HARMONIZING THE HISTORICAL ORIGIN OF THE IKWERRE PEOPLE by Onyeji Nnaji



One Big problem that befuddled the entire South Southerners, the said Nigerian Niger Delta population, is the knowledge of their original source. Their lackadaisical attitude towards their historical origin had necessitated this. I met the biggest situation at Ika, a local government area in Akwa Ibom State, in 2018, when I stumbled on a monolithic stone that showed obvious historical origin for the people of Ika. I did not hesitate to stop and examine it. I was interested in the study of the stone, only to be disappointed by the response of the pastor who took me to the community. You won’t believe he said thus, “Here in Akwa Ibom, we do not give concern to all those issues about history; the history we know correctly is that of local government creation and state creation”. I felt defeated immediately. The answer to my unasked questions, which he gave unequivocally, was that nobody was prepared to be entertained with my “SEEMING USELESS/BORING HISTORY QUESTIONS”. This simply defines the almost dominant situation in the riverine areas of the Nigerian settlement. Nevertheless, the Izon (Ijaw) and Ikwerre are relatively different.

See also: Ijaw claimed that Igbo were their slave

Ikwerre is almost the largest (if not the largest) ethnic group in the present day politically caved out population tagged as Rivers State. Their population notwithstanding, the fact that they occupy almost the Rivers capital city, Port Harcourt, is another reason that added attractive feathers to them. With this geographical situation and the situation of the Nigerian dilapidated refinery, the Ikwerre became much even prominent than the rest of the communities in their neighbourhood. No one goes to Port Harcourt without encountering the Ikwerre; whether in their positive characters of welcoming strangers or their repetitious disturbance and trouble making. Ikwerre land lies roughly within the coordinates of 4°:50N 5°:15N, 6°:30E 7°:15E. The geology and geomorphology of the area are intimately associated with that of the Niger Delta which was created in the Holocene by the process of erosion and sedimentation. But among those occupying the fluvial soil of the Niger Delter, particularly the Rivers, Ikwerre inhabit the upland part. They predominantly settle in Obio-AkporPort Harcourt and Emohua local government areas of Rivers State.

Proximity and Consanguinity with Communities in the Neighbourhood

The Ikwerre cultural area maintain similar borders with the Ohaji/Egbema of Imo State to the northeast, the Ogba to the northwest, the Ekpeye and Abua to the west, the Ijoid groups of Degema, the Kalabari and Okrika to the south, the Eleme and Oyigbo to the southeast and the Etche to the east. The Ikwerre tribe is made up of four main groups, namely the Elele group (Ishimbam), the Igwuruta-Aluu (Ishiali) group, the Rumuji-Emohua-Ogbakiri (REO) or Risimini group, and the OPA group (Obio/Port Harcourt/Akpor). The Ishimbam or Elele clan occupies the northern part of Ikwerre land, within the Ikwerre and Emohua Local Government Areas. Most of these communities believe in one ancestor called "Ochichi" whose descendants founded most of the clans. Elele is believed to have been founded by "Ele", Ochichi's first son. This is why Elele is called Okanialiamong the Ishimbam clans. The Ishimbam clans include: EleleAkpabuElele-AliminiEgbedaOmereluApaniUbimini and Omudioga. The Ishiali or Esila group inhabits the remaining parts of Ikwerre Local Government Area. Clans here include: IsiokpoIpoIgwuruta-AliAluuOmuanwaOmademeOmagwaOzuoha and Ubima. Wikipedia Encyclopedia gave an explicit analysis of the Ikwerre consanguinity trend as shown below.

The REO (Rumuji/Emohua/Ogbakiri) cluster, or (R)Ishimini (as classified by Ogbakor Ikwerre), inhabit the southern part of Emohua Local Government Area. They are located in a riverine area. This cluster comprises. This cluster comprises:
Odegu clan:
Uvuahu clan:
Emohua clan
Ogbakiri clan

The OPA (Obio-Port Harcourt-Akpor) is a broad cluster that occupies the entire Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas. It is subdivided into the Obio and the Akpor groups.

Obio: The Obio group is divided into three: EvoApara and Rebisi (Port Harcourt). Obio is regarded as the common ancestor of the Evo and Apara communities; Evo is the senior while Apara is younger. 
Evo: This is subdivided into three: Oro–Evo: (RumuodomanyaRumurorluOginigbaRumuobiakaniRumuobochiWojiRumuibekweRumuogba)
Oro – Esara: Okporo (Rumukwurushi, Rumuodara, Iriebe), Rumuokoro,Oroigwe, Atali.
Apara: Apara, the second son of Obio, had nine children: Eneka, Nkpoku, Ekinigbo, Okwuta, Adaolu (a female), Epirikom, Ola, Orosi, and Rebisi. These descendants founded the principles that governed the formation of  Apara communities such as Eneka, Rukpokwu, Rumuigbo, Rumuokwuta, Rumuadaolu, Rumuepirikom, Rumuola, and Rumuorosi respectively.

Rumueme was established in the Apara territory, after Ozuruoha, one of Eprikom's descendants had invited his in-laws from Isiokpo to help him wage a war against his kinsman. Rumueme is said to be where these warriors from Isiokpo had resided permanently. Rumuomoi also joined the Apara later.

Rebisi: This is an offshoot of the Apara clan. Rebisi had fled Apara during a conflict with his brothers. Rebisi had seven children: Ochiri, Adasobia, Olozu, Worukwo, Ezimgbu, Ogbum and Abali. The descendants founded places like Oromerezimgbu, and Ogbumnuabali (a merger of Orogbum and Oroabali), respectively. Internal migrations led to the establishment of other communities from the original seven, such as Elekahia. Others are NkpoguNkpolu OroworukwoNkpolu.OrogbumRumuwojiRumukalagboOroijeRumuibekwe and Orominieke. 

Akpor: Akpor is located east of the REO group, south of the Ishiali group and west of Obio. The clan hast ten communities: Ozuoba, Choba(Isoba), Ogbogoro, Rumuosi, Rumuolumeni, Rumuokparali, Rumualaogu, Rumuokwachi, Rumuekini and Alakahia.         

Generally, it is apparent that the Ikwerre exist in well-delineated clans, with each clan having its own paramount king. The Ikwerre do not have an overall paramount ruler or king, but designated kings, rulers or leaders mostly approved by their constituents. However, all paramount rulers in Ikwerre are united in what is known as Ogbakor Ikwerre, which was formed in 1963 as an umbrella socio-cultural organization of the Ikwerre people.

Ikwere and her Identity Crisis
There is this controversy about the Ikwerre history, just as the Benin had had for decades. We know too well that virtually every facet of the Ikwerre life defiles every easy trace to any other place of origin other than the Igbo. This basically forms the crux of the identity crisis of the Ikwerres. For instance, linguistic similitude has remained the most obvious pointer to the relationship between people belonging to the same ancestry. According to Ruhlen Merritt in his book, The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother-Tongue.1994, “The most credible proof of the history of any people is through the fact of them belonging to a particular mega language family; for no people completely lose every aspect of their sourced language". Ruhlen further maintained that language does not fade too easily. This is very true, for as we may speak from oblivion, the history of the Benin and Yoruba is not complete until one mentions “Uhe” and “Ife” respectively. The former is the Okigwe word for light, while the latter is Onitcha word for light. Unequivocally, these words tell the sources of the respective nations associated with them. For detail, you may read The Lost City of the Sun. Egypt shares in this consanguinity. Ancient Egyptians called it Helliopolis.     

Language apart, I don’t think one can clearly differentiate between the Ikwerres and the Igbo cultural apparatus. We have, nevertheless, exceptions on those attires that strictly define a Niger Deltan as found in their distinct cultural wears that drew similitude to those of the Arochukwus. See: Origin of the Arochukwu people. Ikwerre, from the word go, bear Igbo names, wear Igbo traditional caps; showcase certain artistic renditions that draw attentions to the Igbo exactness. These depictions must not have come by accident. Of course, if not a dense proof of ancestry, such as defended by the Ruhlen’s mother tongue analysis, then it will follow P.O. Okwoli’s view that, “For a distinct cultural marker belonging to a common core to be found on another sect, closer or far away from the ‘core’, it must be a clear proof of ancestry. Where this is not applicable, then there had been a lasting contact between such a people and the common core in the past.” This situation defines why Ida has several aspects of Igbo lexicon in their cultural terms and language in particular. Such vast influence, apart from their closeness to the Onitcha Igbo extraction, was wedded into their whims through the earliest involvement of the Nsukka Achadu in the civilization of the Ida. Nsukka shaped the Igala Mela and played a serious role in the formation of kingship in the Ida kingdom; they were the kingmakers of the ancient Ida nation.

Now, it becomes enigmatic, for one to speak Igbo tongue, yet he is not Igbo; observe several Igbo observances, yet he is not Igbo, bear Igbo names but he is not Igbo etc is not only confusing but frustrating. For instance, the famous writer, Elechi Amadi, had given variant of this Igbo problematic tale in 1985. Speaking to Chidi Osuagwu, a co member of an interview panel at the then Rivers State College of Education, Port-Harcourt, Amadi said, “I had no problem with Igbo identity, but have problem with the Aro-Ikwerre relationship. During the Nigeria-Biafra War, the Aros plotted to kill me”. Now, it seems the Ikwerre suffer from a significantly misdirected anger. They are, in this case; holding their Isuama-Igbo (Ikwerre, traditionally, distinguished between ‘Ikwerre and Isuama’; not ‘Ikwerre and Igbo’) kinsmen, who are ethically more related to them than to the Aro, accountable for Aro domination.

The Early British, before oil became a factor of ethnic classification in the Lower Niger, had a cultural sub-group of the Igbo they called Orratta-Ikwerre (that is Owerri-Ikwerre, in current usage), who, both call the heartland Igbo as Isuama. Ekwensu wu amaghi ihe! The Devil is Ignorance! The solution to our identity crises, then, is ‘Know self, know other!’ Now to consider the Aro a purely Igbo people; and hold Igbo responsible for Aro mischief is the height of identity confusion. One day, the Cross-river Ejegham, who own the Ibini-Ukpabi soul of the Aro system, the Efik who control the social organizational Ekpe; the Ogoja Akpa that supplied the fighters and the Ibibio on whose land Arochukwu was founded will turn around and blame the Igbo, from among whom a few medicine men were coopted, for inventing Ibini-Ukpabi and Aro slavery. That would be a most uncharitable treatment of truth, but the world is a clever place. 

In Fact about Benin Origin of Ikwerre Tribe, Adolphos N. Nyegonum’s views on the Ikwerre identity crisis is shown below,
                        Someone once said that the present Ikwerre people do not speak Bini language, bear Bini names, nor practice their culture, tradition etcetera, yet they claim Bini origin. How would one believe their claim? Often times people wonder why the present generation of Ikwerre people do not speak Bini language, bear Bini names or practice their culture, tradition, etcetera, and yet claim Bini origin. The reason is simple. As I mentioned earlier, the Bini language, culture, tradition, etc, were assimilated into that of Igbos tribe. Based on this, the present Ikwerre people are brought up under a new social and cultural life, different from the one practiced by their forebears. This is why they cannot bear names such as Evbo (Evo) which is a Bini name. They cannot also, speak Bini language, practice their culture, tradition etcetera, because they lost the knowledge many years ago.   
                        In my previous explanations, I mentioned that the forebears of Ikwerre tribe communicated in Bini language, bore Bini names such as Evbo (Evo), and practiced their Bini culture and tradition until they became extinct. Even the present Ikwerre social and cultural life can also go into extinction if care is not taking. Furthermore Ikwerre tribe is not the only tribe whose present people do not speak the language, bear names, nor practice the culture, tradition etcetera of the original place of migration. In fact, some tribes have even lost the skin colour of their original place of migration.
                        For example, the Igbo tribe, I learnt, is of Israeli origin through their progenitor Nri. Granted that this is true, the question now is, do the present Igbo people possess the same skin colour as the Jews, speak Jewish language, bear Jewish names, practice their culture and tradition? The answer is no. Yet the Igbo people claim Israeli origin. How would one believe their claim?
                        The Yoruba tribe, I learnt, is of Middle East origin through their progenitor, Oduduwa. Granted that this is true, the question now is do the present Yoruba people possess the same skin colour as the people of Middle East, speak Middle East language, bear their names, practice their culture and tradition? The answer is no. Yet the Yoruba people claim Middle East origin. How would one believe their claim?
The problem with Adolphos’ claim here is that the work lacks updated historical information; particularly that the work ignored completely the truism and the authenticity of Oral Tradition. For instance, Olumide Luckas wrote earliest among the Yoruba settings and claimed that the Yoruba had originated from Egypt; but the Egyptians tell us that they originated from inner Africa. To be précised, Diop Anta, clearly noted that anyone seeking origin of the nations of the black race among the populations in the Middle East is making a very big mistake. He noted that,

No matter where we collect legend on the genesis of the Black African people, those who still remember their origins say they came from the east and their forbearers found pygmies in the country. Dogon and the Yoruba legends report that they came from the east (Civilization, 179).
Ask Ifa priest based in Ife, and he will tell you where the east is. Search for the Yoruba oral tradition and you will know the east. The east is the place where the sun rises; that was where life began. You may find the over seven series of the UNESCO publications titled, The General History of Africa. For details of the Egyptian Origin, you may read Origin of the Ancient Egyptians by Cheikh Anta Diop.

On the other hand, the claim that the ancestors of the Ikwerre were dully assimilated by the Igbo, resulting in the loss of Benin names in the naming of the Ikwerre people has no epistemological root; and for so, cannot be useful for any nomenclatural defence. The reason is simple; Ethiopia was founded more than 48000 BC., yet as late as 4th A.D. there still emerged a king bearing Igbo name, “Ezeana” (King of the land). Egypt was founded much later than Ethiopia and Nubia (the present Sudan), yet the ancient Egypt still retain the name “Ani”, with the middle age retaining over hundred words belonging to Igbo language. Mexico was founded several centuries ago, yet they still retain the traditional dance performances known as “Mariachi” and still speak of their original source as the “Bembe”. Bembe is located in the Northern Cross River State, while the original version of Mariachi was rehearsed by the elders as “Amarachi”. This traditional dance is usually performed in traditional ceremonies of the Mexicans.

There is also the Zulu who travelled away to the ancient Nubia, left finally in the days of King Ezeana for their present home at South Africa; yet the Zulu still retain “Ama” as the prefix that introduces them. Kenya (particularly The Kikuyu) faces a similar situation as the Zulu, yet they did not lose many Igbo cognate in the naming of their towns and the traditional observances prominent among the Kikuyu till date. The Jukun travelled to the far Ethiopia, settled among the Kambata, and returned later; yet their successive generations did not forget that their original name was “Jukwu”. How many should I mention; the Ibibio, the Anang, the Ijaw (Izon) etc. only the Ikwerre has a different case. The Ijaw were Benin; though they live with Ikwere Urhobo and others, yet their language defines them. Language, names, traditional observances, cultural display etc. are historical pointers; and no people lose all these about their history, except such a people do not have a history.

Origin of the Ikwerre: The Benin Factor
The Ikwerre are generally considered by a great majority of scholars as a subgroup of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. Several theories exist over their origin. One is favoured by the Igbo people and another is widely accepted by the Ikwerre people themselves. According to one of these theories of Ikwerre origin claims by some Igbo scholars suggests that they would be descendants from an Igbo migration from Awka and Orlu areas towards the south. Igbo scholars take the Ikwerre as part of the Southern Igbo. Amadi, an Ikwerre scholar, says that the Igbo origin theory has support even among the Ikwerre themselves, with Ikwerre as descendants of a migration of Arochukwu Igbo, and Okpo Nwagidi being the leader of the Ikwerre tribe. Before the civil war, there had been dissident voices that claimed that Ikwerre could have migrated from OwerriOhajiNgwa, and Etche areas of Igboland. But when Port Harcourt was conquered by Nigeria during the Biafran War and the Igbo people from other parts of Igboland fled the territory, a UN report says that the Ikwerre decided to claim that the Ikwerre were non-Igbo for convenience. The Ikwerre are recognized officially as a separate group in the 1979 Nigerian Constitution. Some scholars also said that some Ikwerre people migrated from Ika a subgroup of Igbos in Delta State and Edo state while some migrated from Ngwa, Arochukwu and Ohaji/Egbema.

All these views notwithstanding, the Benin theory of origin for the Ikwerre people gained populous attention among the inhabitants, especially when repudiation of Igbo ancestry gained prominence among the Igbo neighbours in the aftermath of the civil war. Unfortunately, the Benin theory has so many versions. The first version suggests that Ikwerre was the third son of Akalaka, the father of Ogba and Ekpeye who migrated from an area in the multi ethnic Benin empire in the 15th century. It is said that Iwhuruohna, the progenitor of the Ikwerre, had seven sons which became the Ikwerre asa. Another version holds that Akalaka migrated with Ochichi who settled at Elele and was the father of Elele, Isiokpo, Egbeda and Omerelu. This Benin theory was rejected by many Ikwerre who are of the opinion that the Ikwerre did not migrate from Benin or descend from one progenitor. The Ikwerre are far larger than the Ogba and Ekpeye groups. The Akalaka legend originally mentioned the Ogba and Ekpeye as the only descendants of Akalaka; the inclusion of Ikwerre has gained ground as of recent time. Ikwerre people do not share any linguistic or cultural grounds with Benin people. The assumption of Benin origin of Ikwerre could also be traced to the wars and raids of the Aboh kingdom on Ogba land; with the help of the Benin officers which triggered a migration of Ogba and Ekpeye people into what is today's Ikwerre land. These people met existing communities there. Rumuekpe, Ibaa, Ndele and the Odegu clan are communities that could have possibly be founded by this migration. A section of Obio clan is said to have migrated from the Aboh (Ukwuani) area of Delta state which was under the influence of the Benin Empire in the 16th century.

Chief N.M.T. Solomon (2004), native of Ikodu Ubie in Ekpeye land, tries to present what he claimed to be the more refined version that may serve as a reliable source. He organized the narratives given by various sources, including Eketu (Weber) of Ubeta, assumed to be the then oldest man in all Ekpeye, Ogba and Iwhnurọ hna (or Ikwerre), at that time. Eketu's narrated history was taken and all other samples were dropped. Speaking from Ekpeye customs, Solomon made the following conclusion:
Ekpeye, born in Benin, was the first of the three sons of Akalaka. While in Ndoni, he married a second wife to gain the love and favour of the people. The new wife gave birth to a son, which he named Ogba. Akalaka was still in Ndoni when his first wife, the mother of Ekpeye, gave birth to his third son called Ihruoha (Ikwerre).
J.N. Olise who wrote in 1971, averred that: “Akalaka, a member of the Benin royal family, fled with his wife from Benin to Ndoni, a community located close to the River Niger, to save the life of his new born baby (Ekpeye).

Evaluation/Validation of Sourced Information
From my observation here, considering the sources examined, it is apparent that certain features are being intentionally eluded from the true sense of the Ikwerre history; perhaps for the purpose of giving definitions to what may be considered more credible in the eyes of one, the far such considered credible information is contrary to the pedagogical concepts that inform history generally notwithstanding. Using the legend Onoja Oboni for instance; belonging to the royal family of Oboni Oni in Ida, he journeyed through Nsukka and settled at Ogurugu. He lived for years in Ogurugu before he finally arrived at the place he is survived today by several descendants. Yet, despite this hobo, Onoja did not forget his route, nor did he forget the name of the mother’s village where he grew up. He named his first son Ofu as a reminiscence of his mother’s home. He could not forget Ofu because that was where he had the sense of a home. He visited Onitcha area and left Umuekete who live there till date. Umuekete cannot call themselves the children of Onoja, for they knew that, though they were warriors that accompanied Onoja to the area, they were not Onojas. Every history has always followed this view: adopting a historical marker more précised for posterity to trace their root. Of course, the routes of ancestors are usually ostensibly ineffaceable; their foot prints are also adhesive and irreplaceable.   

The fact that Akalaka proves more Igbo in his name but his children show the contrary is a clear indication that Akalaka’s wife, who probably must have come from the neighbouring dwellers who were non Igbo, must have influenced the naming process. The name, Ekpeye, for instance suggested truly Benin; and, according to the patchy fairy tales as shown above, the mother was of Benin origin. on the other hand, considering the name, the key word there is "Ekpe", is a noun and prominent among the names found in the Igbo and other southern settlers. "Ye" is a personal pronoun for him, her and it. The central Igbo form of "Ye" is "Ya". "Ye" is prominent among the Nothern Igbo, especially Nkanu. As a personal pronoun of that sort, it works like genitives to show possession. In this way, "Ekpeye" could simply mean "His Ekpe". Therefore, Ekpeye could possibly be Igbo. Where non of these situation had prevailed, then it is apparent that the much later Ikwerre historians had suggested the name. It is usually very difficult to accept certain historical ancestry, especially when it suggests the possibility of a progenitor emanating from the very population of people one hates to associate himself with for reasons best known to him. Elechi Amadi’s expression above stands obviously the best proof for this. From the paper, The Metaphysical Views of African Oral Tradition, Nnaji made the following assertion:

As unique as oral tradition has remained, it always gives a relative transmittal dependent figures within the generations it has lasted. In general, this transmittal agent enables the whole body of the traditions of a society under study to be placed in the framework of the genealogy or the list of Theo (in the form of theocrat or theosophist) or age groups which covers the broadest geographical area; but it does not enable the relative sequence of events to be linked to those outside the particular region. However, where there is a related historical contiguous claim (such as one historical element giving birth to others around it) such contiguousness can be vividly specified as proof of relationship but may not have indebt information bothering on the continual process that had sustained the contiguous offspring’s oral tradition
   
My encounters with Elechi Amadi – The Sun Nigeria
If this situation highlighted in the excerpt above is claimed to be the dominant Ikwere history situation, then it should be clear that the acclaimed Ekpeye had resulted as a matter of relationship, though familial, but not ancestral. The fact that the versions of Ikwerre’s Benin origin prove generally different from what obtains in the historical situation applicable to the history of every other nations around the globe is a clear proof that it was rather invented intentionally as shown in one of the overcrowded editions of the history on Wikipedia. Of course, as Elechi Amadi revealed, the invention was targeted at wiping out every trace of the seceded Igbo nature in them, and perhaps attract the better attention of the victorious Nigeria. It was done particularly in 1968, after Port Harcourt was captured by the Nigerian troop. Unfortunately, the crafty artist who gave birth to this idea could not tighten his claim properly. For instance, in the much celebrated history book, Facts about Benin Origin of Ikwerre Tribe, posted @ www.Otedo.com by Otedo (the admin), it was claimed that it was during the reign of Oba Awuarre (1542 AD) that Akalaka left Benin. Later, Eric Amadi (Prof.), an academic of the Department of Educational Foundation, River State University gave a reappraisal discourse on the 2004 publication of Solomon Nyegonum and concluded thus, 

Eric AMADI | B.A. Ed, B.Ed Hons, M. Ed, Ph.D; Assoc. Prof ... 
The reigning Oba of Benin when Akalaka, the ancestor of Ihruọha (later called Iwhnurọhna) fled was Oba Ewuare (Ogwaro). Akalaka, a member of the Benin royal family, fled in the 13th century on allegation of plotting assassination of the Oba. He died in 1462. Iwhnurọhna his third son settled east of the Sombrero River by 1538 AD, as detailed below. Chief N.M.T. Solomon (2004).” www.edoworld,net
There is no uniformity in the dates shown above, proving that both the professor who was reappraising and Solomon who wrote the history have conflict of accuracy collectively. But one thing is very important to note here. If the account is not useful towards deciphering the origin of the Ikwerre as we further disclose down page, it is relevant in the sense that we now know that the "rr" used by later historians, other than the original one "r", was borrowed from Ewuarre to make it look genuine. 


We have examined the Benin history to find that the above accounts lack authenticity. Reading from The Great Benin I, by Osare Omoreghie, it was uncovered that Oba Ewuare I (1440-1473) was rather exiled contrary to the claim of Ikwerre history. In fact, the Benin oral tradition will prove this better. It is cited below.

Ewuare was born as third son of the Oba Ohen. At this point, Ewuare was known by the name Prince Ogun. A controversy arose upon the death of Ohen when both Prince Ogun and his brother Prince Irughe was exiled by Oba Orobiru, Ohen's second son. Ohen's first son, Oba Egbeka had ruled upon their father's death but did not last long. In exile Ogun then traveled widely throughout the region visiting many different kingdoms. Local historian Jacob U. Egharevba contended that after the death of Orobiru, both Ogun and Uwaifaikon were banished from the city, but then Uwaifaikon was able to return, lied to the Uzama, and was named king.
Egharevba's version states that, during a visit to the city during his exile, Ogun was taken in by a prominent chief who hid him in a dried well but then went to tell the authorities. The head slave of the chief, named Edo, let down a ladder into the well and advised Ewuare to escape. Ogun then took the name Ewuare translated to mean, "The trouble has ceased". Eventually, the honorific Ogidigan (the Great) was appended and he is often known as Ewuare Ogidigan or Ewuare the Great. The date for his rise to the throne is usually dated to 1440. To honor the slave that had sacrificed his life to save his, Ewuare also renamed the city to Edo (now Benin City).

Apart from the restoration of Oba Ewuare to the throne, following the chaotic atmosphere as shown above, Benin never had a similar situation in their history, let alone involving a personality in the likelihood of Akalaka in the exile situation. Sample the different versions of Benin history, you will not find a situation likened to the claim made by Ikwerre historians. Akalaka means “Destiny”; it is the reserve of the Igbo for any trace of nomenclature. It is not Benin. If Ekpeye is considered to be Benin, then it should be traced to the mother who is proven to be of Benin origin. The Igbo has a traditional concept referred to as Igu Afa (Naming). In doing this, there is no boundary; relatives from both paternal and maternal sides, even friends are named with new children. Ekpeye was named after the maternal father. that is the most precised situation here.

Again, in the prehistoric periods, members of the royal family are honoured and respected even beyond their territory. When they were forced to exile, they still retained their regards in their host community. They don’t disguise themselves for fear of being harmed. Where they were disguised, they never failed to disclose their identity so that the host community would do them no harm. It is apparent that if Akalaka, as claimed, had certain element of royalty in him, he would have installed the same kingship structure that defines his place of origin in his successive habitation and generation. A legend does not lose his legendary quality; it doesn’t matter where he found himself. Onoja Oboni is a good example of this.   

Conclusion
One big mistake people make is seeking existence where there is none; as a result they produce a pale work that sounds no better than a fairy tale about their own selves. That is the danger in telling a single story. And as Achebe noted and Adichie affirmed, when you tell a single story you compress the unsupposed and magnify the unsupposed; then in the end leaving several gaps that give ways for the questions whose answers will still exhume those things you were pretentiously hiding. In doing this, do you know what you succeeded doing? You have endangered the whole body of people's existence. Moses did this, generalising his progenitor as the founder of the world, and place the whole human race in confusion for over 4000 years now. Visit the Genesis story carefully and see if you won't come out with several questions.

Some hungry Igbo claimed they came from Israel, others claimed they came from Egypt. Read their stories and you will ask yourself several irredeemable questions because the writers were stuck at a point and the only way out was to build a congextur for readers to get more confused. Benin scrambled up to the point of seeking origin among the Jukun who were much younger than them. They sought origin from Yoruba, Egypt, Jukun etc. simply because they were avoiding Igbo origin, even when the traditional observance that connected them to the Igbo lasted to the days of the colonial masters. People should know that history can only be recreated; it is not corrected. To recreate history is to live a positive live that corrects the errors of the ancestors. The attempt to correct history is an attempt to force history to take an orchestrated route different from the original. By this, we fault history.

If Ikwerre is prepared to know their history, it is clear here. The Ikwerre (originally "Ikwere") are Igbo; their history said so. What Ikwere scholars should do, if it still seems useful knowing the home of their progenitor, is to follow history serially by comparing the elements involved in the formation of their history with those of other Igbos believed to had had contact with their ancestors; comparison on the similitude of their traditions will be useful. Our reliance on language similarity may not be useful since the Arochukwu factor had earlier been rejected, according, to Elechi Amadi's view. The Ibibio and Anang, for instance, were Igbo; but today you can only number the Igbo words in their lexicon. I believe the Igbo origin for the Ikwere strongly because I have seen where the Ikwere history confusion started; it was the Civil War. Let me prove this to you.

The Wikipedia presents the various versions of the mutation that Ikwerre history had undergone in the hands of many mischief makers who want to take a different name from the one given to them by their fathers. The most updated version (precisely as at 25th July, 2020) reveals that the reason for the change of Ikwerre historical source was to make them a different people in the eyes of the Nigerian government, at the peak and after the Biafran War. According to this latest edition, based on the date shown above,  

When Port Harcourt was conquered by Nigeria during the Biafran War and the Igbo people from other parts of Igboland fled the territory, a UN report says that the Ikwerre decided to claim that the Ikwerre were non-Igbo for convenience. The Ikwerre are recognized officially as a separate group in the 1979 Nigerian Constitution.
It was this claim that gave them a different recognition in the 1979 Nigerian Constitution, according to the United States Report. To further prove the UN report true, here is an older account of the same Ikwerre history on Wikipedia.

The Ikwerre (also spelt Ikwere), an Igbo sub group in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The Ikwerre constitute the majority of Rivers state and are spread across four local government areas namely: Port HarcourtObio/AkporEmuoha and Ikwerre LGA. They are traditionally farmers, fishermen and hunters. (Edited: 1 October, 2009)
How this mutation started occurring was also noted by the Wikipedia on another date as follow,

The Ikwerre (also spelt Ikwere) are one of the many ethnic groups in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. They are generally considered a subgroup of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria, although a small minority for political expediency now dispute this account, claiming their history was rewritten during the colonial period because of the dominance of the larger Igbo group. The Ikwerre are said to be related or share common ancestry with the Ogba and Ekpeye people (Akalaka brothers). They trace their origins to Benin and elsewhere.  (Edited: 1 January, 2013)

It is now clear that it was the fear of domination (inferiority complex) that bastardized the Ikwerre history; and like a tale of the Taliban, the Ikwerre inhabitants suddenly began to sing a new song in a strange land. Ikwerre history has been subjected to uncountable editions. Just this moth (July, 2020), Ikwerre history has been edited for more than ten times. The highest occurred in July, 2019. Just in this month, the Ikwerre history was edited for over 200 times. You have the Wikipedia to access; you can check it to prove me wrong. If you know how I managed to gather the Origin of Ethiopia, Egypt, Nubia (The present Sudan), and the Fulani, you will understand that we do not play on this platform; especially when the history of places in Africa is concerned. Our team respond to issues of history accordingly; we do not play over it because it is people's life treasured so much.

On the contrary, nobody is forcing anybody to accept that Ikwerre originated from Igbo. The Igbo too has nothing to gain from Ikwerre accepting facts about their own history, other than picking stones from where nobody kept them to build castles in the air. There is no need making claims you know will not stand the test of time. My concern, digging this far, is in line with Ola Rotimi's view that "The secret of the land must be known to the people of the land". The truth must be said, it does not matter whom it hurts!


Drop your comments on whatever observation you make and return to see our view points about them. Thanks.


Comments

  1. When I saw this caption on Twitter, I refused to give heed to it, considering what I have read from Uncle Solomon's "Facts about the Benin origin of Ikwerre".

    On another occasion, I decided to skeem through and see what this Igbo historian claims to know about my Ikwere. Unfortunately, I was defeated by the bulk of comparative analyses carried out on the veriously claimed best interpretations of my history. At the end, I saw reasons to blame my avoidance of this beautiful piece earlier on.

    In fact, I with to indefatigably state that those who had written our history in the past should visit this site and see what amenent they should do to their earlier work. This work is a tonic for every possible pedagogical compromise. Every reasonable researcher opens his mind to others opinion. As this writer has completed, Solomon and others should write updates to their works.

    Finally, I wish to thank you greatly. If this history is not beneficial in much ways, it is undoubtedly beneficial to every valid research work bothering on the Ikwerre history. I wish to suggest that the last two paragraphs should be placed first. This will help capture the attention of readers to go through the whole lots that you have written here. Thank you once more.

    Your brother, Julius Ogba

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Julius, I appreciate, above all, your suggestion. It is quite a kind one. But, permit me to say that history has a distinct order it follows to be duly comprehensible.

      Just like other research works written for academic purposes, history begins with an introduction, broaden with suggestions and claims already made by different authors who had found time to discuss the same subject matter. This is immediatly succeeded by the findings you have made.

      When you have clearly discussed your newest discoverings,then you can go ahead to conclude. Unlike other essays, the conclusion of many history works are usually analytical depending on the dimension of the historic discourse.

      Above all, I appreciate your long comment; at most, it shows that someone out there understands that a good job has been done. Thanks greatly!

      Delete

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