The Traditions of Origin of Ihievbe People

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Last up date (28-sep-18)

The Ihievbe community to the north, located next to Uokha, was founded by Obo ca.1504—1536, a contemporary of Prince Uguan and according to narrative tradition related to Uzuanbi of Emai. Obo was further related to a junior branch of the royal clan of Benin. Totemic evidence suggests that Obo was of the indigenous or Ogiso people in Benin; his relationship to the leopard was either through his mother or his wife. If his father had been a leopard, then Obo perpetuated his mother’s totems because the community totems of lhievbe were the boa and bean, very much indigenous emblems. This provides an excellence example of how totemic evidence may challenge the “official” narrative tradition. In all the Edoid subgroups the suspicion becomes pervasive that hero-ancestors, or their descendants, claimed royal ancestry in Benin. Research which depends entirely upon an analysis of narrative traditions either must accept or reject such claims, since some informants want to support the Benin connection and others resent it. By use of no narrative techniques one can be more assured of what to accept and what to reject.

The community of Ihievbe is a mixture of plants and animals. It consists of nine villages, seven of which have only one ward. The largest village has five wards; the other, three. Three single-ward villages recognize no unique totem and respect only the group totems, the boa and bean. Four villages respect animals, one being leopard, which might indicate descendants of the people of Obo’s mother or wife. Both multi-ward villages mix animal and plant totems. There is no group shrine, nor are there village totems. Clearly, Obo did not seem to have had chiefdom in mind like Ora-Ekpen. The evidence suggests Obo was escaping the chiefdom model while at the same time failing to set up an indigenous model like Uokha. Possibly he had too many animal totem followers for that. Ihievbe fell between the two extremes, Ora and Uokha.

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