Esan Location

Bookmark and Share
Last Update June 4, 2020

Esan is located in the tropical zone of the Northern part of the Nigerian forest region. Esan is an Edo word, which refers to a people and their land, situated on a Plateau North-East of Benin City. Esan has boundaries on the North — West with Owan and on the North — East with Etsako, on the south — west with Orhiomwon and Ika, while on the south and south — east with Aniocha and Oshimili areas respectively. The River Niger terminates her Eastern boarders.

During the early period of Esan existence as a people, there were no fixed geographical boundaries. Fixing of rigidly defined boundaries is a European conception. The traditional boundaries were fluid. Often along roads and demarcated by geographical and environmental features including hill, rivers and streams. Sometimes it was the Iyala or moat that demarcated an in-group form an out-group of Esan settlers in the region. Esan area expanded and contracted under various political and economic circumstances that reflected the strength and weaknesses of the period. Periods of geographical expansion were usually attributed to good organization and able leadership.

According to Peter Darling. most boundary perimeters and other territorial details are little more than recent attempts to define in physical terms in ill defined or concept of historical validity. This is to emphasize the lack or absence of rigidly defined geographical boundaries in pre colonial Esan. Despite the expansion and contraction of her geo-political boundaries in the pre-colonial times, the Esan people retained their relatively flat terrain where they developed viable polities that have survived till today. By the end of the pre-colonial period, the geo-political extent of Esan was about 1,85 8 square kilometers.
Generally, early Esan settlers located their settlements and farms on the upper interfluves and avoided the valleys. Instead, they preferred having much of their activities on the dry areas of the land and as such settled in the upper interfluves or plateau leaving the valleys as “no mans lands”. According to P.J. Darling, ‘this appears to have been a strong pattern in the past, being graphically illustrated by the location of Iyala (most) enclosures and pottery shreds discovered.

The location of Esan settlements away from the valleys was based on traditional beliefs that provided a link between the real causal agents and the people’s form of behaviour. Usually valleys were flooded during rainy seasons, not airy and without adequate sunshine for both the farmer and his root crops. According to P J. Darling, the Esan were descended from an influx, or series of influxes of Savannah dwellers that in the course of their migration went along with their settlement pattern customs and prejudices. Part of this culture was not to settle in valleys not only because of the fever — carrying mosquitoes but as the valley areas also hardboard the tse-tse flies with its dreaded sleeping sickness. According to R.P. Moss, most soil conditions provided the ideal habitat for the yaws spirochete. (Traponema pertenue) carried by the eye gnat (hippoletes pallípes) and the swampy flood — plain provided wide range of suitable habitats for the various species of mosquito, the main vectors of fever, filariasis and elephantiasis.’ Malaria is still one of the most widespread and deadly diseases in Africa today.

As the early settlers moved south form the Savannah into the forests, they continued with their Savannah derived preferences of settling along interfluves and constructed ogbodo or ponds to avoid or reduce visiting rivers and streams. The evidence from the Iyala moat and shred distribution in the area attests to the early maintenance of highly localized population

Comment Box is loading comments...