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THE ORIGIN OF UMUNEDE By Onyekpeze

Jan 30, 2023
THE ORIGIN OF UMUNEDE
Umunede is popularly described in entrancing terms by the Binis as “Umunede Ukpeghoro Nokhua Le Ebe Guae”, meaning “Umunede, a big town, covered by wide beautiful leaves’. This shows that there was not only the awareness by the Binis of the existence of Umunede, but also that there has been age-long relationship between Benin and Umunede.
Furthermore, it may well have been on that account of the beautiful leaves and the fertility of the soil that Umunede must have attracted the cupidity of the founder, Ede; and his entourage from Benin to settle there, as well as people from Ishan and parts of Benin Division, who came in later to swell the population of this settlement. The people of Umunede have widely accepted oral evidence of Benin origin, which states that Umunede was founded by Ede, whose name is of tremendous importance and immortal in the oral tradition of the town. Ede is said to be the Benin Prince and the younger brother of Dein, the founder of Agbor. Dein and Ede were encouraged by their father, probably Oba Ewedo, to migrate with some followers to found new settlements and thereby help to expand the Benin Empire. Both Dein and Ede were said to have settled at Agbor in the 13th century. Ede lived with his brother, Dein, for some years before he and his entourage moved further, actuated by a desire to found his own settlement, until they came to the present site with wide beautiful leaves.
The place where Ede lived with his wife, Iye, fondly remembered by the people of Umunede as “ Iye Odede” is known as Ebueno-Umunede and it has remained a sacred shrine. Ede and his wife, Iye, gave birth to four children – Eguare, Ileje, Oba and Ile, after whom the four villages or Ogbes are called. The town’s oral evidence states that Ede and his entourage decided to settle down where Umunede is now situated because they found the land promising as well as its nearness to Dein at Agbor. Its wide beautiful leaves attracted them and probably hence the Benin saying, “Umunede Ukpeghoro Nokhua Le Ebe Guae”. There is no evidence that Ede met any group of earlier settlers. If Ede had met some people, it could have been mentioned in the oral tradition of the people, and further, it could have been reflected in the names of the villages and quarters of Umunede, which bear distinctly Edo names. Oba Akenzua II confirmed the relationship between the Umunede, Agbor and Benin. His awareness of this apart, from his position as the traditional ruler of the defunct Benin Empire, which included Umunede and other Ika settlements stems from the fact that the Iyoba or Queen Eghaghe, the mother of Akenzua II’s father, Oba Eweka II, was an Umunede lady from Idumu Ugbo quarters in Idumu Oba village of Umunede, who was married to Oba Ovoranmwen. Umunede was a place of refuge for some Benin dignitaries during the British military expedition on Benin in 1897.
There is a strong tradition of friendship between Umunede, Agbor and the Oba’s Palace in Benin City, which is confirmed by Bini elders and historians not only because of common festivals, but essentially because of common taboos like monkey, the soup prepared with the seed of gourd and eating yam and cocoyam together. In addition, the fact that Oba Ovonranmwen in the mid 19th century could marry a woman from Umunede shows that there had been connections between Benin, Umunede, a relationship, which was handled down to Oba Akenzua II and other Binis in oral tradition and also embodied in Bini folklore, sayings and songs.
onyeakpeze THE ORIGIN OF UMUNEDE By Onyekpeze
CHIEF DR ONYEKPEZE
Even though Umunede oral traditions claim that all the Umunede are of the same primogeniture, Ede and Iye, this is generally unaccepted as there are families who claim to have migrated from Owa clan, Ute-Okpu clan, parts of Ishan and Benin Divisions. For example, the people of Idumuoro quarters in Eguare village claim that they have link with Idumuoro in the Palace of the Iyoba or Queen of lower Uselu, Benin City, while the people of Ogbe-Isere quarters also in Eguare village of Umunede claim independent origin; and they are popularly known as the children of Amu from Benin.
The Intelligence report was written on the lines indicated in the Secretary Southern Provinces Confidential Memorandum, No.SP.6752/200 of 2nd October, 1935. The founder, Ede, came from Benin according to paragraph 17 of the Intelligence Report.
SUMMARY OF WAVES OF MIGRATION
A study of the foregone distribution of clans within the Ika ethic nationality reveals a certain complexity in the definition of their origins. It provides an interesting insight into the issue of origins of the clans.
(A) THE BINI FACTOR
(i) Of all the clans, seven viz Abavo, Agbor, Akumazi, Mbiri, Otolokpo, Umunede and Ute-Ogbeje claim outright Bini origin.
(ii) Three viz Owa, Igbodo and Ute-Okpu claim Bini presence in the composition of the clan; that is, in the foundings.
(iii) Four viz Abavo, Akumazi, Umunede and Ute-Okpu while claiming Bini origin, mentioned the presence of other ethnic groups in the composition of the clan. From, the foregoing, it appears obvious that the Bini factor seems capital in the founding and formation of majority of clans in Ika.
(B) THE NRI FACTOR
This is another source identified as playing an important role in the founding of clans in Ika. Nri origin is claimed by Ute-Okpu and Owa.
© OTHER FACTORS
It should be noted that other groups seem to have played one role or the other in the founding process of Ika. These include Ishan, Ora, Aniocha, Ukwuani, etc.
REFERENCES
(These could be of help to those who may want to know
more about the origins of their clans)
• Akenzua Christy Aghaku, “Historical Tales from ancient Benin”. July Seventeenth Co.Ltd, Benin City, 1997.
• Egharevba, J.U, “A short History of Benin”, Ibadan University Press, 3rd ed., 1979.
• Ika, “ The Land and Its People”, A Directory of Information on people, Place and Natural Resources of Ika in Delta State of Nigeria, Corporate Prints Ikeja, Lagos, 2002.
• Intelligence Reports on Ika Clans.
• S.I. Eguavon, A write-up by a retired inspector of schools, Benin historian and author of Ebe Edo, etc.

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