Prince Ademola Iyi-Eweka
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Date: Tue, 06 Jul 1999 21:52:16 -0500
From: ademola iyi-eweka <firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Edo Tribe 3
They knew that Dogho was not a traditional ruler. While they were fighting for freedom from Dogho, the Itsekiris were also fighting for the restoration of the Oluship of Itsekiri which Dore( Dogho) Numa has almost converted to his own. When the Oluship of Itsekiri was later converted to WARRI, Urhobos were already on the war path, demanding back their lands, which Dore NUma has illegally acquired and given to the British authorities.
Can you imagine an Urhobo man speaking a variant of Edo language and at the same time saying he his not Edo? It is like a human being running away from his shadow. That shadow will always follow until he/she dies. The Urhobos and many of the Izons/Ijaws on the western side of Niger, speak a dialect of the Edo language. The Itsekiris speak a mixture of Ijebu-Anago version of the now standardized yoruba and Edo language.
In short they are Edos, not necessarily modern "BINIS." Their traditional histories point to a common heritage-Igodomogodo. Urhobo traditional history, point to a wave of migration from Benin City, some time in the distant past, settled first at a place they named ABRAKA , in remembrance of when and how they migrated from Benin City and from there dispersed to the various communties where they are at now. The Urhobos call Benin City, AKA and the king, OBARAKA. We also know that , the oldest dukedom in Urhobo areas was UGHELLI, from Benin/Edo historians. The BINIS call the Urhobos, UHOBO. They are best remebered for their success in harvesting and processing palm oil. There is a category of oil any Bini man would quickly identify as OFINGBON UHOBO-Uhobo (Urhobo oil) . Sometime derogatorily, the BINIS call them UHOBO OMEN-Uhobo of the palm fronds, an inference to their main profession . Many Ijaws/Izons communities on the western side of the Niger, are an extension of that wave of migration towards the east and then swinging southwards at Abraka.
While the Iteskiris claim in one breath that they are yorubas, who inter married with the Urhobos and Izons/Ijaws, two Edo-speaking clans they met at Warri to survive, they lay claim to Benin/Edo heritage only when it is convenient. If the Itsekiris are yoruba migrants to where they are right now, then they are aliens and therefore settlers with no right of ownership to the land on which they settled. This is the claim Urhobos have been making since the beginning of this century. The Izons/Ijaws say as much. The truth of the matter is that the itsekiris are not yorubas. It is true that the itsekiris migrated from ODE, a community at Ijebu waterside. They call themselves the CHILDREN OF LENUWA OF ODE. It is also on record that " a LENUWA of ODE," in an interview it was reported he granted in the late 1950's, said that everybody in ODE migrated from Benin to that place at a point in time. But that a group decided to return home. It was that group that finally made it to Warri and its environs. They are the ancestors of the present day Itsekiris of Warri. Then about six hundred years ago, the Oba of Benin, Oba Olua sent them their own duke in GINUA I with the title ODIHI NAMEN/ OGIAMEN-DUKE OF THE WATERS. In his entourage, were an influx of new group of Edo-speaking people from Benin City. The Urhobos already had their Duke in UGHELLI. It is significant to note that , the present Olu of Warri want to be addressed as simply OGIAME, which was the original title his father gave him.
The importance of this history is that, while the ancestors of the modern Urhobos moved eastward and then swung southwards at Abraka, those of the Itsekiris headed west to ODE only to return through the creeks to Warri. Sometime ago, a rampant called EREDO was found in the Ijebu-Ode area. People were already linking it to the Queen of Sheba. It will not surprise me if an archeaologist , links it to that movement, west into Ijebu territory, by the Edo-speaking people. In fact, one has already hinted that it might be so . Chief Egharevba, though not necessarily pre-occupied with writing Ijebu history, stated as a matter of fact that, Ijebu was conqured by Benin under by Oba Ozolua, c1473, the war lord, who spent most of his life in Akoko and Owan areas. Could the settlement at ODE be a remant of a military post by Oba Ozolua fighters? No one can tell for now. But we are waiting. It is doubtful that, if the Federal Govt of Nigeria were to give the whole revenue accruing from oil to Urhobos, Ijaws and Itsekiris, that they will not continue to fight until they all understand one thing-" they are all Edos. There are no squatters and no tenants in that area." This is was what some people had in mind when a peace conference was conveyed in Benin City recently. TAKE EVERYBODY BACK TO THEIR ROOTS. HOPEFULLY COMMON SENSE AND PEACE WILL PREVAIL. The things that bind them together are more than what separates them. Everybody has a stake in the development and peace in that area. There can be no development without peace. They should stop destroying the few properties they have, while the rest of country is swimming in their oil
I hope the organisers of the Peace Conference in Washington are listening. The Urhobos/Ijaws,Itsekiri need a common front to get what is rightfulLY theirs from the Nigerian Govt. They do not have to be at each other's throat.