"PETER EKEH IS DISTANCING THE URHOBO FROM THE MAIN EDOID STOCK"
By Ademola Iyi Eweka,
University of Wisconsin-Madison
After going through Peter Ekeh's lecture, I came out with only one conclusion, Professor Ekeh is still trying to distance the Urhobos from the main Edoid stock left in Benin. I am happy though, that he did not call Urhobo area a kingdom or Empire, because the whole Urhobo land was part of the ancient Benin Empire. Each town or village has its own OVWIE (Ogie-Duke). The Urhobos themselves were part and parcel of Benin administration even during the so called EWEKA PERIOD. Urhobos have held the title of IYASE of Edo land ( not the Iyase of Benin City ) on more than one occassion. Urhobos particpated in all the Benin wars of expansion as part and parcel of the EDO army. I want to restate what I have said before, "An Urhobo man running from the word EDO or those in Benin City, is like a man running from his shadows. Of course his shadow is always there.)"
In modern politics where every village or city has become an empire, the majority of Urhobos and BINIS are always on the same side of the political coin. Educated Bini persons do not run away from Urhobos nor do they try to distance themselves from Urhobo. But some educated Urhobos are so bent on creating an Urhobo kingdom where none ever existed, that they write anything. What they intend to achieve by all these, I do not know. But one thing I know, " An Urhobo.man or woman is my brother or sister. We are all Edoid." Many of the modern day Urhobo towns and villages were founded during the Eweka Period. New Viillages are still coming up. Categorising every Urhobo village or town as pre or during Ogiso dynasty will be academically dishonest. The same village or town building is going on in BINI area.
I asked a question from Peter Ekeh sometime ago about the use of the word AKA. He never responded to it. Aka means SNAKE in Urhobo. Some of the Urhobos call the Oba of Benin OBARAKA. Some do not. .We know that the Ughe Erhoba of Oba Ovonranmwen had a snake emblem hanging over the door-way to the hall. British soldiers took it away when Benin fell in 1897 and with it the rituals that may be associated with it. Oba Eweka II never replaced it because British agents were everywhere. Were the Edos ( or the Oba) worshiping snakes at a point in time? Could the name have arisen over the worship of snakes? Could the word AKA be a reflection of the Oba's judicial system? What is the meaning of Urhobo-UHOBO? The Binis gave the Urhobos that name.
Hilary Evhayiroh, Sagay and Manfredi have said all that I would have said in academic lingo. But it is funny that Peter Ekeh accepted the Yoruba version of the Ife-Benin connection without touching the Benin side of the story. The reason is simply this- Peter Ekeh did not want the reader to see the continuity of the Ogiso era dove tailing biologically into the House of Eweka. If the Edo people have had Ogisos for many centuries as a monarch and Oduduwa of the Yorubas is the first monarch of the Yoruba, does it not look arkward for a group already used to monarchical system, to now go to an upstart to beg him come and rule over them?
In spite of all observations
we have all made, there are many good historical points [originally appeared
as: "point point"] in the lecture.
Ademola Iyi Eweka