Esan Land

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Last Update June 4, 2020

Studies have shown that the relatively flat terrain of Esan has “an average slope of about 1, 38’ on the surface with an elevation ranging from between 350 to 460 meters above sea level”. The highest point on this plateau exists at a village in the Uromi chiefdom with “466 meters above sea level”) The topsoil of Esanland is a mixture of laterite and sandy light brown soil; and just beneath this, according to professor Akinbode., is made up ‘of clays, fine — grained sands lignite, and carbonaceous shale clays”. Generally the topsoil that is full of humus like it probably was in the pre-colonial era must have played a dominant role for good crop yields especially yams in the area. This position encouraged the planting of crops and the settlement of people in the region. Part of the Esan live on the plateau while others live on the lowlands. The chiefdoms of Irrua. Ekpoma. Ubiaja. Ugboha and lJromi were on the plateau while Ewohimi Ewu and Ohordua were on the lowland. According to Okojie. the established chiefdoms in early Esan were Irrua, Uromi. Ekpoma Ubiaja Ugboha. Ewohim, Ewu, Uzea. Emu Ohordua. Ebelle.. Amahor, Okalo, Esan. Udo and Ugbegun .

Esanland can be divided into two broad categories - the lowland and the plateau Lowland is rich in water with several springs and streams It marks the end of the plateau Okoje describes the plateau of Esan land as waterless in contrast to the lowland. The streams are few and there is insufficient water for the general needs of the people because most villages do not have natural sources of water. The water table appears low and Akinbode emphasized that to the west and south of the area tributaries of Ossiomo River dram into Benin River while the Eastern Rivers including Utor stream drain into the Niger. The Rivers cut deep valleys that. Penetrate almost to the center of the plateau. In the view of P.J. Darling the plateau has “powerful springs, some occurring at the permanent regional water table and others.such the Ekpoma spring coming from perched aquifers”. In essence these sources of water supply were hardly sufficient because the pre-colonial Esan dug open pits or Oghodo that was used to store rain water Before the introduction of’ pipe borne water supply to every part of Esan, which va which was in 1955, every village possessed a central pond where the inhabitants went to fetch water for domestic needs. Such central pond were dug through communal efforts under the auspices of elders in the village who and they also kept watch over their year to—year maintenance. Some individuals or families did have private ponds Such private ponds or omin were dug in family compounds and were maintained by member of the family while the oghodo or central pond was maintained by the members of the village Thus water from the Pond  and the various streams were used to meet the various needs of the Esan people.

Of relevance to meeting the water needs of the Esan people were the odighi or seasonal lakes formed from earth’s subsidence. The odighi pools were shallow elliptical and enclosed depressions on the interfluves soil level and ranged in width from 100 meters to over 2 kilometers. The magnitude rule out anything but natural origin. In the rainy season, the odighi was often saturated and formed swampy open water bodies that retained water through much of the dry season. As it eventually dries up, those searching for water dug water holes up to 4 meters deep progressive nearer the centre of the depression. The people usually preferred to get water from the odighi in the wet season, followed by the dry season digging of water holes in the depression that also was one of the important factors in the early colonization of the plateau. The practice of digging water holes in the odighi depression

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