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The Origins And History Of Ika People Of Anioma


Agbor consists of 23 villages and a metropolis called Orogodo (Boji-Boji). The villages are as follow: (i) Ogbemudein, (ii) Ihaikpen, (iii) Ogbeisore, (iv) Ihogbe, (v) Alifekede, (vi)Omumu, (vii) Alisor, (viii) Alilehan,(ix) Alisor, (x) Ewuru, (xi) Alisimien, (xii) Aliokpu (xiii) Idumu-Oza, (xiv) Obielihe, (xv) Ogbeisogban, (xvi) Alizomo, (xvii) Ozanogogo (Ozzara), (xviii) Ekuku Agbor, (xix) Alihami, (xx) Alihagwu, (xxi) Oki, (xxii) Emuhun, (xxiii) Boji-Boji Agbor.

According to Iwueze Chukwu Ebuke and Iwueze Awele Success, “The villages of Alisor, Alilehan and Ozanogogo are not Ika speaking. They speak an Edoid language known especially to Ika speakers, as Oza or Ozara”.

From several sources available for study, we learn that the headquarters of Agbor were moved to different quarters of the community perhaps because the people needed to survive the constant wars it entered into with Benin. The existence of the kingdom meant continuous relocation of its headquarters in search of safety. The most recent of these headquarters was Ime-obi (1935).

Owa

Owa is certainly one of the largest Ika communities. It shares boundaries with Agbor, Abavo, Idumuesah, Umunede and Ute-Okpu. Interestingly, some of Owa communities are found in Edo State such as Iru and Owariuzor (Evbu Obanosa).

Owa is an example of Ika community with dual Nri and Benin origin. Oyibu or Owa Oyibu was founded by Odogu the son of Ijie (Ijue) of Ute Okpu from Nri, in present South Eastern part of the country. Other villages in the community had their settlers migrating from Benin (Forde and Jones, 1967) and other Agbor areas (Iwueze Chukwu Ebuke and Iwueze Awele Success). Owa Eke village was founded by Ekei and his wife who migrated from Benin (Whiting, 1936). Aliero was founded by Omi and his wife who hailed and migrated from Benin.

Owa migration might have begun around 900AD with Nri migrants first settling at Ute-Okpu around 12th and 13th Century led by Ijue. It was from Ute-okpu that Odogu founded Owa Dynasty.

Quarters

Owa comprises seven villages that are: (i) Oyibu, (ii) Owa Alidinma, (iii) Owanta, (iv) Aliro, (v) Alizomor, (vi) Ufie, (vii) Owa Eke, (viii) Boji-Boji Owa (Metropolis)

Umunede

Umunede is another major Ika community. It is strategically located along the busy road thus its commercial importance, if properly harnessed. Umunede is especially situated on a plateau about 15 kilometres from Asaba lying close to other important Ika communities such as Akumazi Umuocha, Ekwuoma, Emuhu and Mbiri. Its location also made it the headquarters of the Second Division of the Nigerian War during the Nigerian Civil War.

Oral tradition of the people believes that Umunede was founded by Ede and his wife, Iye who migrated from Benin and settled in the present land thus the name “Umu Ede” (Children of Ede) which is now “Umunede” that the settlement bears till date.

The date of Umunede’s foundation is traced to the era of Oba Ewedo who reigned 1250-1280 AD. There was probably another wave of migration from Benin during the reign of Oba Ewuare, the Great (1440-1448 AD). Historians are of the opinions that there might have been people before Ede and his wife arrived at the present location of Umunede this is difficult to prove though. Evidences of certain other quarters that existed in the town suggest that there might have been Yoruba settlements in the area between 16th and 19th centuries. Ibos of the South East were the last to join the settlement.

Although, Umunede traces its origin to Benin like most Ika communities, Stranfield (1936) opines that “from Legend they are of Benin descent but in language and social structure they resemble closely the Ibos of Ogwashi and Uburukwu clans in the Asaba Division”.

It is argued that Ede brought the Benin form of leadership to the location. The descendants of Ileje also called Ogele play the traditional role of installing the Obi of Umunede.

Quarters

Umunede has the following four villages: (i) Idumugba, (ii) Ogbe Obi, (iii) Idumuile, (iv) Idumuilege.

Mbiri

Mbiri shares boundaries with Umunede , Agbor , Igbanke , Ekpon and Igbodo.

The oral tradition of Mbiri, one of Ika communities claims that the settlement was founded by a certain man known as Arun (Aren) from Native Doctor’s Quarters in Benin. Arun was said to have migrated from Iwaisi from where he led the migrants that founded Mbiri. The account also states that Arun, the founder of Mbiri had four children who also founded a number of Ika towns including Igbanke.

Some sources may claim that the Ikeze are the aboriginals of the present Mbiri settlement. The implication being that Arun met them on the present land which of course explains the reason behind Ikeze people’s possession of the principal deity of Mbiri Kingdom. In fact, it is the Ogele (Diokpa) of Ikeze that installs the Obi of Mbiri. There are strong evidences that other villages of Mibiri may have arrived from Agbor, Igbodo, Ubulu Uku and Ogwashi Uku. If this is acceptable then Mbiri would historically be a mixture of Edo and Igbo of across the Niger though this is contestable.

Mbiri strategically lies along the Lagos-Benin-Onitsha Expressway thus potentially predisposed to commercial investment. Today, Mbiri proudly hosts a farm settlement covering almost 2,000 hectares of land as well as hosting the only Command Secondary School in the whole of South South geo-political zone of the country.

The principal deity of Mbiri people is “Araba”, a water goddess. Other deities include Mkpitime, Olokun and Ali Uzugbo.

Abavo

Abavo (also known as Awuu) lies close to Agbor community. It also shares border with some Edo speaking communities. This community was said to have been founded by Awu from Awu (Forde and Jones, 1967). By implication, the account believes that Awu, the founder of Abavo hailed from Abavo which to historians seemed very unlikely. The more popular oral account of the people believes that the settlement was founded by Awu but completely differs from Forde and Jones’ account by regarding Awu’s original home as Benin from where he escaped to avoid being offered as sacrifice by the Benin people.

Quarters

Abavo is made up of five quarters namely: (i) Obi-Ayima, (ii) Udomi, (iii) Azuowa, (iv) Igbogili, (v) Ogbe-Obi

Otolokpo

Otolokpo is one Ika community that has not had its history completely researched into but sketchy sources available to it claims that most of its villages were founded by Gbogbo from Benin though it is acknowledged that other migrants from Agbor and Ute-Ogbeje would settle in the town thus forming some of the other villages of the community. Evidences of Otolokpo’s Benin is mostly expressed in the names of its villages.

Quarters

Otolokpo has seven villages that are:

(i) Umuhu, (ii) Idumu-oji, (iii) Ogbe-Obi, (iv) Idumu-Obome, (v) Achala, (vi) Alugba, (vii) Idumu-Okete

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