Traditions Of Origin And History Of Akoko Edo People

Bookmark and Share

Last update June 1, 2020

Most of them claim that their ancestors migrated into the area either from Benin or from the Yoruba country on the west or from Idah on the east. The only people who claim to be aboriginals are Ogugu and Ekpese in the north and four groups---Uso, Uwehimi, Uwakpe, and Ogogoroso—which have been absorbed into Somorika.

The remainder of the Somorika population, five out of the six hamlets or descent-group of Ojirami and the people of Enwan, Ate, Sasaru, Igwe, Dagbala, Onumu Ogbe, Olomo, Umorga and Lankpese trace their origins to Benin. The Ate say they were driven from Benin by a giant, the founders of Igwe were a group sent out by the Oba to obtain victims for human sacrifices, and the founder of Dagbala left after committing adultery with the Oba’s wives. Other communities give other and similar reasons, but none of these migrations can be dated.

Many of the communities of Edo origin claim to have been settled elsewhere before coming to their present sites. The Enwan people were with the Emai tribe of lvbiosakon and the founders of Onumu, Ogbe, and Somorika are said to have crossed the Niger and settled near Idah and later to have moved to a site near Okene the Igbira capital, before reaching their present locations. The Ososo and Akuku peoples are said to have come from Idah, but it doubtful whether this was their ultimate origin. Indeed the Olososo (king of Ososo) says that his ancestors came from Benin, but that they had once claimed Idah origin from a fear of being placed under Benin; in the course of their wandering they had crossed and re-crossed the Niger. Akuku seems at one time to have wished to be associated with Igara, the most prominent town in the area The Igara people claim Idah origins though they speak an Igbira dialect. The dialect of Akuku, however, undoubtedly belongs to the Edo group.

Eshiawa, Ijaja, Osi, Ebune, Ugbosi, ibillo, Ekor, and Ibiekuma all claim Ife origins, but these are not substantiated. The ancestors of Ugbosi are said to have lived at Aduge, near Kabba. Yoruba cultural influence is strong in the western part of this area and claims of Ife origin may arise from a desire to be associated with the Yoruba cultural metropolis.
The most unusual historical traditions are those of five communities which say they are descended from age-sets which broke away from their parent communities. These villages are Ekpe and Makeke (from Umorga), Ikpeshi and Egbigele (from Ikpeshi-Akoko, Owo Division), and one ward of Ojirami (from Lankpese). In two cases they say the age-set was sent out to catch bush-fowl o. bush-rat and decided to settle down.

It is clear that the area is one into which groups have migrated from various directions and at different times. At present one can only speculate as to whether there may or may not have been an aboriginal stratum of Edo-speaking people there is no reason to suppose that any particular community is descended from only one group of immigrants and in a few cases there is definite evidence to the contrary.

The whole of the North-West Edo area came under the Nupe during the latter half of the l9th century. The Nupe invasions are said to have been preceded incursions from Ibadan under a leader, Aje, but the dates of these raids are uncertain and it is possible that they continued after the coming of the Nupe. The Ibadan raids seen mainly to have been confined to the north-west comer of the region, but the Ososo people say their ancestors were driven away and their houses burnt by Yoruba before the Nupe came. Osi, Ebune, Ugbosi, Ibillo, Ekor Ekpessa, Lankpese, Ibiekuma, and Ekpe are among the communities who were scattered or had their settlements sacked by the Yoruba. Lankpese and Ekpedo people fled to Ogugu and Ekpessa sought refuge near Somorika. Various groups from Ijaja found shelter at Idogun, Okpe, and Imeri, and some remain at the latter two places. Some of these scattered groups returned to their old sites after the raids passed to submit to or be driven out again by the Nupe, but the Ekpe people, for example, did not leave Ogugu again until 1917.

When the Nupe arrived some villages submitted, some were abandoned by their inhabitants, who fled to the tops of the neighbouring rocky hills, and others were sacked and their populations scattered. Eventually, however, with the possible exception of the inaccessible Ogugu and of Akuku (who may have sheltered Igara or Somorika) all accepted Nupe rule. In each community the Nupe stationed a representative (ajele) to organize the collection of tribute and to promote Islam. Tribute was paid mainly in slaves, though money and guinea-corn are mentioned too. The Ososo people say that at first they had to provide 12 slaves a year, but that this figure was later reduced to six and money might be substituted.At the beginning tribute collectors came annually, but later two stayed in the town for periods of four and five years. They were given food and concubines and in turn the village head received presents of horses and cloths.

Somorika and Okpe entered into friendly relations with the Nupe, who made their regional headquarters in these two towns. On the other hand, refugees from other communities are said to have found shelter at or near Somorika and at Okpe.

Nupe domination came to an end only with the appearance of the Royal Niger Company’s agents in the 1890s. The scattered communities began to re-group themselves in their old or on new sites. But some did not leave their refuges for 20 years or more, and others probably never returned. Enwan and Sasaru remained close to Somorika until 1917

After the departure of the Nupe the area was controlled by the Royal Niger Company which had officers at Ikaram, now in Owo Division. When the Company’s charter was withdrawn (c. 1900) the greater part was attached to Kabba province and administered at various times from Kabba, Okene, and Iddo. There was considerable opposition to British rule until 19O9 when a military patrol captured Somorika which had been the chief centre of resistance. Taxation was introduced 1910, each community being assessed for a lump sum.

Former lowland groups began to return to their old sites. Many still remained up, however, especially in the rocky hills near Somorika and their inaccessibility created difficulties of administration. About 1917 an attempt was made to persuade them to come down and where they refused their houses were burnt. Enwan, Akuku, Osi, Ikiran, and Ogugu are said to have come down about this time. Not all communities returned to their original sites, however. About 1900, for stance, part of Ugbosi returned -to Ugbosi-isale, the old location, but the rest remained at the foot of the hill to which they had fled from the Ibadan raids. The sasaru people descended to the foot of the Igara ridge and did not begin to return the pre-Nupe site on the Igara-Auchi road until 20 years later, although they own land there. Some of the original hill-dwelling communities—Somorika, Onumu, pie, and Ijaja—remained on the tops of their hills. In the last 20 years, however, Somorika people have descended to a lower plateau which is approachable by a very steep motor-road. Their pagan shrines remain on the hilltop, where they still bury their dead. Ogbe is still accessible only by a step footpath.

Until 1918 all people in the area were regarded as subjects of the Attah of Idah and were required to attend court at Okene (the Igbira capital). In that year they were included in the newly-formed Kukuruku Division, whose headquarters was in Fuga and later at Auchi. In 1920 the Division was divided into a number of districts each under a District Head and North-West Edo communities were included in five of these districts, some of which contained Etsako and Ivbiosakon tribes. The District Heads acquired considerable personal authority and appointed their representatives in the villages, often giving them Nupe titles. This system was abolished in 1936 and later each community became a separate Native Authority.

Comment Box is loading comments...