari (Kouwenberg 1994).


The Ijaw were one of the first of Nigeria's peoples to have contact with Westerners, and were active as go-betweens in the slave trade between visiting Europeans and the peoples of the interior, particularly in the era before the discovery of quinine, when West Africa was still known as the White Man's Graveyard because of the endemic presence of malaria.
                                  Nollyhood actress Dakore Egbuson,is an Ijaw

Some of the kin-based trading lineages that arose among the Ijaw developed into substantial corporations which were known as "Houses"; each house had an elected leader as well as a fleet of war canoes for use in protecting trade and fighting rivals. The other main occupation common among the Ijaw has traditionally been fishing and farming.

Being a maritime people, many Ijaws were employed in the merchant shipping sector in the early and mid-20th century (pre-Nigerian independence). With the advent of oil and gas exploration in their territory, some are employed in that sector. Other main occupation are in the civil service of the Nigerian States of Bayelsa and Rivers where they are predominant.
                        Issac Jasper Adaka Boro (September 10, 1938 – May 9, 1968). An Ijaw freedom fighter - known for being a Niger Delta and Civil war hero.  Forming the Niger Delta Volunteer force, he along with other notable lieutenants that included George Amangala and Captain Boardman Esinkuma Nyananyo (I LOVE the Nyananyos ^_^),  led the Ijaw people in their first revolution in 1966 against oppression from the federal government in order to redistribute oil wealth justly, and later against Biafran rebels.


The Ijaw people live by fishing supplemented by farming paddy-rice, plantains, yams, cocoyams, bananas and other vegetables as well as tropical fruits such as guava, mangoes and pineapples; and trading. Smoke-dried fish, timber, palm oil and palm kernels are processed for export. While some clans (those to the east- Akassa, Nembe, Kalabari, Okrika and Bonny) had powerful chiefs and a stratified society, other clans are believed not to have had any centralized confederacies until the arrival of the British. However, owing to influence of the neighbouring Kingdom of Benin individual communities even in the western Niger Delta also had chiefs and governments at the village level.


Political system: (chiefs, clans etc, wealth or status classes):
People in the eastern region of the delta traditionally lived in small villages and towns that were run by a system of chiefs who were family or clan heads. High status is normally awarded in accordance with elaborate hierarchical systems and often results only after payments have been made to those already holding titles. People from the western and central Delta regions acknowledged no central authorities until the British.

 Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (an Ijaw man) and his Ijaw people at a ceremony


Marriage
There are two forms of marriage, both involving bride-wealth. In a small-dowry marriage, the groom must offer a payment to the wife’s family, which is typically cash. In this type of marriage, the children trace their line of inheritance through their mother to her family. This means that when they grow up the children have more choices as to where they can live: with their father’s or mother’s people.

The second type of marriage is a large-dowry marriage, which means that the children belong to the father’s family. These marriages are rare, and wives are not usually from the local community.
There is high rate of polygamy among the Ijaws. Most men have at least two wives. Each wife has her own bedroom and kitchen, usually in a single house. Ijo wives are not ranked, and ideally, each is treated equally and has equal access to her husband.

                                       Ijaw people
Ijaw Traditions
 Funeral ceremonies, particularly for those who have accumulated wealth and respect, are often very dramatic. Traditional religious practices center around "Water spirits" in the Niger river, and around tribute to ancestors.

                                                  Ijaw women

Egbesu is the god of warfare and the spiritual foundation for combating evil. He can can only be invoked in defence or to correct an injustice by people who are in tune with the universe.Recently, members of the cult, known as the Egbesu Boys, have been fighting against authorities in the Niger Delta in response to environmental and economic problems caused by oil exploitation. Young men who have joined the cult undergo initiations which impart the powers of Egbesu. The initiation involves being etched with scars on some hidden part of the body. Followers often believe the charms and the cult initiations make them bulletproof.

                               Ijaw man of Niger Delta
Religion


Although the Ijaw are now primarily Christians (95% profess to be), with Catholicism and Anglicanism being the varieties of Christianity most prevalent among them. The Ijaw also have elaborate traditional religious practices of their own. Veneration of ancestors plays a central role in Ijaw traditional religion, while water spirits, known as Owuamapu figure prominently in the Ijaw pantheon. In addition, the Ijaw practice a form of divination called Igbadai, in which recently deceased individuals are interrogated on the causes of their death.
Ijaw religious beliefs hold that water spirits are like humans in having personal strengths and shortcomings, and that humans dwell among the water spirits before being born. The role of prayer in the traditional Ijaw system of belief is to maintain the living in the good graces of the water spirits among whom they dwelt before being born into this world, and each year the Ijaw hold celebrations in honor the spirits lasting for several days. Central to the festivities is the role of masquerades, in which men wearing elaborate outfits and carved masks dance to the beat of drums and manifest the influence of the water spirits through the quality and intensity of their dancing. Particularly spectacular masqueraders are taken to actually be in the possession of the particular spirits on whose behalf they are dancing.

                                  Ijaw masquerades

The Ijaw are also known to practice ritual acculturation (enculturation), whereby an individual from a different, unrelated group undergoes rites to become Ijaw. An example of this is Jaja of Opobo, the Igbo slave who rose to become a powerful Ibani (Bonny) chief in the 19th century.


Myths (Creation):
“There was a once a large field,and in this field stood an enormous Iroko tree with large buttresses. At the sides of the field appeared pairs of men and women, each woman holding a broom and each man a bag. As the women swept the field the men collected the dirt into their bags. And the dirt was manilas [wealth]. Some collected ten or more manillas, others none, and when the field was swept clean they disappeared back into the edges of the field, two by two. The sky darkened, and there descended on the field a large table, a large chair, and an immense ‘Creation Stone’, and on the table was large quantity of earth. Then there was lightning and thunder; and Woyingi descended. She seated herself on the chair and placed her feet on the ‘Creation Stone’.
ijaw women in port harcourt
                                A Cross section of wakirike Ijaw women

Out of the earth, on the table Woyingi moulded human beings. But they had no life and were neither man nor woman, and Woyingi, embracing them one by one, breathed her breath into them, and they became living beings. But they were still neither men nor women, and so Woyingi asked them one by one to choose to be man or woman, each according to their choice. Next Woyingi asked them, one by one, what manner of life

each should like to lead on earth. Some asked for riches, some for children, some for short lives, and all manner of things. And these Woyingi bestowed on them one by one, each according to their wish. Then Woyingi asked them one by one by which manner of death they would return to her. And out of the diseases that afflict the earth they chose each a disease. To all these wishes Woyingi said, ‘So be it’.

                      Ijaw men in their traditional dress

Cultural material (art, music, games):
The most famous of the Ijaw art is definately the traditional river masks made from carved wood, which embody water spirits (owuamapu). Mostly these are depictions of human heads built up of geometric shapes and combined with animal and abstracting qualities.

Musically, the Ijaw have traditionally used drums, percussion planks and other idiophones. These are still used during cultural festivals to accompany dances such as the Fisherman’s Dance, the Egbelegbele Sei and the Wind and Trees Dance in addition to horns and other contemporary instruments.
New types of music have popped up over the years as well, including a genre of gospel which sounds a bit more like reggae or ska, making much use of trumpets and other horns, than American gospel. Popular music of the Ijaw seems to hold to this emphasis on horn, percussion, and steady, slow beats as well.
Another art form the Ijo are famous for is the memorial screen, which is a carved plank of wood depicting the deceased. They were made when members of trading families died and were kept in the trading house and given offerings of food and drink.

 Death and afterlife beliefs:
It is believed that one is always being watched by the spirit of his ancestors and must show appreciation to the dead and pray to them for future well being. Before each meal, one offers a bit of their food to the ancestors by tossing it to the ground and calling out the names of his ancestors, and every eight days, food and drink are set out specifically for them. Every seven years a goat’s blood is sprinkled in front of images or pillars representative of the ancestors. It is against tribal law to speak badly of a spirit. If someone does speak ill of the dead and refuses to apologize, the insulted family retaliates by speaking against his dead family. When apologies are made, they all perform an atonement ceremony.
One can also pray to the spirits at special shrines to ask for help in emergencies. Everyone has two souls - the eternal ego and the life force that dies with the body. Both souls leave the body with the last breath, but the life force can also leave before death at times of great fear. If this soul does not return, the body dies. The eternal soul leaves the body on the last breath and takes the form of a ghost, shadow, or reflection, so it’s considered dangerous to step on a shadow.  Mirrors are often used so evil spirits will strike the image of the soul reflected in the mirror and not the actual soul.
As in many religions across the world, there is a Ghost King, Nduen-Ama; and a ghost messenger, Ffe,who appears as a skeleton and brings death upon a person by striking him at the base of the skull with a large staff; a ferryman, Asasaba, who brings good souls across the river of death to be reincarnated into trees, animals or other living things.Although different ethnic groups believe in different forms of reincarnation for good and bad souls, all believe in karma. For example, in one tribe, a good soul could become a cow, elephant, or leopard; in another tribe, good people may be reborn as trees, whereas in a third tribe, only evil people become plants after they die.
Ijaws give respect their ancestors. Ancestors are revered and loved. To speak ill of them, though, is taboo.

Adornment

Women braid their hair or crop it close and wear it under a head cloth. Men crop their hair short. Both men and women of all ages wear necklaces of huge coral beads on formal occasions. Beads are also made of ivory, but only the rich wear these.

The day to day wears of the Ijaw man is a shirt and trouser made of a wax material. While the ceremonial dress of the Bayelsa man is a big long-sleeved shirt worn over a long piece of wrapper tied from the waist down to the ankle and most times thrown over the shoulder.
A blouse is worn over a wrap tied from the waist to just below the knee for young girls and unmarried women, while married women wear a wrap from waist to ankle and the blouse worn on top with a wrap tied over it from waist to knee. The ceremonial dress for women is the same pattern, but with higher quality fabric and worn with a head tie and beads. Women of royal blood may wear the two wraps without the blouse, as can maidens during wedding ceremonies.

                                     Ijaw woman
Source:http://ogbia.webs.com/theijawsorigin.htm
           http://dice.missouri.edu/docs/niger-congo/Ijo.pdf
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ijaw_people

Below is some Important History of Ijaws


THE PRIMARY DISPERSAL 700 ? 1200 CE (AD)
The PERE OR INDO-ORU instructed an expedition force to go and guard the mouth of the delta and other important places along the coast as stipulated by his father King Adumu. These people became the ancestors of several Ijo clans. Keni Opu Ala or Keni-Ala, the holy seer (Asain) of Adumu, the Supreme Intelligence, was the ancestor who founded Ke or Keni and its daughter towns. Kula and Bille were also founded in this way. Ogulagha and Iduwini, were founded as a result of proto ancestors settling in the western coastal delta, to guard that region. Oguru (alias Kala-Ogbo who gave his name to Warri region (Ogbo Ijo) settled the area now known as Warri region, these ancestors were to be joined by people from Oporoma. Others such as Kuru, founded the Kru people (they seem to have been proto-Ijos), who eventual migrated to the present day Liberia region, while some ended up settling in present day Ghana region.
                         Ijaw woman from Cross River State
According to tradition, after many years of rule father Ujo the Pere or Indo-Oru left his headquarters in Igbedi creek in charge of the Agadagba of Egbesu (military officer), and decided to go back to Otu-Ife (Ile-Ife). He traveled with nine companions including his grandson Apoi (Opoi) the son of Kala-Okun. Without a skilled astronomer they got lost and decided to settle in a creek near the vicinity of the Nun river. It was here they founded the village of Apoi. Prince Ujo made his permanent home with his grandson Apoi at the quarter now known as Okoto-aja. It was here that he died and was buried. Ujo who was also titled Kalasuo, gave the title to his grandson Apoi, since then the rulers of Apoi clan have been titled “Kalasuo?. From the central Apoi, a section migrated to the western delta, to found Apoi Ijo of the Ondo region. Also from the central Apoi, was founded Akassa clan along the coast.

                             Ijaw water home
The ancient town of Ujo-Gbaran or Gbaran for short, was founded by Gbaran an elder son of Ujo. Gbaran was given the scepter of Ujo on the death of his father. Later on his descendants went and founded the town of Oporo-aja (Oproza) in the western delta region of Escravos, to give birth to the Gbaranmatu and also Arogbo in Ondo area. Children of Ujo, Olodi and Oporo, went and established a common settlement, from which descendants founded Oporoma and Olodiama clans. From Olodiama in central delta ancestors left to found Olodiama in the western delta near Benin, and also ancestors left to found Olodiamabiri and Onyomabiri and other towns, to form Nembe clan. From Agadagba-bou was also founded Ogbia (Ogbo-Oyan) clan who are the descendants of Oyan. From the same Agadagba-bou, led by Opu-Ogbo, was founded, Isoma-bou or Opuan-bou, from which ancestors later migrated to found, Ekpetiama, and Seimbiri clans.
The last to leave the ancient town of Agadagba-bou, were the ancestors of the Opukuma, Kolokuma, Tarakiri and Andoni. Opu-Okun was the ancestor of the Opukuma, while Kala-Okun was the ancestor of the Kolokuma, both were children of Ujo by the same mother. Tara a younger child of Ujo was the ancestor of the Tarakiri, while Ayama the son of Tara was the ancestor of the Andoni in eastern Ijo,. The Andoni (ruler known as the Andoni-Oru) town of Asarama was founded by Asara or Assa an ancient ancestor descendant of Ayama.. At that remote period most of the ancestors lived in Igbedi creek at Agadagba-bou and the immediate environs of the Nun river. Afterwards their descendants migrated all over the delta. Lastly Abowi, the Asain (seer) of Ujo who led the migration from Otu-Ife or Ile-Ife, journeyed up the river Niger to establish a number of villages which gave rise to Abo and Atani (ruler known as the Atani-Oru). Abo or Aboh and Atani no longer speak Izon language..

SECONDARY DISPERSALS 1200 ? 1800 CE (AD):
From primary dispersal centres such as Isomabou, Orubou, Obiama, Gbaran Town, Ke, Oporoza and others, ancestors migrated for several reasons to establish new towns and eventually new clans. They were joined by ancestors who previously lived in the Benin region.

FINAL MOVEMENT OF THE IJOS FROM BENIN CITY
1200 ? 1600 CE (AD)
The ancestor of the Ijos namely the ORU and KUMONI-ORU people were the first autochthonous inhabitants of the site of Benin City. In ancestral tradition the symbolic ancestor of all Ijos PRINCE UJO, left one of his brothers or sons, known as OPU-BENI or PRINCE ORUBO (in the Urhobo traditions) at the site of Benin City itself these ancestors founded a settlement known as UJO-AMA (UZAMA), and other settlements within the same vicinity. Within the same period the ancient people known as the EFA people settled the upland portions of the Benin region. When PRINCE IGODO another younger brother to PRINCE UJO, left Ife in about 670 CE (AD) period, after inheriting the mystic warfare powers of his father KING ADUMU (alias ODUDUWA) arrived in the Benin region, by which time PRINCE UJO had departed on his exploration of the Niger Delta, he centralised the existing communities and formed the first City State of Benin, otherwise known as IGODOMIGODO OR ADO. The descendants of Prince OPUBENI otherwise known as Prince ORUBO and IGODO (OGISO) continued to live at Benin. Some of them intermarried with the EFA?s and other immigrants to form the URHOBOS , while other left between 1200 and 1600 CE AD to the western, central and eastern Niger Delta to form communities with the ethnic kith & kin. The immediate cause of their leaving Benin has to do with the displacement of the OGISO DYNASTY in about 1170 CE (AD) and the land confiscation and civil wars fought in Benin by new OBA kings between 1500 ? 1600 CE (AD), notably the civil war between Oba Esigie and Prince ORU-AYAN.
In Benin traditional history the Ijo autochthonous inhabitants of Benin (Beni-Ijo), ancestors of some sections of Ijos are represented by the UZAMA (UJO TOWN) & OGIAME (CHILDREN OF OGISO) elements. Establishing the identity of the Uzama & Ogiama- According to P A Talbot (The People?s of Southern Nigeria 1926 pp31-153

Miss delta
“The Benin country appears to have been inhabited by a people called Efa, the ancestors of the present Edo and ruled by a large number of petty chiefs, those at Benin City being the Ogiame, and the Uzama Nihino (The seven Uzama). By some accounts the later arrived from Ife at a later date?.
It was the Uzama and Ogiame people that put up the most critical resistance against the invaders (These invaders were not from Ile-Ife as is commonly supposed, but from another Ife to the north-east situated near the Igala country). These group of invaders that displaced the Ogisos and introduced the Oba title, forced themselves onto the people in about 1170 AD. These people are erraneously referred to as the Yoruba element, their actual name was IWERE. In fact they came not from Ile-Ife, as is commonly narrated, but from Igala country. These people also had to conquer the Ile-Ife region and establish the Oranmiyan (Oranjan) dynasty.
According to the records, the last Ogiso prince, Kaladiran (Ekaladerhan in the Benin records) became a victim of pilitical intrigue and was exiled from Benin City. He fled into the delta and founded the town of Igodo with his retinue of exiles. When the Ogiso Prince Kaladiran and his people fled into exile, he founded the town of Igodo (now Ughoton) south of Benin. It seems that it was from this place that many people who were part of the Ogiso dynasty migrated first to Oproaza to settle with their Ijo relatives, and then finally into the Eastern Niger Delta to form a section of the Kalabari Clan of Ijos (The Igodo-ame and Ogiso-ame or Ogi-ame) .

Oranjan (Oranyan), on his first attempt to conquer Benin, encountered resistance at the Ovia river by the Ijos. After several attempts Oranjan circumvents the Ovia river route and conquers Uzama. It is at Uzama that he sets up base, but due to stiff opposition from the people he is forced to leave. By the time he has left with his entourage, he has formed an alliance with the Uzama chiefs (the seven Uzama) and also some of the leaders of the Efa (i.e Ogiefa). It is whilst here that Oranjan has a son by an Efa woman. This son is named Eweka. Eweka also encounters opposition in trying to establisha dynasty at Benin. It is only after the forth Oba Ewedo that they gain some success in establishing dynastic control over the whole of Benin City. Which is to say that before Ewedo, the previous Obas did not really exercise monarchical power over Benin City.
Ewedo also encounters major resistance from the Ijo ferrymen of the Ovia river complex and also the inhabitants of Ogiame (Ogiame). It was during this decisive battle that Ewedo obtained the royal stool of the Ogisos from the Ogiame. The remaining leaders of the Ogiame, custodians of the Ogiso stool and the leaders of the Uzama were then invited to form a government with Ewedo. The Oranjan or Eweka dynasty becomes established at Benin city. But resistance was still put up by some sections of the kingdom.

The Eweka dynasty was not fully accepted. It faced increasing resistance from the City of Udo, which was west of Benin across the Ovia river. Due to this resistance ditches were dug around Benin. Oba Ogula marries one of the daughters of the ruler of Udo to secure peace but to no avail. During an intense campaign against Udo, the resistance is destroyed, leading to many of the indigenes fleeing into the main delta. From time to time the leaders of the Uzama presented resistance to the illegimate regime at Benin. The Eweka dynasty only becomes fully legitimise when Ogun (Ewuare) ascends the throne. Ogun it is stated was the child of a noble woman who descended from the Ogisos, ie to say she was an Ogiso princess, an Ogiame so to speak. This may have been a deliberate process on the part of the indigenous element to put in place a ruler who was favourable to their interests (Ogun was earlier banaished), for Ogun ascended to the throne after a great battle that lasted two days and two nights. So Ogun ascended the throne of the Ogisos and united in himself the two dynasties (the older indigenous Ogiso dynasty and the younger Oranjan-Eweka dynasty from an Ife near the Igala country). It was during Ogun?s time that the trouble ceased. It was from his time that the monarchy became legitimate and stablised by Ogun creating a state council integrating the Indigenous chiefs in a power sharing arrangment.
By the time of the Oba kings of Benin, the Ijo speaking element of Benin had become a minority in the Benin region, due to intermarriage with the EFA amongst other things. This intermarriage gave birth to some of the Urhobo clans so to speak.

Subsequently the Oranmiyan-Eweka dynasty started confiscating the land of the true owners of the Benin region, which led to massive migrations out of Benin . We have mentioned the battles between the new ruling Oba-Eweka dynasty and the Uzama/Ogiame indigenous ruling element of Beni, descendants of the ORU/Kumoni and EFA aborigines of Benin kingdom, that led to some of them leaving Benin for the Niger Delta.. Hence the Ijo narratives from Mein-Ijo and other clans which attest to such actually happening. Many of these people moved into the main central delta and coast to join their kith & Kin already estabished in the region. (Historians need to question why was it that Mein fled Benin into the central delta from Aboh, which at the time was still Ijo speaking? Why is it that the Urhobo maintain fraternal relations with the Ijos up till the present day? This is the reason why between the 12th to 16th centuries, a large section of the Ijo ancestors who once lived at Benin, migrated into the Niger Delta.
             Song-bird Anna Omak,an ijaw


And 

THE IJO ETHNIC NATIONALITY EVOLUTION OF THE CLANS
The original ancestral settlements founded by the proto-Ijos in the Niger Delta were, Agadagba-bou (first home of Ujo in the central delta) in Igbedi Creek, Isoma-bou (Opuan-bou) along the Nun river, and Orubiribua-bou, also in the same area. Abo with its villages, such as Atani, further up the Niger. We also have Amatu in the western delta, Ke in the eastern delta and Wari-Ife & Wari-Ige in the western delta. And lastly we have the Lagos region of Lagos Island itself, formally inhabited by Proto-Ijos before being absorbed into the later immigrant cultures.
APOI EBE - CENTRAL AND WEST: The Apoi took their name from Apoi (Opoi) the son of Kala-Okun, who accompanied his grandfather Ujo on their way back to Otu-Ife or Ile-Ife. In a group of nine they got lost in trying to trace the route back without the aid of a navigator. So they decided to settle within the vicinity of the Nun river (Apoi creek), where the present village of Apoi is situated. Ujo who bore the title Kalasuo (KALA-SUO or KALUSO i.e. small god,), died here and his grandson inherited the title. Subsequently Kalasuo became a royal title passing through the family lineage of Apoi. The nine lineage?s formed out of the migrating group founded nine quarters (Idumu), of which only five are remembered, these include, Ogboinbou, Apoi, Okoto-aza or Okoto-aja (the original home of Kalasuo or Ujo himself and the site of one of his ancestral shrines called Oborowi), Umgbuluama, and Inikorogha. Some descendants of Gbaran migrated from Gbaran settlement within the same area, and with the Apoi founded the villages of Keme-Ebiama, Ajama or Azama, Kassama, and Ogboinbiri, Kolokologbene, and Sampou. Together with Gbaran town, these have collectively become known as Apoi Ebe.
The western Apoi who derived from the Okoto-aja or Okotoaza, Umgbuluama, Apoi and other Idumu’s, migrating with the royal family first settled at Ukomu in the area of Furupagha in the western Niger Delta. They stayed here for a long period of time but had to leave due to the activities of soldiers from the Benin empire (this was the time of the expansion of the Benin empire 1500 AD onwards). Most of the ancestors moved on westwards to found the town of Akpaka. After the reign of Five Kalasuo’s (approx. 150-200 years) a gradual process of dispersal set in causing the foundation of the towns of Igbobini, Igbotu, Oboro, Ojuala (Oju-Ala), Gbekebo and Kiribo. The royal family moved from Akpaka to found Toru-Abukuba (Apukuba or Opukuba). Later on Toru-Abukuba became the towns of Oboro and Shabomi.

The Western Apoi call Kalasuo, Kalashuwe and Oborowi, Oborowe, and they no longer speak Izon language, but a dialect made up of the fusion of Izon and Yoruba. Of late they have moved on to adopting the general Yoruba which most of them do speak. At a later stage as part of the Yoruba influence, the rulers took on the Oba title, before switching back to the ancient titles of Kalasuo and Opuasa. As children of Ujo, at Ile-Ife the ancestral traditions name them as one of the sub-tribes that sprung from King Adumu-Ala (alias Oduduwa). The Apoi are pre-14th century.

AKASSA EBE: The founding ancestors of the Akassa came and settled that area pre-14th century, before the place was abandoned, and then during the 17th century from Kassama of the Apoi central. The leader of the migrants was on La or Lar. They had migrated from their ancestral home during the time of the slave trade, due to insecurity in the area. La and followers migrated south and settled at Opu-Akassa on the eastern bank of the Nun estuary. His son Emere expanded the village and it eventually became a town from which various migrants left to found the various villages of Akassa in the central delta coastal islands. Some ancestors came from Igbematoru in Boma Ebe, due to a slave raid on that village by a people called Tobukigi. These founded the towns of Kamatoru and Sangana. One Opunama son of Emere, signed a treaty with the British in 1863.
GBARANMATU EBE: Gbaran a senior son of Ujo was left with Kala-Ogbo (Oguru) the ancestor of the Iduwini Ebe, Ogula and his wife Ereara the ancestors of the Ogulagha and others such as Kuru the ancestor of the Krus of Liberia, to guard the mouth of the Escavos Forcados estuaries. These early ancestors may have met other proto-Ijos living in the region, hence their name “Tobu-Otu? or “ancient people?. Gbaran gave his name to the clan.
While these ancestors remained in the area, the descendants of Gbaran travelled up to the settlement in Igbedi creek, before travelling down again to found a settlement in the Apoi area, named after their ancestor Gbaran. (Ujo-Gbaran also spelt Gbara). Ujo-Gbaran (used to differentiate it from Gbaran Ebe), grew to become a town. At a later stage some of the ancestors left to found Oporo-aja or Oporo-aza (Oporoza or Oproza) in the Escravos area of the western delta. This is reflected in the traditions collected in the 1920-30s. According to the tradition as collected in a British colonial report of 1930 pp1-8;

“…The clan name takes its origin from its mother town i.e. GBARA, a flourishing town which was visited whilst on field work, and situated in the little known area to the westward of EKOW in the old Brass Division… The clan name GBARAMATU consists of two words GBARA-AMATU. The latter word signifies ” first town” or first settlement”. Thus the name means GBARA, the first settlement. The GBARAS themselves are Ijaws of the western Ijo Sub tribe, and it was found that their language was practically the same as the western clans of Gulani (Ogulagha) and Iduwini…… “With the increase in population of Gbara, congestion became acute, and dissatisfied families began to look elsewhere for space. Thus then, it is asserted that one Osako, [i.e. Esiaku or Usiaku], Son of OGBEYAMA, together with his family, left the parent town and finally made his new home on the river Escravos where the village of OPURAJA [i.e. Oporoza] now stands… The first exodus occurred when one group left Opuraja and joined their former towns people at Arugbo. Some time later, a general emigration took place and the villages of KUNOKUNAMA, AJATITON, BAKOKODIA, BENIKURUKURU, OGOBE and OKERENGHIGHO were founded…”

The leading ancestors in a direct line of descent were Oporo or Oporo-aja (Oporo-aja or Oporo-aza), the founder of Oporoza village) the son of Kenibira, the son of Usiaku (Esiaku), the son of Ogbeyama, the son of Fieowi, the son of Gbaran. Others include Labiri, Akpobiri, and Perebeinmo the son of a priest ruler or Pere at Gbaran town, named as Ogbunu. The bulk of the ancestors settled at Oproza, later on the following towns were founded, Kunukunama, Okrika, Benitu and Benikurukuru. From Kunukunama, Bakokodia and Ikantu were founded. Benikurukuru was also the parent of Ajama or Azama. The foundation of the Gbaranmatu is between 700-800 CE (AD), i.e. pre-14th century.
AROGBO EBE: The founding ancestors of the Arogbo were part of the same migration from Gbaran town. After a brief stop at Oproza, led by Perebeinmo they went on to Ukparomo (now occupied by the towns of Akpata, Opuba, Ajapa, and Ukpe). They stayed here for some time, about the length of the reign of two Agadagbas (military priest-rulers of the shrine of Egbesu). They then moved to the present site of Arogbo. From this place descendants spread out to found the Arogbo Ebe. It was from Arogbo that some ancestors migrated northwards up the old course of the Forcados river and settled near the site of Patani. Living nearby in the upland region were proto Edo or Efa people called Erowha. These ancestors later on intermarried with them and gave birth to the Uvwei and Effurun (Efferun or Efferu the ancestor of the Effurun or Ephron was a descendent of Gbaran) sections of Urhobo people.
During the time of the expansion of the Benin kingdom(1550), the Benin invaded Ukoruama (Lagos). The Arogbo sent soldiers to defend the Ijo living in that region. Their army camp became known as Idumu-Arogbo later shortened to Idumagbo. The Arogbo also successful halted the advance of the Benin army into the western delta and subsequently the whole of the Izon Ebe. The foundation of the Arogbo Ebe is clearly pre-10th century.
TUOMO EBE: The ancestors of the Tuomo (Tuama) were part of the same migration group that left Gbaran town at the same time as the Gbaranmatu, and Arogbo. They accompanied the Arogbo on their journey, before settling at Ukpe. From Ukpe some ancestors migrated up the Forcados river to the Patani area and founded a settlement near the Erowha (an aboriginal Edo people). Later on due to the slave raiding activities of the Okumbiri Mein, among other circumstances, they were forced to flee the area. They and a section of the Erowha community migrated and settled at the present site of Effurun (Efferun or Ephron) (later on Efferun was to become Edo speaking i.e. Urhobo speaking). The later ancestors of the Tuomo first lived at Effurun (upper Warri area, at this time the Effurun were still Izon speaking) but later moved to Aboh. They left Aboh due to the activities of slave dealers, and went and lived at the site of the Tarakiri west village of Isampou, before finally settling at the present site of Tuomo town, which was then called Toru Aghoro because ancestors from Okun-Aghoro (Aghoro by the sea) had founded it (Okun-sea in old Izon). Later on ancestors arriving from the Patani section of Kabowi Ebe settled with them collectively giving birth to Tuomo Ebe.
Tuomo got its name from Tu, who was one of the ancestors who left Aboh. His son Osuku founded Tuomo i.e. Tuama. Some of their other towns include Torugbene, Tugbene, and Tamiegbe. The migrations from Aboh and Isampou and the subsequent foundation of Tuomo Ebe is post 14th century. The ancestors that remained at Effurun became the Izon ancestors of the Effurun, Uvwei and Okpe section of Urhobo people..
KABO KUMBO AND GBARAN EBES: The ancestors of these three Ebes were part of a family of 18 that left Oproza (Oporo-aza or Oporo-aja) town situated along the Escravos coast, around the later part of the 15th century. About this time (1480) the Portuguese were visiting the delta coast trying to make contact with Benin city. Since they were in the habit of raiding for captives, and upsetting the peaceful existence of the coastal communities, they caused a troubled insecure situation in the area of the Forcados/Escravos. So a descendant of Oproza, simply named Oproza II, after the town, decided to migrate up north with his entire family (18 in number). These included his wife Mboara, son Okita, grandsons and granddaughters, wives of the grandson’s and so on. They migrated up the old course of the Forcados river till they came to the territory of the Erowha, which was inhabited by the Erowha and the Izon ancestors of the Effurun and Uvwei. Not feeling secure with the environment, they travelled back down the river and eventually settled at an area between the present site of Amatebe (Tebe- head, Ama-town, there it means headquarters) and Kolowari. At the time the Forcados branch of the river Niger was flowing through its old course ( what is now the small Kabobolou creek.).
Okita the son of Mboara and Oproza II had three prominent sons Kumbo, Kabo, and Gbaran, and a number of daughters. Okita the father died before the grandfather Oproza, and so on the death of their grandfather, Kabo, who was the eldest assumed the leadership of the settlement, which was the only settlement below the Erowha and Effurun, as the ancestors of the Tarakiri west had not migrated to the main Forcados river from their Igbedi creek residence.
Kabo, the story is told, being the eldest was believed to be closest to the departed ancestors. He was very powerful, a man of strong personality and domineering character. He was also cruel and very unpopular with his brothers and sisters. Before their grandfather had died he could be tolerated. But as soon as the man died, things took a turn for the worst and open confrontation erupted. Kabo being the senior, no marriage of his sisters or brother’s daughters could take place without his consent and blessing. It was also the duty of him to arrange the marriages of his younger relatives. If he had made a wise use of his responsibilities all would have been well , instead he abused his privileges. He was always in the habit of contracting marriages of his sisters without their knowledge. He also arranged the marriages of his younger brother’s daughters without their knowledge. He even went as far as to sell some of his brothers daughters into servitude and slavery. Kumbo and Gbaran found Kabo’s dealings with them to be very oppressive.
The above atmosphere led to the eventual break-up of the whole family. Gbaran left with his household and travelled down the Nun river and settled opposite the present site of Kaiama town. From here he founded a settlement which was named after his son Okoti, called Okotiama, From Okotiama other villages were founded by his descendants these are Ogboloma, Nedugo, Koroama, Obinagha, Agbia and Ibiaye, which later became Poloaku and Okolobiri.
Next, Kumbo decided to leave, but did not settle far off as he was very mystically attached to the first settlement. He left with his five sons and remaining daughters to settle at the site of which Amatebe now stands. The five sons of Kumbo were Angi the ancestor of Angiama, Agolo the ancestor of the Agoloma, Apele the ancestor of the Apelebiri, Agbedi the ancestor of the Sagbama and Tungba the ancestor of the Tungbabiri. After the death of Kumbo, and when the families had became quite large, the ancestors left the Kumbo settlement to found the towns of Angiama (Toru and Bolou) , Agoloma, Apelebiri (Toru and Bolou), Sagbama, and Tungbabiri. Those who stayed at Kumbo settlement made up the village of Amatebe.
One Ofoma or Ofomo who was of the Agolo and Angi lineage(he lived at the old site of Agoloma), left with a family group to the present area of Okparabe in southern Urhobo country. The reason for their leaving was of a quarrel with the Kabo. By this time the sections of Oproza had intermarried with each other. The marriage custom of that time was that children of small dowry marriage were the responsibility of the mothers parents and brothers (matrilineal descent). And so they had the responsibility of arranging marriages circumcision etc. for the daughters and sons. The Kabo went about changing this ancient custom, by insisting that they have the sole responsibility over the children born to them by Kumbo women. This did not go down well with certain sections of the Kumbo, particularly with Ofomo who was a priest at the time. A fight broke out causing Ofomo and family to migrate. They ended up in the Okparabe area, inter-married with Edo speaking groups and gave birth to the Okparabe section of Urhobo people. Ofomo subsequently became the first Pere or Ovie of the Okparabe, retaining his priestly title.
The Kabo remained at the settlement of the grandfather Oproza, under the leadership of first Obodangha, the son of Kabo, and then his son Eleme, where gradually they multiplied and migrated to found the various towns and villages of Elemebiri, Ekperiwari, Asamabiri, Torufani, Adagbabiri, Patani, Abari, Kolowari etc.
The original settlement founded by Oproza was situated in what is now the Kabobolou creek. This was formally the old course of the Forcados branch of the Niger, but was diverted by the Kabo and Kumbo for fear of being enslaved by European slave raiders when they received news from the seaside communities that the European slave ships where coming up river to enslave anybody they could lay their hands on. The formation of the Kabo, Kumbo and Gbaran is post 14th century i.e. late 15th century.
OLODIAMA EBE CENTRAL AND WEST: The Olodiama Ebe took their name from Igbedigbolo alias Olodi or Olode, who was an elder son of Ujo left in the Benin region of Ado. As soon as a settlement was established in the central delta, Olodi and family and others left the Benin region and moved to the Nun area of the central delta. Some dropped off on their way from Beni e.g. Ikoro, who founded the town of Ikoro near Benin city. At first all the ancestors lived at the same settlement which was the site of Oporoma (which was a settlement founded by proto-Ijos in antiquity). The children of Olodi later left to found their own settlement (Olodi-Ama). Olodiama was later abandoned and other settlements founded, these include Ikebiri (founded by Ike or Neiama the brother of Ikoro), Ondewari, Olugbobiri and Ikeingha. Later on Korokorosei was to be founded by ancestors from Kabo and descendants of Olodi. Some of the descendants of Olodi also went and founded Olodiama (Olodiamabiri) in Nembe, and Onyoma, also in Nembe.
The western Olodiama were as a result of migration of descendants of Olodi back to Ikoro founded by a son of Olodi when the family was emigrating from Ado (i.e. Benin). Pereziagha a descendant of Neiama or Ike, decided to pay a visit to Ikoro. On getting there he found out that it had been taken over by Efa (Edo) speaking people. He returned to the central delta and reported the matter to his relatives. Taking with them reinforcements, and together with his son Pereowi, Ogboinkoto, Atu of Ikebiri, Betidon and Kurokeaki, they subdued the Edo group and took back the village. This breech of the peace in the area was reported to the then King of Benin and Pereziagha was summoned to Benin The Oba of Benin invoking the ancestral traditions and the spirit of the ancestors settled with Pereziagha as a brother, and then they swore a peace accord, an Edo will not kill an Ijo and an Ijo will not kill an Edo.
The Olodiama were well established in the area since it is on record how Oba Orhogbua (1550-1578) on his way from a campaign in Lagos and Mahin, stopped at Ikoro to consult Egbesu and solicited the help of the Olodiama to put down a rebellion at Benin city.
The foundation of Ikoro is pre-14th century, but the establishment of the Olodiama as a clan is prior - 14th century onwards while that of Olodiama central is clearly pre-14th century.. Some of the towns founded by the western Olodiama include Ikusangha, Geleglegbene, Oboro and Inikorogha.
OPOROMA EBE: Oporoma Ebe took their name from Oporo a proto-Ijo ancestor of whom tradition has shrouded in mystery (it says he descended from the sky, therefore he was of divine origin and was a proto-Ijo). But since the Olodiama say that the ancestors of the Olodiama and Oporoma were brothers, we take it that Oporo was either a contemporary of Olodi, or that Olodi and family came to live in the settlement founded by Oporo. Oporo?s settlement became known as Oporo-ama, contracted to Oporoma. From this settlement descendants founded towns such as Angiama, Onyoma and Osokoma. Oporoma being the site of the original settlement of the Oporoma and Olodiama, the high priest of Boupere the ancestral deity of Oporoma, had to visit the shrine of Olodiama Egbesu at Ikebiri as part of his periodic visits of all Oporoma settlements. This was due to the fact that the ancestors of the Olodiama had brought Olodiama Egbesu from its original home in Oporoma. From Oporoma some ancestors left and settled upland among Efa speaking people to form the Ugbe (Ukpe) section of Urhobo people. From Onyoma ancestors left and founded Onyoma or Onyomabiri, one of the original towns that became the Nembe city state. The foundation of Oporoma Ebe is clearly pre-14th century, far back in antiquity.
OPEREMO EBE: The founding ancestors of the Operemo came from Oporoma. Led by one Ekere (Akere), they had fled the town of Oporoma due to their being defeated in a bloody conflict with another section of the town (Angiama), who at that time were all living at Oporoma. They migrated and settled first at a place which they named Oru-Ekereama or Oru-Ekeremo. The dominant lineage settled at Amabilo, bringing with them a lodge of the shrine of Egbesu (now called Ekeremo Egbesu). From Oru-Ekeremo, descendants founded the towns of Ndoro and Ekeremo, while others moved on to settle in Ogbe Ijo. From Amabilo the present town of Ojobo was founded. Time of foundation about 14th century, i.e. Just before 1400 CE.
OGBE IZON (OGBO IJO or OGBE IJO) EBE: The proto ancestor of the Ogbe-Ijo was Oguru (alias Kala-Ogbo) an ancient ancestor who accompanied Ujo from Ife, but was left in the Forcados area with Gbaran and others. He gave the name to the whole riverine area of Warri, that was known to be Ogbo-Ujo (meaning land of Ujo). These first ancestors inhabited the riverine creeks of Warri province long before the migrations from Oporoma. They dug canals for fishing. With the advent of the Oporoma migrations, they fused with the Oporomas, as both were ancestral Ijo people. The subsequent ancestors of the Ogbe Izon were part of the same migration that founded the Operemo capital of Ekeremo. The leader of the migration was one Ewein, who along with his family had come from Ekeremo while his father Ipoli had come from Oporoma. These ancestors first settled at the Warri waterside area on what was to become known as Warri township. Ewein named the settlement Ogbo-Ijo in line with the general name of the area. It was also known as Oru-selemo or Iselema on account of the manufacture of camwood coral (Isele in Izon), later it was to become known as Warri, modification of the Ijo word “Wari? or “Ware?, meaning “house? or “home?. Ewein’s settlement at Warri was of six lineage?s or quarters (Idumu), being Arutiengha, Perebiri, Ikiyanbiri, Oturubiri, Lutebi and Tamubiri. Eweins son known as Okorotimi, founded a settlement named after him, this was Okorotimi village, otherwise modified to Okorotumu or Okotumu quarters (later it became a part of Ode-Itsekiri). Eweins new settlement was later joined by immigrants from the western delta town of Oboro in Seimbiri Ebe.

It was the family of Ewein who were at Warri when prince Ginuwa came from Benin city via Amatu, to settle at Okorotimi village otherwise known as Ode Itsekiri four miles from Eweins village of Oru-Iselema otherwise known as Warri.
Oba Oluwa (Olua) the thirteenth Oba of Benin, the son of Ewuare and descendant of Ewedo, was installed in about 1473 AD, at which point a power struggle broke out. Those that lost out in the power struggle, along with others, became the ancestors of the Itsekiri people who settled in the western Niger Delta from about 1480. At this time the Itsekiri were still known by their ancestral name of Iwere.
Ginuwa (Oginua) the son or brother to Oba Oluwa left Benin City due to the power struggle in which he lost. Subsequently he was condemned to death by being offered as a sacrifice to the sea spirits by Oba Oluwa (or Oba Ozulua). He and his associates were taken to a place called Oghareki, where they were left to die, but later they escaped into the western delta swamps with the help of benevolent Ijos who chanced upon their predicament. On reaching the Warri region, which at the time was known as Ogbo-Ijo, and being hotly pursued by Benin soldiers, they were helped by the same local Ijos who ferried them to one of their towns called Amatu (of the Iduwini Ijo in present day Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State).
Ginuwa and his people, having escaped the condemnation to sacrifice in the late 15th century (1480) first made their way with the help of local Ogbo-Ijaws, to Amatu of the Iduwini Clan. The ruler or Pere of Iduwini (or Ogulagha) at the time was Pere Ogirijoka. Pere Ogirijoka gave some “bad bush? land or “Seikiri? in Ijaw language, to Ginuwa and entourage, to settle on and this is the origin of the name “Itsekiri?, applied to them by the local Amatu Ijaws, who referred to them as “Seikiri-Otu? i.e. “Seikiri People?. It was here that Ginuwa married an Ijaw lady named DERUMO. Derumo or Derimo, was the daughter of Pere Ogirijoka, and he gave her in marriage to Ginuwa, because he took a liking to him. They stayed here for up to 30 years then moved on account of the mysterious death of Derumo the wife of Ginuwa. Now Derumo was murdered in mysterious circumstances while quarrelling with her husband Ginuwa. The Ijaw account maintains that he used her as a sacrifice substitute in his stead. The Ogulagha and Iduwini, on hearing the incident resolved to punish Ginuwa and his people. But before they could carry out a punitive ambush, Ginuwa was advised by one of his Ijaw friends to decieve his Ijaw hosts by claiming that her death was an accident and a grief to all his people. Having done this he was advised to relocate. From Amatu, Ginuwa relocated to Ijala, and it was at that place that he died and was buried (1473-1530?).
On the death of Ginuwa, his son by his late wife Derumo, Ijijen by name, led a migration to Okorotimi-ama (Okorotimi?s town), later modified to Okorotumu or Okotum. At the time Okorotimi the son of Ewein decided to welcome Ijijen the son of the Ijaw princess Derumo. As a respect for royalty, he proceeded to give him land to settle on near his own settlement. Other Ijaw connections include the marriage of Olu-Erejuwa to a daughter or descendant of Okorotimi named Ogiere. It was through such intermarriages that the people of Ginuwa binded themselves by family ties, through which they could permanently settle in the area. These two settlements later fused in about 1800 AD to become Ode-Itsekiri the capital of the small Itsekiri kingdom. Other Ijaws came from Gulani or Ogulagha, namely Ibirikimo, Otu-Ekine, Ike and followers from Abala and settled at a site which is the present Orugbo, about two miles off Ode Itsekiri. Likewise there were other settlements within that area, not founded by Ginuwa?s entourage or Ijaws, but by proto-Yoruba speaking immigrants from Akure area, and Ijebu, which include Gborodo, Ureju and Omadina and Urejusisi, said to have emigrated from the Lenuwa lineage of Ode in Ijebu Ode waterside. They all fused with the Ginuwa lineage?s and entourage (some were from Igala region, via Benin) to produce the present day Itsekiri ethnic group.
As soon as Ijijen was settled at Okorotumu, he proceeded to carve out a kingdom for himself, stressing that he was the descendant of royalty (on both sides!). The descendants of Okorotimi who refused to submit to his rules, eventually left Ode-Itsekiri to settle in other parts of Ogbo-Ijo. Also the descendants of Ginuwa and the other immigrants, intermarried with the pre-existing Ogbo-Ijos, many who had founded temporary fishing settlements. Some of these Ijaws left their settlements, never to return. In the Itsekiri traditions these ancestral proto-Ijos are referred to as ?UMALE? or “UMALE OKUN?, i.e. “SPIRITS of the SEA?, to mask their true identity.
We note that Orugbo was founded by “umale?. We know that Orugbo was founded by Ijaw from Ogulagha (Gulani). The “umale? are non other than a coded reference to the original ancestral Ijaws or proto-Ijos who were living in the region before the advent of Ginuwa. These Ijos were the descendants of Kala-Ogbo.
Ode-Itsekiri (a name that derived from ODE, the Ijebu town, and SEIKIRI, the Ijo name for the Iwere immigrants) became the capital of the small Itsekiri kingdom that expanded to include other settlements such as Gborodo, Ureju, Omadina and Urejusisi, founded by emigrants from Ijebu-Ode waterside and others from Igala.
For the most part the Ginuwa group tried to impose their will on the pre-existing Ijaws, causing many of them to migrate into other areas of Ijaw. But not all did, some of them intermarried with the Ginuwa group, while others stayed on in their own towns and villages. These are the present day Ogbe-Ijaws of Warri, and Isaba Ijaw clan.
There is confusion as to how the name of Warri came about. First there is the Itsekiri claim that “Warri?, derived from “Iwere?, one of their ancestral names, and secondly we have the claim by the Ogbe-Ijaws that it derived from “Wari?, the Ijaw term for house. What ever the case may be, there was always a distinction between Ode-Itsekiri (so called big Warri) and Iselema (Warri township or modern Warri), which has been accurately recorded in the colonial records. For accurate purposes, the Portuguese references to “the kingdom of Ouwerri?, is in reality a reference to Ode-Itsekiri and not modern day Warri township.
In all the Portuguese records the term “Warri is not mentioned, what we have are the names “Ouwerre?, “Ouwerri?, “Awerri?, and “Oery? (Hodgkin T, Nigerian Perspectives-An Historical Anthology, 1960, pp170, 177, 187). It is this term that has been misinterpreted to mean Warri, whereas its original meaning was Iwere, while Ode-Itsekiri was the capital of the kingdom of Iwere, and not modern day Warri township.
Who arrived in the Warri region first? The Itsekiris claim that they arrived first, but all accurate historical documentation affirms that it was the Ijaws who were the first to settle in the Warri region. In fact it was the Ijaws who helped the ancestors of the present day Itsekiri, move from the mainland into the delta creeks, before they learnt how to use water-crafts.
During the Colonial period the British came to settle at Warri (not Ode Itsekiri or big Warri) and expanded the town;
“…The traditional capital of the Itsekiri now called Ode-Itsekiri or Big Warri is four miles from the modern town of Warri, on an Island within the creeks. British traders and consular officials built their own settlements on the landward edge of the swamps and this has grown to embrace pre-existing Itsekiri, Urhobo and Ijoh settlements to comprise modern Warri…”

The Formation of Modern Warri: Iselema or Ogbe-Ijo (old Warri township) was Ijaw from the very beginning. The European records confirm this. Later on Warri township was expanded by the British to encompass the Urhobos of Agbassa and Okere and Itsekiri settlements of Okere Itsekiri, Ajamogha and Ekurede. These three areas were formerly distinct communities, before the formation of modern Warri. This is how Warri came about. The British made life very difficult for the Ogbe-Ijo forcing them to carry the mail and the Consul in a Hammock, to Sapele and other places in the interior. The Ogbe also found the township regulations of the British rather harsh. Coupled with deceitfulness on the part of the British doing business with local Itsekiri lords, many of the Ogbe-Ijos were forced to move out of Warri township, to settle in pre-existing villages or new ones at their present sites within the creeks. Others remained at Warri. The foundation of the Ogbe-Ijo Ebe is clearly pre 14th century times, due to the ancient Ijo ancestors who were living in the area since remote times.

KOLOKUMA EBE: The Kolokuma Ebe took their name from Kala-Okun, one of the sons of Ujo at Igbedi creek. Kala-Okun who was nicknamed Aluku-Dogo (from the Ooyelagbo term Oluku), left his father’s town in Igbedi creek after all attempts at reconstituting it into a viable polity failed after unsuccessful attempts at recovering important ancestral symbols of office and unifying the whole Nun river down to the sea, he then settled within the vicinity of Ujo’s settlement. Ancestral tradition tells it thus;
“?Tarakiri, Opu-Okun and Kala-Okun with a few other brothers were the last to leave the settlement founded by Ujo. They became so linked that they alone could tell that they were children of one father who was known to them as Indo as stated in a previous chapter. Opu-Okun and Kala-Okun who were born of the same mother named Yeitariere became more attached than others. However, after some time, the best three brothers parted. Tarakiri left for a certain creek in Western Ijo, Opu-Okun moved afield and settled at a creek known as Ofonitoru but Kala-Okun remained and settled at their father?s settlement of Agadagbabou..?KOLOKUMA- Kola-Okun settled within the vicinity of Ujo?s settlement and the settlement which Kala-Okun founded became known as Kala-Okun-ama which was corrupted to Kolokuma. Kala-Okun desired to rebuild their father?s lost city, and with that objective in view he sent out expeditionary forces?.?

The settlement that Kala-Okun founded with his household became known as Kala-Okun-Ama, later shortened and corrupted to Kolokuma. Kala-Okun collected his children, and with other settlers divided them into groups or family lineage?s which he called DANI). The various lineage groups that resulted from this organisation were; Burudani, Abadani, Isedani, Oloudani, Ofodani, Egbebiridani, Opoidani, Osumadani, and Egbedani.
The Kolokuma were for a long time highly unified until the death of a young priestess of Okpotu by drowning. The circumstances of her death was suspicious, there were accusations and counter accusations that eventually led to disunity and strife which led to the dispersal of the Kolokumas from their fathers settlement and the foundation of more towns and villages such as Kaiama, Odi, Sabagriea, Okoloba etc. Some of the descendants of Kala-Okun moved back into Igbedi creek to found settlements e g Igbedi. The Ikolos were the first to leave Kala-Okun’s settlement and settle in that part of the Nun river now known as Kolokuma Toru.
As we mentioned earlier the Egbebiridani one of the lost houses of Kolokuma, their being lost was either being victims of a disaster (e g slave raid) or being absorbed by other lineage?s or both. A large section of the Isedani lineage which had founded Okoloba migrated to the coasts and founded Ibeni (Beni) i.e. Ibani or Bonny. Some later day settlers from Odiama in Nembe area, left the Kolokumas and founded Umuoru (i.e. UMU-ORU or children of Oru called by that name by the local Ibos). Due to inter-marriage with the Ibo, this has become a largely Ibo speaking town. The foundation of Kolokuma Ebe is clearly pre-14th century.
IBANI (BONNY) EBE: The Ibani took their name from Kala-Beni (Ibeni) corrupted to Ibani. The founding ancestors of the Ibani (Ibeni or Beni the original name) came from the central delta Ebe of Kolokuma, specifically the Isedani lineage of Kolokuma who had founded Okoloba. The traditions say that they left Kolokuma because of civil conflict. Although the exact time of the conflict is unknown, we can place the movement out of Kolokuma between 12th and 15th century CE (AD). The leaders of the migration were Opuamakuba, his brother Kala-Beni (Alagbariye or Alagba-ari-gha) and Asikunuma alias Okpara Asimini. Leading the families northwards, they first settled in the now Ndoki territory where they encamped for some time (prince Edimini the great grandson of Opuamakuba was born here). They moved from the Ndoki area, but left behind some of their people, these inter-married with the southern Ibo and gave birth to the Ndoki people founding among others villages such as Okolomakiri, Ayama, Osobie and Oruama or Azuogu. The ancestors then settled in the now Ogoni area and encamped at a site where Opuoko town now stands (thus the name Opu-Oko. from that place a village called Kala-Oko was founded).

Kala-Beni being a hunter went hunting one day and came across the site of Bonny town where he saw many birds. He returned to report to Opuamakuba that there was good land to settle on further south. Opuamakuba then made the decision to leave the main land, first to Orubiri (Orupiri) where Opuamakuba died. Kala-Beni then lead the group to the site of Bonny town which they named Okoloama, while back in the central delta their relatives called it Okoloba (after the Okoloba which they came from). Kala-Beni became the founder, and the whole group were subsequently called the people of Ibeni (Beni) which was corrupted to Ibani. Kala-Beni also established a shrine dedicated to Opuamakuba which he called Kala-Ikuba. The first crowned ruler was one Asimini, followed by a succession of rulers called Amayanabo (Amananabo in the western delta).
The City State, which was to become known as Grand Bonny, was made up of the following towns and villages. Okoloma (Bonny town), Finima, Ayama (old settlement of the Andoni), Kalaibiama, Abalamabie, Ayambo, Asaramatoru, (old Asarama of the Andoni), Epelematubu, Oboma, Kuruma, Epelema, Oloma, Ayamina and lastly Orubiri (i.e. Orupiri the first settlement). In 1867-70 a civil war at Bonny resulted in the foundation of Opobo. Led by one Jaja of the house of Opubo they migrated and Jaja became their king.

OPUKUMA EBE: The Opukuma Ebe took their name from Opu-Okun one of the sons of Ujo, and elder brother to Kala-Okun by the same mother named Yeitari-ere. Opu-Okun left Agadagba-Bou ahead of Kala-Okun and settled first at Ofonitoru before founding the head village of Opukuma or Opu-Okun-Ama, which is Okowari, named after his son Oko. The settlement grew into a large village and were later joined by immigrants from other sections of Ijo. These with the Opukuma founded the lineage?s of Akaranbiri, Gbaranbiri and Oyubo. They constitute Tamu Opukuma. Most of the immigrants had come from Ikibiri, Beni (Oyakiri), Gbaran, and Ogobiri. Later on men from Ogbolomabiri in Nembe came to settle at Okowari bringing with them the lodge of Egbesu, now called Opukuma Egbesu. Opukuma town was struck by a national disaster causing the town to be severely depopulated (most probably they were victims of a slave raid). As an Ebe the Opukuma is pre-14th century.
TARAKIRI EBE (WEST): The western Tarakiri took their name from Tara, one of the younger sons of Ujo at Igbedi creek, His mother was said to have been an Efa speaking maiden named. He was also one of the last to leave the Agadagba-bou site. Eventually when Tara left the site with his household, he settled within the vicinity and founded a settlement which was later called Tara-kiri (the land of Tara). This settlement was the site where the town of Amatolo now stands. Tara left in the care of Kala-Okun, one of his son?s named Ayama, whose descendants migrated to the Andoni and Obiama area and gave birth to the Andoni and Tarakiri central Ebes.
At Tarakiri settlement during the course of time, a number of lineage?s all tracing descent from Tara came into being, these include; Ekiobiri (ancestors of sections of Tarakiri), Awanran (ancestor of Ebido or Ebito, the founder of Ebedebiri) Kolo (ancestor of Kolobiri), Aranma (ancestor of Aranmabiri, Agberi, Ogelle, Angala the ancestor of Angalabiri) and Egbemo (ancestor of sections of Tarakiri).
Around about 1500 a large number of the Ijos Benin city left Benin because of the oppressive ways of the then King (Oba Esigie), who was fighting a civil war with Prince Aruaran (in the Izon traditions Oru-Ayan)) He was also in the habit of confiscating private land, levying on the people heavy tolls and generally making life insecure. These Ijos moved first to Aboh, then into the Igbedi creek area, where they settled among the ancestors of the Tarakiri. A large part of that migration was led by Mein the ancestor of the Mein Ebe who founded Ogobiri in the same area. Not to long after that migration and the foundation of Ogobiri, the Tarakiri came into conflict with the Mein at Ogobiri. These events led to the Tarakiri abandoning their village in the Sagbama/Igbedi creek and fleeing to the Forcados branch of the Niger river.
Because of the conflict they migrated to the western delta. On the site of Oru-assa opposite present day Toru-Orua they settled. It was from here that the various western Tarakiri towns and villages were founded, these include Orua (Toru and Bolou), Ebedebiri, Angalabiri, Sampou, Gbemangalabiri, and Ayamasa. The Agberi’s first settled at a site opposite Kpakiama, from whence they were driven by the Kpakiama Mein. They first fled to Odi in Kolokuma from there to Odoni in Oyakiri. The ancestors of the Odoni accepted them in the area and eventually the Agberi’s settled on virgin land within the vicinity and founded Agbere town.
The Ogelle section of Tarakiri was founded by a daughter (female descendant) of Tarakiri and a son of one of the Ogisos of Benin who had come with his family to settle at Tarakiri settlement in the Igbedi creek area. Due to eventual inter-marriage, they ended up becoming a part of Tarakiri village. Eventually this family of Ogiso descendants called Orua (Orowha in Urhobo traditions) left with most of their family, but the daughter of Tarakiri village side, refused to follow them to their new settlement in present day Urhoboland. They settled near the Ughelli area of Urhoboland. When the Tarakiris were at Oru-assa, the Ogelle section left and settled with their relatives in Urhoboland founding the town of Ughelli (Ogbo-Ogelle or land Ogelle to the Izon).It was here that they lost their Izon language and culture due to the intermarriage and absorption with Edo speaking people. It is the ancestral connection with the Ogisos of the first Benin kingdom, that accounts for the statement made by Benin historians that Igodo the first Ogiso of Benin is the father (i.e. ancestor) of the Ovie of Ughelli. From Ughelli some of the people of Ogelle Tarakiri made their way back to the riverside and founded the towns Uduophori (Por Ogelle or waterside Ogelle to the Izon), Ofoni, Odorubuo. It is this connection with the Tarakiri that makes the Ughelli section of Urhobo people say in their general meetings that we are Ughelli Tarakiri. The Tarakiri Ebe is pre-14th century, but their establishment in the western delta is post 14th century i.e. 16th/17th century.

TARAKIRI CENTRAL, BOMA, OGBOIN, EKPETIAMA AND SEIMBIRI EBES: The ancestors of these Ebes derived from the same ancient settlement remembered in ancestral tradition as Isoma-bou, Opuan-bou or Orubiribua-bou, founded by Proto-Ijos. It was founded due to an initial movement from Igbedi creek by various ancestors including Opu-Ogbo who had taken with him some important symbols of office acquired from his father Ujo. The settlement that these ancestors founded was divided into three sections. Later on they were joined by immigrants from Tarakiri of Kolokuma (i.e. from Ayama son of Tara) and from Benin during the time of Oba Ewuare (1450 AD).
There were two major migrations from this region, one for no apparent reason other than to seek a new home, and the other due to a slave raid by raiders from the Tarakiri central ! (we will explain) which led to the dispersal and abandoning of that ancient site.
TARAKIRI CENTRAL: The Tarakiri central took their name from Tara the son of Ujo, who was one of their ancient ancestors, through Ayama his son whom he left in the care of Kala-Okun.(their other name is Ayama). During the separation at Obiama, the Tarakiri section also went their way, back into the direction they had come. Some went to the Ogbia area; Odobio and Sangatama, while the others founded first Obololi or Obelele which being the senior, had the privilege of the Goddess Ayama-Zibaarau or Ayama Ziba. Later on Ayama, Oweikorogha, Ogeibiri, Sangama and Odobolo were founded. The foundation of Tarakiri central or Ayama Ebe is post 14th century.
BOMA EBE: The Boma Ebe took their name from Boma the son of Obi. Obi or Ibi with his family had migrated along with some of the descendants of Ayama the son of Tara from the Ikibiri area of Isoma-bou to the old camp of Ujo when they (i.e. Ujo and exploration team) were coming up the Nun river. He settled at this camp and it became known as Obiama or Ibiama. Others also migrated with him including some of the ancestors of the Ogboin. Obiama was marked out into a number of quarters of which five were from the Obi lineage, these include Obi-Idumu, Ogein-Idumu, Okpo-Idumu, Ele-Idumu and Ike-Idumu.
During the time of the third ruler or Amananabo, who was titled Opu-Ogulaya), there was internal conflict leading to the separation of certain sections of the town. These include ancestors of the Boma who eventually founded twelve settlements including Ekowe founded by Ekea, Peremabiri etc. Ekowe was also divided into wards such as Ikitibobiri, Ogbobiri, Tamukunu etc. Ancestors also left Obiama to found Ogboin Ebe. The foundation of Boma is post 14th century.
OGBOIN (OGBEIN) EBE: The first ancestors of the Ogboin Ebe where part of the Ijos of Benin city. Because of the authoritarian rule of Oba Ewuare (1440-1472 AD), four brothers, who were Beni-Ijo, left Benin city during a mass exodus. They first made their way to Idah capital of the Igala kingdom before travelling down the Niger into the delta, where they settled at Isomabou. One of the brothers parted at the confluence of the Nun and Forcados branches and made his way down the Forcados river. He eventually settled in Urhobo land and became an ancestor of the Urghwerun section of Urhobo people. The other three settled at Isoma-bou before making their way to Obiama, where they stayed on. It was from the Obiama dispersal centre that ancestors left and eventually founded the Ogboin towns of Amassoma, Amatolo, Otuan and Ogbono. The common ancestor was named as Ogboin, while his descendants were Oboro, who founded Amassoma, (ama-suma,or swampy town), Otuan and Ogbono founded towns named after them, At Amassoma Amatolowi founded Amatolo, while the three wards of Amassoma were founded by Alumu, Okpotu, and Ogoni, son of Oboro, son of Ogboin. Time of formation post 14th century
EKPETIAMA EBE: The ancestor who gave the Ekpetiama their name was one Ekpeti who derived from the Isoma-bou area (Opuan-bou). From this Isoma-bou area the ancestors founded a settlement which was named Ekpetiama, within the same vicinity. From this settlement descendants founded the towns of Tombia, Bumodi Agudama, Akabiri and Gbarantoru. From Tombia ancestors left to found another Tombia in the Kalabari area, and Swali in the Epie Atissa area, while some went and settled in Assay and Okini in Umuoru, all places in the Isoko and Aboh areas. The migration of the ancestors of the Ekpetiama was well before the sacking of the Isoma-bou area, their ancestral home. It was also pre-14th century as the traditions of Ibani maintain that Tombia was founded before their arrival. Therefore Ekpetiama Ebe is pre-14th century.
SEIMBIRI EBE: The ancestors of the Seimbiri also came from the same ancient town which was the Isoma-bou. A raid on the ancient settlement by the Tarakiri of Oweikorogha and other participants all of whom had obtained firearms from the Kalabari and Nembe, (everything points to a slave raid, since the Tarakiri state a vague reason that one of their people was killed by the Isomabou community). The raid was devastating and many of the surviving citizens dispersed to other areas of Izon. The eldest man of the community with his family were hid in a pit, his name was also Ogbo. Many of the survivors moved into the Ekpetiama area and founded the town of Ikibiri. They are the remnants of Ogbo (i.e. Ogbo the son of Ujo). Other ancestors who descended from Oromo, Temezibai and Seimbiri, all offspring?s of Ogbo I and migrants from Benin City Izon (1500), moved to the western Delta and founded the communities of Oboro, Okpokunu, and Inikorogha. Some went east and became part ancestors of the Okrika or Wakirikeni and Epie-Atissa. Others went north to Akiri in Aboh, and some to Opukuma (i.e. Akaranbiri) and lastly some stayed briefly with the Mein, before moving into the Obotebe area. One of the main principal ancestors, are the founders of Oboro led by Zado, the son of Pere Akan at Ogobiri, whose mother was from Isomabou-Ikibiri lineage. Other ancestors include Peremodenghan who founded Enekorogha (Inikorogha), Deinbunughan, who helped establish Oboro, Alei who founded Aleibiri, Asonde who migrated westwards and founded another Enekorogha along Beni (Benin) River, Die who founded Diebiri (Ogbe Izon in Warri). Temezibai the ancestor of Okpokunu was the son of Aforo, who was of the Isomabou-Ikibiri lineage. The foundation of the Seimbiri in the western delta is post-14th century.
OBOTEBE EBE: The founding ancestors of the Obotebe (known collectively under the personification of their ancestor Onido) were part of the Ijos of Benin City, and are also descended from Olodiama at Ikebiri. They along with the ancestors of the Mein, Oyakiri (Beni) and others (they were absorbed by the Tarakiri, Kolokuma and Opukuma Ebes and Isomabou community) left Benin because of the incessant wars there.(this was the time of civil war between Oba Esigie and Prince Oru-Ayan 1500).
These ancestors first migrated to Aboh, where they settled. Orumo or Orumo’s father died at Aboh, while Orumo moved out of Aboh and migrated into the central delta area of Igbedi creek, while some went to the river Nun district of Isomabou. Oro or Orumo was the father of Obotebe, while Obotebe was the father of Ogini. The man Obotebe lived at the Ikebiri area of Olodiama, but had to leave the place for various reasons. Him and his family then migrated back up the river to the Aboh town of Onya, while one of his descendants and his household left Onya to Ibeni (Beni or Oyakiri Ebe). From Ibeni they moved to the western delta and became the ancestors of the Obotebe Ebe. Because of conflict with the western Mein and Itsekiri ’slave’ raiding gangs, who raided the Obotebe for captives and sold them to European slave traders, most of the Obotebe dispersed, while some went to Warri area as refugees of the Ogbe Izon, others stayed behind and founded settlements which became the Obotebe Ebe. The foundation of Obotebe is clearly post-14th century (i.e. 1500 upwards).

OYAKIRI OR BENI EBE: The ancestors of the Beni or Oyakiri also came from Benin City (they were Beni-Ijo), during the time of civil war between Oba Esigie and Prince Oru-Ayan). Again like the Obotebe traditions, the ancestor Orumo who lived originally at Aboh, moved into the central delta and became the founding ancestor of Beni Ebe. Their alternative name Oyakiri was from Orumo’s son Oya whom they descended from. The ancestors first founded Toru-Ibeni, later ancestors moving into the Kunu creek and founding Ayama-Beni. (i.e. New-Town of Beni) It was from Ayama-Beni that the other settlements of Beni Ebe were founded. i.e. Adagbabiri and Odoni. Foundation time post-14th century i.e. 1500 upwards.

BASAN, TUNGBO, FURUPAGHA EBE’s: The founding ancestors of the Basan came from a combination of migrations, i.e. from up stream Nupe, Oporoma, Oyakiri, Iselema (Warri) and from the Apoi and Arogbo of the western delta. The ancestors also came from the Arogbo via Oru-Furupa in the central delta area of Apoi central. The Ezetu came from Oporoma, while the founders of Koloama came from Oyakiri. Some of the Iselema became part founders of Ukubie, while the ancestors of the Ekeni came from the ancient town of Ke (Keni). These were the founders of Azuzuama, Lubia and Akparatubo. Since other Izon refer to them as Tobu Otu (i.e. ancient people) there must have been other proto-Ijos living in the area at a very early date, i.e. pre-14th century.
The Basan may have taken their name from a group of immigrants from the Nupe Kingdom who were part founders of the above communities. These had come from the remnants of the Beni clan of Nupe which had dispersed. A section called the Basan (Basa), left during the first collapse (1300-1600 AD) and moved into the delta. It is clear that the Basa situated in Oru (i.e. Izon) Niger Delta are no other than the Basan Ebe. It would make sense that ancestors fled Nupe due to the collapse of the first Nupe kingdom and Fulani Islamic invasion, to the Niger Delta, when it is understood that the Izon of the Niger delta have close ancestral links with the old Nupe kingdom, at one time speaking the same language (Beni clan). Also the Kru connection is that the Kru also came from the Proto-Ijos of the Niger Delta. Comparing the names of villages of the Basa of the Nupe area, such as AMARAN and AMAGEDDE, they are definitely related to Izon towns. (we can also compare the Amaran to an ancient town in Upper Egypt also called Amara (or Amaran). The above is in accordance with ancestral traditions that derive the ancestors from Nile valley through Ile-Ife, Nupe, Benin and finally the Niger Delta.
The founding ancestors of the Tungbo came from the Isedani lineage of Kolokuma via Ogbia, i.e. their founding ancestors descended from Otu-Okpotu (i.e. House of Okpotu) in Ogbia, while the founders of Otu-Okpotu hailed from the Isedani lineage of Kolokuma. The founding ancestors of the Furupagha came from the central delta Ebe of Basan. The town called Furupa in that area was the mother settlement. The ancestors first settlement in the western delta was Ologbo. from Ologbo they moved to Ofiniama, the mother settlement of the Egbema, then to Ukomu of the western Apoi. Led by one Dauyoumo they finally settled and founded Zide. Because of the activities of slave raiders from Benin and southern portion of western Izon, their descendants had to spread out to become the present Furupagha Ebe. The arrival of the ancestors of the Furupagha in that area was a bit later than the Olodiama, Arogbo and Apoi, so it was post-14th century.
OGULAGHA (GULANI) EBE: The ancestors of the Ogulagha were part of the exploration team such as Oguru (alias Kala-Ogbo), the ancestor of the Iduwini, and Kuru, the ancestor of the Krus of Liberia, that was left to guard the mouth of the Forcados Escravos estuaries, with Gbaran in charge. The Ogulagha took their name from Ogula, who with his wife Ereara settled in that part of the delta. In ancestral tradition it is told thus;
“?OGULA-The group of Ijos inhabiting Forcados and the suburbs are known as Ogula. They are the descendants of Ogula, the valiant son of Ujo who was placed in charge of Forcados land when Ujo left that area for the Eastern region. They are the aborigines of Forcados land and their clan is known as Ogula Clan??
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Their first settlement was at Okibo which is now Idumu-Kpamu. Here they had a number of children including Sabagoni, Ikiriabo, Orugboabala (i.e. Abala) and Akiri. While most of their descendants settled in the area, some of the descendants of Orugboabala migrated into the Warri area and founded the village of Orugbo, which is now a part of Itsekiri.
As an Ebe the Ogulagha were clearly established in that area at a very early stage i.e. pre-14 century.
IDUWINI EBE: The founding ancestors of the Iduwini Ebe were also part of the team headed by Gbaran in the Forcados estuary region. The founding ancestor is said to be one Oguru (alias Kala-Ogbo), he and other proto-Ijos (Tobu Otu) founded the ancestral settlement of Amatu. Later on the Iduwini took their name from Iduwi (Idu), one of the sons of Igodo, younger brother to Ujo, and the first Ogiso of Beni (Ado). The descendants of Iduwi first lived at the quarters known as Aghoro or Ughoro (Ughonron in Benin traditions), near the royal palace of the Ogisos. In Benin tradition they are referred to as the “worshippers of the departed spirits of the Ogisos?. When the first kingdom came to an end with the flight of Ogiso Kaladiran into the delta to found the town of Igodo, named after his ancestor Igodo, the Iduwi?s also migrated and settled with their relatives at Amatu . Together with the descendants of Oguru and others, they founded the sub towns and villages of, Okun-Aghoro (i.e. Aghoro by the sea) otherwise known as Eghoro-Ujo by the Itsekiri, Letugbene, Odimodi, Oborotu (Eburutu or Burutu or Ofougbene i.e. to say Ofougbene was the orginal name, but became Burutu after recieving the Eburu immigrants known locally as Eburutu), Ogbotobu, Bilabiri, Agge, Ogbeintu, Amazo, and Azagbene.
The Iduwini were also called Tobu Otu (i.e. ancient people) by other Izon who migrated to the western delta later on, because of the ancient settlement of proto-Ijos in that area, who may have been the ancestors of the Kou, e.g. Ogbotobu (land of Tobu). The mother settlement of the Iduwini was Amatu meaning “the origin of towns” , and it was from that town that most of the other towns sprung. The Itsekiri ancestors notably Prince Ginuwa settled here for some time before moving to the Warri area. Others who also came to settle briefly with the Iduwini and Ogulagha were the Efiks (Eburutu).
When the Portuguese arrived in that region the Iduwini whom they refer to as “Jos” were the people they came into contact with. Apart from Amatu, the Iduwini founded other towns such as Okun Aghoro (i.e. Aghoro by the sea) or Eghoro-Ujo in the Itsekiri traditions, Orobiri and Kou to name a few. Foundation time pre-14th century.
BUSENI AND OKODIA EBES: The founding ancestors of these two Ebes derived from Kolokuma and Ado (Benin city during the time of Oba Ewuare 1450 AD, of his authoritarian rule). The Okodia have as their Ebetemesuo or clan ancestral deity, Aluku-Dogo, the same as the Kolokuma. Of course Aluku-Dogo was the nickname of Kala-Okun the ancestor of the Kolokuma. Some of the ancestors first settled at Nembe or Debe, but due to civil conflict, they moved to Orumo and Agbobiri, giving birth to those Ebe’s.
MEIN EBE: The Mein took their name from Mein who along with his wife Obolu were the ancestors of the Ebe. Mein was a noble man or High Chief (lord) of the Ijo section of Benin city, a descendant of OPU-BENI. Along with a large number of other Ijaw as part of his retinue, left Benin city because of the devastating civil war (the war between Oba Esigie and Prince Oru-Ayan about 1490-1500 AD). Of course Mein and his wife along with the others fled to Aboh, which at this time was still Izon speaking. Here Mein had a large number of children including Kor, Uge or Ogo, and Egbe who gave his name to Egbedani lineage of Kolokuma.
Mein, his family amongst others of his retinue left Aboh after having caught a maiden tampering with their ancestral deity symbolised by the elephants tusk. From Aboh they migrated down the Niger into the Igbedi creek region and established at Ogobiri (named after Ogo the son of Mein).
On the death of Mein, he was succeeded by Kor as the ruler of the new settlement, who was succeeded by his younger brother Ogo. During the time of Kor or Ogo the Mein came into conflict with the Tarakiri west of which we mentioned earlier. That conflict led to the Tarakiri being dispersed to the west in the river Forcados region. Not long after that conflict, the Mein had internal problems of their own. Some lineage groups went upstream and then down stream through the Forcados river while others went and settled with other Izon people. Descendants of Mein such as Kalanama (Kala-Nama) became the founders of Akugbene Mein, Ngbele became the founder of Ngbelebiri Mein, Ogbolu became the founder of Ogbodobiri and Ogbolubiri Mein. Those that remained in the Igbedi creek area lived at Ogobiri, and other Mein towns such as Okumbiri. Another part of the migrating lineage?s moved upland and with Edo speaking people and Ibos founded the Eghwu and Ugheivwen sections of Urhobo.

The list of the descendants of Mein and his party of settlers from Beni-Ijo include the following; Kalanama the father of Onorun, Dunobebe, Obrigho, Amapere and Akpanaka. Uge or Ogo (Ogobiri) the father of Perebo-Kalakebari (Kalabari), Egbe, Agu, Kabe, Okoloba, Oyobu, Eria and Ewu-Agu (became Urhobo speaking). Ngbile the father of Ogbiniki, Ogben, Ayagha, Gbale, Bodakeme, Ikaye and Jeyo, Gbolu (Ogbolu) the father of Agbodobiri, Gbekebo, Egodo (Igodo), Ogbaingbene, Okirika (Ofonibeingha) and Obubugbene. Aje or Aze the founder of Ajebiri or Azebiri. Ogida the father of Ogodo (Igodo or Godo) and Kolu the founders of Ogodobiri and Koluama. Akan the ancestor of the Kpakiama, Bomadi, Bilabiri, Okumbiri and Okumbiri settlements in Akassa ebe. Ikade or Ekade the ancestor of the Agoro, Esanma, Adobu, Agorogbene and Daganagbene. Ugbonagha (Obonagha) who had no family. Oghoro and Umolo the ancestors of the Ayama or Ovodopokpo, Okpare, Ovwor and Iwhreogoni in Urhobo. Perebo-Kalakebari which was shortened to Kalabari, the son of Uge or Ogo and grandson of Mein, left Ogobiri at an early stage with his wife named Mukoko from Itimi in Isokoland. He gave his name to the Kalabari subsection of Izon people. The foundation of the Mein Ebe is post-13th century i.e. 1400 upwards.
KALABARI, KULA, KE AND RELATED EBES: The Kalabari Ebe took their name from Kalabari or Perebo-Kalakebari the original name, the grandson of Mein. But before we go into Kalabari proper we will deal with the foundation of Keni (i.e. Ke) and other towns such as Kula, which are very ancient towns, but were incorporated into the Kalabari during its later city state phase.
Kula was founded by ancient proto-Ijos or Orus, and its foundation is shrouded in mystery. The names of the persons who actually established Kula have been lost to time, but as a coastal community it was founded along with others such as Bille as a community dedicated to the cultivation of the mask water spirits (metaphysical intelligences). As such the proto-Ijos who settled to found Kula and Bille, were a community of people dedicated to spiritual realisation culture. Kula was a town or large village by the time the Portuguese arrived along the coast in the 15th century.
The Beginnings of Ke: Keni traditions maintain that the town was founded in phases by seven ancestors of whom the first descended from the sky.(of course they did not descend from the sky but were ancestors dedicated to spiritual realisation sent to that area by Ujo himself or even Adumu-Ala alias Oduduwa as the tradition maintains).
The first phase was led by Keni-Ala or Keni Opu Ala (i.e. Keni the big Lord or Keni the Great Lord), priest of the Adumu lodge who gave his name to the town. Keni-Ala was said to have been sent by Adumu himself to that part of the delta, and that the lodge of the Adumu Spiritual initiation system was first based at Ke, before it spread to the other areas of the eastern delta. After giving the people suitable laws to live by, the priest Keni-Ala died, and was deified as the ancestor deity Keni Opu Ala. Following him came other priests such as Keni-Opusuo, Opu-Ogbu, Ombiyi, Opu-Jaja, Ogbokiye, Opupiri and Opusiri, making them the seven founding ancestors descending from the sky. It was during a period of time after the reign of Keni-Ala or Keni-Opusuo, that the monarchy was founded. As narrated by the town historian Madam Kala-Dokku, and published by Talbot in 1932, the first crowned ruler or Amayanabo of Ke was Omonie (i.e. Omoniye), who was followed by a succession of 61 rulers at the time of writing.
Talbot maintains that each was the son of his father. This is not true as a number of them were daughters, as the prefix BA, tells us e.g., Omoni Odu-ba (baw in the Talbot document) would mean “Omoni Odu’s daughter” ,likewise Anga-Sei Kineba would mean “Anga-Sei Kine’s daughter” , and Kala-Pokku Gbainba, would mean “Kala-Pokku Gbain’s daughter”. The title AMAYANABO means “owner of the town” and could be assumed by either male or females. If it was a strictly male institution we would have the title AMANANAWI, with the parallel female institution of the AMANANARA.
THE DEPOPULATION OF KENI: Keni became a very populous town along with Kula, well before the 16th century. According to tradition, Keni was depopulated in several ways. a. by making war on what tradition calls strange sea beings (probably European seafarers who came hunting for slave captives) , many people lost their lives or were carried away by the sea on that occasion. b. some died in a natural disaster of which a big silk cotton tree fell on them. c. some died of a serious pestilence, while others fled the disease to other areas of Izon, e.g. Ekeni in Koluama area, Abame in Okrika area, Okpoma in Nembe area, and Kalaibiama in Ibani area. Likewise other towns such as Kula and Bille were founded by ancient proto-Ijo ancestors who belonged to the Adumu Spiritual Initiation lodge.
KALABARI: The Kalabari tok their name from the ancestor PEREBO-KALAKEBARI, the grandson of MEIN, who left Ogobiri sometime in the 14th century AD. As stated earlier Kalabari the grandson of Mein married a woman from Itimi in Isokoland by name Mukoko. His family was not pleased with his choice of wife and accused her of witchcraft, going as far as plotting to kill her. When Kalabari found out about the plot, he left Ogobiri with his wife and fled to Okogba-Idu (Idumu). It was here that he came across a dead elephant and proceeded to extract the tusks. From the sale of the various products of the elephant, Kalabari became a wealthy individual and was the envy of the people of Okogba. Noting this envy Kalabari left with his family of wife and children and settled at a place called Obu-Amafa, where he founded a settlement which was known as Kalabari Polo (Pelei)
Perebo-Kalakebari died at this Kalabari-Polo. On the death of their father the whole family decided to leave Obu-Amafa, as the local Ikweres were not accommodating. Led by Ende the whole family eventually settled at a new place they called Iwo Kalabari Polo or “New Kalabari ward? (which the Europeans erroneously translated as New Calabar), At this new settlement nearby was Kengema founded by the ancient proto-Ijo ancestors of the Amabi-ame. Iwo Kalabari was soon joined by other settlers from Beni-Ijo, Andoni, and Ke who went there to trade.
Through the process of time, these settlers founded the following quarters (Idumu) (1) Ende-me, (2)Akialeme, (3)Aturua-me, (4)Kro-me, (5)Miene, (6)Igodo-me and (7)Amabia-me. Endeme hailed from Ogobiri and were part of the Mein migration from Benin. Igodome came from Benin and were the descendants of the first Ogiso Igodo, younger brother to Prince-Ujo.The Igodome & Ogiame migrated through Oporoza in Gbamaratu-Ijo, to the eastern delta. Ogisome (Ogiame) came from Benin, and were the family of the Ogisos or children of the Ogiso (Ogiame). Aki-Alame were the children of Beyegbolo, younger brother to Perebo-Kalakebari, migrated from Ogobiri-Mein, Iturume, Amabime and Bukome were likewise descendants of proto-Ijos. The Krome section was founded by one Opu-Koroye who had migrated from Andoni-Ijo.
It was during the time of Owerre Daba (i.e. 1550-1600) that Awome-Kala-Suo, a beautiful priestess of Zibara (Ziba) came to settle at Iwo Kalabari in the Krome (Kurome) section. Being the grand daughter of an Abo-Ijo woman named Oloma, and an Iselema chief, (her mother’s name was Awo, while her father who was not married to her mother, was a fisherman named Akwaowi). Soon after her arrival as a priestess of Zibara, she established herself as the Supreme ruler of the new community. After her death she was deified as her identity as the Priestess of Zibara, and referred to as Goddess Awome-Kala-Suo. Owerre-Daba of the Krome lineage became the ruler and subsequently it was from the Krome lineage that Priests of Awome-Kala-Suo (in reality the Goddess Zibara, or Woyingi Nanara) were chosen. Through the process of formal integration under the leadership of Berembo (alias Kamalo or Akeamaoloye, also known as King Robert in the European records), the seven wards agreed amongst themselves to the leadership of the Endeme and Krome wards which produced the Kiriyanabo or Amayanabo and Oru-Alabo (So-Alabo) respectively. givng rise to the Kalabari City State.
By the Middle 17th century (1650) Elem Kalabari had grown into a very large town. It and other towns because of their trade came to the notice of the European slave traders And it was during the time of Daba (early 18th century), that the Keni (Ke) became closer to Kalabari. Omoniye (Omoni Odu-Ba i.e. Omoni Odu’s daughter), ruler or Amayanabo of Ke was the friend of old Daba father of Kalagba.
During Amakiri?s time Elem Kalabari became heavily involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade in captives with its associated brutalities and violent wars with neighbouring city states to control trade routes. It also extended its influence over neighbouring towns and villages. With the influx of neighbouring peoples mainly the Ibo, as free traders, and captives bought in the hinterland markets, Elem Kalabari became fairly populated with an Ibo speaking element. This modified the original Ijo language that the Kalabari spoke giving birth to the Kalabari dialect of today.
Although the ancestors who became the founders of the Kalabari city State arrived in the area about the 14th century, various ancient Ijo settlers or proto-Ijos, referred to as gods in the traditions had arrived much earlier, founding ancient towns such as Kengema, Keni or Ke, Kula and Bille, populations, which were later on (17th/18th century) absorbed into the new Kalabari City State.
EGBEMA OR EGBEMO EBE: The founding ancestors of the Egbema came from a number of Ijo communities. The first to arrive in that region were the proto-Ijos from Amatu of the Iduwini. Later on ancestors came from the Mein town of Gbekebo, and the Operemo capital of Ekeremo. The proto-Ijo ancestors from Amatu were settled in the area at an early stage and paid frequent visits to the Lagos region. Egbema traditions mention how one of their ancestors called Inabiri was a close friend of Kala-Diran or Kaladiran (i.e. Ekaladerhan in Benin tradition) the last Ogiso of Benin. Kala-Diran who was a medicine man cured Inabiri of a serious ailment. This was about 1170 CE (AD), so the Egbema were settled in that region before that date.
The descendants of these early ancestors founded the towns and villages of Ayakoromo, Gbeoba, Ofinima (founded during fishing trips to Ukoruama or Lagos), Abere, Polo, Gbolukanga, Opuama, Ogbudugbudu and Ogboinbiri. Ofinima was the defacto ancient settlement. Although ancestors were living in the area at an early stage, i.e. pre-14th century, two post 14th century ancestors named Alopomini and Opiti were declared the founding ancestors of the Egbema. As they arrived on the scene much later, they were never custodians or priests of Egbesu which was derived from the Suo Egbesu or Suo Eru (Oru) of the Iduwini. As a distinct Ebe, Egbema started to evolve pre-14th century, before the 10th century AD.
NEMBE OR DEBE EBE: The founding ancestors of the Nembe came from a number of different sections of Ijo at different times. They were joined later by Yoruba speaking migrants from Benin city. The most ancient ancestors (known as the Oru-Otu or ancestral people) came from the Olodiama /Oporoma settlements, these include the founders of Olodiamabiri, and Onyomabiri. Some came from Kolokuma and founded Obolomabiri. From the Obiama dispersal came the founders of Ogbolomabiri. Later on were founded Emeinbiri, Oromabiri and Ekese, Kala-Bigama and Opu-Bigama. Okpoma whose ancestors originated from Obiama (Okpo-Idumu), was incorporated into the City State later on.
The first Nembe or Debe was also known as Ujo-Nembe or Ijo-Nembe. The most ancient quarters were Olodiamabiri, Obolomabiri and Onyomabiri. These quarters were originally individual towns or large villages, with their own priest rulers, thus we have Olodiama Pere, Oboloma Pere and Onyoma Pere with Olodiama as the most senior. Traditions mention a war between Onyomabiri and Kula, which caused the demise of Onyomabiri;
During the time of Kala-Ekule (1450) who was a descendant of Olodi, the son of Ujo and the ancestor of the Olodiama, Ugbo migrants from Benin city arrived at Nembe. Their arrival coincided with an internal dispute between Olodiamabiri and Obolomabiri. The Ugbo migrants exploited the situation with the help of one of their medicine women. She is said to have supplied destructive charms to both sides of the conflict, resulting in such devastation that both the people of Olodiamabiri and Obolomabiri dispersed. The Ugbo migrants then took control of the city. Not long afterwards the Olodiama led by Kala-Ekule made a come back and took back the town from the Ugbo migrants. Their settlement which was situated at Oromabiri was sacked, and many of the migrants fled to Ogbia area. From that time Olodiamabiri and Obolomabiri united and had one centralised political authority. In the case of Onyomabiri, the people were dispersed by the destruction of that town by the Kulas. Most of them were absorbed by the new Olodiamabiri/Obolomabiri unification.
The Nembe were to become heavily involved in both slave raiding weaker communities, and trading in captives from the interior. Wars with the neighbouring cities to secure trade routes they also engaged in. The Nembe also incorporated a lot of neighbouring people into their society as slaves (or servants) and as free citizens, The main people were from Yoruba and Iboland this contributed to the modification of the Ijo language among the Nembe;
The kinglist of the Nembe dates back to the early 15th century, and there was a period before the times of the unification of the various towns, when priest-rulers ruled bearing the title PERE (This was Ijo-Nembe). The beginnings of Nembe is clearly pre-14th century.
OKRIKA (WAKIRIKENI OR KIRIKENI) EBE: The founding ancestors of the Kirikeni came from a number of sections of Izon. One early foundation was led by Opu-Ogulaya who hailed from the Isomabou area. Passing through Nembe and Kalabari areas they finally settled at the site of the present town of Ogoloma. Their arrival in the area was such that no other people were living nearby, and so they went through a ritual so that brother could marry sister. Another group of ancestors arrived approximately the same time and founded Okrika town. This group was led by Opu-Tibeya. they hailed from Balabokiri in Andoni river area. They first settled on the mainland at a place called Okobiri (Okopiri), before moving to the island.
It was on the island that the two main groups met and so the leaders of the main groups namely Opu-Ogulaya, Opu-Tibeya, the women Sangataro and Tominaro with her husband, were said to have exclaimed WA-KIRI-KENI, or O-KIRI-KENI, meaning “WE ARE FROM THE SAME PLACE” i.e. they were all Izon. That is how the subgroup got its names. During that same early period other ancestors arrived from Amassoma in Ogboin Ebe and founded some sections of Wakirike these include Oko son of Alumu, son of Oboro, son of Ogboin (Oboro being the founder of Amassoma). Together the ancestors founded the towns of Okrika or Kirikeni, consisting of twelve quarters namely, Tomobiri, Ogwemebiri, Bilemebiri, Agbabiri, Ambemebiri, Bulomebiri, Ederebiri, Awolomebiri, Adedemebiri, Ngemebiri, Amonongobiri and Anyungubiri, plus the towns of Ogoloma, Ibaka and Ogbogbo, Abuloma Ogu, Bolo, Isaka and Ele. In the case of Kirikeni all the quarters were headed by family nobles called Waridabo i.e. “the person who heads the house” or Alabo or Ala i.e. “the governors” or “lords” i.e. “Chiefs?.
During the time of the Atlantic slave trade chaos, the Okrika were sucked into the slave trade, and the consequences therein (raiding, trade wars etc.). They also came into contact with the Ibo, of whom many were absorbed into Okrika society, modifying the original Ijo language that the founding ancestors spoke. Later still migrants left Okrika to found Kala-Okirika or Nkoro near the Andoni. The time of foundation of Okrika is 14/15th century approximately.
Okrika and the Port Harcourt Old Township: Okrika lands, among others extend into the old Port Harcourt Township, according to Okrika sources:
” The geography of Okrika also extends to Port Harcourt. By the Hargroove agreement of 18 May 1913 between the leading chiefs and headmen of the various communities which owned Port Harcourt on the one hand, and Alexxander George Boyle and Saint George, Deputy Governor of the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria on the other hand, the portion of Port Harcourt owned by Okrika consittutes the present old Port Harcourt Township, stretching from the Borikiri/Marine Base axis to Elechi water-side, cutting accros Ikwerre road through Mile One market Diobu to D/Line. The D/line periphery runs through Aba road, encircling the cree opposite the former Ministry of information. There is also the Trans-Amadi area including, Amadi-Ama, Abuloma, Okuru down to the Zoo area?.?
OGBIA EBE: The Ogbia took their name from the term Ogbo Oyan meaning ” the land of Oyan “. Oyan one of the founding ancestors derived from Tara the ancestor of the Tarakiri of Agadagbabou in Igbedi creek. He and his family left and migrated down the creeks and settled in that region named after him. Very much later, when the settlement had become a town, immigrants arrived from Nembe (i.e. Oromabiri). These immigrants were mostly Yoruba migrants fleeing Nembe after it was retaken by Kala-Ekule of the Olodiama lineage. These immigrants had originally come from Benin city during the time of Oba Ewuare or Oba Olua (1473). Some of the same group of people founded the Itsekiri.
The original founders of Ogbia founded the Oloi (Olobiri) and Okoroma lineage?s. They were joined later by the settlers from Oromabiri in Nembe, and collectively gave birth to the Ogbia clan comprising towns and villages such as Okoroma, Ologoama, Egelema, Abobiri, Akakiama and Amakalakala. Other immigrant groups from the Isedani lineage of Kolokuma founded the town of Otu-Okpotu or Etu-okpotu (House of Okpotu) which took its name from Otu-onikpotu the son of a daughter of Okoroma, with a descendant of Ise ancestor of the Isedani lineage. The beginnings of the Ogbia is clearly pre-14th century.
ANDONI EBE: By the evidence of traditional history, the Andoni are descended from Ayama the son of Tara who was left with Kala-Okun at Igbedi creek. The migrating ancestors are mentioned as Asara or Asa founder of Asarama, Ifop, Edeh or Edabiri, Alama and Abah to name a few. They left the Igbedi creek area at an early stage taking with them the title “Indo Oru” which they remembered and gave to their priest rulers. The title “Indo Oru” was later corrupted to “Ando Oru”, while during their sojourn in Iboland NI was added to give the term “Andoni Oru”. Leaving the central delta the early ancestors made their way through creeks and swamps felling trees to cross the waterways. They first encamped for sometime in the southern Ibo area before moving into the delta. Their first settlement was called Ayama after their ancestor. The site of Ayama was the site of Peterside in Ibani or Bonny town. They stayed here for centuries manufacturing salt for the interior markets before moving. It was from Ayama that Asarama (i.e. Asara’s town) was founded.
A second group moved on to the southern Cameroons. It was here that they seem to inter-married with Bantu speaking people. Approximately around the 12th century, these Andoni made a return journey into the Niger Delta and settled at Egwede, where they sited their national emblem called Oyobolo (Obolo). Migration patterns were caused by the repeating conflicts with the Ibani (Beni or Bonny to Europeans), as a result of the slave raiding confusion of those times. From the site of Peterside they moved eastwards to the Rio Real, then to Asarama-Toru, then further east to Okoma the site which is opposite the present town.
Again we state that the old settlement was the site of Peterside in Bonny which was called Ayama (or old Asarama). Asarama being the oldest of the Andoni towns. And other Andoni towns including Ayangala, while Alabie was the other name for Egwede. In the 1940’s the chief title of the Andoni native court judge was still Andoni Oru, acknowledging the ancestral connection to Indo-Oru the original title of father Ujo the ancestor of Ijo people. The Andoni no longer speak the original Ijo language.
OTHERS: Other people who were of Ijo origin or related ancestrally are the Aboh (i.e. mixed Ibo and Ijo), the Ndoki (i.e. mixed Ibo and Ijo), Nkoro or small Okrika, Zarama, Egbema of Imo area (i.e. mixed Ibo and Ijo) and Oruma. Engenni, Abua and related groups (through intermarriage and adoption). Some Urhobo groups (i.e. mixed Edo, Ibo and Ijo) and the Ojos in the Badagiri creek region of Lagos (i.e. Ijo who have adopted Yoruba language fairly recently around the early 20th century. In the Awori-Lagos traditions, the original Proto-Ijo founders of settlements in Lagos are referred to as the “AROMIRE?S? i.e. “LOVERS OF WATER?). Opobo was founded by Jaja who was of the house of Opubo (Opubo Wari) at Bonny (Ibani). Oruma’s other name was Tugbene, the ancestor Tu hailing from Oboloma. The Epie-Attisa resulted from migrants from both Izon and Edo speaking people. The Izon element coming from Ekpetiama or Seimbiri mother settlements.
It should also be noted that the whole of the eastern delta was faced with a situation whereby immigrants and captives from the slave raiding and trading era had to be settled due to the abolition of the Atlantic trade in human beings. This of course led to a lot of mingling and mixing with a profusion of languages and dialects in that region. Thus the language modification of the eastern Delta. So even if they do not speak the Ijaw language, they are related ancestrally speaking.
The formation of the Ijo ethnic group was a dynamic affair. The central delta section of the Niger Delta was the main area of activity. It was the site of the most ancient settlements of the proto-Ijos, places mentioned in tradition as dispersal centres include, Agadagba-bou, Isoma-bou, Opuan-bou and Orubiribau-bou, Oporoma, and Ke. Other ancient ancestral sites from which Ijos migrated to the areas of habitation include, Warife/Warige area in the western delta fringe, the site of the settlement of the Ijos on their migration from the Benin region (Ado), the Amatu region of Iduwini, and Oproza region of Gbaranmatu. On the Western coast, we have the Lagos region of Kurama. The central delta is not surprising, as in those times it was the main outlet to the sea, and one of the first areas suitable for human habitation. The ancestors did not settle anywhere, but at places that were not prone to flooding, and had good farming and fishing grounds. It seems that internally the Izon were very frictional. This friction caused conflicts. The consequences of conflict was to flee the punishment and the results of internal disharmony. This gave rise to a lot of migrations. Internal friction and disharmony was also fuelled by the European introduction of firearms to settle community quarrels. This resulted in whole communities being sacked, captives being sold into slavery and the survivors dispersing to areas of safety.
The nature of the Delta made it very hard, for unity conscious rulers to effect a unified State stretching from one end of the Izon Ebe to the other. War and strife were nevertheless not the main theme in the Izon experience. Superficially this may seem so, but for long periods of time (centuries), communities lived in peace and tranquillity, but due to the absence of accurate dates, it seems that everything happened in one long stretch. The reality is that the dispersal from the Isoma-bou area near Ikibiri was in two phases, one which left peacefully and the second which dispersed at least not earlier than 1500 AD after the European introduction of firearms. Likewise the ancestors of the Kumbo, Kabo and Gbaran only left the coastal town of Oproza starting from 1485, because of the activities of the Portuguese in the area. The Tarakiri lived peacefully in the Igbedi creek region up to 1500 when they had a conflict with the Mein. And so on. Other causes of migration were exploration, adventure, overpopulation (the delta was in continued formation and there was limited dry land at the time.), fishing trips. People would go on fishing expeditions, set up fishing camps and later bring their families and close associates to the new fishing grounds. And all the other reasons why people migrate.
The Ijo recognised that they were from one source, this is evident from the European records, where, the ancestors identified themselves with the variations of the name Ujo, which were Ijo, Ojo, Ejo, Oru, Uzo, Uzon and more lately Izon. From Ke to Bonny up to Aboh and westwards to Lagos. Because of the loose network nature of the Izon Ebe, the Izon were to suffer from the effects of 400 years of slave raiding, trading, kidnapping, and all the associated violence more than the empire of Benin. which was centralised in authority. During the long formation the Izon learnt to live in harmony with the Delta environment, becoming the original “Beni-Otu” i.e. the “water people”. The Ijo enjoyed external relations with sister States and kingdoms, trading with the Aboh, Nupe, Benin, Ondo, Ile-Ife, Akwa of Iboland etc., and were part of the intercontinental trading network. This is a short summary of evolution of the Ijo clans
notes
[1] Vogel JO (1997) editor, Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa-Archaeology, History, Language, Cultures and Environment, p172.
[2] Ibid.
[3] In his book with Tekena N Tamuno (Land and peoples of Nigeria-Rivers State 1989 pp54-55), Professor E J Alagoa again comments on the Ijo (Ijaw) ethnic group stating; “Three types of tradition of origin may be identified among the Ijo: claims to a place of origin outside the Niger Delta calculated to confer prestige on the group, second, claims to autochthony or indigenous origin, and third, tradition of migration within the Niger Delta..However, the linguists suggest a north-eastern location as a likely place of origin for the Ijo, rather than the more southerly locations in the central delta suggested by traditions of origin? Now was this North-Eastern location in the vicinity of ancient NileValley (Sudan & Upper Egypt? Let us look at Diop C A (1955, 1967, 1974), The African Origin of Civilisation-Myth or Reality, pp75-84. “?Amelineau designates the first Black race to occupy Egypt by the name Anu. He shows that it came slowly down the Nile and founded the cities of Esneh [Essene], Erment, Qouch, and Heliopolis [Annu or Onnu]?.According to Amelineau, this Black race, the Anu [Onu], probably created in prehistoric times all the elements of Egyptian civilisation which persist without significant change throughout its long existence. These Blacks were probably the first to practice agriculture, arts, writing, the calendar. They created a cosmogony contained in The Book of the Dead, texts which leave no doubt about the Negroness of the race that conceived them?.? Egyptologists are in agreement that it was ancient Black People (So called Sudanic Negroes) who gave birth to Ancient Egyptian and Sudanese civilisation. And that the religious language of the BOOK OF THE DEAD belongs to them. Comparing the religious terminology such as TEM OR TEMU (CREATOR) ATUM OR ATUMU, HERU OR HORU, and a host of other terms, with the existing Ijo terminology (TEMOWEI OR TEMUNO = CREATOR), ADUMU, ADUMU, ERU OR ORU, the similarity in sound and meaning is too close to dismiss as being coincidental. The language and much more such as cultural customs, kingship and priest functions makes us understand that the ORU AND THE ANU were one and the same people. Incidently Egyptologists refer to the ANU as the FOLLOWERS OF HERU OR HORU! Or in Ijo language ORU - ORUBO! And is this the reason why some Urhobo (ORUBO) historians state that the Urhobo are descendants of Prince Urhobo (ORUBO) and the ancient ruling caste of ancient Egypt?
[4] Akinjogbin I A (1992) The Cradle of A Race-Ife From the Beginning to 1980. “…One 19th-century commentator stated that the original Ife was situated further to the north, possibly near the Niger. At some period the people of this Ife migrated south to the present city.
[5] Many contemporary historians have dismissed the Namurudu and Kisara legends as fabrications invented by ancestral traditions. But how can they be fabrications if they are recorded in various traditions from ancient Songhai, Kano, Borgu, Nupe, Yoruba and Benin? The migrations from Upper Egypt and the Sudan due to the Arab invasion did take place. And the Nupe/Borgu traditions have put a specific time period of between 640-650 AD for main migrations OF ADUMU into Nigeria.
[6] Idowu E B (1962) Olodumare God in Yoruba Belief, pp24-28. “…Was Oduduwa a god or a goddess?” This second question we must tackle first….Our conclusion is that the name Oduduwa belonged originally to a divinity and not to the personage to whom the name was later given. It was this divinity who came into conflict with Orisa-nla…..In Ado, Oduduwa is indisputably a goddess. She is said to be the first of seven divinity-children…The male conception of Oduduwa has very likely arisen in this way then. Oduduwa was the priest of the goddess as well as the head of his dynasty. At the time of his death he won the respect of people far and wide, so that it was an easy matter for him to become an Ancestor deserving a cult. Before very long, however, he became identified with his own divinity and entered the pantheon on her attributes….”
[7] Fabunmi M A (1980) Ife The Genesis of the Yoruba Race. “Oodua tried war efforts which won him victory over the Ooyelagbo communities, but failed to subdue them. Oodua being a wiseman applied other tactics. Instead of sacking them, he invited the Ooyelagbos to build a single community at a point known as Ita-Ajamo where each of the communities was empowered to rule over his domain but with allegiance to Oodua who was then proclaimed the OLOFIN ADIMULA - the supreme Oba of Ile-Ife. It was after this that the “Oduduwa” empire started to expand.. Here we have it ADIMULA as a title reveals the actual name of Oduduwa as being ADIMU or ADUMU.
[8] The translation of ALA-AFIN meaning LORD OR CHIEF (ALA) OF THE FORTRESS OR PALACE (AFIN) is valid in the Ijo language as well as some sections of Yoruba dialect. In the Ijo language ALA-AFIN, COULD BE RENDERED ALA-EFIN. The AFIN or EFIN, being a FORTRESS OR CASTLE NOT PALACE. The Ijos still have the ALA title to refer to CHIEF OR LORD (ALA) and governor/chief (ALABO)..
[9] Fabunmi MA opcit
[10] Idowu E B (1962) Olodumare God in Yoruba Belief, pp24-28.
[11] Dennett R E (1910) NIGERIAN STUDIES on The Religious and Politicl Systems of the Yoruba, p11. The reason why they are called Bornu immigrants is because on their way from Upper Egypt, the passed through Lake Chad, then the Bussa (middle Niger region) before settling at Ife. This is corroborated by traditions collected from Bussa. Now ODUDUWA OR ODUDUA as a Goddess is the local name for the GREAT MOTHER GODDESS CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, in Kumoni language known as WOYINGI TAMARA, OUR MOTHER THE CREATOR. The reason why Adumu was given this alias Odudua was because he was a priest and spiritual initiate of the Great Mother Goddess, known as Woyingi, but as Odudua in the local Ugbo language.
[12] Ibid, pp74-75. Again Bornu is mentioned, but it was just a stop over. Here the real name of the frist King of Ife is revealed to be ADUMU, OR ADIMU, TITLED AS ADUMU-ALA, OR ADIMU-ALA. Here is traditional Ife documentary evidence that ADUMU and ODUDUWA are one and the same person. That his actual name was ADUMU, and that ODUDUWA was an alias, which referred to THE GODDESS CREATOR
[13](Ellis A B, The Yoruba Speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa-Their Religion, Manners, Customs, Laws, Language (1894), p90
[14] Fabunmi M A, op cit.
[15] This is the reason why tradition maintains that one of King Adumu (alias Oduduwa’s) elder son founded Benin, although there is confusion as to who was the eldest son, the ancestors Prince Ujo, or Prince Igodo. Ife and Ijo traditions are in agreement that Ujo (alias Idekoseroake) was the eldest son. Ife and Ijo traditions are also in agreement that Prince Igodo was an elder son of King Adumu. While the original manuscript published by J Egharevba called Ekhara vb itan Edo (1933) and its first translation A short History of Benin 1936) opened thus“Many, many years ago, Odua (Oduduwa) of Uhe (Ile-Ife the father and the progenitor of the Yoruba Kings sent his eldest son Obagodo who took the title of Ogiso with a large retinue all the way from Uhe to found a Kingdom in this part of the World. At the moment of his departure his father gave him a charm in the form of a snail shell containing some earth to invest him with absolute power and right over the lands that should come under his sway”. P7 Thus originally all three traditions from Ife, Ijo and Benin were in agreement that Igodo was an elder son of Oduduwa. Compared to Owonaru’s narrative it corresponds in certain areas, which are Oduduwa’s eldest son left Ife to settle the Benin region (whether this was Igodo or Ujo has been lost to time). Oduduwa invested this eldest son with power and might to rule. That Igodo inherited Oduduwa’s mystic military powers of conquest. Now comparing it with the later narrative changed by Egharevba, Igodo is a mere hunter, and Oduduwa reigned in Ife 500 years after Igodo at Benin? Why is this? The reason for the change is this. There is a 500-year gap between the time of Oduduwa/Ujo/Igodo, and the time of Oranyan, which makes it impossible for Oranyan to be Oduduwa’s direct son. The riddle is this “how can Igodo and Oranyan (who lived 500 years later) both be direct sons of Oduduwa?” Needless to say the riddle is solved thus. Igodo was the direct son of Oduduwa, while Oranyan was a conqueror who arrived 500 years later from the Igala region, and later claimed descent from the legendary hero. The original Oranyan invaders first inhabited Igala region. They invaded the Benin region and Ife region and set up a new dynasty during the 12th century AD 500 years after the existence of King Adumu (alias Oduduwa). Later on the Jukun displaced them at Igala.
[16] This needs further research. But it is acknowledged indirectly by historians.
[17]Egharevba E J, Twelve Works(1973, Kraus Reprint Nendeln). “…The Ogisos ruled for over five centuries. At that time the land was known and called as Igodo-m-igodo…”, p18.
[18] “…Urhobo is said to have been derived from Uzobo which was a corruption of Ijobo meaning “a native of Ijo”…”from OwonaruSK opcit. p95. and “…In the same way “Sobo” which is really an Anglacised form of “Uzobo” is given in this report to the sub-tribe of Edo, which embraces the two clans of Uzobo (ie Urhobo) and Isoko…” Talbot PA (1926 vol4, p33).
[19] Adumu-Ala first king of Ife was Kumoni-Oru
[20] Owonaru’s narrative regarding the foundation of Benin kingdom by Prince Igodo, the foundation of Ijebu by Prince Ajibo, and Oyo by Lufon, are supported by traditions collected at those places and recorded.
[21] Alagoa E J (1964) The Small Brave City State, p7.
[22] Crowder S (1970 2nd Edition) Journal of an Expedition Up the Niger and Tshadda [Benue] Rivers undertaken by Macgregor Laird in 1854 - Missionary Research and Travels no.15, p10.
[23] Ibid, p13
[24] Ibid, p194
[25] Ibid, p199
[26] From the city of Ijon, so to speak.
[27] Owonaro SK. opcit
[28] Oduma Magazine 1/4/1976, vol 3 pp19-22. “It is suggested that the principle migrations from this Central region to found communities in the Eastern and Western Delta occurred about a thousand years ago, that is, before about AD 1000.
[29] According to both Urhobo and Ijo traditions, the Urhobo derived from Ijo or Oru men intermarrying with Efa women in the Benin region and southern forests bordering the delta. The two names URHOBO & SOBO, derived from ORUBO (FOR URHOBO) AND UJOBO, OR UZOBO (FOR SOBO).
[30] Tare-Otu Actor Lugard’s Waking up the sleeping Giant 1992 pages 27-28) “Ijaw is one of the oldest tribes in Africa. It is the fourth largest tribes in Nigeria. They still lack comprehensive and authentic history on the basis of research including archaeological data of the Ijaw people. It must be noted that some oral accounts have traced the origins of the Ijaws to Oduduwa in Yorubaland, to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and even to the great flood of Noah when father Ijaw was carried by the water current to the west African coast. The trace did not end here but also to the Jewish city called Ezon where Ijaw came from to the present site. In all history, nothing is more surprising of so difficult to account for as the sudden rise of the Benin empire and there is a broad consensus that the Ijaw came from Benin in about the early 16th century following the disturbances which engulfed the Benin kingdom over the struggle for the Benin throne by the “twin brothers Oruanya. Ijaw first left for Aboh with his two sons (perhaps more) Mengri ” who was most likely his first son and Oporaza”.
[31] AME seems to be a shortened form of AWOAME meaning CHILDREN
[32] Tare-Otu Lugard. Opcit.
[33] An Assessment Report of the Gbaramatu Clan, 1930 by Lt. Commander S E Johnson R N, Acting District Officer, pp1-8.
34] Ibid.
[35] Owonaru S K, op cit, p19.
[36] Ibid, p64.
[37] At Benin divergent traditions maintain that one Idu was the grandson of Ere, the grandson of Igodo, the first Ogiso of Benin. Refer to Olaniyan R (Certificate History of Nigeria), p63.
[38] Egharevba J U (1973) 12 Works-Chronicle of Events, pp2, 17.
[39] Amgbare JS Doutimi (Nov 2000) Independent Monitor (Nigeria).
[40] On p15 Owonaru states that “Ijo blessed Alagbarigha, offered him one of his sea gods (represented by the boa-constrictor) known as Adimu and dispatched him to that part of the delta to guard and rule there” Although the principle character Alagbarigha (Alagbariye) is a mistake and reference to the one of the leaders of the Ibani-Ijo out of Kolokuma, which occurred at a later date (centuries afterwards), the mention of Adimu (Adumu) makes us understand that the priests of the shrine (represented by Keni-Opu-Ala) were dispatched to the eastern delta coast, by the early ancestors. The fact that the priest Keni-Opu-Ala was said to have been sent to that part of the delta by Adumu himself, must be a coded reference to King Adumu (alias Oduduwa) at Ife, and not the metaphysical intelligence, of which he was a priest of, as Oduma magazine vol 2, No 1, August 1974 states; “A further evidence of the ancestral nature of the god Keni Opu Ala is the fact that the cult really refers to the worship of Odum, Adum or Adumu (the African python) one of the most widespread cults in the Eastern Niger Delta. The informant expressed the python base of the Keni-Ala cult in various ways; that the ancestor Keni-Opu-Ala and the others had been brought down from the sky by Odum [Adumu] that “the sacred totem of Keni-Opu-Ala was Odum” We must note that Adumu was also the sacred totem of King Adumu at Ife, hence the original name as his cultic name. It is on account of this that Adumu or Adimu was at one time worshipped in Yoruba-land. According to J O Lucas in his classic work The Religion of the Yoruba, p146-147, 328; “..the word Adimu itself, which is a survival of the Atumu or Adumu, the name of a well known Egyptian god. The reason for the divine honour paid to Adimu thus becomes obvious. Atumu or Adumu was one of the most revered gods in Ancient Egypt. It may be added that Atumu or Adumu survives not only among the Yorubas but also among other West African tribes. For example, an important deity among the Ijos is known as Adumu and also we have “..According to Egyptian mythology Tum [Tem], or Atumu [Adumu] was the god of the primordial ocean, the soul of the deep watery abyss..” Here we have evidence supporting Owonaru’s statement of Adumu being a sea god. In this sense it is spiritual symbolic language that is being used. Adumu is the Supreme Intelligence (sacred serpent) who dwells in the metaphysical or spiritual realm (deep sea or ocean deep). The ancient Egyptian term translated as “Tem” or “Temu” or “Tumu” simply means “Creator”, just like the present day Ijo term “Temewei” or “Temuno”. (refer to Dawn of Civilisation, p138).
[41] Ogan C (1988) Unity of A People (Search for Peace in Okrika Rivers StateNigeria. P8)
[42] Chief Amgbare JSD (The Origins of Kalabari) Independent Monitor No/Dec Editons.

History of Ijaws and their Neighbours

History of Ijaws and their Neighbours

(Source: Earth Rights Institute – June 2004)

It is the duty of historians to investigate and arrive at the truth concerning the history of peoples. In truth the history of the Ijaws and our neighbours the Itsekiris, Urhobos, Binis, Edos, Yorubas and Igbos are intertwined as we go further back in time. And it is because historians have not come to terms with this fact, that people can make claims and counter-claims as to who owns the land, and who arrived in a region first.
In various historical documents that I have sent in to this forum, I have demonstrated that all the ethnic nationalities comprising Southern Nigeria, did not exist as we now know them to be now, 2000 years ago. Most are a product of fusion of ancient people, the Ijaw people being one of the most ancient survivals of the original ancient people that fused with others to give rise to the ethnic nationalities that exist today.
What is meant by the term Autochthonous?
The term “autochthonous” means native, aboriginal, indigeous, original. The available anthropological and archaeological evidence at our disposal makes it clear that the settlement of the Southern West Africa region is a recent event, going back not more than 5000 years. While the Northern part of West Africa, may stretch back to 10000 years, if we take into consideration the Sahara grassland of antiquity.
The so called Proto-Niger-Congo language, of which the Ijo language is classified into, is divided into the following language groups - Kordofanian, which split into Kordofanian and Mande-Congo, which also split into Mande and Atlantic-Congo, which also split into Atlantic, Ijoid, Dogon, and Volta-Congo. Volta-Congo split into North Volta-Congo and Benue Kwa, which split into Kwa and Benue-Congo. Now the Ijoid language split into Ijo and Defaka, while the Benue-Congo split into Yoruba, Igala, Edo and Ibo and some other southern Nigerian languages.
According to the Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa-Archaeology, History, Language, Cultures and Environment, edited by J O Vogel (1997, p172);
“…The indigenous languages of western Africa belong to three of the four phyla of African languages established by J H Greenberg in 1963: Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan, and Niger-Congo……Consequently, the homeland of Niger-Congo is normally placed in western Africa, whereas those of Nilo-Saharan languages and Afro-Asiatic are sought farther to the east and northeast respectively. From time to time, suggestions have been made that Nilo-Saharan and Niger-Congo are ultimately related. Recently Roger Blench has proposed that Niger-Congo is simply a branch of Nilo-Saharan, most closely related to the Central Sudanic family of Nilo-Saharan in the centre of the African continent. If this view is correct, Niger-Congo would have originated farther east than is us ually assumed, perhaps to the northwest of the present-day central Sudan. The Congo family, in Sudan, is assumed to have moved eastwards. The other families of Niger-Congo presumably were gradually compressed into West Africa as a result of the desiccation of the Sahara. As Western Africa became more crowded, Adamawa-Ubangi and Bantu expanded southwards into central Africa and later, in the case of Bantu, into eastern and southern Africa….Two relatively small families, Dogon and Ijoid, are thought to have split off next. Dogon with little internal differentiation, remained on land, south of the bend in the Niger, while Ijoid, with somewhat more internal differentiation into Defaka and the Ijo group, moved down the Niger to its confluence with the Benue and then either directly along the Niger or via the Benue and Cross River to the Niger Delta and associated waterways where it is found today….”[1]
If Niger-Congo is a branch of the Nilo-Saharan proto-language, as has been suggested, then it gives credence to the argument that the ancient language differentiation of Africa took place in prehistory in the regions of the Nile-Valley and the Old Sahara grasslands, and not in the vicinity of the Niger-Benue confluence.
The absence of the anatomical remains of early human beings, and the lack of evidence for stone age and bronze age cultures in the West Africa region, rules out any claims by a group of people, to be truly autochones or aboriginal to West Africa. All West African peoples migrated to the area at one time or another, from either North, East or South Africa, as such, West Africa has been peopled at different times by successive waves of migration from East Africa and North Africa/Sahara region respectively.
Taking the combined evidence of language studies, ancestral tradition, anthropology and archaeology, it is certain that by at least 2000 BCE the West Africa region was being peopled. As to who arrived first is of no consequence as the land space is too vast for the first arrivals to lay claim to ownership. By 1000 BCE we have the emergence of the Lake Chad civilisation of Daima and the Nok Culture of the Niger/Benue Confluence. We can also discern a number of ancient peoples who entered the area of the Niger & Benue about the same time. They include the following:
The Ancient Oru (Anu) founders of the Great Nile Valley civilisation complex (and possibly the lake Chad complex); The Ancient Ugbo or Igbo (or Kwa people) who seem to have been the founders of the Nok complex; The above ancient people belong to the branch of Black African referred to as Sudanese or Nilotic Negroes. And the Ancient Bantu, who migrated from East/Central Africa.
There were, of course other ancient peoples who were migrating into the West Africa region, but the aforementioned ones serve the purpose of tracing the origins of the Ijos, Yoruba, Edo and Igbo.
An unbiased reading of the works of notable Ijaw historians such as S K Owonaru (History of Ijos and her Neighbours in Nigeria 1949), E J Alagoa (The History of the Niger Delta) and the works by other historians from the Yoruba, Edo and Igbo will demonstrate that indeed the Ijaws are one of the ancient tribes to have settled West Africa, who later on intermarried with other equally ancient tribes to give birth to the ethnic nationalities that now inhabit Southern Nigeria today.
The ancient people from which the Ijaws descended from were not known as Ijaw (Ijo, Ujo, although this name has been traced to a legendary ancestor who established in the Niger Delta with his people). The ancestral name was ORU. That is why in colonial documents the Ijaws are also referred to as ORU people. It was the ancient ORU people that fused with others to produce our immediate neighbours.
In the ancestral histories of the Ijaw, Benin kingdom and Ife, not to mention the Borgu and Nupe kingdoms, there is reference to a number of migrations from the Sudan and Egypt into the West Africa region. This narratives cannot be dismissed as were fairy tales. Now historical question that we need to ask is, were the ancestors of the Ijaws a part of these great migrations into West Africa from Egypt and Sudan? If indeed the answer is yes we will go deeper into this root, if the answer is no, historians need to come with an answer, where did the ancestors come from?, considering the fact that no West African people are truly autochthonous to West Africa. Each arrived during antiquity or recently.
Glancing at the Benin narratives of the history of the foundation of the Benin kingdom, there is reference to migrations from Egypt via Sudan to Ife and then Benin region, where it is stated that the migrating group met an earlier group of settlers which had come from the Sudan. These first settlers or aborigines from the Sudan, were they the ORU people? The migration from Egypt/Sudan is not confined to Benin. Independent of Benin influence we have traditions recorded from Seimbiri-Ijo clan and Andoni-Ijo clan than claim that the Ijo ancestors one time lived in Egypt. Again these traditions cannot be dismissed as fairly tales or fabrications, as there were no reason to lie by the ancestral traditionalists.
The problem with the histories of Borgu, Nupe, Ife, Benin, Ijo is the deliberate confusion created around as to who were the actual people who migrated from Egypt & Sudan and else where to establish these kingdoms, brought about by studying these migration traditions in isolation. Could they not be all referring to the same migrations?
The migrations from Egypt & Sudan mentioned in the ancestral narratives of the Ijaw, Benin and Yoruba, as well as the Borgu and Nupe refer to one and the same people known as the KUMONI (a branch of the ORU people that settled in Upper Egypt)and the ORU. This fact has been obscured, but we are now in the position to establish this historical fact. The original autochthonous people that were settled in the Benin region prior to the arrival of the KUMONI, were the ORU people, who as the traditions state had also come from the Sudan at an unknown earlier date in antiquity. Other ancient people’s that had settled in the Benin region were the EFA, and Ife region were the OYELAGBO or UGBO (IGBO) peoples, while east of the Niger we also have the IGBO’s
The mistake many modern Ijo historians have made was to believe that reference to Ife and Benin as places of origin means originating from the Yoruba and Edo peoples as we know them today. Whereas a deep investigation into the histories of both Ife and Benin indicate that more than one ethnic group were responsible for the genesis of these two city-states. For the earliest dynastic period of Ife and Benin an unnamed people associated with both the legendary Oduduwa at Ife and Ogiso Igodo dynasty at Benin was responsible for establishing the earliest forms of monarchy in these two city kingdoms. Whereas in Ife, the proto-Yoruba ancestors called OOYELAGBO OR UGBO are mentioned, and at Benin the proto-Edo ancestors called EFA are mentioned, the name of the tribe of the dynastic founders are not. What was the name of the tribe that Oduduwa belonged to? What was the name of the tribe that Igodo the first Ogiso of Benin, belonged to? Why has Oduduwa’s original name ADUMU not been emphasised more than his alias ODUDUWA?
An examination and comparison of the names ADUMU, OGU (OGUN) & OGBOGBODIRI the first 3 kings of dynastic Ife, IGODO, ERE & KALADIRAN the first 2 and last Ogisos of Benin with the Ijo language, reveals that these names are still being borne by Ijo individuals up till today, but the present day Yoruba and Edo do not bear these names. What does this suggest? It suggests that the dynastic founders of Ife and Benin were ethnically related to the present day Ijo people as emphasised by ancestral tradition.
The facts that we have gained through the understanding of the related traditional narratives of the Ijos, Urhobos, Binis, Yoruba, has enabled us to reconstruct the sequence of events that led to the emergence of the City State complexes of Ife and Benin and the Ijos of the Niger Delta. Our outline throws light on the seemingly confusion of the ancestral traditions of the aforementioned peoples and demonstrates that instead of looking at the traditions as isolated events, or at worst invented fables, we should view them as the individual perspectives of the whole story that has until now, not been fully told. So let the full story unfold. Based on the research we have done we are bold to assert the following:
Starting from about 500 BC (although the peopling of West Africa goes back to at least 2000 BC) various ancient African peoples indigenous to the continent started to settle the Lower Niger, Savannah fringe and forest regions of present day Southern Nigeria. These ancient peoples had come from different parts of Africa namely the old Sahara grasslands, North Africa, North east Africa (Nile-Valley) and the East African Great lakes region: which were the homes of more ancient civilisations going back at least 10,000 years. As to who arrived first is of no consequence, since the land was too vast for any one people to lay claim to the whole.
For our research topic we have singled out four distinct ancient peoples whose names have come down to us through tradition, who combined and came together in various ways to give birth to the kingdoms of Southern Nigeria. These ancient people have been identified as:
  1. The ORU or KUMONI (also known as the ONU or ANU people) they were an aquatic based culture, settling the banks of rivers and watersides. They were indigenous to the Nile Valley and Lake Chad regions before moving south (an exhaustive comparison between the ancient religious and cultural system of the twin Nile-Valley civilisations of Egypt and Sudan, plus language studies enables us to conclude that the ANU or ONU were ethnically the same as the ORU.
  2. The IGBO or UGBO (also known as OOYELAGBO) a branch of the Kwa, they were land based. They were originally situated in East Africa, before migrating to the north of the Niger/Benue confluence region in antiquity.
  3. The EFA, they were also land based. The EFA & IGBO seem to have descended from a people once known as the KWA or KWARA people, who inhabited the Middle Niger/Benue confluence region (hence its original name of Kwara river).
  4. The BANTU & SEMI BANTU of unknown names, from east and central Africa.
THE EVENTS THAT GAVE RISE TO THE FOUNDATION OF IFEBENIN & DELTA STATES
The period between 500 BC & 700 AD was a time of great demographic change and population migration inWest Africa. From a central location situated within the Niger/Benue confluence valley, some sections of the KWA people namely the IGBO and EFA started to migrate and settle the now Western and Eastern Nigeria regions. Also around about this period, from the Nile Valley and Lake Chad regions, the ancient ORU or KUMONI people started to settle the middle Niger, Lower Niger and Mid-west regions of present Nigeria. Some, even settling and making their way to the Niger Delta coast.
By about 500 AD scattered primordial isolated communities of all the aforementioned ancient peoples began to come into being throughout the Southern Nigeria region.
This isolated and stateless existence situation was changed with the arrival of fresh immigrants from the NileValley due to the Arab onslaught from about 640 AD. In the various traditions these immigrants are referred to as having came from EGYPTSUDAN, & ARABIA (MECCA) To clear up this point. The use of the term MECCA or ARABIA is just a reference to the EAST, While references to Egypt and Sudan have more factual foundation, as these civilisations were clearly indigenous Black African civilisations up until their colonisation by the Arabs. The migration route of these stream of refugees fleeing the upheavals of North East Africa was through the Lake Chad – Middle Niger (Borgu/Bussa/Nupe) then on to the IfeBenin and Lower Niger regions.
The fusion of these newly arrived immigrants with the older communities was like a seeding process, causing a condensation of populations to converge in city like communities. It was this process that gave birth to the first dynastic City State centres, of which Borgu, Nupe, Ife and Benin became the most prominent.
From the ancestral traditions we can reconstruct the following facts regarding the foundation of Ife & Benin.
From about 500 AD a branch of the UGBO referred to as OOYELAGBO started to arrive in the Ile-Ife region, from an ancestral home situated in the Niger/Benue confluence region. They set up dispersed communities within the now Ile-Ife region. Shortly afterwards (650 AD) a branch of the ORU known as the KUMONI, migrated from Upper Egypt to the Bussa region. In the Bussa region they fused with the local population and established the BORGUKingdom. From the Bussa region a section decided to settle in the Ile-Ife region and establish a City state to be known as YOBA (YEBA) derived from the original name of the Upper Egyptian province that they had hailed from.
They establishment of this new city was opposed by certain sections of the OOYELAGBO communities led by the chief Obatala priest ORELUERE, who argued that since it was they who arrived first, the king of the city must be from amongst them. This led to a war told in the ancestral traditions as the “war between ODUDUWA & OBATALA” In reality it was a conflict between two theocratic systems of government. On the one hand we had the new form of centralised Government based on a theocratic monarchy focused on the SUPREME MOTHER GODDESS (Woyingi). The OOYELAGBO form of traditional chief’s council opposed this with the head chief being focused on the GODHEAD (Obatala).
With the help of dissatisfied sections of the OOYELAGBO communities, led by Oba-Meri, and also ORU people living in the Nupe region; the leaders of the KUMONI people headed by a prince original named as ADIMU (ADUMU) went to war and defeated the opposing factions of Ooyelagbo and established his centralised government. Prince Adimu was also a priest of the SUPREME MOTHER GODDESS LODGE (known in Kumoni language as Woyingi, and in Ooyelagbo language as Oduduwa) and at the same time a high initiate of the ancient ADUMU (ADUM) spiritual Initiation lodge of ancient Egypt.
Before the final setting up of the government, Prince Adimu invited the leaders of the hostile Ooyelagbo communities and his own allies (the Oru and Ooyelagbo supporters) to a constitutional conference, where it was agreed to form a confederacy where all the communities living in the area would swear allegiance to Adumu, but have control over their own internal affairs. At that conference Prince Adumu was declared the LORD OF THE FORTRESS ‘ALA – AFIN’ (ALA-lord or chief, AFIN-fortress) and henceforth addressed as “ALA-AFIN ADUMU-ALA”. (ALA is still a Chief title amongst the Ijaws). He also took on the alias ‘ODUDUWA’, as it was the term in the Ooyelagbo language for the Mother Goddess of which he was a priest.
In order to unite the opposing factions intermarriage was decreed. This is told in the tradition as the marriage between Obatala & Oduduwa with the birth of the sixteen gods and goddesses. Indeed Prince Adumu took several wives from the local Ooyelagbo women as well as his own Kumoni/Oru women. This policy was adhered to by his successors. Prince (now King) Adumu administered the new City state (military, theocratic confederacy) so skilfully that he was remembered in ancestral tradition as the ancestor of the YOBA NATION, meaning the ORIGINATOR OF THE YOBA NATION. This was how the first Yoba nation came into being and how Ife became the centre of the 1st dynastic city-state in Southern Nigeria. This was also the Ife of the 1st dynastic period. Later on YOBA was corrupted to YORUBA and the term applied to all the people who spoke related dialects/languages, who had centuries later integrated to become one people. The original Kumoni language spoken by the king and his people (Kumoni-Oru) was later on absorbed into the Ooyelagbo language to give rise to Yoruba language and its various dialects.
Meanwhile at this early stage, even while the unification was yet complete, some sections of the KUMONI-ORU leftIfe to establish themselves elsewhere, after accomplishing their task of setting up the City state with Prince Adumu (alias Oduduwa) as the first dynastic king. The 1st migration out of Ife was led by prince Ujo (alias Idekoseroake) mentioned in the ancestral tradition as being the first son of King Adumu. Other migrations, such as the one by Prince Nana, ended up in present day Ghana region.
Prince Ujo was a war commander who took part in the battles that were fought to subdue the hostile Ooyelagbo communities and establish the New Kingdom. Between 650 –700 AD Prince Ujo led a migration out of Ife to theBenin region, where he encamped and established a settlement that later was to become the basis of Benin City. At this time ORU people, as well as the EFA people were settling the Benin region. These all these people combined to form the genesis of the Benin Kingdom, later to be joined by other settlers from Igala and elsewhere.
Prince Ujo’s instructions were to go to the Niger Delta, and establish a strategic base from which to defend the coastal region. Clearly his father King Adumu, regarded the whole southern region as a virgin territory which he would bring under his direct control. Prince Ujo proceeded to the central Niger Delta with his followers and came across isolated communities of ORU in remote settlements. Together with these people they formed viable communities in the central delta originally based on the City-state formation. This was birth of the Ijo people.
Some of the Kumoni/Oru remained behind at Benin region, indeed a section of the Oru known as the Beni, who had come from the Sudan through Nupe, gave the name Beni to newly emerging settlements. These were the Oru or Ijos of Benin City who later on between the 12th –15th centuries AD fled into the delta to escape the upheavals of Benin City. Along with the EFA people they were quite prominent at Benin. Shortly after the 1st migration, a 2nd migration from Ife led by Prince Igodo established the early foundations of the Benin Kingdom dynastic government of the Ogisos.
Prince Igodo (Godo) led the 2nd migration from Ile-Ife. At the death of King Adumu, Igodo was sidelined in the scheme of things. It seems that what happened at this point in time was that King Adumu’s chief war officer Ogu (Ogun) temporarily took over the reigns of government until a successor could be chosen. It was decided that a son whose mother was an Ooyelagbo should occupy the throne, and so Prince Ogbogbodiri (alias Ala-Fun or Lufon I) assumed the kingship.
Prince Igodo and a few companions decided to leave Ile-Ife for good, acquiring the mystic source of powers which aided his father in the defeat of the hostile Ooyelagbo, Prince Igodo migrated to the Benin region and met up with the followers of Prince Ujo who remained behind and had established settlements at Benin (Uzama, Ogiama, etc). Later on like his father before him, Prince Igodo centralised the existing ORU and EFA communities and was proclaimed the 1st PRINCE OF THE REALM or OGI-SUO (OGISO). Also like his father he allowed the existing communities internal autonomy, thus the leader of the EFA communities was proclaimed OGI-EFA. These communities later on came together to give birth to the 1st dynastic state of Benin Kingdom (IGODOMIGODO).
IJOS IN THE NIGER DELTA
The Kumoni-Oru who settled the Niger Delta with the most ancient inhabitants also known as ORU (TOBU OTU) gave birth to the Ijos. The original settlements were in the western & central delta, from where they spread out to people the whole Niger Delta. This period has been estimated to have occurred between 500 BC to 1000 AD. These original ancestors were spiritual initiates of the ancient African spiritual initiation system of the CREATOR TEM (TEMUNO). They made heavy symbolic ritualistic use of the water, and hence have been referred to as the ‘water people’ ‘beni-otu’. Later on between 1200 – 1600 AD the Oru or Ijos of the Niger Delta received immigrants from their relatives living at Benin and the lower Niger regions, who were fleeing the various upheavals and power struggles of Benin city during t he time of the 2nd Oba dynasty. They collectively gave birth to the Ijo nation with its City-states and collective Clan communities.
THE SECOND PERIOD OF IFEBENIN & IJO
The 1st Adumu dynastic state of Ife founded by the legendary Prince Adumu (known in Yoruba tradition as the legendary Oduduwa) and the Ogiso dynastic state of Benin existed for upwards 500 years starting from about 650 AD. Later on new conquering forces that came from the Niger/Benue heartlands of the ancient UGBO overthrew them.
We now know that at about 1150 AD a conqueror remembered as ORANJAN (ORANMIYAN) from Takpa-land (situated in the Niger/Benue region) took over the Old Oyo kingdom which was closely connected to IfeIfe was attacked next, but the old Adumu dynastic rulers were not deposed, but made to pay tribute to ORANJAN at his base in Oko. It was from this base that ORANJAN made war on Benin, which had by this time fallen into decay with the fleeing into exile of the Ogiso Prince Kaladiran. It took several attempts and centuries for the Oranjan forces to gain total control of Benin. When they did gain control, they changed the title of the Ogiso kings to OBA. Eweka was the first Oba of the 2nd Benin dynasty (1170 AD).
Meanwhile at Ife the Adumu dynasty was finally overthrown, with the exiling of Lufon II and the instalment of Lajamisan who claimed to be a direct descendant of Oranjan.
In order to gain real legitimacy at Ife, Oyo and Benin, the new dynastic fraternity of Ife, Oyo and Benin was mythologised (distorting history in the process) as the last sons of King Oduduwa, the founder of the first Yoba kingdom of Ile-Ife (as the original founder, all legitimacy derives from him), even though at least 500 years separates the period of the establishment of the city state of Ife by King Adumu (alias Oduduwa) around 650 AD, and the emergence of Oranjan (Oranmiyan) in about 1150 AD.
And lastly, about late 15th to 16th centuries, a large section of the Ijos who once lived at Benin, migrated into the Niger Delta.
CLEARING UP THE CONFUSION BETWEEN IJAW AND BENIN HISTORIES
Due to distortions in the present history of Ife and Benin, there is a lot of confusion as to the actual foundation ofBenin, the time of the two major dynasties, and how the Ijos relate to both.
The original founding inhabitants (aborigines) of the Benin region were the ORU people. They were later joined by the KUMONI from Upper Egypt and the EFA from the East Africa via Niger/Benue confluence region. These peoples came together under Prince Igodo (Godo) to establish the first Benin kingdom of the Ogisos. In Benintraditional history they are represented by the UZAMA , OGIAMA (OGIAMWEN) & IYASE elements. This first kingdom lasted approximately 500 years. (it is noted that the names IGODO and ERE, the first two kings of the Ogiso dynasty are still Ijo names borne by Ijaws to the present day).
Establishing the identity of the Uzama & Ogiama- According to P A Talbot (The People’s of Southern Nigeria 1926 pp31-153 “The Benin country appears to have been inhabited by a people called Efa, the ancestors of the present Edo and ruled by a large number of petty chiefs, those at Benin City being the Ogiame, and the Uzama Nihino (The seven Uzama)”.
This statement is in agreement with ancestral Ijaw hsitory as compiled by S K Owonaru and extant Ife traditions. The site of Benin City itself was the site of the first habitation of the Ijos (Kumoni) before moving into the Nigerdelta. Those that remained behind founded the settlements of Uzama (Ujo-ama or Uzo-ama), whilst the Igodo element founded Ogiame (Ogi-ama). Further proof comes from the fact that the most ancient quarters of Benin City are prefixed IDUMU meaning quarters in Ijo language. It was the Uzama and Ogiama people that put up the most critical resistance against the invaders (Oranjan from Ife). These invaders were not from Ile-Ife as is commonly supposed, but from another Ife to the north-east situated near the Igala country.
A second group who displaced the Ogisos and introduced the Oba title, forced themselves onto the Benin people in about 1170 AD. These people are erraneously referred to as the Yoruba element. In fact they came not from Ile-Ife, as is commonly narrated, but from Igala country. These people had to conquer the Ile-Ife region and establish the Oranmiyan dynasty. It should be noted that the Igala and present day Yoruba have a direct ancestral link. Indeed the Igala region is the ancestral home of the present day Yoruba speaking people (historians need to seriously research this).
According to the records, the last Ogiso prince, Kaladiran (Ekaladerhan) became a victim of political intrigue and was exiled from Benin City. He fled into the delta and founded the town of Igodo with his band of exiles.
Oranjan (Oranyan), on his first attempt to conquer Benin, encountered resistance at the Ovia river by the Ijos. After several attempts Oranjan circumvented the Ovia river route and gains a foothold at Uzama. It is at Uzama that he sets up base, but due to stiff opposition from the people he is forced to leave. By the time he has left with his entourage, he has formed an alliance with the Uzama chiefs (the seven Uzama) and also some of the leaders of the Efa (i.e Ogiefa). It is whilst here that Oranjan has a son by an Efa woman. This son is named Eweka.
Eweka also encounters opposition in trying to establish a dynasty at Benin. It is only after the forth generation during the time of Ewedo that they gain some success in establishing dynastic control over the whole of Benin City. Which is to say that before Ewedo, the previous Obas did not really exercise monarchical power over Benin City.
Ewedo also encounters major resistance from the Ijos of the Ovia river complex and also the inhabitants of Ogiama (Ogiame). It was during this decisive battle that Ewedo obtained the royal stool of the Ogisos from Ogiama.
The leaders of the Ogiama, custodians of the Ogiso stool and the leaders of the Uzama were then invited to form a government with Ewedo. The Oranjan or Eweka dynasty becomes established at Benin city. But resistance is still put up by some sections of the kingdom.
The Eweka dynasty was not fully accepted. It faced increasing resistance from the City of Udo, which was west ofBenin across the Ovia river. Due to this resistance ditches were dug around Benin. Oba Ogulua marries one of the daughters of the ruler of Udo to secure peace but to no avail. During an intense campaign against Udo, the resistance is destroyed, leading to many of the indigenes fleeing into the main delta. From time to time the leaders of the Uzama presented resistance to the illegimate regime at Benin.
The Eweka dynasty only becomes fully legitimise when Ogun (Ewuare)of the 12th generation ascends the throne. Ogun it is stated was the child of a noble woman who descended from the Ogisos, ie to say she was an Ogiso princess. This may have been a deliberate process on the part of the indigenous element put in place a ruler who was favourable to their interests (Ogun was earlier banaished), for Ogun ascended to the throne after a great battle that lasted two days and two nights. So Ogun ascended the throne of the Ogisos and united in himself the two dynasties (the older indigenous Ogiso dynasty and the younger Oranjan-Eweka dynasty from an Ife near the Igala country). It was during Ogun’s time that ‘the trouble ceased’ so to speak. It was from his time that the monarchy became legitimate and stablised by Ogun creating a state council integrating the Indigenous chiefs in a power sharing arrangment.
By the time of the Oba kings of Benin, the Ijo (Oru) speaking element of Benin had become a minority in the Beninregion, due to intermarriage with the EFA amongst other things. This intermarriage gave birth to some of the Urhobo clans so to speak, who later migrated from Benin.
Subsequently the Oranmiyan-Eweka dynasty started confiscating the land of the true owners of the Benin region, which led to massive migrations out of Benin. Hence the Ijaw narratives from Mein-Ijo and other clans which attest to such actually happening. Many of these people moved into the main central delta and coast to join their kith & Kin already estabished in the region. (Historians need to question why was it that Mein fled Benin into the central delta from Aboh, which at the time was still Ijo speaking? Why is it that the Urhobo maintain fraternal relations with the Ijaws up till the present day?

3 comments:

  1. Really great job boss. I will be stealing some information for my blog for my culture series from time to time. By the way, I am a proud Ijaw man. www.9jafrikfashion.blogspot.com

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  2. This is an amazing trip down memory lane! Fantastic Job and very educating i must say. It was so exciting to read about my ancestors and know my roots............ Proudly Ijaw

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  3. u might not really know how proud u are or how excited you are about your birth origin untill you read rich materials like this. Thumbs up....i appreciate this greatly

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