The Traditions of Origin of Igue People

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Last up date (June 12, 2023)

Shortly after the departure of Prince Uguan and his Ora followers from Uokha, the Igue clan group led by Anamah (ca.1568—I600) left Benin. Anamah was of the Benin totem group. Most of his followers revered snakes or plants, and therefore he appeared to represent a combination of the aboriginal and Ogiso people. By tradition Anamah had been sent by an oba of Benin (possibly Oba Ehengbuda ca.1563—l59O by genealogical calculations) to secure sacrificial victims for royal celebrations. Up to 1892 Igue sent to Benin two or three slaves every three years. When he initially settled in Uokha, Anamah attempted to seduce one of Odion’s wives. By doing so he may have successfully drawn away some of Odion’s followers, since the boa and bean were prominent totems in Uokha and Igue. In any case, Anamah moved north and settled in modern Igue. This would have been about the same generation (ca.1568—1600) during which Ora-Ekpen’s Sons were establishing themselves in the villages of Ora. According to tradition, Anamah had four sons who founded the four villages of Igue. The evidence suggests that only one—_Oviosa—was founded this way, while the other three were villages of strangers, possibly established much later. According to the genealogies, Onegah the Leopard village was founded ca.1696—l728, the Boa village— Ugbekpe—ca.1728-1760 and the Porcupine village—Oreva—later

As in Ora, the Boa clan remained segregated. This was general practice, although not exclusively so, everywhere in Owan. This group may have come out of Uokha since it combined the boa with the bean as totems. However, the dating clearly indicates that the Boa group díd not come with the founder. The leopard village here as elsewhere in Owan demonstrated much greater willingness than the Boa to welcome strangers into its midst. lf the Boa represented cult followers of an early age, the Boa group demonstrated considerable exclusivity, while the royal leopard seemed more prepared to embrace stranger groups. Although the organization of the Igue community resembles Ora and dynastic Benin of ca.1500, the plant and snake totems which are in the majority resemble Uokha. The first village even more strongly resembles Uokha. Oviosa is comprised of three quarters with no unique totems. Oviosa reveres only the bean, which forms the totem of the whole clan group as in Uokha. The fourth village, Oreva, possessed only one ward of the Porcupine clan, perhaps late arrivals whose tradition has been pushed back to associate them with one of the founder’s Sons.

That Oviosa village has no unique totem for the whole village or its wards could imply a strong attachment to patriarchy (note the male shrine). The Igue community was dominated by snakes and plants in those twelve wards out of fifteen revered them. In this respect it was much like Uokha. The major difference was that the leopard clan formed a major group in Igue, possibly a reflection of Anamah’s collaboration with the government of Benin. What is really amazing is that, while snakes and plants predominated as totems in the Uokha fashion, there appears no hint of matriarchy which parallels those types of totems in Uokha. Three villages have their own male shrines, which is hardly surprising for the leopard and Porcupine villages, but quite surprising for Oviosa, which revered the bean. It is possibly explained by the close collaboration of Anamah with the royal house ¡n Benin. The Boa clan, possibly associated with authority in the ancient matriarchal society, possessed no shrine of any type in its village, a practice common among the Boa clans elsewhere in Owan.

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