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THE LAWS OF SENIORITY

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Since Esan people were polygamous and wealth was counted in wives and children, seniority amongst one’s own children was very well guarded as it also affected the order and method of inheritance,

(a) FIRST SON: This is the very first male issue by a lawful wife, An Omon  Osho could only aspire to this unique position in the family when all conditions already enumerated were fulfilled. A man made a public testament of his first son by giving Him the hearts of all animals slaughtered in his compound, SO that by the time he died all Egbele were aware of who was his heir. There is bound to be trouble if he was giving a favourite the hearts.

(b) SECOND SON: For the purpose of inheritance and the sharing of property, NO ONE WOMAN COULD HAVE FIRST AND SECOND SONS, unless she was the only wife. If there were several wives and one woman was the mother of the first and second sons, according to age, when the father wanted to share things, he gave the first Son his share first, side tracked the second son, and gave the third son  who had a different mother, the next share. If the third and the fourth son  had the same mother, he would miss the fourth son and  let the fifth choose next if he too was from another woman. The custom therefore was that property was shared ACCORDING TO DOORS, that is that the property owner shared whatever he had to give to his children in his lifetime, in such a way that NO MOTHER IN HIS COMPOUND missed a share because her son was very junior. For example, a man had two wives. The first wife had first, second, third and fourth sons; the second wife then had the fifth son, lf the father had just two things to share, the first son chose first  and the FIFTH SON then chose the other. Thus it often happened that while the first son had a wife, the second, third and fourth had none, while the junior, the fifth had.

(c) DAUGHTERS: As already explained, apart from the first daughter (EHALE NON ODION), who really held a position Of love more than anything else, daughters had no position of seniority. Things were much worse tor them after they had got married and left the family.

(d) AMONGST WOMEN: How seniority was decided amongst the married women of the village had already been described: it was by the System of IREKE

(e) OMINJIOGBE: While in most places Ominiogbe was hereditary, passing from father to the son who performed the burial and Ogbe ceremonies, in a few places like Ekporna, ownership of the family was by age, the oldest man of the Ueleri succeeding the last Ominioghe. In the Royal Family, of course, the Ominioghe is the heir and automatically takes precedence over all his brothers and uncles.

(f) SYSTEM OF SHARING: Having known the custom over seniority, it is easy to talk of how things are shared between two people according to Esan laws. It all actually depends upon what was there to share. In ah cases it would be oppression or cheating %for the person who did the sharing to choose first.

(i) FOOD:  It is the junior who does the sharing. The elder,  by age, then chooses first.

(j) LABOUR: Now the older one divides the piece of job for the junior one to choose the bit he thinks is lighter

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