Ika, Anioma, Agbor, Igbanke Roots From The Benin Kingdom

Emeka Esogbue on his article “The Origin of Agbor” explained : The History of Agbor Kingdom like those of other African ancient kingdoms, empires and peoples is based on oral tradition. Various oral accounts on the origin of Agbor and Ika people exist but the most credible being that “Ogunagbon” and his followers who founded Agbor came from Benin and first settled in “Ominije” presently located in today’s Agbor-Nta. Following what can best be described as personal crisis between two princes in Benin and subsequent settlement of this dispute as agreed to by the chiefs and elders of Benin determined by casting of lot, one of the princes settled in what became known as “Agbon”. Agbon like other Anioma towns and communities was later anglicized by the Bjritish who found it difficult to pronounce as “Agbor” the present name of the town. For certain reasons, I have decided to ignore all other events that transpired leading to the foundation of the town called Agbor in acknowledgement of the fact that what concerns us here is the progenitor of the kingdom and his origin. Agbon (Agbor) in Benin means “Earth or “Land”. Anglicization of names of Anioma communities found difficult to pronounce was not new by the British was not uncommon to these peoples. Igbuzo in circumstances beyond the understanding of the indigenes was anglicized as “Ibusa,” Ahaba (Asaba,) Ogwanshi-Ukwu (Ogwashi-Uku) Isei-Ukwu (Issele-Uku) Isei-Mkpitime (Issele-Mkpitime) Okpam (Okpanam) Umuede (Umunede) Notice also that in some cases the name remains the same but the spelling may change as in the case of Onicha (Onitsha) of Anambra state another of Anioma city.

As noted earlier Cheime, a refugee from Benin is historically credited with the foundation of majority of Anioma communities. Historical accounts records Cheime who was driven away from Benin fled from the kingdom traveling eastwards towards the Niger River and founded Onitsha where he finally settled, his followers having been exhausted founded certain of these Anioma towns. Many of which includes the present day Onicha-Uku, Onicha-Ugbo, Onicha-Olona, Onicha-Ukwu, Issele-Uku, Idumuje-Unoh, Idumuje-Ugboko and a lot more.
At the present day Onitsha in Anambra state, his final place of settlement, Cheime had had a daughter called Owuwu, Owuwu was believed in oral history to have abandoned Onitsha fearing she might lose her life after her father lost nine of his sons in this very town owing to witchcraft. Owuwu was soon to return to Agbor settling at Osarra in Agbor. The name “Owuwu” which now is a Quarter in Agbor is a historical testimony of this. The argument in certain Quarters that Agbor people bear Igbo names and to some extent assimilates Igbo language and vocabularies is well a defeated one, it is asking why the language of Onitsha people is Igbo having been founded by Cheime from Benin. ”

The Ika historical accout have it that Umunede Kingdom was founded by a Benin Prince, called Ede and his wife, Iye who migrated from Benin and settled in the present location, later known as Umunede. The exact date of migration of Ede and his wife from Benin was not recorded but generally, historians put the approximate period as the Thirteenth Century A.D., during the reign of Oba Ewedo The Great (1250-1280 A.D.) Thus, the Kingdom is over seven hundred years old and many historians believed that Umunede Kingdom is one of the oldest kingdoms east of the Benin Empire. Historians had contended that during Oba Ewedos reign, the Oba had two battles to fight: a diplomatic battle against the great nobility led by the Ediommehan and military battles against Ogiamien III in order to destroy once and for all this anti-royalist movement. As a result of these events, many princes and noble men fled with their families to different safe locations. The second wave of migration to Umunede probably took place under Oba Ewuare The Great (1440-1485). During his reign, an attempt to eliminate members of the nobility who were threatening the monarchy gathered momentum and brought about another wave of migration out of the Benin Empire.

Ika shares linguistics with Benin and Enuani speakers. It is also a mixture of Benin and Aniocha (Igbo) culture but distinct from either of the two groups the same way Itsekiri, derived from Benin is distinct and Isoko and Urhobo considered two distinct ethnic groups.

Historically, the (Ekas) Ikas are believed to have migrated from Benin and first settled in Agbor with their earliest form of language called Bibi (Jacob Egharevba). Much as this history is found tenable as considered in tales and mythologies of the people and supported by names of clans, quarters and festivals of the people, the Ika group has today evolved as a grouping distinct from any ethnic group. The Ika apart from Igbanke, Ekpon and a few other communities are largely located within two local government areas of Delta State. The area occupies 17.45 square kilometres according to the information found on Delta State Government website in 1999 and has a total population of about 240,000 people.
According to Onyeche Ifeanyi Joseph, Ika people that include Igbanke comprise of the following:
1. Agbor clan
2. Owa clan
3. Abavo clan
4. Ute-Okpu clan
5. Ute-Ogbeje clan
6 Umunede clan
7. Akumazi clan
8. Igbodo clan
9. Otolokpo clan
10. Mbiri clan
11. Idumuesah clan
12. Orogodo/Boji-Boji
We are further told that:
“The Ika collective group is sometimes regarded as an ethnic group or tribe (Bates 1996; Lewis 1996; de la Gorgendiere 1996; Jenkins 1997)
Bates describes tribe as:
“a decentralized descent-and kinship-based grouping in which a number of subgroups are loosely linked to one another. There is no centralized system of authority, decision making, or social control, but potential exists to unite a large number of local groups for common defense or warfare. The internal organization is similar in principle to that of the lineage or clan. Just how the lineages are expressed and maintained varies from society to society. One system is for two or more clans to see themselves as related, even though each group generally will act autonomously in managing its affairs. However, the sense of common identity can be called into play for defense” (1996: 219).
A tribe can be seen as sometimes containing several independent clans or what Bates (1996) called subgroups that are not necessarily related through shared lineage of descent (Gutane 2001).
Due to political reasons “tribe” or “ethnic group” evokes fluidness in meaning due to unnecessary emotion it enjoys, this is because of the complexities involved in understanding the history of the people claims and counterclaims involved in the arrogation of separate people, a situation that makes it difficult for the Federal Government to truly determine the actual number of the ethnic groups existing in the nation. Larger groups are often tending to swallow smaller groups in the context of gaining political balance or importance in the polity.
Igbanke comprises of six villages and all of these six villages speak the Ika language. A recorded version of history believes that the community was founded by farmers from Ishan and Agbor villages who settled in this area, founded the five original villages, namely Ake, Igbontor, Otta Idumodin and Umolua. Oligie village, the sixth village in the Igbanke clan, is claimed by Oligie people to have been founded by Ottor from Benin (Kerr, 1937; Simpson, n.d).

Reference Notes: — http://www.cgore.dircon.co.uk/i.htm

2008a Gore, C., “Burn the Mmonwu”: Contradictions and Contestations in Masquerade Performance in Uga, Anambra State in South Eastern Nigeria, African Arts, 41, 4.
2008b Gore, C., Mami Wata: An Urban Presence or the Making of a Tradition in Benin City, Nigeria, (ed.) Drewal, H., Sacred Waters: Arts for Mami Wata and Other Divinities in Africa and the Diaspora, Indiana University Press.
2007a Gore, C., Art, Performance and Ritual in Benin City, IAI and University of Edinburgh Press
2007 Gore, C., Conceptualising Royal, Ancestral Shrines and Personal Shrines in Benin City, Nigeria, in (ed.) Plankensteiner, B., Benin Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria, Museum fur Volkerkunde Wien-Kunsthistorisches Museum, UitGeverij Snoeck Editions/Publishers: Vienna, Austria, pp.131-139.
2006a Gore, C., in Drewal, H., with Gore, C., and Kisliuk, M., Siren Serenades: Music for Mami Wata and Other Water Spirits in Africa, (eds.) Austern, L.P. and Naroditskaya, I., Music of the Sirens, Indiana Press: Bloomington and Indanapolis.
2006b Gore, C., Nigerian Museums: A Question of Value, Safeguarding Africa’s Heritage, (ed.) Finneran, N., Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology, 65.
2003 Gore, C., and Pratten, D., The Politics of Plunder: The Rhetorics of Order and Disorder in Southern Nigeria, African Affairs, vol. 102, no.407, april, pp.211-240.
2002 Gore, C., Traditions and Transformations in African Religions, in (eds.) Fletcher, P., Kawanami, H., Smith, D., and Woodhead, L., Religion in the Modern World, Routledge, pp. 204-230.
2001 Gore, C., Commemoration, Memory and Ownership: Some Social Contexts of Photography in Benin City, Nigeria, Journal of Visual Anthropology Special Issue U.S.A., pp.321-342.
2000, Gore, C., A Record of War, Southern Nigeria, Songlines, Gramaphone Publications, vol.8 autumn/winter, pp.40-41.
1999 Gore, C., Vodou Nation in the United Kingdom, African Arts, UCLA, 32, 2, pp. 77-79.
1998 Gore, C., Ritual, Performance and Media in Benin City, Nigeria, (ed.) Hughes-Freeland, F., Ritual, Performance and the Media, ASA monograph series, Routledge, pp.66-84.
1997a Gore, C., Remembering R.E.Bradbury: An Interview with Professor Peter Morton-Williams, African Arts, UCLA, 30, 4, pp.36-45.
1997b Gore, C., Casting Identities in Contemporary Benin City, African Arts, UCLA, 30, 3, pp.54-61.
1997c Gore, C., and Nevadomsky, J.N., Practice and Agency in Mammy Wata Worship in South-Eastern Nigeria, African Arts, UCLA, Vol.30, No.2, pp.60-69.
1997d Gore, C., Popular Culture in West Africa, pp.447-453; Mami Wata pp.108-110; Encyclopedia of Sub-Saharan Africa; Macmillans Library Reference, USA.

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