Wednesday 27 July 2022

THE BENIN CITY PILGRIMAGE STATIONS, by Aisien Ekhaguosa; Pages 164-65

The new Benin City Quarter sitting astride the gateway to these riverine territories could conceivably have been known as ๐‘‚๐‘‘๐‘’ ๐‘ˆ๐‘ง๐‘’๐‘๐‘ข: “Ijebu Road”, or more simply Uzebu.

The military title of Ezomo with which Ekenika was ennobled could be regarded as one of the happy imports brought by Orhogbua from Lagoon lands. Some tenuous bit of evidence would localise this word to the Ijebu in particular. In the 1930’s Akenzua II, the Oba of Benin conferred the title of ๐ด๐ฟ๐ด๐‘…๐ธ ๐ธ๐‘๐‘‚๐‘€๐‘‚ on a prominent son of Uzebu Quarter of Benin City. Now, all Ijebu Ode native children in Yorubaland are known as ๐‘‚๐‘€๐‘‚ ๐ด๐ฟ๐ด๐‘…๐ธ: “Children of ๐ด๐ฟ๐ด๐‘…๐ธ”. ๐ด๐ฟ๐ด๐‘…๐ธ is the ancestral deity of the Ijebu Yoruba sub-tribe. It is said that all that an Ijebu person owns, be it money, land or other property, is the property of ๐ด๐ฟ๐ด๐‘…๐ธ, the ancestral god of the race. The Ijebu man does not possess the freedom to part with any portion of his wealth because technically the wealth is not his to dispense with as he likes. The right to part with it belongs only to ๐ด๐ฟ๐ด๐‘…๐ธ who owns it. This is said to be the secret of the apparently relative ease with which an Ijebu man accumulates wealth. He can accumulate, but he has no personal right to give any of it away. ( See ๐๐ข๐ ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐š๐ง ๐๐ซ๐จ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ฅ๐ž๐ฌ, S. I. Kale. Bishop of Lagos, a Biography, by Folarin Coker, page 20.)

The coincidence is perhaps more than just a happenstance, that it is in Benin City called “Uzebu” that the name of this Ijebu Ode god would feature in a title tied to the name of the traditional Head of the Quarter. It is conceivable that Ekenika came originally from the Epe/Ijebu Ode area, and that the memory of the Ijebu ancestral god still lingered in the Uzebu folk memory until recent times.

There are many “Ijebu” place-names in the country, both in Ijebu land and also in some non-Ijebu areas. Strung parallel to the Bight of Benin lagoon system are such Ijebu towns as Ijebu Ode, Ijebu-Munshin, Ijebu-Ife, Ijebu Ugbo, Ijebu Remo, Ijebu-Oru. In the non-Ijebu lands there are “UZEBU” in Benin City, Ijebu-Ijesha in Ijeshaland, and Ijebu-Owo in Owo land. The interesting about the Ijebu-Owo Quarter in Owo town is that the traditional Head of the Quarter bears the same title, ๐‘‚๐ฝ๐‘‚๐‘€๐‘‚, as in Benin City Uzebu. His full title is the OJOMO-OLUDA of Ijebu-Owo. More intriguing still is the fact that the word OLUDA which features in the title of this personage is also one of the titles found in the Uzebu Quarter of Benin City (Prince Ena Eweka’s ๐๐ž๐ง๐ข๐ง ๐‚๐ก๐ข๐ž๐Ÿ๐ญ๐š๐ข๐ง๐œ๐ฒ ๐“๐ข๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž๐ฌ, page 154).

Photo of Ezomo of Uzebu-Benin, Ehenuwa (1914-1960)

1 comment:

  1. Very Nice Information and Article keep on sharing such content.


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