Economy In Pre Ogiso And Ogiso Era
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Last update (August 4, 2022)

The inhabitants in pre-Ogiso and Ogiso era in the ancient Benin were specialized in agricultural products. A common feature in the society from the Ogiso down to the Obas periods 40 B.C -1200 A.D and beyond till date the people had depended on the economic and he strategic advantages of the tropical forest region of South Western Nigeria.

Before we proceed, we shall try to look at the factors of production at the ancient times in Benin as it affects the life of the people including the ¡ya- moats enclosure we have been trying to examine, based on our research. The following are:

(1) The tools (2) The finance (3) The labour and (4) The land. These are four important and predominant factors of food production. We must however, know that all may not be present in the ancient Benin as we have been trying to study, but there must be tools, land and labour in any indigenous economy no matter how primitive the society may have been.

Without tools, meaningful development and production will not take place. Tools are of various types with occupations Farmers made us of cutlasses, hoes, axes, baskets, knives, while fishermen use nets hooks, canoes. Paddles and the weavers use looms, Knives, stone and needles etc. But the cutlasses, hoes and axes were the most common tools for the farmers for the production of food stuff while nets were, for sea/river foods.

The farmers use the cutlasses for clearing the bush, the axe for cutting down the trees and he hoes for digging, clearing grass and weeding

These all important tools were manufactured and produced locally pre-Ogiso and Ogiso periods. We have no doubt that such tools help a lot in the digging of the moats and therefore the people at that time had advance in iron technology and smelting at Eyanugie in the pre-Ogiso periods, the people may have had a very close connection with the NOK culture we had earlier mentioned. The use of iron in Pre-Ogiso period as tools for agriculture help in the production of roots and grains crops. Though they produced their own iron tools yet they might be technologically depended in their neighboring societies. The tools were simple, but they were able to make effective use of them satisfactory in their agricultural production.

There are no high mountains in Igodomigodo (Benin) land. The land is drained by a few rivers which run to the Atlantic ocean it is necessary to locate that the land lies between latitudes 5 degrees 45N and 7 degree 30N, longitude 5 degrees E and 6 degree 45 E. Agriculture was, and still the main source of the economic  mainstay of the Edo people.

One of the principal influences on any society total volume of production is the extent and quality of its resources of land and labour.

Every society had its laws and regulation on the access and distribution of its laws and regulation on the access and distribution of its land and how to settle disputes over land. These laws are varied from one community to another. The Edo land during the Ogiso period was corporately owned especially as most communities were living in (Iya) moat enclosures. It was a factor that united the members of various communities. It was a communal land which was protected by the rulers or the village leaders. As it was the duty of the Edionwere in every community in ancient Edo to defend the land, and the people against all aggressors it was also a law see to it that no one was unjustifiably denied of a piece of land where to build a house or make farms.

It was known that men must live in a house and must feed his family from the same land. Every family or decent group in the community was entitled to a piece of land irrespective of political control exercised by the edionwere, Enigie or the king himself.

it was when monarchy came to be as from 40 B.C following the traditional story that Ogiso brought the land from heaven ¡n a snail shell” since then the land belonged to the Oba of Benin alone That tradition is as strong as it might be then, but it is still believed too that the Oba holds the land in trust or he is the overseer. He has both powers of ownerships and at the same time an overseer. “Oba o yan o oto meaning -Qba is the owner of the land

However, there were rules and practices which made it possible for strangers to obtain land in Edo. It was commmon that they give land Lo strangers to live and build houses and farm.

This was why many tribes are still living in Edo land today, particularly along the riverine areas, where the Urhobos. Itsekiris and Ijaws had enjoyed unrestricted freedom. Which the Edo themselves enjoy. In the ancient times these people pay certain yearly homage to the elders of such land. kings or enigie. It was of recent that such people who were granted land to occupy for a long time now claim the land as theirs because they had been living there for many years. In the ancient time this could bring feuds, leading to wars. Towns and villages of these non Benin tribes had grown up in many areas in Edo land and some of them now constitute social upheaval. They no longer pay homage, nor do they recognize even the Oba as the owner of the land they begged for, to farm  and even build houses. Even areas occupied by these people not quite 100 years ago through the permission of ¡he Oba of Benin are now being claimed as their land, because their forefathers had been there The land belongs to the Oba of Benin and no other person else

Agriculture was an important economic actively in the pre—Ogiso. Ogiso and up till date ¡n Edo land, even in the whole Nigeria, the people were farmers and farming has been their mainstay. Others are hunting. Cattle rearing, poultry, fishing, industry and trade.

The geographical location and other related factors contributed to situation of abundant food and trade. The location was very much advantageous, neighbouring tribes struggled to stay here to farm .Agriculture made it possible for them o accumulate all sorts of available foodstuffs at that time till date. There was an increase in population since here was food to feed the large number of people. The moats around which Benin city grew up today. started developing to a sort of Urbanization compared with other moats in the far flug areas.

The farm work of agriculture consisted of clearing (ifie), falling the trees (egbo) bush burning (iyerhen) sweeping the remains of the burnt (ekhuen), making mounds (egua). Sowing (ikemwin), sticking (ibaeghe/ifiema), weeding and harvesting (ikpenma). The system of cultivation in Edo land was non varied but shifting cultivation was satisfactorily carried out because there was availability of land.

Shifting cultivation is always successful in an economy where land was not scarce. It is a system where farm land could be abandoned for many years before coming to it again. The land could then regain its fertility. It also helps to remove the danger of wed spread and danger of insects
They grew various crops in the farms such as yams (red yam), plantain, cocoyam, melon, okro, various types of beans and other vegetables. They equally grew kola nuts berries etc. Men, Women and the whole family go to the farm every day. They collect fruits. palm nuts extracting the oil for cooking. They do little fishing and serious hunting.

Both the pre-Ogiso. Ogiso era and above witnessed a full practice of game hunting in the forest that was full of various species of wild life.

Some of the old animals which are extinct today were very common and difficult to kill for the people had no gun. Because the forest was very thick, it was easier to hunt during the dry season. The animals killed were either sold or eaten. But when a big animal was killed (aranmwen okhuan like elephant. the whole town or village in the Iya-moats enclosed would share it.
when Igodo became Ogiso 40 B.C an elephant was killed at okhoro he ordered that it should be shared by the whole Evbuoto. He changed the system of only one community sharing it, hunting of bush pigs, bucks and other small animals were universal. They set various traps in their farms and bush for protection of their crops, and to supplement food supply Wild snails, turtle, and tortoise were used as protein.

This is one of the most important factor in the production of foodstuff or any goods. In fact Iabour is absolutely indispensable to all forms of production. Labour as human aspect in economies theory, cannot be pushed aside in both underdeveloped and developed or a primitive society. There must be labour in as much as there are human beings who produce food for their living.

Both. Pre-Ogiso, Ogiso periods and the life within lya-moats enclosures, labour were mostly met through lineage of family unit. We have observed that be it economies, political or religions, all activities, were performed with the lineage circuit.

Every lineage or extended family had its rules and regulation. Members of the same family were resident in the same house compounder single contagious compounds. Every lineage had recognized head (Okaegbee) who was usually the oldest man in the family. He had authority over all other members of the lineage. As he oversees the welfare of everyone in the family, so also he oversees the economic livelihood of members of the family. He also tried to preserve the harmony and continuity of the family.

For economic and labour arrangement in the Ogiso periods and even with the early Obas dynasties, let us look critically how the Edo family system was arranged.

The Nuclear FamilY:
The family is the basic unit of every group in pre-Ogiso. Ogiso or the ancient Benin Family lived together in the same compound. But the nuclear family is when a man and his children and wife live together in the same compound. It is also called the elementary family. A man his wife or wives and his children made up a compound family

This is based on a polygamous marriage; the man (odafen) is the common link between them. He is the head of the family and controls all of them.
The Extended Family

This is a system of economic and labour family where a distant member of the family- ‘brothers’ ‘sisters’ ‘uncles’ arid ‘and ’aunts’ ‘nephews and ‘nieces’ their wives ant! Children or even husbands lived in the same compound.
In the same compound or a house, the grandfather, the grandmother also lived in there. Such compound can be very large consisting of a court-yard or harem with women quarters Oderrie both around it. The senior or the eldest man in such family controls and even have a say over them especially on labour and agriculture trade and markets.

The Joint Family:
The joint family was also well marked as a labour force in pre-Ogiso era in iya-moats enclosures or its neighbour. The joint family is very much similar to the extended family but a joint family is when two or three more linearly related families or kinfolk of the same sex their spouses and offspring’s occupy a single homestead. They must be jointly subjected the same authority or the single head of the family. This means that the elderly man. his wives, unmarried sons and daughters, married sons and their children and wives or married younger brothers occupy the same house the system may add to itself the divorced and the widowed mothers and sister and daughters of ¡he same parents, other relatives, male, female servants and  kin  can also be together in an extended family or joint family system

The heads of these types of families organized and co ordinate the labour of the families, They do not work for wages. But the man had the responsibility of feeding and clothing them. Particularly the younger ones. The family or the house hold did most of its own economic work for the people place value on large families. The Iabour at that time called for many wives and children. The house hold labour was efficient and well organized by the families in order to meet both the requirement of the family in particular and society in general.

There was no wage labour, so it was very difficult to be disorganized. The population and the quality of Iabour force were favorable with the need of the society. The people worked hard and laziness was condemned outright

This routine of hard work helped them not to suffer from any chronic lethargy mental or physical disability which would have disturbed their economic activities.

Free labour (Use):
Free labour was the general custom among the Binis in the ancient time; this could be called co-operative work groups. It involves the drafting of many able bodied people in ¡he same community into a labour force for a single person. No money was paid for such labour, but the owner of the work should provide food and drinks. This type of cooperative work could involve a whole community. It could also involve two, three or four or more people working together. This type of labour is called ‘USE in Benin. Meaning: you work freely for me. I also do the same ¡o you.

When community performs this free labour, and any one was absent, he would be punished by fines of lashing. If a man was inevitably absent during the time, he should send someone to represent him, lf any compensation is to be paid ¡o the representatives, the man he represents should pay it. But the owner of such free labour must provide food and drinks

Another side of free labour in the ancient time (Ogiso) and early (Oba) periods were the construction of houses, roads, bridges, digging of wells and ¡he digging of proactive and boundary  moats Clearing and sweeping of shrines, farm work, watching the gates leading to the towns and villages (Odee) either in the day or night. Free labour in ancient Benin helped the people to stabilize their economy.

Markets and Trades in Ancient Benin:
Trade in Pre-Ogiso and Ogiso era and the early Oba’s dynasty, was perhaps the most important factor which linked many societies both within the moats and other various groups together.

No community or society either in ¡he towns and villages and hamlets were self sufficient in ¡he production of agricultural and other goods which they required for their necessities or luxuries

Trade at these early periods was mostly based on barter and later cowries dominated the areas as their currency. The Edo land with all agricultural potentialities, was operated in what one may say that it was far above the subsistence level

They were no longer primitive as one may think because they had improved in iron technology tremendously hence they were able to dig the ¡ya - Moats around each village particularly during  Ogiso Arigho, Ohioye, where slaves did the labour for the land owners or the lords.

The agricultural economy were high during Eheneden ( 821 A.D. - 871 A.D.) period Eheneden introduced many crops into Igodoinigodo from ¡he Northern part of what is known as Nigeria today. Improved during the reign of Ogiso Oduwa (917 AD-967 A.D). He owned trade with neighbouring Yoruba towns and villages in the West. It was said that during Ogiso Oduwa’s reign, more traders visited Igodomigodo (Benin City) more than even before.
The Ogisodom and pre-Ogisodom had markets as we had observed in various towns and villages. Some of the markets are still in existence while some have been closed because some of the town and villages had also ceased to exist. New Markets had also been established. We are naming some market and market days as they are today.

Market days are held every five days interval in Benin. There are some that are also held every nine days. There was none that as held daily as it is now done in some markets.

Eken, free day for rest


OKUO (Ekenaka)



Ekiosa (Oba market)



Since the ancient times, there were market masters known as ‘Eghaiki’. They kept peace and settled disputes in the markets. They must see that market laws, rules and regulations were strictly followed in ¡he markets. The forest caravan trade increased. Agriculturists were capable of generating surpluses. These surpluses had to be disposed off as much as possible.

This was the reason therefore, that people established markets for trading and also as parts of the indigenous economy. Another option for establishing markets was that no one Community was self sufficient as it is still our present day.

Different people in different parts of the kingdom needed goods such as yam, plantain, melon. Gourd, sugar-cane, beans, pumpkins etc, in the riverine areas. People in the hinter land may also need fish, ah types of sea food and salt which were also supplied.

Clothing may also come from the West or North Africa and other neighboring sales of the countries. Even in the same village or town in Igodomigodo, the division of Iabour and specialization in economic functions, may have  encourage the need for markets and trades in clothing, cotton were planted in the farms for the production of cotton clothes

The pot makers of Use and Oka villages may need knives, chairs, cutlasses and axes produced by the blacksmiths of Igun of Eyanugie, the people in the city may need yam from the farmers from  Iyekorhiontnmwon, or  iyekovia and the latter may need some farm implements or pots too from the city or any of the specialist or the professionals in Igodomigodo (Benin kingdom).
The indispensability of trade and markets encouraged the need to form markets so as to facilitate commerce.

Most markets in Edo go with Edo week days of Eken- meaning the  east and a resting day. It is now popularly known as native Sunday. The Orrie- meaning the west where the sun set The Okuo- meaning the North another resting day but mostly festival days .The Aho meaning the South. These days are known as ¡he four cardinal points in Benin. The days are assigned to four highest chieftaincy titles in Benin kingdom to perform their various traditional rites. These chiefs are:- (1) Iyase for Eken day (east) (2) Esogban for orrie day (west) (3) Eson for Okuo day (North) and (4) Osuma for Aho day (south).
It was Ogiso Ere (16 A. D- 66 A.D) that founded Agbado market it was known as Ogiso market in the ancient times until its name was changed during the reign of Ogiso Owodo  (1059 A.D- 1100 A.D) when the man eating animal  troubled the people, until it was killed by Evian (1100 A.D- 1130 A.D).

All societies in the ancient time used one type or the other materials for currency and trade. But before currency was introduced, it was trade by barter. Trade by barter is the exchange of good for good. It has many disadvantages (Late Omorogiuwa 1985: 190).

Initially cowries shall were used for decorating shrines and other aesthetic purposes. But it later became spread as a medium of exchange. This made barter system to be redundant. Cowries shell was very ancient and its use as a currency was widely spread in Igodpmigodo

To show that cowries shell had been used as currency, the table below helps to explain the names in different communities in Nigeria.

Ethnic Group

Name of Cowries

Edo (Benin)

Wuri (Kudi)
Ego Ayolo (Eze-Ego)
Ayin Asoho
Owo Eyo



Source: Nigeria heritage Vol. 2 (1993)

Cowries according to Bozman (1967) and Aniefiok Ukpan (1993) are a name given to Gastropod mollusca of the Cyraeidac family. Cowries are mainly tropical.  And some of the larger forms being object of the great beauty. In the young cowries, the shell is usually spiral shaped but as it grows it changes forms, the tip thickens and turn inwards, causing the opening to reduce to a narrow slit. According to chamber’s Encyclopedia (1973) the cowries usually with smooth and polished surface has about 165 living species. They are found mostly in tropical littoral waters from the Mediterranean to Tasmenia, the pacific and both coast of America.

A particular type of cowries Spraea Moneta (Money cowries) was formerly used as currency in West Africa and Asia Cowries shell has been used in Nigeria and West Africa as a whole before the contact with the whites in the l5th century (Shaw ¡977). Also the middle Niger llah used cowries as currency. The cowries shells has been used in Benin kingdom before their importation at the beginning of the l6th century by the Portuguese. Before then Ogiso Ere (16 A D - 66 A D) was the second king to be crowned and his crown made of cowries. Almost all Ogisos used cowries’ crown

Boahen. A (1966) has drawn our attention to the fact that cowries shells were used in North Africa and Western Sudan through the trans Sahara as far back as 3,000 -2,000 B.C. The cowries may have come to Igodomigodo through various sources before the white came in the 15th century A.D. through the long-distance trade. Shaw (1977: 107) observed that in 1964, a French archaeologist named Theodore Monod found a heap of 2.000 brass rods and large quantity of cowries shells burned in the region of Mauritania. They were found along with baskets in which they were tied. If we have been able to locate where Ogiso Ariho (1012 A.D - 1059 A D and recently where Akenzua I (1713 A.D- 1735 A.D) had buried their cowries. the archaeologist would have been praised as Theodore Monod the French archeologist had been praised today for his findings.

Cowrie shells in the ancient Benin and other West African kingdom could only be compared with gold and silver used in Europe, Cowries shells made trade less problematic It was a uni-denominational
Trading in cowries later with the European in the 15th, 16th. 17th. 18th and 19th centuries was easy because they could give its equivalent in old or pound sterling, Akinjogbi (1980: 39)

Other currencies that were used as money for business in the ancient Benin were brass, iron and copper objects these were also used in other parts of Nigeria then, because commercial transactions could no longer be possible by barter, hence the spread of Manilas, copper and iron currencies. Cowry had many advantages; it made exchange possible over a wide territory and countries. It served as effective measure of value and a unit of account which made it convenient for value of one good in relation to another for fixing prices. With ¡he introduction of cowries shells, brass, iron and copper materials for currency in the ancient Benin land, was then possible to establish capital markets and trade with other part of the world. People could now borrow money and made “osusu”. There were local market money lenders and exchange brokers which enable traders to secure credit. Ogiso Ekpigho (466 A.D-482 A.D) was in his early days a money lender and exchange broker. These were the gains of introducing currencies into the trade. We have now seen that the use of cowries in ancient Benin spanned many centuries. Even though it is not clear when the usage started but our memories had carried us as far back as 16 A.D. when Ogiso Ere used it as a crown followed by all the 30 Ogisos.

The problem of storage in the l6th, l7th, 18th and I9th centuries led to the declining value of cowries and our modern times This contributed to the replacement of cowries as a medium of exchange with other currencies. According to Ekpo Eyo (1977: 63), the use cowries as currency was abolished in old calabar in 1903, but was still in use in many parts of the present day Nigeria. Other currencies Nigeria were:

Manilla, Called Ogranran
Brass , Called Eronmwon
Bronze, Called Azalama
Copper, Called Eronmwon Ebo
Lead, Called Oze
Iron, Called Ematon

All these were used in displacing the cowries as currency one time or other. Other uses of cowries after it had fallen as currency is not our purpose here but mention must be made of its value after the fall.

Eventually, the use of cowries as legal tender was abolished by the colonial government and its circulation was effectively checked. The societies or kingdoms that were saddled with huge qualities devised other uses for the object with which they had associated with for so many centuries

They now started using it for rituals decoration of Olokun shrines. They were also used for charms, of various types for the decoration of their bodies used for gambling game and sport. During the (FESTAC 77) held in Lagos in 1977, many artistes from all over the world wore strings of cowries shell on their wrists, arms, chests, neck and forehead which added to the charm and the beauty of the artists. Cowries are now used as sacred objects to the spirit of the sea, because it is the belief of the Binis and some other Nigerians that there are some mystical power in there sea shells.

In any economy where traders have to travel and move their goods from place to place and where the buyers have to look for goods or food to buy, there must be a good system of transportation. Transportation in Igodomigodo economy was based on transportation by land and water. Traders either carried their goods themselves or employ the services of porters, slaves of family, labour though land. And if it is through water, it was restricted to places where there are rivers. First we look at water transportation.

Water transportation in Edo (Benin) both in pre- Ogiso periods and in the ancient. Benin were restricted to riverine areas, lagoon, and the sea. When we look at the physical map of lgodamigodo one would see the position of the whole Ogisodom, streams and how they emptied their water into the sea. The land is well drained by these small streams and rivers The rivers are Siluko river, Ovia river, Oha river, Ogbesse river, Okhuo river, Ikpoba, Ogha, Okhuan, Akhiaitinwan, Orhionmwon, Olokun (Ethiope), Ohinmwin (River Niger), Oroghodo, Elumwin Okhuaihe, !gbaghon (Jamison) and others. The whole rivers emptied their water into the Atlantic through Benin River in the south excepting the Niger which went to the sea in the south east of Igodomigodo (Benin) kingdom.

Most villages along the rivers in the area used canoes. It was cheaper to transport goods through the rivers, streams and oceans Ikpoba River linking Orhionmwon had attracted canoe trade and there were canoe ports along these Rivers down to Ughoton (Gwato) or the Benin River through Ologbo port. The traders along Ovia River also transport their goods along and stop at each village selling their goods at the canoe ports, while those along Oha River near Siluko or the Siluko River also sell their goods at the canoe ports. Siluko ports had attracted traders in the l8th and l9th centuries... It was a trading port where goods from Lagos were sold. It served the colonial traders on the western part of the kingdom. It means that river Ovia. Okomu, Siluko, Osse, Oha were plied by canoe men and women who sold goods along these rivers. Fishing were also carried out along the river and streams.

The Benin River had been owned by the Ogiso or the Oba of recent times. The land as one could read had been occupied from the time the people had been in this part of the world. The Ijo and the Itsekiris started occupying the Igodomigodo (Benin) kingdom riverine area recent. The Itsekiri and the Ijo (Uzon) started building houses in Benin River during the reigns of Oba Osemwende (1816) Oba Adolo (1848) and Oba Ovaranmwen (1888). It was Oba Ovoranmwen that gave land to the Ijos and the Itsekiri to build houses in these riverine areas. They were professional ferry men. The Benin River had served the kingdom during Ogiso and Oba periods before the coming of the whites in the 14th century This was why the Ughoton port  was very ¡important to both the white and the Binis. It had attracted water transportation from the ancient times.

Water transportation could be very dangerous because one can at times suffer the loss of goods on water, People can also be ferried across wide screams in a particular place by ferry men. There are two important places. lkpe and Iguorhiakhi villages where river Orhiorunwon and Ovia river were crossed by canoes until bridges were built  across them by the military in 1970s.  River Ethiope, Orhionrnwon, Ovia and Siluko were predominantly used by the Binis. The canoes in these Rivers, took more load than what human being could carry on roads. The canoes were capable of caring tons of goods at a time. Passengers in those days were more convenient on canoe river transportation of mode of communication because there were no motors and no good roads. Traders could sleep in and even prepare their meals on board.

Generally the uses of canoes were in large numbers for commercial purposes were predominant in streams, lagoons and rivers. Water transportation has other problems and hazards. Some of these are sand flies, tsetse flies, mosquitoes. Sun, rain, dangers posed by tides, stakes, wires and other traps set by fishermen

There could also be piracy in some rivers. Over flooding in raining season and inadequate water during the dry season constitute some problems in river transportation.

Transportation by Land was the widest in Edo land because there were very few rivers in the area. The land covered 95% of the kingdom. So people travelled by land than the rivers or the sea. In the ancient times, traders either carried their good themselves or employed the services of porters. So porterage services were Very common and slaves later came when there was slave labour in the reigns of Ogiso Oduwa (917 A.D-965 A.D). Ogiso Obioye (967 A.D-1012 A.D) Ogiso Arigho (1012 A.D-1059 A.D) and Ogiso Owodo (1059 A.D- 1100 A.D).

Family labour was also by land.  Animal transportation was not common in Igodomigodo, although few wealthy traders had ass (Eketekete). There was no camel, donkey, mule, bullock or oxen which were very common in the present day Northern Nigeria or North Africa, which facilitate land transport in that area. The reasons while these animals were not used in Edo lands were as a result of lack of pastures and deadly insects -tsetse fly that carry trypansomiasis-an animal disease that were common In this area.

The use of elephants was mainly for ¡he king internally. The elephants were used in carrying logs that were used in building, particularly palace roof that were built with shingles-sawn woods.

Transportation by land was heavily depended on human carriers alone and only few loads could be carried on a journey. Traders known as ‘forest traders ‘ekhengbo’ travelled on land The problem was that it took days or weeks to arrive at some markets far away from the city of Igodomigodo.

However, water and land transportation in this area in the ancient times succeeded despite -their short comings and dangers experience by the trader. They were able to cope with the situation as at that time. So it was in other parts of the world before the invention of water and land transportation (ship, motor, railway. airplane) we enjoy today

There- were two types of trade routes at that time. These were the long distant trade routes and the local trade routes.

In ancient period, (Ogiso era) the Edo (Benin) had external trade with 0ther African is erroneous to think that the Benin external trade started with the European Omorogiuwa (1989: 210). Benin in Ogiso era had well organized trade with other Africa kingdoms each serving as an independent state. That was the position until Nigeria was created in 1914.

Trade in Benin, both in Ogiso and Obas eras engaged in long distant trade with the neighbouring Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo land. The emirates and chiefdoms of such areas like Nupe. llorin, Igala. Idoma, Tiv and so on.

As we have just learnt, the means of transposition to these areas were very irksome and the articles of trade were those whose quantities were proportionately high in value.

This was the reason that they traded in luxury goods whose prices were high these “international traders” then involved the exchange of manufactured goods for food items and industrial raw materials. The area where cowries were properly used were Benin kingdom and many states in the countries as they were in the ancient time. There were many criss- crossed routes which were complex net-work. The oldest route was the Nupe-Igala route which was the gate way though Hausa land to the Sudan, Bida, Zaria and Kano routes.

The Lokoja, Okene, Idoma, Idah, Ozigono Lapac and so on, were known. The Yoruba traders mainly handled the trade with Timbuktu and Gao through which the goods from Wetern Sudan reached Benin. The routes used by the Edo trader were across river Ovia to Ifon, Owo, old Oyo and Ilorin- This western routes split at Udo town and Siluko. The Edo traders took the coastal routes through Okitipupa, Ijebu-ode and Cotonu to Bonu and Bandan states. From there the Diula traders from Jenne, exchanged goods from Western Sudan for these from Guinea forest  including Igodomigodo (Benin) kingdom. Omorege (1984: 442) records that the earliest user of the coastal routes were the trade guilds of Uzebu (Ijebu) and Udo in Benin in area.

The Benin traders usually stopped in ijebu land to exchange goods with the Yoruba middle men who obtained their goods from the Diula traders

The Eastern route was through Ala (Illah) where the Edo traders exchanged their products for those coming from the lgbo land. Here at Ala (lllah) many Benin traders settled down Some traders from Igala tribe came though the river Niger and also settled down for trade, fishing and farming As time went on, there was a conflict between the various groups or ¡tribes at lIlah. a Benin trading centre at the bank of the river Niger.

Trade really flourished at Illah until the aggressive Igala people from the North across the Niger took over the place and drove the Binis out of the market only few Benin traders remained. Many of them moved to Ilushi Island while the Igala warriors remained at Illah farming and fishing, Some of them moved down and settled at Ebu. Many Ibos from across the Niger joined the Igala at Illah. But the port at Illah became decayed as a trading centre because of the conflicts between various tribes including the Binis who were the founder. The Igala, and the Ibos occupied the areas. Later the Ibo language dominated the area. Today the language of the area is both Igala, Ibo and Edo (Esan) The difference among the people for many centuries passed, is still the result of fights that went on at IIushi. It often re—occurs.

The coastal route was used for the exchange of products from the sea and the riverine areas of the Niger Delta, the main centres of trade in ¡be costal routs, were the canoe port of Urhonigbe and river port of Aboh –in the south East

As we have earlier noted. Trade routes markets, and traders contributed to inter- action among different groups, thus further promoting inter-state cooperation. We have also said that trade routes linked many ancient kingdoms together. There were numerous water ways and caravan routes linking towns in land and parts along the rivers, by their nature, rivers run through different kingdoms and the link they provided, helped to promote - group relations. The coastal routes were used for the exchange of products from the sea and the riverine areas of the Niger Delta and ¡he main centers of trade in the coastal route were the canoe ports. The River Niger from Port lIah strengthened the commercial links among ¡he numerous peoples located along its bank. The lgbo used the lower Niger ¡o communicate with the people of the Port of Aboh and the Ijo on the coast who also had connection with Benin Kingdom through Benin Rivers in Ughoton Port (Gwato)

The famous Port of Ughoton to the coast made it possible For the people from the ancient Benin kingdom to get their goods from coastal areas.

The Itsekiri: Before King lginua was sent lo Itsekiri from Benin in (1473) the people have had trading contact relationship with the Ogiso period The itsekiri had been in their present place before King Olua or Iginua was sent to them. They have had a friendly relationship with ¡he kings (Ogisos/Obas) hence a young man was sent to them as a king unlike what existed within them before a king was sent to them, their socio political organization changed. The Social system changed to a centralized type, unlike their neighbours the Isoko. and Urhobo who left Benin in waves, to occupy their present locations in the Delta, the ltsekiris have been, there fishing and carving Canoes. There have been good trading relationships between the Binis and the ljaw. The ljaws have been known to live in City States of Nembe (Brass) Elem, Kalabari (New Calabar) Bonny and Okirika. Not until recent they migrated to the west of the Niger and started founding their towns. Their migration from the East of the Niger Delta along the nivenine areas, mixing up with ¡he Itsekiri, Urhobo and lsoko were of occupational and socio-political nature. However, the Ijaw like the Itsekiri had made relationship with ancient and modem Benin Empire.

They produced salt, fish and canoes, with their salt and fish, they traded with the hinter land peoples for vegetable products and other crops and crafts, specific trade routes for exchange of goods covered the length and breath of Delta areas. The Ijaw and the Itsekiri were the most  riverine  traders with the Benin Kingdom in the Delta areas in the ancient times before the advent of European coastal trade. The Ijaw traded with ¡he peoples of hinterland particularly in Benin and Yoruba areas and the overseas. This stimulated and increased their population migrating and taking advantage of the favorable economic opportunities with the whites.

The Ogiso and Obas had been ¡he overlords of the Itsekiri and the Ijaws in the riverine areas of the Delta, later, the ltsekiri acted as middlemen in the trade between the hinterland people and those of ¡he coastal cities and overseas.

The resources derived by the Itsekiri from domestic production and commercial activities helped and provided for wealth and for ¡he growth of ¡he kingdom as an important state in the Delta. Since they became a centralized state, with a king, they were more organized and recognized than other tribes in the Delta and this had brought a silence hatred for them by their neighbours. Since their king or Olu was an off-shoot from Benin, they had been guided by the influence of the strong Oba of Benin.

As a centralized slate the whites saw them as an organized society and traded not only with them, but recognized them more than the ljaw who migrated later from the east of ¡he Niger. The Itsekiri were said to migrate earlier from the west. The Itsekirí also traded in Canoes as the most vital means of river ¡transportation in ¡he Delta for short and long distance trade with their neighbours.

Other items were salt, fish, crayfish and earthenware for which they got plantain, yams, cassava and other agricultural products. There were fishing villages along the riverine areas under the kingdom Benin who were their overlords. All the wars fought to expand the Benin Empire in the 15, th 16, th 17th and 18th centuries along the southern part of the country included the ljaw and the Itsekiri. They were the renowned ferry men, who joined the Benin soldiers when Oba Orhogbua (1550 — 1578) conquered the whole of southern rivenine areas of the Empire and founded Lagos (Eko). It was at this time of expansion and fighting alongside with the Benin, that most ljaw, Spread to the riverine areas of Ondo or Lagos States where they are today It was Oba Orhoghua that spread the Ijaws along the Western Riverine areas. The Ijaws met person already owing the area hence it was difficult for them to lay claim to these riverine areas today.

The Ijaws in particular were brought to Edo land rivenine areas by Oba Orhogbua in about 1553. Oba Orhoghua was a sea faring warrior king who fought and annexed all the riverine areas of ¡he Delta to Benin Empire. He founded Lagos and made his son Eisikpa by name to be Eleko of Eko who was the first Oba of Lagos. Oba Orbuogba found the Ijaws in the East of the Delta to be useful for his conquest of ¡he rivenine areas. He took most of them, employed their services as good ferrymen and expanded the Benin Empire towards the West.

Here is an extract from ¡he Encyclopedia Britannica pages 410 and 411 and a short History of Benin page 30 (1968)

“European in ¡he seventeenth century spoke of it as a ‘Great Benin” colonists from Benin founded the Port of Lagos and Badagry. While the area of the kingdom was small, (somewhat larger than Wales) its influence was very wide and it is said to have extended to West as far as Sierra Lone and South to the Congo River”

What we are saying here is that Oba Orhogbua brought the Ijaws to live on Edo land or the riverine areas of ¡he Benin Empire They then settled down along the towns of Egbama. Ofunoma, (Gbolowosho Ekehuan Ikoro etc. They also mixed with the Binis the Urboho the ltsekiris and the Ilaje in these areas mentioned They have enjoyed all freedoms and had never been treated as foreigners except by paying annual, homage to the Oba. A chief was made to take care of them. He is Chief ogua But recent Uprising (1998, 1999) by the ljaws claiming the Edo land in the reverine areas is uncalled for. Oba Erediauwa had made statements over the issue of riverine areas of Edo state that an inch will not be given out no matter the pressure and the uprising of the Ijaws. The Ijaws are not the Owner of Edo land. They know when and how they came into the area

As earlier said, the Urhobo, Itsekiri, Isoko, Kwale and the Ijaw traded with and for the Obas of Benin as their overlords in the riverine area Ports were established in the areas. Our sources made it plain that these tribes had been subjects of the Oba of Benin living in Benin land peacefully. The Oba of Benin used to settle any of their quarrels if any, in the ancient and recent times.
URHONIGBE PORT: This town was a canoe port at the head of Ethiope River in the early days. All goods were sold at the market at Urhonogbe. It was a very large market held on Okuo day. Canoes from the down Ethiope River also bought articles in this market which they sold to the villages along river Ethiope

ABOH  PORT: A lot had been said about Aboh town along the River Niger(Ohimwin) that they left Benin many years ago and founded the town. The Obi of Aboh was a Prince who left Benin with groups of people to found Aboh town Intelligence Reports by William (District Officer) 1930 and (partridge Reports) stated those traditions of the origin of the town.

Goods brought down from far North, along River Niger were found at Aboh port in those days. Aboh served both the people of the hinter land and the riverine areas. It was one time the head quarters or slave port during the slave trade in our modern time. Aboh being in a very important strategic position along the river, it received goods from both the hinter land and the sea

Other trade routes and river ports were Koko. Ologbo and Ughoton (Gwato). Most of them were known and called canoe ports for many years in the ancient Benin the ‘Iwere’ Itsekiri used the Koko, Ologho and lkpoba as canoe ports for several centuries. Some of the villages along the coast and rivers had decayed because of the development of good roads in our present day Nigeria. The invention of motors, the air planes, the Railway lines etc. made canoe ports in Igodomigodo Benin Kingdom) to cease 

In the long distant Markets, were mainly luxury goods, food, and industrial raw materials. This showed that some people were very rich and could pay for the luxury goods.

These were beads, agate, copper with alloys, cowries as we had read earlier from the coastal traders of the Niger Delta, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean regions Cowries that were brought to the Hausas, supplying the Nupe, Igala markets, was where Benin trades obtained some of their cowries.

Aboh traders obtained some of their cowries from the Angolan Coastal waters and changed them for Benin products at Urhonigbe. ‘The tore house and cowries’ Agrey beads were brought from the North Africa Berber traders who obtained them from the Venetine glass makers. Also agate (Ekan) and coral beads, stone beads were produced at Bida. Iron materials supplement local iron ore that were brought from Igbo land through lllah port. Copper with lts alloys was also obtained from llorin, Idoma, and Kano.

Salt and fish were obtained in Delta through the Izon (Ijaw) and the Itsekirl at Koko and Ughoton markets. The Delta people got their salt from the sea water which was boiled to evaporate. Salt was also obtained from the back of Mangrove wood which when burnt, the ashes were filtered and there is salt. Later salt was obtained from the Sudan through the Yoruba and the Hausa traders

(Daniellia Thunifera) a gum from wood. Spices- Oziza, Uhenru (Mushroom Ikoto a type of ground nut grown widely in the forest, Unie-tailed pepper or spices. It was later, during the Oba period that slaves were sold by Benin traders. In the early time of Ogiso era that we are mostly concerned with here, there was no slave trade even though they had slaves for domestic use and labour. We have also said that slaves were used by the Ogiso to dig the moats around their villages. We also compared this moats system in the ancients Benin like the Manorial system in England.

The trading routes were well kept. They were also wide enough for travelling on foot or using animals. Sometimes, some of these routes could be bad due to the neglect by some kingdoms. States or Regions and hostilities The routes were safe for the traders except during wars and  floods .The traders from Benin usually had porters, Soldier or hunters to accompany them through some dangerous areas.

It was the routes, the Benin traders got to the market and markets were major aspect of the ancient and modern economy

A market is a place marked out for business of buying and selling of goods or services of some kind. Market may not only denote a particular place possibly special building where it is held, but also stalls where things are displayed and sold, stalls erected in open market place, and business of buying and selling or exchange of money or any type is transacted in the open air. No matter how small or large, a market could be, it is considered as a market in as much as it was within the buyers and sellers easy contact with one another.

A market place could be a ‘roadside market, under the tree or shade, at the bank of a river, at road junction, ‘farm road house trade, stores or any such place where goods were spread on the ground. Food sellers had their stalls in different places and hawking was done by children along the streets and markets, and women who carried goods and advertised them to customers.
Places specifically marked out for markets were always developed with features of markets. It could be multi –functional, social political, well organized held in peaceful atmosphere and held daily of periodically

The market was multifunctional because it performed its, social political functions, besides the buying and selling activities. It was and still a place for entertainment and all sorts of amusements,

There the singers. drummers, dancers, poets all practicing their arts it was and still a place for the circulation of news and also rumours about the current events in the society and commercial functions of the market were real The definition of marker is therefore. “A set of human activities directed at facilitating and consummating exchanges”. It means that marketing involves all those human activates that ensure the exchange of foods and services between producers and consumers marketing include distribution of goods from the producer lo the consumer, production of goods and pricing.

Market in Ogiso and Oba’s periods (ancient Benin) were properly organized, although the nature of organization may be differed today because of transportation and development of industries, and the markets shared many things in common. The ancient markets were well laid out, Some were held under trees to provide shades, while some had tents, stalls all built with thatched  roofs, some used mat to cover for daily sale while some were just in the open ground in the market.

There were trade guilds organized along with commodities of different types. There were guilds of live stocks like dogs, hens, including yarns and various food-stuffs. Members of the same guilds had their stalls in the place so that this helped the buyers to locate where to buy the item he or she wanted It helped the consumer to select the best goods and made the price low

During the period, there was peace in the markets. The trade guilds and ‘ikpate’ or ‘ighaeki’ market organizers promoted friendship and settled quarries among members.

Apart from the roles of the ‘ighaeki ‘and the ‘Ikpate’ guilds, there were political authorities in the market in different area in the ancient periods These officers (Ikpat and Jghaeki) were always in the market in the interest of orderliness of the markets,partly to collect taxes and tolls paid by the traders and to see that culture of the people in the market were not violated.

The tolls and taxes collected in the markets cannot be embezzled. The money was properly accounted for by the collectors. The money was used by the king for the development of Ogisodom. Even some village used such money for the repair and cleaning of the markets

Officers with enormous powers known as ‘Ahiogbe’ were usually placed in the markets to monitor the activities of the traders and the consumers. This was very effective during the reign of Ogiso Arigho and Obioye when the system of ‘double payment’ was made.

The system of double payment had its demerits. It made it easier for traders to gain and controlled the prices because the double payment was tax for both the sellers and the buyers. Market days as we had earlier written were important features and that markets were held either daily or periodically Daily markets ‘were held in large towns such as Benin City or as it was called ‘Evbuoto’ or Igodomigodo. Udo. Urhonigbe, Evbohigha. Uhen, and Isi. Even though these markets were held daily yet they still had their particular market days either on Egie.(South) Orrie-(West), Okuo-(North and Eken-(East), The markets were held at intervals of two or four days. Some fell on every ninth day, eight day, or seven days markets.

All markets in Ogiso periods performed their economic functions in collecting agricultural and craft produces and distributed them systematically and satisfactorily.

The market days were also well distributed to the Ogisodom, so that all areas had markets to attend. They avoided clashes in the market days, but even where there were clashes, traders and consumers had the choice of attending those where they could get their commodities, they would buy from their customers.

All the requirements the consumers could be found in these markets. While there were seven days, eight days and nine days periodic markets intervals in different markets in Qgisodom, allowance was given for the operation of the three, four and five days periodic market intervals. so that buyers and sellers, the middle men and the various producers of commodities were able to regulate their movements.

We have mentioned some local markets in Ogisodom but let us see how trade involvang buying and selling of goods in the towns and villages near each other were conducted. In the towns, there were daily markets days that catered for the populace in the immediate environment. It was almost all commodities that were found in such markets. The Agbado market in the capital of igodomigodo, founded by Ogiso Ere (16 A.D. 66 AD ) was held daily till dates.

This market was also an international market where goods bought from far and near were found. The Aho market, the Eyaen market, the Oka,Ego,Use, Uselu and various markets in Iyekovia. Iyekorhionmwon and Uhunmwode, Communities were known as local markets

Trade was restricted to mornings till around noon and some in the evenings while some large markets went through out the days.

In all rural areas, there were traders who would go into the farm to buy goods directly from the producers. These goods were later taken to the local markets for sale.

There were the middle men who intercepted the farmers going to the markets, bought the goods and resold them to the traders and consumers. There were also the producer, men and wives of farmers or producers who took their goods to the markers and sold directly to the consumers.
In their house, shop and street daily.  Even when there was no market at all ‘House Trade’ was a continuous process and helped the consumers locally.

All the Ogiso that ruled the ancient Benin participated fully both in external and internal trade (Eki Urria) international trade. This was encouraged because local trade alone could not provide the necessary commodities for a developed nation.

Igodomigodo was in the tropics north south while other kingdoms such as Nupe. Idoma, Kano. Sokoro, Borno, Bida and others, were in the savannah region, the Northern regions were good for rearing cattle. but bad for cultivating palm trees and kola nuts.

We had also observed how Ogiso Uwa (about 767 A.D - 821 A.D) established friendship with the Yoruba areas for trade, the Izon in the Delta area. Port Ala (Illah) in order to obtain goods through the River Niger the goods that Igodomigodo could not produce the ports of Ughoton (Gwato) the canoe ports of Koko, Ologbo. Ikpoba, Aboh Urhonigbe, those villages along the Niger Rivers all served and boosted external trades in the kingdom.

In the markets a large number of traders with wide varieties of goods were found. Most of these markets were held in the frontier towns and it was administered by two or more kingdoms. Before Port Ala-IIlah decayed, it involved Benin Igala, ldah, Nupe, Bida. Lokoja, Moregi, Tiv, llorin. lgbo and Akure, Owo, Aboh and others received hundreds of traders every day. The traders in such Ports were from various and divers’ places and all walks of life in what we now call present day Nigeria. The involvement of many people as traders, retailers, Wholesalers, porters and transporters in the internal and external trade of most communities in the ancient times contribute immensely to the intergroup relationship. The Ogiso kingdom was not isolated as one many think in the ancient times. It was a developed kingdom which later decayed and fell at about 1170 A.D)
The external trade was in the hands of long distant traders (Ekhen urria) who were highly specialized traders with considerable strength and huge capital to carry their business

They usually organize themselves into caravan OF forest caravan routes. They usually wait for each other in a centre where they can now take off

Wealthy traders employed porters, slaves and soldiers. The Edo forest distant traders were many ¡involving one hundred or two hundred people in this type of market. Since it was trekking for there were no horses and camels as it was in the Northern Nigeria they moved slowly, resting and sleeping at intervals. They also stopped at toll gates along the routes to pay the compulsory tolls on their goods. The amount paid dependent on the type of goods carried

Chief Ogiefa of Benin was known to have had experience in the distance market and forest carven routes for many years. Ogiefa’s family traded in the Yoruba and Hausa lands. The people of Udo were also good in the distant external markets for Udo was a collecting centre of goods from the western areas.

Journeys to these distant markets were often attended by hostile weather in dry season or rainy season, flooded rivers and streams across path ways or caravan routes.

If the traders were not many, they were often attacked and raided by armed high way robbers (Ikpata  or lzigan).

The Ogiso in Igodomigodo, all protected the distant markets and traders by giving the traders powerful officers who were soldiers in their own right particularity as from the reign of Odoligie (712 A.D - 767 A.D)

Industries for mining known in the ancient Benin - (OgIso period) were iron. We learnt that there were pieces of iron around Eyanugie in Okedo Other areas they had traded with mined iron, gold, Salt, silver, tin, and copper. Some of these were transported lo Igodomigodo by the traders. No gold. tin. and copper were mined in Edo.

Iron of all these, was the commonest and the most significant to ancient Benin. The working and smelting of iron was known to man by the first millennium B.C The Nok as we had learnt, had been working on iron by 500 B.C. and spread to other parts of the present day Nigeria.

Before the Ogiso Ere Edo land had advanced in iron age by 200 B.C. Even it was the advancement that made them to dig the moats round their village. Without the use of iron at those early times, they would not have succeeded; Agriculture would not have been possible.

There were iron smelters and smiter in Benin City, at Ineme Nekhua in Akoko Edo and Etsako areas. These were some places where the process of producing pig iron was similar and this was done with laborious search for iron in pits.

It was a continuous heating of the stones in furnaces to the temperature of about 1.500 oC to  obtain iron. Smiting process was ritualized at Eyanugie and other areas such as Ineme Nekhua and Ekpo-Edo villages. Their small factories were specially built to maintain their guild’s secrecy. These smiters often smelted the Iron and then cut them into smaller process while some were bought for their various iron tools and implements such as hoes. Cutlasses, sickles, adze, swords, arrow heads, dagger, knives, spear swords, chains, javelin and various war implements

It was also possible with iron implements that the Izon, in the Delta at that period were able to carve their canoes.

If we can look back on the use of iron throughout Ogiso periods, Ogiso Ere (16 A.D) used iron, and Invented Ada and Fbeh scepters, Ogiso Ororo. (600 A.D.)Was an iron smiter from Eyanugie and was known for not only as an iron technologist, but an iron Scientist and Philosopher, (Ogiso Erebo (618 A.D) was a fisherman and a canoe carver before he was crowned Ogiso. Ogiso  Ediae (665 AD.) was a great wood carver at Oghesanmwan Quarters before he was crowned Ogiso. He used iron in his carvings .The wars of Odoligie were fought with iron implements. The moats or ditches in Igodomigodo were all dug with the use of iron by slaves probably during the reigns of Ogiso Obioye (967 -1012 A.D.) Ogiso Arigho (1012- - 1059 A.D) and Ogiso Owodo (1059 - 1100 A.D), Evian. We are told killed the man-eating animal in Evhuoto at (about 1097 A.D. Evian himself was a great iron technologist.

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