Culture regards the arts, ideas, customs, language, religion, intellectual development and also the social behavior of a particular group of people. In this vein, it is a standard aphorism that every tribe, ethnic or society has its own unique and peculiar features. This, amongst others, is a criterion for establishing affinity and relationship between social groups and community.
Nigeria has been established to have over 250 tribes/ethnic groups across its 36 states. Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo being unarguably the largest by population and outreach. In this vein, this blog site has always promised to enrich you with enlightening information. Therefore, We decide to premier another educational writing series –Thus: Tribes and Culture.
Tribes and Culture will go all round the country in search of cultural and historical facts about the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. In a scintillating fashion, the findings together with recommendation will be showcased on this platform on a weekly base. Therefore, prepare to be nourished.
You should also note that you can suggest for muzzammilwrites.com places, tribes, and ethnics you will want the crew to visit next and be sure of it being look into. This can be done by dropping them in the comment boxes under each post.
The premier edition of Tribes and Culture features the Enwan people of the Akoko-Edo region of Edo state. Read and enjoy.
Historical Background of the Enwan People.
Enwan language is spoken by the people of Enwan located in Enwan town in Akoko-edo LGA in Edo state, Nigeria. Enwan is bounded at the north by the foot of the Afemai hills, to the West is Igarra town (which is the divisional or administrative headquarters of Akoko-Edo LGA). To the East is Akuku village while the Oyanmi river runs parallel to the South. Just like the rest of the Yoruba race, their ancestors were reputed to have migrated from the legendary Oduduwa’s Ile-Ife together with the people of Bini during 800 A.D and 1000 A.D. They were said to be part and parcel of Bini kingdom until they decided to branch off on their own. According to documented history, the people of Enwan secretly broke out of Bini (along with some other conglomerated tribes) following a trait of brutality in the leadership of the then Oba of the Bini kingdom called Oba Ewuare who reigned from 1440AD to 1437AD. Among these tribes were the Ishan to the North, Urhobo of the present day Delta state to the South. Owan, Etsakor and some other tribes of the present day Akoko-Edo region (of which Enwan belongs) are also part of the break out tribes.
It is often said among people of the neighboring communities that the people of Enwan are very powerful group of people. They possess powerful war charms, amulet and magical fighting forces.
“no one in the surrounding villages as ever recorded a victory against Enwan people in any war front”. —Dimawoh (1996:3).
Their fighting capabilities and skills are equal to none within their region. For this reason, Enwans were dreaded by her neighbors. Though, for a decade now, there hasn’t been any incident of war. Thus, the origin of their name ‘Enwan’ is traceable to their strength. Originally, they refer to themselves as ‘Emhan’ which means ‘too strong or powerful to be cracked or broken’.
After they left bini kingdom, (between 1770 A.D and 1850 A.D) Enwan people touched so many places before they finally arrived at their present (dream position). They, with the people of Ora and Emai people of the present day Owaa local government, settled between Afuze and Uokha close to Oyiowum. They later moved to a location around the present Ogute in Okpella called Eko-ituru, then to Afokhoto, then later to Afemhan before finally settling in Ozeni (which is the base of their present location).
Moreover, the consistent zeal for locomotion can be seen as a search for greener pastures as asserted by Dimawoh (1996:4) below;
The cause of moving from one location to another was the quest for security, water and virgin forest land for farming and hunting wild animals and self-independence.
Therefore, their language (Enwan), haven traveled and met so many other languages, must have acquired certain external features via multilingualism.
Sociocultural Profile of Enwan .
‘Man, from the day of creation, is described as a social animal i.e loving to live in group, not separately. However, In living in group, there are rights and obligations observed by people…’ Dimawoh (1996).
Thus, below are some of the peculiar socio-cultural features of the Enwan.
The major occupation of Enwan people is not quite different from those of its neighborhood communities. They are into agricultural plantation of crops (farming). They grow cash crops such as cocoa, palm and plantain. And food crops like bananas, yam, and cassava. To be able to sell their produce, they have also designed various market places for buying and selling and there is even a special day for it among the days of the week.
So far, no rigid effort has been made towards rearing of animals. However, aside farming as their major occupation, they are also engaged in series of white collar jobs like the civil service.
As with most tribes in Nigeria, a certain food is considered to belong to or originate from a particular tribe, for example, pounded yam and egusi soup from the Igbos, Eba; and Ogbono soup (made from irvingia gabonensis and sometimes referred to as Ogbolo soup by people of Esan or Etsakor descent). For the Enwan, the food considered to be their favorite is pounded yam and eneteh (ogbono).
Enwan’s week counting is made up of four days. It regulates market cycles, circumcision day, foolish day and other community life. The four days of the Enwan week are Eyena, Ekpe, Enumuh, and Eghi. In Enwan’s mythology, before civilization took over all, it is said that the activities of every day is followed strictly. Failure to follow will attract some punishment by the gods of the land. The activities read thus:
Eyena – market day
Eghi—minor market day
Enwan months are calculated using the moon. Thus it consists of 29/30 days.
Since the arrival of the missionaries in the land, Christianity religion has been the dominant religion in the land. However, prone to its evangelistic nature, it has always been active in its call for membership. The Islamic counterpart has but very few followerships that there is the presence of only one small mosque in the whole community. I remember walking miles to no avail on one of my visit to the community. The traditional religion have been so relegated that its presence isn’t really felt. No one is ready to be boldly associated with it as it has been termed devilish.
However, the traditional religion’s activities are still upheld by the serving priests of various shrines. Enwan comprises of three quarters and each of the quarters has its own god and priest. The priest in every quarter is the oldest traditional man of the quarter and he is offered with the title Ojorosu. From the oldest to the smallest quarters, below is a chart of the name of the shrine and its priests;
Quarter — shrine — priest
Imiezakor — iyonkheze — ojorosu
Imievaneh— irimihyo— ojorosu
Imieazua— iyahgbo— ojorosu.
They therefore have a supreme god called Orukpa. Orukpa choses its own priest miraculously by itself.
Locations, quarters and kindreds.
According to Dimawoh (1998), since the arrival at the present location, there has been the existence of nineteen kindreds in Enwan. Each kindred, he added, is made up of groups of families that supposedly come from the same ancestor at the founding of Enwan community.
These are the three quarters in order of seniority;
Imiezakor consists of 5 kindreds namely; imika, imiazeki, imite, imiogbodobu, imiora.
Imievanne consists of 7 kindreds namely; imiakobomo, imionobe, imiokaku, imiomatie, imiokpezoke, imiteremi, imiareghe.
Imiezua consists of 7 kindreds namely; imishige, imiomonekor, imiedebe, imimote, imikhana, imiazeje, imiaremi.
Main River: river oyanmi.
The second section of this dissertation contains the Traditional Administrative system (odafe ship), mode of dressing, notable events and celebrations (Age group festival, Ikperemah festival, Okpa fia fia, marriage, and burial rites).
Continue Reading here
- Dimawoh, S. (1998). A documentary on the people of Enwan(in Akoko-Edo LGA, Edo state). Edo: Uncle Ai printers.
- Ola-lawal M.O. (2015). Theory of Negation in Enwan (Akoko-Edo). Ilorin: Unilorin Final year Projects.
Published on Muzzammilwrites,