The First Olu Of Warri Kingdom
Bookmark and Share
(The Itsekiri Version) (Last Update June 16, 2023)

Born around 1445 to Prince Nuwa of benin the son of Oba Ewuare (1440–1473) the ruler of Benin Kingdom, Prince Ginuwa as he was known then was the Oldest of three children given birth to for Prince Nuwa (Onuwa/Oluwa).

Ginuwa grew up in the Benin royal court in company of his grand father the Oba and his father Prince Nuwa.

According to Jacob U. Egharevba History of Benin page 21, Prince Nuwa later known as Oba Olua/Oluwa who was a kind and generous king. He was noted to be one of the most generous king of Benin. Sometimes he paid the debt of his subjects when he finds out that they can’t afford to pay their debtors. Ginuwa his son on the other hand was a proud and assertive Prince, a trait that made the Benin chiefs to disliked him.

Oba Oluwa knowing that the Benin chiefs hate his son decided to send him away to form his own kingdom.

The Oba summoned a Council meeting of his seventy Chiefs of the kingdom , and told them of his intention to send a sacrifice in an Iroko Box to the water, via Ugharegin, and requested their assistance, by allowing their first born sons to accompany the sacrifice. They all agreed and did as their Oba desired; and on the appointed day, the Iroko Box was conveyed down to Ugharegin, where it was placed on the shore, near the water. Ginuwa planted his staff in Ugharegin to demarcate his kingdom from that of his father.

According to William Moore account in History Of Itsekiri, the journey was begun about the year A.D. 1480 At that time Benin, Escravos, and Forcados Rivers were very shallow . The journey from Benin City to Ugharegin, through bush paths, occupied three days. Immediately they arrived at Ugharegin, Prince Ginuwa dressed himself up properly as the Oba of Benin, inside the box; and then, by a certain feat of his, the box was opened, and he jumped out, and said in a commanding voice, "You Binis, will you not accompany me to where I am going?" They fell on their faces and did him obeisance, and they all, of one accord, answered, "Master, we will follow you wherever you go." Ginuwa then ordered them into the box, and they obeyed him.

The box drifted up the river, and the first place where Ginuwa and his party landed was Efurokpe, on the Jamieson River; and there Oyeifo, sister to Ginuwa, remained, as she was expecting the birth of a child: and her time of delivery was at hand.

When Ginuwa left Efurokpe, he was drifted through Arun-owun into the Escravos River (Odoegbere), and at last, settled on the sea bank of Amatu (Aleodiaja) or Dighinni, where he squatted.

According to Oral tradition Ginuwa got to Ureju where he was given a lady by name Orode who gave birth to Prince Ijijen and Irame.

Olu Ginuwa moved to Oruselemo, where he married an Ijaw woman named Derumo. After several years, stay at Oruselemo, a dispute arose between him and the Ijaws of Gulani, on acconnt of the woman Derumo, who was killed by him.

The Ijaws brought war against him and he re-moved with the help of Idibie, the great doctor, he asked Idibie to assist him in seeking for a much safer land whereon to dwell. Idibie, after consulting his oracle, gave Ginuwa the assistance requested, and piloted the party to the land which Ginuwa called Ijala, and where they met people speaking Olukumi language same language as he did. the then crown prince of Benin arrived with his retinue and the paraphernalia of royalty and presented himself. he was accepted as the first Olu of Warri. He had come with seventy first sons of the seventy chiefs of Benin and they were also accepted as the first set of chiefs of the now Warri kingdom.

They were the next group of people that joined the Itsekiri people as fellow citizens. They did not come in conquest, neither did the prince come as a Duke of Benin Kingdom. He reigned as Ginuwa, the Olu of Warri, with no external allegiance whatsoever. He was not a vassal but the king of iwere people to whom he owed allegiance. It was on the basis of our dictum: IGBO MINI, MINI, IGBO, Meaning that the people belong to the king and the king belongs to the people – THE ITSEKIRI PEOPLE.

Perhaps it should be stated at this point that prior to that time and since then, the Itsekiri people whose land is Iwereland (ALE-IWERE) which has since become known as Warri, have never been part of any other kingdom or empire and no other king has ever reigned over them except their own king – their Olu.

It bears reiteration that the king did not come in conquest. He did not impose himself either. He offered himself and the royal institution and he was voluntarily accepted on that score along with the sons of the chiefs who became chiefs of Warri kingdom from then on.

Ginuwa settled with the itsekiri people in the land he saw them at, It was at this place, Ijala, that the Portuguese first had intercourse with Prince Ginuwa, namely, about the year A.D. 1506 shortly before he passed away.

(The Benins version) written By Samuel Igbinosa Nomamiukor

Sometimes the false historical narratives I read on social media is nauseating because dumb.

The Itsekiri guy refuting your post came up with a very poor and outlandish rebuttal.

1. Iginua wasn't the son of Oba Ewuare1 the great but his grandson.

2. The name of his father was Oba Olua whose princely name was Okoro Oduwa not Onuwa or Oluwa.

He name was Olua not Oluwa. Infact centuries before Oba Olua adopted that name there was Olua in Benin history one of the war chiefs of Ogiso Odoligie.

So it is not for Itsekiri to tell the rightful pronunciation of the name of a Benin king.

3. Since he quoted page 21 of Pa Jacob Egharevba's book claiming that Egharevba wrote that Iginua was kind and generous, this what page 21 of Jacob Egharevba A Short History of Benin says:

Iginua was hated by the Binis for the bad advice he had given against the people. The Oba therefore decided to found a kingdom for him by the sea. Iginua accepted the offer gladly, as he was aware of his unpopularity. The Oba did not wish the scheme to be known to his Chiefs, in order that they might send their sons with Iginua to sacrifice for him by the sea. Iginua was invested with the necessary regalia and with the title Odihi-n’ame but he became known generally to the Itsekiris as Olu of Itsekiri after his father’s name.”

OIua made a big box and filled it with the necessary royal attire, etc. and to conceal the secret put the sacrificial victims on the top. He had given orders in advance for ljaw men to take Iginua and his retinue in their canoes to their destination. Thus Iginua became the first Olu, or Odihi-n’ame, and was the founder of the Itsekiri Kingdom. Being very proud and fond of wearing fine clothes he was nicknamed ‘Iginua the Proud’ .

He was also very cunning and cruel.

" (A Short History of Benin, 1968, P. 21).

So I wonder when Egharevba wrote that he was one of the most generous king of Benin.

When it is common knowledge that Iginua was never Omo N'Oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo but Okoro a prince.

Also it is common knowledge that Benins of that era hated him because of his character and vowed he will never be thier king because he was too proud, cunning and cruel for thier liking. The chiefs on the other could nolonger condone his excesses and started plotting on ways to dispatch of him before his father decided to move him out of Benin.

Also it was the Izons that Oba Olua ordered to take him away far from the reach of Benin to thier domain.

They initially took him to Amatu, but later moved to Oruselemo. At Oruselemo Iginua picked up an Izon wife. Iginua as noted was hot tempered and having been accused of brutally killing his wife Derumo by the Izons of Oruselemo they kicked him and his party out, and from there Iginua and his party moved to Ijalla . Iginua died at Ijalla and was buried there.

It wasn't the Izon that brought war to Iginua forcing the party from Benin to relocate from Ijalla but rather Benins led by Ekpenede who was sent by the Benin chiefs that was looking for Iginua.

Ijighen and Iramen led the Benin party further to Okotomu now Ode Itsekiri where they met the leader of the Igala people that settled there by name Itsekiri which the tribe was eventually named after.

Finally, isn't it contradictory for the Portuguese to have contact with Iginua in 1506 when from your sticker Olu Ginuwa1 1480-1500 which means he joined his ancestors in 1500.

Hmmmmm once again I rest my case.

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