The Traditions of Origin of Iuleha People

Bookmark and Share

Last up date (28-sep-18)

The traditions of the luleha Community do not claim origins from Benin, which makes this community unique in Owan. A problem apparently arose in Uokha between the plant and animal totemic groups. Like Ora, luleha is almost exclusively composed of animal totems. Furthermore, Iuleha was founded in the same generation as Arokho/Ikhin and Otuo (ca.1632—1664). Clearly, by ca.1632—1 664 animal totemic observances and their social organization were triumphing among the Edo. One can surmise that over the previous century animal totems had been increasing in Uokha, fed by numerous small recorded and unrecorded migrations from Benin. People leaving Benin appeared to favor Uokha as a place of settlement. Thus, by ca.1630 animal totems were very numerous in Uokha and apparently their adherents resented the organization and behavior of the dominant early settlers of the three B’s: beads, beans, and boas. Consequently, the division in Uokha involved not merely animal and plant totem groups but also matrilineal against patrilineal ideology.
Agbeloje (dance for royalty) from Uzebba
The animal group was led out of Uokha by irimo, a follower of the priest Akpwewuma. Given the totemic distribution in iuleha, it would appear that ¡rimo was of the leopard totem. In any case, narrative traditions do not record the strife between plant and animal totemic groups, nor give any reason for the departure of irimo from Uokha. Before he left, irimo had married Otoi; from the distribution of totems it might be presumed that she revered the bushbuck.

ccording to the narrative tradition, ¡rimo and Oroi produced three Sons, Aoma, Okpuje, and Eruere, who founded the three village groups of modern Iuleha. This seems questionable. ¡rimo and Otoi may have produced Aoma, while Okpuje seems to have been from a second wife of the Boa clan and Eruere from a third of the Bead clan. These three marriages would help ¡rimo to draw a following from the animal, snake, and bead groups in Uokha, leaving the plant totems isolated.

Generally, patrilineal-type villages have a mixture of numerous clans without one single totem common to all the people. On the other hand, matrilineal villages do have one dominant totem. In the Aoma village group the villages related to the founding families do not have dominant totems. The stranger villages all do, one revering a plant, another dog, and the third, a buffalo. Only the plant torem village is completely homogenous in both of its wards. However, in the patrilineal villages the leopard and the bushbuck are always present, suggesting the totemic connections of the founder family. A further complication is that one of the villages of the Okpuje group appears pacrilineal and has both leopard and bushbuck totems. It is therefore suggested that the second village of Okpuje was geographically close to the leopard-Boa village but actually had been settled from Aoma.

Related villages, meaning chose related to the founder’s family, are so defined because they have been shown on the luleha genealogy. The unrelated or stranger villages do not appear on the genealogy. If the above reorganization of the village groups is valid, only Aoma really remains a group. Eruere, although called a group, is only one village of two wards. The whole village respects the bead totem, an unusual one but common in Uokha. Okpuje also shrinks from a group to one village with the Boa-Leopard clan being its village-wide totem.

Unless unusual circumstances associated with soil or trade intervenes, one naturally expects an old village to be larger than two wards, when its neighbor contains almost a dozen. This might suggest that Okpuje and Eruere were founded much later than Aoma. The tendency of narrative tradition to give all the villages equality in having them establishes by sons of the founder must always cause the researcher some uneasiness. Elsewhere—in Ora and Igue for example—the Boa clan tends to remain segregated and does not welcome strangers. This may explain its small size in luleha as well.

Comment Box is loading comments...