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Edo Women

Edo Aborigin In Folk Culture

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Ambrose Ekhosuehi (11-07-2016)

A population explosion took place upon the earth. It was at that time extraordinary beings from space sent by God to occupy the four corners of the world, looked upon the beautiful women and took any they desired to be their wives.

The first among the beings sprang up from a world of mist vapour and a world of light. He landed on nephelinite, rock mountain. The second landed at the Hanging Garden of Babylon among the seven wonders of the world, the third landed on suspended city of China; the fourth landed at omi and the shell-Ughughun over-turned, the soil started to build up.

The fourth found that the ground was very soft, covered with white substance which they called- ‘Orhue-Chalk. This period is known in history as “Cretaceous period, more than seventy- five (75) million years ago.
The mystic snail shell-the saucer- ughughun contained specific soil-ulakpa which dissolves to fill the ground hence the nature of Benin soil.

The chameleon was asked to come out of the saucer to tread on the ground. The chameleon found that the ground was very soft, hence the slothful, hesitance movement of chameleon. The mother Taucan-owonwon died and buried in the skull, hence the protruding skull-ukpoko-owonwon.

It took nature about three thousand to twelve thousand years to build up enough soil to form the land.
The people’s meal was mostly chalk and Iso. Any child born was omo orhue, partly because the child was fed with chalk, and chalk became the powder for which the child is rubbed.

Their major industries were the modeling of chalk clay and kaolin-eko which were mainly for meals, utensils and rites. The Iso seized to be eaten during the reign of Ogiso Emose; because a pregnant woman defied the rite of eating Iso. The Iso was forbidden to be kept overnight and mouse should not eat out of it, made the Iso melted into the sky.

The people discovered cocoyam-Taro which they ate for sometimes but could not satisfied their appetites for food
They grumbled and prayed, so plantain was discovered but the hunger persisted hence the adage – “Ukpo ne a gbo oghede re Ukhunmun fi se “that is the year plantain was planted, famine was much severe’.

At last yam was discovered and it was called Omi, the name of the original settlement. The yam-omi was white- white yam.

In history “West Africa appears to be the centre of white yam origin with initial domestication from Ivory coast to Cameroon and in this African yam belt, this is the most important of all the yams

The celebration of New Yam festival evolved from this discovery. The people rejoiced, smear white chalk over their bodies, they ate, they sang and they danced for the yam met their curiosity to avert hunger.

The yam spread from West Africa to Brazil and the Caribbean, presumably by way of slave ships, and is important in Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the French West Indies.

The Origin of Edo people like the early history of most nations leave account of their legendary, belief and folklore on their cultural heritage.

The Omi settlement became known for the order that the Duke-Ogle sent all able-bodied men-Ighele to catch the Boars-bush pigs in the land, perhaps for merriment.

All the Ighele pursued the pigs to return no more. It was revealed that the Boars were hippopotamus and not bush pigs. The Ighele pursued the animals and all perished in the sea, and lost for ever.

The Ogie Omi was quite depressed that he was not after the pigs but to find the ighele that pursued to catch the pigs. “El re emwe esi, Ogle Omi ghi ye sokpan a ghi mien Ighele ne o bu esi.”

Further the land built up and became fertile and the people named the area Oto-land.

The aboriginal inhabitants of the children of the ground Ivbi Oto initially occupied two quarters in Edo City, Benin city; on Ekenhuan-Ughoton road and Sapele road. The sib greeting is La Idu. Its paramount Chief is Edohen, a member of the Uzama.

Oto- ground built up from primordial water and a tree Ikhinmwi-(Newbouldia Laevis) is believed to be the first tree that sprang out of the primordial ground and it is believed to be the oldest tree in the world.

The tree also is called Iyanton, Egbon Okpo eronmwon, etc, used in the composition of gods shrines. It is planted before founding new dwellings. It represent the owner of the land, the most permanent tree in any dwelling, village, town, city etc and is held holy as being the oldest of all trees, (Erhan I din ikhinmwi).

The second Ogiso, Ere introduced wooden memorial heads which are placed on ancestral shrines, the royal throne, (Ekete) the rectangular stool (Agba) the round leather fan (Ezuzu) the round box (ekpoki), the ceremonial swords-Ada, Eben, beaded anklets (eguen) and collars (odigba).

Ogiso Ere recognized ancestral role in influencing the affairs of the living to have been part of beliefs, symbolized in the making of wooden heads, used in memorial context.

In Ogiso era, the iron ceremonial sword called “ada” was part of the furnishings of the ancestral altar, where it expressed the power of the ancestors to control the course of events.

Edo believe that iron has the mystical power to insure, whatever proclamations made will come to pass, and in public appearances the pages (Omuada) carrying the ada, thereby incorporating ancient Edo sanction into the new royal symbolism.

The Edo view of the past is decidedly Monarchical and was ruled by a series of kings, who lived in vast palatial compound covering several acres of land and are worshipped by their subjects, who believe that they came from sky space-Iso and speak of them always with great reverence on bended knees inherited from Edo aborigin in folk culture.

Oba ghato okpee! Isee!!

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