The Origin Of Etsako People

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Last update 03-06-2020) 

The word “Etsako” is used to describe thirteen Edo speaking clans inhabiting the North-West of Edo state, Nigeria .Each clans is autonomous, but all are connected by common traditions of origin from Benin.. They speak closely related dialects and have a common culture and a feeling of unity which is said to be expressed by a taboo on blood-letting between at least some of the clanss.

Etsako “, viz., “those who file their teeth”, has the same meaning as “lvbiosakon”) and is of the same origin. It is probably most appropriately applied to Uzairhue, Auchi, Ibie, Avianwu, Ekperi, and Uwepa-Uwano, and possibly to Ukpella and Aviele, but the administration has extended its use to include some other groups.

The dialects of at least some of the Etsako clans are sharply distinguishable from neighbouring Edo dialects by the absence of nasal vowels and the possession of certain consonants and consonant-combinations. There appears, however, to be no rigid linguistic boundary between Etsako as a whole and neighbouring Edo speaking peoples. Ukpella dialect, for example, seens to have much in common with that of Ososo (North-West Edo).

Demography And Settlement
South Uneme
5             (15 wards)
The three Ibles
South Ibie
Weppa- Wanno

The Etsako tribes vary in population from less than 4,500 to more than 18,. persons. Each chan consists of a number of compact village settlements and in Auchi Clan the four villages are so closely placed as to form a single community on the ground. On the other hand, neighbouring villages in some Chans are miles apart. The multiplicity of settlement in the relatively small Ekperi tribe is due to scattering, during the last century, by Nupe raiders .Villages range in size from less than 100 to more than 5,000 persons, majority have less than 1,000, but five of the six villages of Ukpila, for example have more than 2,000 persons. The marked compactness here may be related the rocky and precipitous terrain. Villages are on the whole much larger in Etsako than in the Ivbiosakon area. They are divided into wards which may spatially separate.

All the Etsako tribes claim that their founders came from Benin, though in the case of Okpella, Ibie, and Uwepa-Uwano there is some evidence of absorption of aboriginal elements (ugbami). The founders of Uzairhue, Ibie, Avianwu, Ekperi, and Uwepa-Uwano are said to have formed part of a single migration and to have settled, originally, in the Uzairhue area. Traditions refer to a period of oppression and civil war in Benin which led to an exodus of refugees to the north. The founders of Ukpila and Aviele, too, are said to have come from Benin, the latter in the time of Oba Ozolua
After an early period in which they sent the skins of all leopards killed to the Oba the Etsako people seem to have broken off close contacts with Benin and to have been outside the range of Benin armies.

During the latter half of the 19th  century the area was invalid by the Nupe. some tribes resisted—Uwepa and Uwano apparently forming an alliance—some scattered and others submitted. All eventually paid tribute, in the form of slaves, to the  Emir of Bida and Nupe agents were posted in some Etsako settlements. The ruler of Aviele entered into friendly relations with the Nupe and supplied them with slaves from the surrounding tribes. Nupe titles were introduced there and natuaIly replaced those of Benin origin. But the tribal head who died in 1895 adopted the Yoruba title, Oba and his son, Momodu, who succeeded him, forcibly converted his people to Islam, ordering them to destroy their pagan shrines. A Nupe ‘ chief,’‘ Umoru, settled at Uzairhue and compelled the people there to  provide 20 slaves a year for Bida. He made a descendant of the tribal founder head of Uzairhue and the North-West Edo villages, Ate and Ikpeshi ; his task was to supervise the collection of tribute, in return for which he received presents from Bida.
According to Temple Kukuruku slaves who proved trustworthy were sent back their homes as Nupe agents to assist in the collection of tribute and its dispatch Bída, and were rewarded with cloths and other presents. The Nupe, apart from tribute exacted death duties on the estates of dead “chiefs.”

British officials first penetrated the southern part of Etsako country from Idah ¡904. A series of expeditions followed and the area was first administered from lddo (Ukpila) and later from Fuga (Avianwu) and Auchi. It became part of the Kukuruku Division in 1918. In the early days of the Administration the suzerainty of the Oba of Agbede (Aviele) was recognized over a number of Etsako, Ivbiosakon, North-West Edo communities. After the death of Oba Momodu in 1910 the power of Agbede was greatly reduced although the selection of the Oba of Agbede as District Head from 1920 to 1936 encouraged Agbede claims to power.
In 1938 all Etsako tribe together with Anwain, Ujagbe, southern Ineme, and Northern Ifeku were included in an Etsako Federal Native Authority.

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