The Traditions of Origin of Ivbi-ada-obi People

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Last up date (28-sep-18)

The lvbi-Ada-Obi community incorporates three village groups, Warrake with twelve wards, Ivbiaro with four villages and eighteen wards, and Errah with four villages. They could have been treated as separate British-styled clans. However, because they were very small settlements, the British brought them together. In any case, in pre-colonial times they had been united by worship of the Ada-0bi shrine located in Irhofio ward, Ivbiaro. Oral tradition claims Ivbiaro contains an aboriginal population. Before the Nupe invasion of the nineteenth century and the subsequence imposition of Islam, the Ivbi-Ada-Obi people solved most of their communal problems at the shrine. It was a form of long juju to the contiguous population. Over time its influence spread to Emai and Ihievbe. Following the advent of Islam, its prestige in the area began to wane. The Ada-Obi shrine still exists in lvbiaro despite the Islamization of the area, and people still worship at the shrine.

Warrake’s tradition, as recorded by Marshall, traces descent from a Benin man named Ake. Following a war in Benin, Ake fled with a woman called Uwaren, whom he later married. Tradition also has it that Ake was a brother to Obo, the founder of Ihievbe. The totemic data does not support this claim, but if we interpret brother as “contemporary,” then Warrake’s foundation date could be put between ca.1504—1536, or Obo’s generation. The totemic data from Warrake show that the village group reveres ekan-ivie (beads), indicative of Ogiso influence. Because of the association of the three B’s of Uokha, beads have been classified within the Ogiso period totems. Outside of neither Uokha beads are notcommon totems. Other than Warrake, beads are the village totem of the Eruere village in luleha. The tradition that Ake was related to Obo, founder of Ihievbe, is also strange, since Ake’s totem was the bead while Obo’s totems were the boa and beans. In other words, the two brothers split the three B’s between them. One is therefore inclined to think that they belonged to the same faction, party, or social strata in Benin. To complicate the mystery even more, the female “Ake” from Benin and founder of the Ake village group revered the boa and beans, while “Ake,” the male founder of the Warrake, also from Benin, revered beads, the third B.

According to Marshall, Ivbiaro (“Children of Aro”) “alone among the Ivbiosakon (Owan) clans (communities) have [sic] no tradition of migration, but claims to be direct descendants of a God-like being known as Ada-Obi.” Ada-Obi married a woman called Aro from whom the village group took its name. Aro was said to have given birth to four sons. They included Ebese, Iyokuoto (Ubuneke), Oshogben, and Usu, who became, according to the charter, the founders of the four villages. The Ivbiaro genealogical calculation places its foundation in the generation of ca. 1536—1568. My field research revealed that the Ivbiaro people report a tradition of migration from Benin. One of my informants claimed Ada-Obi and Aro were mortals who married in Benin. This version maintains that Ada-Obi while in Benin killed a leopard, the royal totem of Benin, and refused to hand over the skin to the oba. Expectedly, Ada-Obi was driven out of Benin by the monarch. This account agrees that Ada-Obi’s wife, Aro, gave birth to four children as stated by the first narrative tradition. A critical analysis of the two traditions and totemic evidence suggests that both accounts are tenable. The probable scenario, here as in other Owan communities, is that there existed an aboriginal population whom the Benin migrants met. While the aborigines are represented by the boa and plant totems, the invaders conceivably brought the animal totems. In addition, it is logical to argue that princes may have led the migration from Benin, since four wards venerate the leopard, the royal totem in Benin. On the other hand, the informant who rendered this tradition of origin in Benin is a Muslim who would in any case reject the supernatural character of a narrative which emphasized a god descending to the earth. Thus, one might at least assume that the indigenous story is valid for the earliest settlers and that migration from Benin also took place. The problem arises because the second story has been woven around characters who probably belong to the first. Chief Sule Elabor’s account fails to explain why Ada-Obi had been deified. It is noteworthy too that both accounts agree that the village, Ivbiaro, was named after the woman, not the man.

Looking at the larger picture, of the eighteen wards of the Ivbiaro group, one sees that fifteen revere animal totems even though a few combine them with the boa or a plant. The group confirms the oral tradition that it came out of Benin after the monarchy had been established, that the migration had been triggered by friction within the animal group of concerns, and that Marshall in his research would have collected his aboriginal story from one of the four wards of the nineteen without animal totems.

The Traditions of Origin Errah People
In the case of Errah, Marshall reports the people claim they were a direct offshoot of Emal. Their founder, Eleme, was said to have left Ovbiowun (a village in Emal) for Ocetemuna before settling in present-day Errah. Eleme’s (Ovbome) deparcure from Ovbiowun was attributed to a quarrel with Owuno, its founder. Oyakhire says “Ovbiowun decided to go to war with Era (Errah) in order to determine once and for all, the question of who was the owner of the land on which Era lived and farmed.” Ovbiowun sought the assistance of the rest of Emai community ¡n the invasion of Errah. But before attacks could be launched, the Errah people got wind of it and so fled Ovbiowun. In Errah, Eleme founded Ugbovbighan, Oluelo, Ekeke, and Isioriri villages. Oyakhire reported ca.1790 as the date of Errah’s flight from Ovbiowun. Furthermore, totemic evidence confirms the narrative tradition because the bushbuck is a major totem in Errah and Ovbiowun. Both villages are composed exclusively of animal totems. The dates also do not challenge the narrative tradition, since Emai had been founded long before Errah.
If one analyzes the totemic distribution of Ivbi-Ada-Obi by splitting the British-created community into its pre-colonial units, they appear unique. They fit into neither the northern nor the central tiers. Whether this reflects Islamizarion is not clear.

Warrake shows the highest percentage (69%) of wards without totems. This is far above Emai (33%), the next highest. In addition, Warrake is the only community without snake totems. lvbiaro-Errah possesses the highest number of animal totems, the lowest number of plants and non totemic wards. Combined, British-fashioned lvbi-Ada-Obi appears to fit comfortably ¡into the southern tier of communities dominated by animal totems. Nonetheless, by pre-colonial standards in which Warrake, Ivbiaro, and Errah lived as separate communities, the former is unique while the latter two resemble others in the southern tier.

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