Bookmark and Share
{Last Update June 9, 2023}

Many Igbo traditional titles are the same with the Edos/Binis: Onicha titles like “Iyasele” is “Iyasere” in Bini; “Ogene Onira” is “Oliha” in Benin; “Odu Osodi” is “Osodin” in Benin; “Omodi Daike” in Onitsha is “Edaiken” in Benin; “Esagba” in Onitsha is “Esogban” in Benin; the “Isama” titles are the same in both towns amongst many others. Onitsha must retrace the history of her monarchs from his imperial Majesty Obi Achebe back to the Ogiso Kings of Igodomigodo in Edo. Enough of this tracing of our kingship to just Obi Oreze or his father Ohime(corrupted to “Chima”) by his later descendants. Onicha people came from Benin or Edo land, they were also in Igbo land. I suspect that the Priests of Nri were distantly connected, that is why till date an Nri King upon consecration must bring certain sacrifial items to the Obi of Onicha and must sleep over in Onicha before assuming the Nri throne. Why would the very traditional Nri people who were(and still are) known all over the Igbo land as a holy people and the spiritual custodian of all Igbo lands, accord these rights to Onicha Kings? All these indicate that Onicha and many other tribes had had prior interactions and established certain traditional precedence which had been ongoing before the Onicha town was founded just around 700 hundred years ago. No Nri man would just concede to subject his divine King to some unknown immigrants who just crossed over from the Niger River, if that were

Anioma people

to be the case.

Authoritatively portray the following facts that the Ikelike people from the Bini kingdom were the first to settle in Ogwashi-Uku (see Ben Nwabua, Ogwash-uku Kingdom, 1000 Years of Traditional Democracy and Cultural Life, 950-1914). Both traditional and empirical sources gives credence that Ikelike people were the first set of immigrants to settle in the present Ogwashi-Uku as against the notion that Adaigbo who purportedly came from Nri in present Anambra State today is the founder of Ogwashi-Uku. So far, no counter claim has been made on this. According to Ogwashi-Uku intelligence report by Mr. J.E Hull, the then Assistant District Officer dated on the 9th of April 1936, the Ikelike people from all indications migrated from Benin to settle where they are found themselves today, because of a reign of wanton persecution of subjects by the then Benin Monarch, Oba Eweka 11. The story further goes that at the head was Odigie Ikelike with his younger brother Ado who later founded Adonta, a relatively small village close to Azungwu in Ogwashi-uku today.

The Ikelike migrants were said to be politically averse and could not, therefore evolve an orderly method of governance even though there were small in number. Jull`s report further went on to point out that because of such indisposition towards an effective means of governing themselves, it cost them the political leadership they were first to settle in. Rather, Adaigbo, the prince from Nri later came, controlled the situation and imposed leadership based on Igbo customs and tradition on them and what later became Ogwshi-Uku kingdom. Adaigbo’s imposed of republican system, however, later gave way to the hereditary system of the Benins . BENIN EMIGRATION OR EXODUS: The migration of Onicha people from Benin happened in phases over many years and did not happen once. The Ohime/Obi Ezechima’s exodus was one of the last ones that occurred but it should be noted that not all Onicha people left with Obi Eze Chima or Ohime. Some stayed back and are still in Benin today. Some took a different migrationary route towards Ile Ife and Ado Ekiti. Some went to establish Ondo. Some made a northern migrational journey towards the north to establish the Igala Kingdom.

The Attah of Igala and a substantial part of the Igala kingdom were Onicha people who immigrated into Igala from Benin. The first Attah of Igala was a Prince of the Edo/Benin Kingdom. Now it can be understood why the Onicha people were ferried across the Niger and greatly assisted by their Igala kinsmen when they reached the banks of the Niger river. It can also be understood why Onicha people easily incorporated many Igala rituals and traditions into their own concepts. They were of the same roots but different branches. Onicha people left Benin to establish Igala; that was the secret behind the easy adoption of and exchange of different tenets amongst Onicha and Igala people. Some Onicha people, before Eze Chima’s exodus, had left Benin to establish other towns like Issele Ukwu, Ebu, Kwale, Ezzi, Onicha-Ukwu, Okpanam, Asaba(originally called “Araba”) and some other towns of Benin orientation that had been established before the Ezechima’s exodus from Benin.. It was these settlements that habored Obi Ohime/Ezechima when he and his family fled from Benin. The migration from Benin to Onicha Mmili took many years, towns of Onicha-Olona and Onicha-Ugbo were established by Onicha people who felt reluctant to continue and follow Obi Ohime to Onicha-mmili.
Obi Ohime or Eze Chima, having been told that he could not enter Onicha, stayed for a long time in Obio with his family and relatives before he died. After he died, his relatives decided to continue with their migration to establish Onicha. The qualification for whom shall be crowned king was conditioned upon who shall sound ancient rhythms on a wooden Ufie. Traditionally, Ufie cannot be owned or be sounded/beaten by a person whose father is still alive. The contestants to the throne having just lost their father, had no ufie, however, Oreze Obi, had carved one which he hid under the boat and sounded first upon getting to Onicha whilst his siblings were busy looking for the appropriate wood to cut for the Ufie.

Obi is Benin Origin Not Igbo: Igbo Never Existed Pre-Colonial Nigeria
Before the coming of the colonialists, there was no such word as Igbo and the only monarchy in the east across the river Niger is the Obi of onitsha which is an offshoot of the Benin throne. Obi being a corruption of the Benin word Ovbi meaning scion of.
History has it that the first monarch in onitsha is Eze Chima, who according to oral traditions is a Benin prince who disrespected his father and fled Benin for fear of his actions' consequences befalling him.

Eze is a Benin word which means strong while Chima is a corruption of the Benin word Ehima.

The Oba of Benin is sometimes called Omo. It would be disrespectful for his son to be addressed as Omo when his father is still alive and on the throne hence Ovbi was adopted in place of Omo. Ovbi could also be the abbreviation of the word Ovbi'oba meaning scion of the Oba.
The adoption of the word Eze or Obi by later warrant chiefs appointed by the British colonialists in present day Eastern Nigeria was borrowed from Onitsha. As a result of the influence of the already established Benin monarchical system in Onitsha, other warrant chiefs styled their pattern of rulership after it
Ibadan Ministry of Education, 1956, Ebe Ene Ewanlen, Adult Education Branch.
Ibie, C.O., 1986, Ifism: The Complete Work of Orunmila, Lagos: Efehi Ltd.
Idiens, D., 1986, New Benin Discoveries in Scotland, African Arts 19, 4.
Idukpaye, O., 1978, Ikemwin Edo (Edo Counting System), Benin City: Movan Prints Services.
Igbafe, P.A., 1967a, The District Head System in Benin 1914-1935, Odu: A Journal of West African Studies, 3, 2.
Igbafe, P.A., 1967b, British Rule in Benin 1897-1920: Direct or Indirect Rule, Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria 3, 4.

Comment Box is loading comments...
Benin kingdom copy right