Emai People In Edo

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BY ONIME OIFOVBOTOI WILSON (Last update October 3, 2018)

EMAI can be described, as the land is suitable to human livelihood. It also means that after the settlements of this group of people, they decided to spread to other lands in order to acquire more land. 

The history of Emai was one of unbroken successful existence of one single soul who was brave, courageous and such a man was Imaran.

Agangan festival
Imaran was the first born of Prince Kuoboyuwa, the eldest son to King Ewu, the Great of Benin. Born in Edo (Benin City) in about 1410 AD. He became much troubled in mind after the sudden death of his father who died while his father, Ewu was still alive.He subsequently found life in his grandfather's house unbearable and decided to migrate with his entire household.Prince Ima and his wife stopped at Ogulu forest and later moved to the present site near Uokha clan. The place was said to have been uninhabited and unclaimed before his arrival. Here, Ima built a camp, which he named after himself 'Eko-ima' meaning Ima's Camp. After a long period of time, Ima was called 'Emai'. His wife delivered a son named Uzuambi. Ima returned to Benin and left Uzuambi in Emai. On hearing of his father's death, Uzuambi went to Benin to perform the burial ceremonies.He later returned to Emai bringing with him two Benin wives,
Odidi and Oron. Odidi had three sons namely; "Owunno, Oruamen, and Urule.Unfortunately for the second wife, she had no child of her own, and Odidi died and was survived by three sons and her husband.Oron killed the three sons of Odidi. Hence, the saying in Emai, meaning 'Elegant legged Oron is the mother of Emai.'

Important villages in Emai Clan include Uanhumi, Afuze, Okpokhumi, Evbiamen, Ovbiowun, Ojavun, Ogute, Eteye, Okpa and Ugboa.

Its political /economic system

In the case of Emai clan, the body that held all the three arms of government was the central council of elders. The oldest man presided over these councils' meetings.These councils usually delegated powers i.e. legislative, executive, and judicial to the village councils of elders. Almost all cases tried in these village councils were minor ones. The village councils also legislated on minor matters and their executive powers were also very circumscribed. Major matters are left to the central councils of elders to handle.

But customs and traditions of the people were held in high esteem. So that legislating was in fact very rave in the central and village councils, there are checks and balances in the administration.

What is necessary was the preservation of the customs and traditions of the Emais by these councils and the people jealously guarded these.

The basis of the economy is both subsistence and market;

The patterns of production, consumption and distribution are based on the mobilisation of the resources. Land belongs to the community, in this case there is also land inheritance from parents to children.

Various crops and trees are planted and the yields are consumed or sold or redistributed through networks of kins and friends.

Domestic animals such as pigs, sheep, goats are reared in the grassy plains of Emai. These animals are very important to the community because the animals are used for food, also for religious and ceremonial purposes.


Cultural/Religious .There are four important annual festivals in Emai:- Agangan festival - which is celebrated by the whole of Emai, is comparable to Egungun festivals in the Yoruba land.

Urule celebrates Eseokha - The origin of this festival can be traced to its name Okha. It is a cotton tree,which supplies materials for making mattress and pillows. The word "Ese" means near. So 'Eseokha' means near the Okha tree.

After the birth of Urule, his mother became very ill and weak. She was unable to sleep on bare mats, so a mattress had to be made to make her have a comfortable sleep. This is why Urule chose to observe the anniversary of the name of the tree, which gave his mother a sort of comfort. The annual festival of Urule was and is still 'Eseokha'.

The celebration of Agangan,which is still being practised last a whole day. All the people in Emai clan except the aged and invalid participate in the jubilation. It is like a war dance. Activities start about noon and people in different attires walk round the towns. Men paint their faces to look terrible.

The festival is merely celebrated to remember the dead as a mark of final burial rites for them.The celebration of either Okeke or Eseokha lasts for three consecutive days. It is celebrated in honour of newly born male children who must be within the same age grade of three years. Period of the Festivals Agangan is generally celebrated around July/August, Ukpodugborera around October/November. Eseokha is celebrated in December and Okeke around December/January of each year.

Religion of Emai clan;

The people of Emai worship God in two different ways. The purely local native way and the Christian way, that is, the Emais are divided into two in religion, the first group are those of loosely designated pagans and the second are those arbitrarily described as the Christians. The first group makes up five per cent of the people of Emai while the second make up the remaining 95 per
cent. The so-called pagans really worship God (Oiselebua) but they do so through other gods. These other gods may be carved gods bearing the name of "Orimiyan while other gods have different names. One of the essential things here is that each of the gods has its special festival during which occasion it is worshipped.

During the 'Orimiyan' festival the artistically carved images are borne by professional dancers whose messages (whose duty it is to clear the way for them) carrying funny images called "Okoko Bioroko" or "Ukpako." 


The surviving elders of the deceased family normally carry out inheritance after the completion of all the funeral rites by the children. Caution and strict adherence to the rule of the customs must be adopted in order to avoid disunity and sometimes court case among the children of the deceased. It is most important to note that all major decisions connected with such rites are usually left to delegates from the paternal side, while representatives from the mother's side mainly observe.Representatives from the maternal side are therefore charged as customs demands to prepare the dead for interment, in close contact with the children of the deceased. All the properties of the deceased will be itemised both the tangible and the intangible ones. For instance, houses, cars farmlands, etc. The family then moves on to the issue of sharing these and other properties of the deceased. The first and main house,
that is, where he lived before he died and this must be shared to the children according to seniority, irrespective of the numbers of wives. If the eldest child is a woman and the man has other sons, the eldest daughter shares in the third position. If the extended family is aware of this fact, it must equally be respected and protected. When property are being shared in Emai land, a lot of
heat is usually generated and so utmost care is usually taken to avoid chaos and disunity.

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