Origin of the Ijaw Nation - Onyeji Nnaji

Digest:   Ijaw did not migrate from Egypt, Nubia or Benin. Again, their father was not prince Ujo or Ijo as many writers clamed. We have uncovered the origin of the Ijaw and the name of her Progenitor. 

Accrding to the Wikipedia document, Ijaw people (also known by the subgroups "Ijo" or "Izon") are people in Niger Delta in Nigeria, Predominantly found in Bayelsa state, Delta State and Rivers State.They are also found in other Nigerian states like Ondo, Edo and Akwa Ibomany are found as migrant fishermen in camps as far west as Sierra Leone and as far east as Gabon. They have long lived in locations near many sea trade routes, and they were well connected to other areas by trade as early as the 15th century. Theyare known by their ancestral   name as the Oru. They  were known by this name by themselves and their immediate neighbours. The Ijos have kept the ancient language and culture of the ORU.

The Ijaw ethnic group consists of 51 closely affiliated clans. Membership of these clans is based on kinship lines, shared cultural and religious traditions, and acculturation.

Sieving the Falsehood in Ijaw Historical Claims:

In my study of prehistory, I have not come across a people with unmentionable inconclusiveness and untold borrowing of cultural properties belonging to the neighborhood as I found with Ijaw history. Not even the Fulani history, as vague as their hobo had made their history to appear very jaundiced, could be as inconceivable as Ijaw history interpreters have made Ijaw history to appear. Fulani could be excused, for the 40 years Hadad (their Progenitor) spent in Egypt before relocating to Nubia was enough to shroud a straight historical trace. This is different from the Ijaw situation here. Ijaw inconclusive and untold historical claims were born from their preparedness to conceal the truth in their history. What you will read under-pages are things you never believed good writers and well learned scholars like Prof. Alagoa could do to their own history.

(i) The Question of Autochthony:

In the Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, Vol. 16 (2005/2006), pp. 30-35 published by the Historical Society of Nigeria, Youpele Banigo wrote adversely questioning the autochthony of the Ijaw nation over her neighbours. Laughably, Banigo quoted the 1932 publication by P. A. Talbot to have claimed that Ijaw was the earliest to settle in the lower Niger areas. What a faulty historical record. Talbot did not study the history of the nations around the Ijaw surroundings. Had he, he would not have written so fast to concussion. For while he was overtaken by the fish he enjoyed via Ijaw hospitality package, he could not have noticed that the history of the Igbo, Benin and Yoruba was explained in 1907 by Obalike  (the then Eze Nri) in the court at Awka. I also did not think that Dr. Talbot had had any contact with the works of Nothcot Thomas about the population in that part of the continent.

Had Pacheco Pereira who visited that area of the Niger river in 1508 written this way, one may say that it was based on what Ijaw told him. Then it would be pardonable, reminiscing that about that time he may not have had the feeling that there were populations in the surroundings. No missionary or excavator in the form of archeology or anthropology ever made such autochthony claim for the Ijaw earlier than the 1932 succinct note of Percy Amaury Talbot. He assigned value to the Ijaw claim of Autochthony. So, to the Ijaw, having received a cap with elderly feathers on it and maintained with care by their indigenous professor, they saw reasons to their claims. Alegoa should have unravelled the truth in his own history other than sustaining empty claims.

The benefit of not sustaining falsehood in one's own history is that, when one tells his story properly by oneself he sets a standard with which him and his historical society should be measured. Yes, there are aspects of one's history he wouldn't want to make ostensible. It is in one's own very account that this area of his history is addressed with fancy. Alagoa, Ebiegberi Joe (Prof.) acted so fast to join in the celebration of his history in a faulty design. Being in his position as an Archive Administrator, he should have looked before he asserted. Achebe did all he could, but did not touch Igbo history; Soyinka and Clark also did great, but not with their history. Of course, as a language writer, Clark would have done better justice to Ijaw history than Alegoa. 

The term autochthonous is similar to aboriginal. But, in the consideration of antiquity properties, autochthony speaks better of "stemming" than just historical origin. For instance, Israel cannot claim autochthony in the present land they occupy knowing that they fought seven nations in order to settle. The Ijaw should not speak of autochthony when their oral history revealed that they met the Oru in the land. According to www.ripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com, Ijaw history claims that "Prince Ujo, under the heavy injunction of the father, came to the coastal corner of the Niger Delta to conquer and he eventually met the Oru." This is the first pont.

Secondly, the history writers who documented Ijaw history showed oblivion in their documentations or an outright lack of knowledge about how prehistoric societies were formed and the mode of their expansionary tendencies. If you want to prove me wrong, just study the history of the stemming of Caribbean, the desolation of the ancient Seminoles and her replacement with the present day Florida populations in the present 
day USA. If you can undertake a study of these, considering the ecological position of the Ijaw as shown on the map here, then you will believe with me that writers of Ijaw history were either oblivious at the moment of writing or that they were completely ignorant of how prehistoric societies stemmed and expanded. I won't blem Talbot much because, at his time, every analysis of the history of any nation in Africa was done with eyes on their connections to Egypt or Nubia; to Western historians, those were the only civilized parts of Africa with a believed comprehensible history. Unfortunately, they had never gone deep to uncover the venue designated by anciet Egyptians as 'Af-rui-ka'. See origin and meaning of Biafra for details.

I blame Alegoa instead. As an Archive Administrator, I expect Alagoa to have explored every available research results targeted towards unravelling the Mystery hidden about this part of the world, and then, from them draw reasonable sources that would enhance the level of understanding required of his own history. I always say that it is always preferable to write one's history by oneself. For when another person writes it, you hardly would find your place and roles in the development of your history.

Naturally, prehistoric societies stemmed from upland and expanded towads the waterfront. No prehistoric society treasured the waterfront. Down to the Neolithic period, the human history held no value for waterfront. In fact, waterfront was reserved for abandoned people, slaves and a place of turture and executions. It was the era of crude oil discovery that recently assigned relevance to waterfronts. If you study the stemming and spread of Egyptian population of prehistory, you will observe that, though the settlement of all the population in the Nile valley was influenced by the presence of the Nile river, the settlements were on the upper part of the valley. 

Travel to Ijaw and see that they live in the water. Water was necessary for the survival of settlers, 
but  settlers do not settle at the waterfront. The earliest population that settle usually occupy the upper part of the settled land, while those who came last are usually pushed either by war or by unnatural dehumanization to the waterfront. The Caribbeans situation was based on unnatural dehumanization, while the Seminoles' was by war. Ijaw case was not war that pushed them to the waterfront; they were intentionally dumped to strife for survival just like the Caribbeans. That was why I said earlier that Ijaw history writers have lost their fundamental knowledge of how organized societies stemmed in the prehistory. The quote below resolves every issue about Ijaw autochthony. 

"In the consolidated publication, The Cultural Unity of Black Africa, edited by Diop Anta (an Egyptian), it is established that all the nations of antiquity among black that have the scarified bronze are termed aboriginal. But in hierarchical rating, the Nri is the oldest and proves the core of the African population."

Four nations have scarified bronze in Africa; they are, the Igbo, Benin, Yoruba and Egypt. And by historical trace, they all came from Igbo land in the beginning of things. Ijaw does not have scarified bronze.

(ii) The Empty Claim of Egypt, Nubia or Benin Emigration:
Another big presumption hovering above the nuances of every Ijaw history piece is the bogus claim of Egyptian or Nubia origin. I see this bogus claim as a long dream devoid of resuscitation. The fact that they don't remember whether they had come from Egypt or Nubia is one good point to know that they did not know their source. History is our biggest informer, while history routes are our witnesses. There is no trace of any population in the present West Africa that originated from Egypt. Olumide Lukas was the Yoruba writer who first suggested that Yoruba might have originated from Egypt. He did this because he was looking for credible points to ward off the age-long held oral history that traced the Yoruba to Igbo. The Yoruba father was the Younger brother of Nri (the very person whom the Yoruba myth referred to as 'Obatala'); they were both sons of Eri. The Yoruba father and the Benin father (Idu) left their Igbo homes at the same time and through the same event. Ifa Oracle refer to this event as 'war of the gods'. See also,

Settling on the buffoonery claim of Egyptian origin via Horus appears clearly as ignorance on the part of Ijaw people. It will appear apparently laughable when one reaads the Origin of Egypt or Nsukka Civilization to see that Egyptian civilization started at the decay part of Nsukka civilization.  

About the second place, Nubia, as claimed by Ijaw historians, the only population of migrants in Nigeria today that can speak of coming from Nubia is the Fulani. They were the Red Nobas in Nubia civilization. I have always told people that history is no longer hidden. Gone are the days when people hide behind suggestive approaches to lay claims of who they are not. If history could decentre the Western hegemonic claim of Adamic ancestry for the entire human race, there is no place that history has not uncovered her original source. One big question to Ijaw historians is, is Nubia contained in Ijaw oral tradition?

There are just a few countries in Africa that have succinct trace to the Nubian civilization of 5000BC. These nations did not originate from Nubia, rather they were bantus who travelled from Umudiala and found themselves in Nubia. With the fall of the Nubian civilization following the conquest of Pharaoh Snefru (c. 2575 BC) of Egypt and the subsequent subduing by the Aksumite king, Ezana (330-356AD) translated to mean 'king of the land', Nubia was completely disintegrated. At this point, the bantu settlers resumed another journey homeward to their present abodes. The nations involved in this mobility are basically the Zulu and the Akans. The Kambas of Kikuyu in Kenya were also parts. For details, click at the Origin of the Zulu or the Origin of the Akans. History does not have further migrations from Nubia to any other parts of Africa. Any other one is a claims, just like the Ijaws'.

Another thing that poses a serious threat to the claim of Egyptian, Nubia and Benin origin for the Ijaw bothers on their cross cultural affinity with any of these nations in quote. The only clue Ijaw could present in their oral tradition is the jaundiced unintelligible conversion of Oru to Horus; the mentioning of the Nun; and the mentioning of the Anu race. What do these imply to the true search of Ijaw origin? Egypt was founded by the race of Anu (a set of people with certain features of animals). This featured race of people lived in Enugu till early 20th century. The present day Nkerefi and Umuode in Nkalaha are the survivors of this race. I do not have the picture any longer save the one on the cover page shown below.

Just take a walk closer to the UNEC campus, around the Enugu State Judiciary vicinity, you will find a tripod statue of the Anu race replayed in one of the roundabouts for memorial. A myopic thinker may shortly conclude that, perhaps, they were the ancestors of the Igbo race. But he will be abashed to read from Petries' 1890s excavation in Egypt and see that all the pharoahs of Egypt of the old and middle age were not Egyptians; and that they have the same ancestry with the founders. Then, if you want to know where they came from, you may ask Ivan Van Setimer for answer.

If Ijaw wants to know her historical origin and the condition that brought her to the waterfront, it is time she kept the Talbot's presumptive claims and seek for a cross-cultural evidence in the tradition of the people in their neighbourhood. We speak lucidly about the Igbo, Benin  and Yoruba brotherhood because, apart from many other viable instances, the oral tradition of each of these nations reveals certain trado-religious activities which cannot be found among people of distant relation. To mention but a few, the Benin call their home 'Uhe' (the Okigwe word for light) and the Yoruba refer to their home as 'Ife' (the Anambra word for light). Read details about this below.
The Lost City of the Sun

I have not by these said that Ijaw migrated from the Igbo; no. I rather used all these to get readers clarified that Ijaw did not descend from Egypt, Nubia or Benin. We emphasize the inevitable contributions of oral tradition because when it is neglected in the discussion of any history, particularly in Africa, one places such a history in unrecoverable turture. Our history team was confronted with this situation when we were documenting the Jukuns' history in 2019. Our contributor, who is a Jukun, made things difficult for us as the information he gathered from tired elders kept insisting that they had come from Yemen. We sought for proofs of this claim and later, through our Ethiopian colleague, found proofs of Jukinrs' movement in te History of Wars by Ezana the Aksumite king. But little did we know that what we were looking for were contained in the prestigious Kano Chronicles. Let me conclude on this with Hampate Ba's assertion that, 
When we speak of African tradition or history we mean oral tradition; and no attempt at penetrating the history and spirit of the African peoples is valid unless it relies on that heritage of knowledge of every kind patiently transmitted from mouth to ear, from master to disciple, down through the ages. This heritage is not yet lost, but lies there in the memory of the last generation of great depositories, of whom it can be said: 'they are the living memory of Africa' (History 1: 166).
The role of the transmitter(s) of oral tradition is the rendition of the tradition, while it remains the exceptional role of an interpreter to infer meaningful understanding to the tradition by precisely analysing it. The analysis goes the far relating the components of the tradition with those of other people around them, for no oral tradition exists in isolation. Any tradition that loses these cradible positions loses the potency of it remaining a people's tradition. 

(iii) The False Claim of Progenitor:

The term Progenitor is a referral concept that directs attentions towards the single individual or a group of individuals through whom a particular people sprung. Any people without a progenitor simply must have been sourced via different periods and from different places. When people are sourced differently maybe as captives of wars, rescued from plague: natural disasters, kidnapped by callous people like Itsekiri and Benin who kidnapped fellow Africans and sold to slavery or any other unnatural occurrences through which they are forced out of their original homes, there is usually the problem of identifying a common projenitor. This is different from those of a people who emerged or migrated at different time.

When a people is composed of differently sourced population, usually their conciousness for a progenotor is replaced with the consciousness of where and how about their migration. With this in them, their history will not be lost. At least, they could vividly speak of their ancestral home without the aid of certain supper-human foreigner who makes garrulous suggestion of a probable home for them. People who wait for the Whitman's suggestive approaches end up becoming oblivious of their original home as they become misguidedly removed from their oral tradition. That is the situation with the Benin and their aclaimed progeny, the Ijaw.

Benin had a misinterpreted history. They allowed the Portuguese that visited the kingdom in 1440s to determine the interpretation of who they were. So, after ascertaining the monarchical root of the Ogiso dynasty, they drew conclusion on Ogiso as the ancestors of Benin. Benin of the reign of Oba Ewuere was arogant; they refused to inform the Portuguese of the ritualistic obligation  that compelled each Benin king to the kingdom of Nri prior to his coronation in Benin. A. G. Leonard, in his work, The Lower Niger and Her Neighboursremarked that,

A marked feature of this (Nri) tribe is its hostility to the European, natural enough, when it is remembered that prior to the British, the Obalike was Eze Nri and crowned the kings of Benin and presided over all the religious observation of surrounding peoples.

If this ritual as revealed here still held in the days of Obalike, then it was clear that the ritual lasted up to the twentieth century; Obalike was Eze Nri from 1889 to 1936. And, since Obalike "presided over all the religious observations of surrounding people's"; by implication, if Ijaw used to have kings, then such must have been presided over by the king's of Nri. That is why I have always advised that any people who could not accurately find their historical root through their oral tradition should look for it in the oral tradition of the surroundings. No oral tradition stands in isolation. 

The tradition of the surroundings may not be precised in pointing out the exact name of the progenotor: but it will mention event(s) that would lead to the discovery of the lost ancestor. In other words, the potency of the oral tradition of any people is justified by it's appearance in the tradition of another or other people in the neighborhood. The Yoruba called their progenotor and the Igbo father Oduduwa and Obatala respectively; but when the Igbo tradition is examined it is uncovered that the Yoruba father was referred to as "Odudunwa", while Obatala was just an event that led to the dispersion.

Now, the Ijaw historians spoke of three different persons as the Ijaw Progenitor. This made the deciphering of particular progenotor for the Ijaw very difficult. One of the progenotors in several
versions of Ijaw traditions is Horus. By this, they believed that Horus was the ancestor of the Oru people Horuse was the god of iron and fire used as the symbol of the metallurgical cult whose base is Heliopolis, Giza. That is why Horus is depicted carrying metal key. Horus image is depicted as a hawk-headed man. Horus was a god, not a human. Historically, Egypt adopted Horus as a symbol that epitomizes the dominant event that encouraged a second wave of migrants who came and ruled Egypt. That is why Horus was depicted with Pharoah crown. Pharoah Namar was revered as a god; he was the first king of Egypt. He was called "Scorpion King". Pharaoh Namar is said to belong to the Anu race. By implication, as Osiri represented the first wave of migration into Egypt by the race of Anu, Horus represented a second wave of migration by people of the same souce, the Anu. 

It is therefore pertinent to note here that Horus did not found any people. In another sense, if the Ijaws' claim of Horus is for a symbolic meaning to imply that their Progenitor had a same historical source with the Egyptian god (Horus),  then they may be correct in a way; but I don't think that is what they meant. Ijaw historians cannot defend this point without getting themselves engulfed. To know more about Horus, see the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the copious publications of Zachariah Sitchim (a Sumarian historian). 

Two other names the Ijaw refer to when issues about Progenitor is called to mind are Prince Ujo and Prince Ijo. These names are used in several Ijaw history books and online publications to refer to one person. In the online publication on the title, The Brief History of the Ijaw People, it was particularly re-emphasized not with the use of the two names; all that one can find is repeatedly ("Prince Ijo). Ask me to choose, I will choose this one because it can be deduced that the people got their name from their progenotor. With this double entry in Ijaw historical trace, everything becomes not only contradicting but also sceptical. 

At this point, whose story should we take? Or which of these names is correct about Ijaw's father? These are such questions I expected Alagoa to have settled order than jumping up because some foreigners made unproven claims of Ijaw seeming to have migrated from Egypt. You may be surprised to hear the real name of Ijaws' father or Progenitor. You will get the answer in the next caption, 'the altercations'.

Altercations in Ijaw History

We cause irrecoverable damages the very time we either try to adopt a history of any people undermining the potency of the people's oral tradition or try to create certain fancy by adjusting the position and stans of the tradition to suit our intended purpose. With this fancy we irrevocably render the truism in the original version of the tradition sceptical and unbelievable. It does not matter how precised and reliable suggestive theory may seem to solve migration crisis, the oral tradition must be called in to actually verify the potency of opinions whether anthropology or archaeology. J. Ki-Zerboin made a relevant contribution when he said that,
Oral tradition is not just a second-best source to be resorted to only when there is nothing else. It is a distinct source in itself, with a now well established methodology, and it lends the history of the African continent a marked originality (History, 11).
I recognized the relevance of the task we undertake here when I began to receive emails from different parts of Africa requesting for permissions to make use of information here in their school history books. The irredeemable damage done to Ijaw history are discussed below.

* Ijaw oral tradition is contorted
For one to tell African story correctly, he must study the people's tradition with precision. That is what Ijaw did not consider. Nnaji also made the following remark,

It does not matter how unappealing a particular history may seem to any people, it must be told as the story of a people. It is in the bid to make certain historical facts acceptable to some assumed favourable audiences that people attempt to falsify history. But like my people would say, “the truth must be told, it doesn’t matter whom it touches;” history is history and can never be separated from real life stories told through mouths which must have certain evidence on the bearers’ culture, language, myths and other facets of life obtainable within the setting of the people (Reality, 28).
Reno Omokiri noted that history is not always fair. This is true; every people have certain aspect of their history that is not palatable to the hearing of others. Yet that is not a reason cradible enough to claim what one is not. There is always a better way of presenting such aspect of a people's history without maligning the inheritors of such a tradition.

Related tradition must therefore be linked together and if possible converted into absolute transmitting agencies for it to be valid for progressive adoption. But first there is another problem to be solved, that of ensuring that the information used corresponds to a reality which has not been distorted with respect to time. It is increasingly clear that oral transmission may be subject to distortion. This only happens when it is transmitted by an agent who is not committed to the moral consciousness that rules the inheritors. His primary intention is to expunge certain aspect of the oral tradition that discriminates against him either as a stranger or a slave  (Cosmic Chain, 7). 

Those areas marked blue are the trigger points for an interpreter of any tradition to be mindful of. And since Alegoa has joined foreigners to make the very tradition he is an inheritor laughable, he has a question to answer here. Is he a stranger to Ijaw history or was the Ijaw progenitor a slave?

People distort their tradition when they want to dodge certain ills that denigrates their history. We have similar cases with the Ikwerre history. Ikwerre elites foolishly claimed they were Benin because they were dodging their Arochukwu origin. The version of Igbo language spoken by them and other viable cultural proofs that showed them Igbo notwithstanding. To fully fulfill the intention to erode their Igbo origin, they are currently working hard changing the names of their towns and streets. Their job will be complete the day they change their progenitor from Akalaka to, maybe, Oba Eweka or Ewuere. See Ikwerre history for details.

Writers need to learn that truth cannot be hidden forever by propagating falsehood continuously. For the more you tell lies is the more you conflict and discredit your earlier records. It is natural; the story must be told, it doesn't matter whom it hurts. A practical example is the Genesis story. For over 3000 years the claim of Adam being the Progenitor of the human race has lasted; now, the truth about people who existed before Adam is out and supported by the same Bible. Moses did not do this; it was the handwork of interpreters. You will meet surprises in this Ijaw case.

* The tradition is presented as a single story
Any prim writer who gives adequate time to study the Ijaw oral tradition will make one powerful remark. He will discover lapses left uncovered. To write a single story is like discussing a family with kids and no reference is made about the mother. History does not exist without the elements that compose it. That is why it cannot exist in isolation.  Man lives in his society with other people. These people he shares convivial relationship with, takes decisions alongside and, many of the time he has misunderstanding or conflict with them.  There are some external factors that add to make the society complete. Paramount among these external factors is boundary communities. Both the internal and external factors form the history any society has. 

Any history that fails to factor in these elements, for whatsoever reason, is considered to be telling a single story. How does this happen? Speak or write about the globe without mentioning Africa; speaker of the population in Southern part of Nigeria without including the Igbo. When these happen your story becomes single. A good example is seen in the Ijaw oral tradition as shown below.




Give attention to those areas in blue; one thing you will recover here is a clear show of a hovering or stuttering tradition. There is, for instance, the intention not to mention  Igbo or clearly state Yoruba as people older than they were. The tradition claims that their father, Prince Adumu, travelled from the Nile valley. In the succeeding line it went further to say that Prince Adumu came down from the sky. Prince Adumu was restated here to be Oduduwa. Diop Anta who wrote from Egypt has the following to say,

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 countryDogon and the Yoruba legends report that they came from the east (Civilization, 179).
Following the excerpt above, it is clear that Ijaw legend lacks direction. The oral tradition goes on to speak of the war of the gods. Here it was kind to state that the war was between Oduduwa and Obatala. It was after this war that God changed his mind on the sons of God and decided to make man, whom the Igbo tradition called 'Adama'.  The oral tradition above shows full proof of imterpreters' influence or mutilations caused by translation. At the end, they could not completely achieve their primary aim of deleting everything connecting them with the Igbo race. See what Ijaw's craft could not conceal:
The ancient Oru people settled along the banks of the lower River Niger to just above the delta apex integrated with some of the upland people (Igbo-Otu), and became known as the Oru-Igbo amongst the Igbo people (Ijaw Oral Tradition)

* The language factor
The third aspect of the altercations befuddling Ijaw oral tradition is the language factor. Ijaw historians hold to the claim that 'Ijoid' could be the oldest language spoken in the southern part of Nigeria. By implication, Ijaw becomes the oldest settlers in southern Nigeria. You may be surprised and perhaps, may ask who made this claim? Dr. Talbot did. According to him,

Ijaw is a very primitive Negro tongue; perhaps the most ancient of the languages in West Africa, and so far as I have been able to trace, has not the smallest affinity with any other.

In the research work published in the Nnamdi Azikiwe Linguistics Journal on the history of the human tongue, it is established that any language claiming antiquity position must have it's presence registered in the language of other communities around the abode of such a language. Following this requirement, it becomes obvious that Talbot did not revisit this work before it's publication. Sorry if you are affected by the above assertion, but the truth has to be told; and I shall prove my points here.

Now, is language older than the owners? I think not. The observation made by Talbot above that Ijaw language is the oldest in West Africa is thunderous. Ijaw eventually became the child that knew when his parents were youths. Maybe a spiritual child. A good question demanding explicit answer is, which language did the Ijaw speak after settling at the waterfront? For sure, Ijaw never spoke Ijoid in the beginning. Perhaps because of the years they dwell in the Igbo territories; for according to Ijaw oral tradition, they wedded Igbo vocabularies into their lexicon. This was why early missionaries in the area did not find it difficult to remark that, it is either that Ijaw migrated from Igbo or that they had had tarrying encounter with them.

According to Dr.  W. B. Baikie, in his Narrative of  Voyage on the Niger written in 1854,"all the coastal dialects from Oru to old Calabar are either directly or indirectly connected with Igbo". He went further to assert that the Igbo are "separated from the sea by petty tribes all of which trace their origin to this great race, the Igbo." Baikie was the first Westerner to refer to Igbo people as "a great race". The second person to do so was Northcote Thomas. Baikie was not alone in this assertion; travellers like Pacheco Pereira and missionaries who lived in the region of the lower Niger also made the same remark, basically on the similitude of the languages of the people in the area. Writing in 1906, Major A. G. Leonard remarked also that, "it was the view of missionaries and travellers in these parts that people around the coastal regions are all Igbo. Quoting  Leonard with precision, he noted thus,

Comparing the language as it is spoken in all of these different localities, the dialectical variations are not very marked, the purest dialect being spoken, as already pointed out, in Isuama and neighbourhood, while the most pronounced  difference is to be found between the Niger dialect, especially  that which is spoken right on the river or on its western bank, and that of the more eastern sections, which lie nearer to the  Cross river and in proximity to the Ibibio. It has been suggested by missionaries and travellers that the languages spoken by the Ibibio, Efik, Andoni, and others have all been derived from Ibo at some ancient period; also that there is a distinct dialectical affinity between the Ijo dialects of Oru, Brass, Ibani, and New Calabar, and the Isuama dialect of Ibo. Indeed, 
That Nembe does not have Igbo prominent in her language or those of the Apoi, some Kalabari etc. does not mean that, at a certain time in the past,  they had not had Igbo vocabularies prominent in their lexicons. Language changes very fast within time, although it does not lose it's original position completely. I have not gone through Ijaw lands to confirm the present state of the assertions made by missionaries and travellers as noted above; yet I still believe their remarks against the claim of the Alagoas of Nembe and the Dokubo of Kalabari that some Ijaw population still have Igbo in their language. Published in 31st March, 2015 on The Guardian by Partrik Cole is a proof to my stance.

The Bonny, the Okrika, and the Kalabari are to a large extent, bilingual – speaking an Ijaw dialect and Igbo. 

Now, since Igbo has, by default, not fought any of her boundary neighbours anytime in the past, then it is apparent that there could be a time in the past when they became acculturated by the Igbo since Ijaw was not Igbo by decent. All these proofs are to clear air and set the record straight by debunking the Talbot's claim of Ijaw language not having affinity with those of their neighbours.

Origin of the Ijaw

Turning to the seeming most important aspect of this essay is the pressing desires in researchers to find the origin of the Ijaw people. But as important as knowing the origin of the Ijaw is, the most pressing thing supposedly is the piece of information bothering on justifying the true rationals in authenticating this discovery. The purpose of research is not ultimately penning down on papers the discoverings made; instead what benefits research most is the procedures towards arriving at the end of the discovery. Remarkable among these procedures is the tedious job of referring to earlier discoverings made by other authorities. To this end, we have given days to uncover the claims and assertions made by earlier researchers and have revealed where their conclusions missed the target. Having fulfilled this populous research rule, we are at liberty to tell our story.

Very important to note, in Cosmic Chain, it is shown that, 

"The reason why some important historical movements and local evolutions go unnoticed or remain doubtful is because the unit on which the transmission is calculated is geographically too restricted.

That is the situation that bedeviled lucidity in the uncovering of Ijaw history. Ijaw have the kind of history that could confuse any researcher. The reason why Ijaw history is confusing is that they did not have a direct journey from their Homeland to the present waterfront. So, each time researchers approached Ijaw history they became helpless. To suface with reasonable claims, they lay hold on the Ijaw language. Where they got stuck, they concluded succinctly that Ijaw had come from Benin. Pathetic; non of the writers has clearly stated that she migrated from Yoruba. How did this happen? You will surely be surprised to hear this for the first time.

Igbo have a saying which maintans that, a thief does not hesitate to call his rival a thief. This is very true. He does this so fast to prevent being called so. You find example of this aptitude prominent with the former leader of Ijaw Youth Movement, Alhaji M. Asari Dokubo. Speaking of the Igbo-Ijaw relationship, Asari said that Ijaw was the master while Igbo were their servants. But, could this be true? Unfortunately the reverse becomes the case in matters about this relationship intoned by Dokubo. Now, here is the Ijaw story.

At the end of the Ogiso dynasty, the Oba dynasty resumned with Oronminya the father of Oba Eweka I. When Oba Ehenmihen was living as a prince with his father (Eweka I 1200-1.255 A.D.) at Usama (the old palace of the early Obas), he fell in love with one of the chiefs’ youngest wives. This romance ended in a pregnancy. To avoid confrontation with the Oba and to relieve the chief from any embarrassment, the pregnant lady was sold away to someone at Ilaje area (presently a part of the Okitipupa area of Ondo State of Nigeria). The new master, having observed that the young slave was pregnant, sought to know the father of the unborn child and it was revealed that it belonged to a Benin prince. Without any hesitation, the young lady gained her freedom and subsequently a male child was born and he was called Efabo. 

The child Efabo, the only son of Oba Ehenmihen was brought up in a place called Ugbovbumaghan otherwise known by the natives as Ugbo-Umaghen which the British colonialist referred to as Ugbo-Mahin. It was during his sojourn at this place, that the young prince came in contact with the Eleha (who were singers) and the Ikpiwini (who were the drummers). These musicians fascinated the young prince and it was said that he learnt the art as well as the dance associated with the music. On the death of his father, Efobo was invited home and crowned Oba at Usama with the "Ewedo” title.

As the crown, king Efobo decided to show kindness to the Ilaje farmer over the mother's story. Following the leading of the mother, Efobo got to Ilaje, but was disappointed as the man was reported dead already. His counselors advised him to show kindness to his children: three girls and the last child who was a boy. The oba did as was advised and took the children to Usama. There they survived and the boy married one of the king's servants. 

Oba Ewodo was succeeded by Prince Oguola who was describably brave. Oguola was remembered with the memorable fortification of the Benin kingdom. He dug the first and second moats to fortify his city and advised his chiefs to do same. The only challenge he was faced with was the seeming endless war against Akpanigiakon of Udo. He fought Akpanigiakon for two years before he sought for a mercenary warrior from Igbo land. The warrior was hired from among the Otu people of the present day Anambra and Ahaba area.

Igbo had many mercenary warriors who voluntarily fought wars in the neighborhood on hire. Some were hired as a group while many others were individual warriors who trained themselves for that same purpose. They fortified themselves for the galant business of war in the neighborhood. Their roles benefitted non Igbo in the neighborhood because the Igbo did not have any war against the neighbours. Though there were communal wars fought over claims of land, yet these warriors were not hired to fight within the Igbo territories. For as the rules of their legendary implied, anytime they were hired to fight, except the war that involved their home communities; else they would not return from the war. 

The Abam Warriors
Prominent among the Igbos mercenary warriors hired in group was the Abam warriors. The abam were built to defend the Eda and Abriba against bellicose tribal neighbours. With the absence of wars against the component communities, the need for external assistance became inevitable. The Jukuns' oral tradition contains instances of the assistance offered to them by the Abam warriors. They hired them occasionally to help them fight wars. Another group warriors were the Umuodumu warriors. They were not hired; they were only built to defend Nkalaha against bellicose neighbours. Apart from the group mercenary warriors there were others who existed individually fighting for their own interests. Popular among them was Uto (the father of Udi in today Enugu State). Uto died after a mercenary war he fought for a Benin Ogiso, during which he contacted leprosy and died. The five-stepped pyramid in Agbaja was errected in his memorial.

During this herculean task, search for information took us to a legendary town in Ondo State where another powerful mercenary warrior from Igbo land died. According to the elders who welcomed us happily, the story was told of a certain Igbo legendary warrior who came to their land in the days when they were being raided by a more assailant community in the neighborhood. The community was raided to the point that the inhabitants had started leaving their homes for safety in other safer communities. When the warrior came, he enjoined the people to come back home, promising to fight for them. We were told that the warrior won the battle and lived with them for a few days before he was prepared to return to Igbo land. But the community pleaded that he remained with them to hold off further attack from bellicose neighbours. He understood with them and stayed till death. Unable to trace his homeland, they burried him in the community, placed his war sword on his grave. It came to pass that when the invaders returned, they would run to the grave, retrieve the sword with a shout of his name. And behold the legend's spirit rose and fought for them. The place is Ile-Oluji in Ondo State. The worrior's name was lost to the sand of time. Presently they refer to him as "Jegun Igbo". That was what happened to the Otu warrior here.

With the help of the Otu mercenary warrior, Oba Oguola was able to defeat Akpanigiakon. He was finally defeated  in the battle staged at Urhezen. After the defeat, the war ended and Oba Oguola was praised in the kingdom. After the celebration of the victory, the Otu mercenary warrior spent 14 more days and was prepared to return. Oguola asked him to name his price. He did not hasitate to do so; he had had time enough in the surroundings to have found the boy Ojo, the grandson of the the farmer from Ilaje. He asked that he be given to him to help him in the farm. He was given the boy, Ojo, as a reward.

The name of the Otu mercenary warrior who fought for Oba Oguola was not mentioned. Nevertheless, some Ahaba elders have claimed that he was Ezechime the father of Anioma. According to them, Ezechime was a legendary warrior who had travelled from "Ime Igbo" (inner Igbo). He had places in the heart of the kingdom of Benin. He won their heart through his assitance during wars. This, perhaps, was why superficial historians claimed that Ezechime had come from benin, even when his name is Igbo. We were resolved to believe the Otu mercenary warrior to be Ezechime because they told us that the name 'Ijaw' was derived from the Oru of Ezechime whose name was 'Ojo'; not Ujo or Ijo as claimed by modern historians.

Ojo lived with Ezechime who got for him a wife  from Benin. They lived peacefully until the day Ezechime joined his ancestors. Ojo's descendants expanded in Anioma even after the sons of Ezechime had taken territories for themselves. Therefore, as generations which had regards for them passed away, the Ojos set out for their present abode deep in the delta. Ijaw oral tradition captured this point in the following way: 
The ancient Oru people who settled along the banks of the lower River Niger to just above the delta apex integrated with some of the upland people (Igbo-Otu), and became known as the Oru-Igbo amongst the Igbo people. 

The Oru, if there are Ijaw who are not Oru, are the foundation of the present Ijaw nation. Ask of their original home, it is Ilaje in Yoruba land. Maybe other people came to join them from Benin or any other place known to them, these ones may be recorded as subsequent migrations, not the core history of Ijaw origin.

Let me set the record straight; the word, 'Oru' does not mean slave as some cursory Igbo critics may think. Some non Igbo in the team thought the same way. But I quickly told them the difference. Oru simply means a servant. It speaks more of being subservient and obsequious on the part of the person involved. On the other hand, 'ohu' means a slave. Just like 'Obatala' which was born out of event and was later wedded into yoruba culture as the name of Igbo father, the same applies to the Oru concept. 

Please do make your remarks; but let your argument be guided by research sources.

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