Saturday, 4 May 2013

Alhaji ibrahim onoruoiza chogudo, first ohinoyi of ebiraland.

Alhaji ibrahim onoruoiza chogudo, first ohinoyi of ebiraland.
Whatever shade of opinion one may have about the Attah and his rule, a basic fact one can not deny is that Alhaji Ibrahim Onoruioza was a product of the social milieu of his time. It is this singular fact that must inform our judgement of him as Atta of Ebiraland from 1917 to 1954, a total of thirty-seven years. The ebiraland into which Alhaji Ibrahim Onoruioza was born around 1892 was just pulling out of the Jihadist chaos, popularly known as the Ebira as Ireku-Ajinomoh. This period also witnessed the trauma of British establishment at Lokoja and their ultimate invasion of Ebiraland. It was, indeed an Ebiraland dominated by clan heads and powerful individuals who built up themselves out of the chaos created by the Ajinomoh invasions.
Alhaji Ibrahim was born into the family of the Otaru of Aniku Lineage of Adavi clan, Adai Aragaraga of Kuroko. His mother, Zainabu Ejinovo, popularly known as Iyebe was the daughter of Atta of Omadivi, a self made who became the first British Political agent in Okene in 1903 and Enimire, the daughter Ohindase Avogude. The circumstance of his birth aside, Alhaji Ibrahim was a self-made man like his maternal grand father under whom he had his childhood education. He educated himself in Arabic under the famous Alkali from Ilorin, mallam Abdulsalami. Though the same self education he learnt to read and write in Hausa, Nupe and English even to use the typewriter.
Prior to Novembers, 1917 when he was appointed the district head of Ebira in the then Kabba Division of Ilorin Province Alhaji Ibrahim has served the colonial administration in many capacities first, as messenger, then as an interpreter and finally as a tax scribe. His choice as District Head must have been influenced by his proven trust worthiness, loyalty and devoted service to the colonial government. His transparent honesty, sharp wit and high intelligence must have attracted him to the colonial administrators.
In 1923 when Kabba was constituted into a province, Ebira was upgraded from a District to a Division. With this development, the Atta Alhaji Ibrahim was made a third class chief and allowed to use the royal trumpet, Kakanchi  a symbol of authority. By 1926, his performance was so striking that he was promoted a second class chief. His contributions to the development of Ebiraland are many and varied but the following are a few of them.
In his early years as the ruler of ebira, Alhaji Ibrahim Onoruioza ensured the establishment of peace and stability and embarked on the construction of roads linking Okene to many parts of Nigeria. He also undertook very useful educational tours to Zaria, Kano, Katsina and Bida. Under his great influence, boundaries between Ebiraland and her neighbour were fixed. He also embarked on educational projects during this early period of his and showed very keen interest in Missionary schools.
He provided the missionaries with land and buildings to start their schools. He established the Okene Native Authority School in 1923. He later spread the N.A School to Eganyi. Kuroko, Obangede, Ihima, Okengwe and Ogaminana. The above developments did not openly up Ebiraland to the outside world but placed her very conspicuously on the map of Nigeria. The roads helped increase the volume of trade and commerce, opened up new settlements along these roads. Atta Ibrahim, because of his wealth of experience and education, was quick to realise the role of Islam as an effective unifying force for his people. This factor, couple with his conviction in the teaching of Islam could explain his great patronage of the religion in Ebiraland.
The middle period of his reign opened up with the holy Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and visit to Britain in 1930. His return to his people witnessed a greater vigour in his determination to see them advance to greater height. In 1933 he organised parties of hunters to comb the hills and rout out the wild animals such as Hyena and Leopards which had been a scourge to the people. This exercise was extended to check the activities of the Otumakere, slave raiders in the wild life disguise. He started work on the Okene waterworks by 1934 and by 1937 Okene, Ogaminana and section of Kuroko were already enjoying pipe-borne water. To ensure sanitation around the water works, public cemetery (Oganya) was also established immediately. His interest in the educational development of his people continued to grow with greater vigour in this middle period of his reign. He demonstrated this by establishing in 1037 the Okene Central School, Government Secondary School and now Abdul Aziz Atta Memorial College.
The third and the last phase of his reign saw him very actively involved in national politics. This period started from the 1940s when nationalist struggle seemed to have heated up. The Atta took active part in the movement for the Nigerian independence. In 1940s, he represented his people in the Northern House of Assembly of Chiefs as well as being a member of the first Nigeria legislative council in Lagos. Earlier before this in 1936, he had proposed standard uniform for the police in Northern  Nigeria, the  restriction of the movement of Beggars in the North and the need for the people’s participation in government. By 1950 he was virtually advocating for indepence for one united Nigeria and not the individual regions, when he said: ‘There is much to be gained by the East, the west and the North functioning as one unit. There are many problem for all of us to solve…………….
One other major concern of the great Atta, Alhaji Ibrahim Onoruioza was culture. Despite the fact that he was a devouted muslem who helped popularise Islam in Ebiraland, the Atta did not treat lightly other religious groups. The Christians were accommodated and encouraged. Ebira cultural festivals were promoted through his patronage of Ebira poet, philosophers and musicians. He introduced Islamic architectural design into the Ebira Traditional architecture. This fact is well authenticated in his palaces at Okene, Okenegba and Lokoja and in the court and other office buildings some of which were built in 1929.
In the course of seeing that Ebira were not behind in the development so far mentioned, the Atta attracted to himself a sizeable crop of detractors both at home and in government circles. The opposition from home front manifest itself in the Oyigbo Aremo crisis (1923-24) and the early 1950 uprising against  his rule. However, the Atta administration symbolised by the Native Authority system, and the Atta was the Native Authority not by his choice but that of the British. The other opposition whose interest was dramatically opposed to the first was generated by the great Atta’s nationalist and patriotic stance in the nationalist struggle going on then against the continued British colonial domination in Nigeria. Unfortunately, these interests combined to lead to his abdication and exile in 1954. By this singular act, the Ebira lost the services and active contribution of his illustrious son, the great Atta Alhaji Ibrahim Onoruioza.  He was honoured, posthumously by the front for Ebira solidarity, an Ebira elite club in Nigeria. Alhaji Ibrahim died in Lokoja in 1964 and was buried in his Okene palace in the presence of thousands of the people he had served so selflessly for thirty-seven years of his active life.

History of Ebira People

History of Ebira Attempt to trace the actual origin of the people has not been easy. The early works in this direction are full of conflicting claims and contradictions. What is however certain among the scholars is that the various ethnic groups race, which collectively constitute the six linguistic groups of the Ebira race, are said to have migrated at different times before the First World War (1914-1918) to their present settlement which are respectively located in the State of Adamawa and Gongola among the Jukuns. Plateau among the Nassarawa, Benue among the Igalla extraction of Itobe and Ajaokuta, Kwara and Kogi among the dominant Ebira Tao and Ebira Koto stocks of Okene, Ajaokuta, Adavi, Okehi, Kotonkarfe and Lokojaa local government areas and Edo among the Igallas in present day Edo State of Nigeria. Records have it that the early history of the Ebiras dated back to the sixteenth century (circa 1500) when the defunct Kwararafa Kingdom was a flouring empire that engage in fierce wars of ethnic conquest with the Usman Dabfodio fame and the war moguls of the El Kanemi Kingdom of the Borno empire. This three pronged war later proved to be decisive in shaping the present identities and destinies of the minorities pagan tribes that constituted the then Jukuns, Idoma, Tiv, Anagas, Ebira, Igalla and Igalla sub-ethnic stock that made up the then Kwararafa Kingdom of these minority ethnic groups who were largely pagans before conversion by the Muslim and Christian missionaries.
They were pagans because by the tradition of the ancestors they neither embrace Islam nor Christianity. Essentially, they worshiped the deities and consulted oracles as their original religion before the advent of Islam and Christianity. It is of interest to mention that this war of attrition among the natives of these dominant Kingdoms was the order of the day before the advent of the British colonialists. Resenting the central administrative authority of the Jukuns in the Wukari area of the Kwararafa kingdom, the Ebiras like the other disparate ethnic groups, migrated under their leader whose actual personal name remain unknown up till date, though one account has it that he was called Ebira. They migrated frequently and at different times from one unsuitable spot to another as an expression of their resettlement against tyrannical rule, among other reasons. In the case of the former reason, they did so in order to free themselves from the resented bondage and clutches of the Jukuns and headed southward before the end of the sixteenth century. In the course of this ethnic war of independence within and amongst the constituent natives of the Kwarafafa Kingdom, the sixth ethnic groups and their fellow travelers moved extensively in different directions south of the Sahara. The six Ebira ethnic groups according to oral history are given as follow: The Ebira Tao or Ebira Ehi of Kogi and Kwara State. The Ebir Igu of Ebira Koto of Kogi State. The Ebira Agatu of Benue State The Ebira Panda or Ebira Umasha of Plateau State.
The Ebira Oje or Ebira Toto of Plateau State. In the course of this migration in search of local self rule and independence, as well as suitable farmer land, the Ebiras shared common experience and agonies with their Igalla, Idoma, Tiv, Umasha, Ebira Panda, Angas and Igarra (Ebira Etuno) brothers and sisters of the Kwararafa stock who were fleeing for new founded land north and south of the Rivers Benue and Niger.Like war-afflicted refugees, they collectively fled in and droves southwards towards the fertile banks of River Benue and Niger, and the wet savannah lands where pasture and aquatic life were rich and the topography identical to that which they were leaving behind in their original Kwararafa empire. In this way, some of the migrants settled at different spots, first among the Tivs and Idomas of Benue State, then among the Angas and Nasarawa people of Nasarawa State. This early group of migrants was left behind by the Ebira Koto and the Ebira Tao people of Kogi state. In the Edo State, the Igarras were the Ebira extractions who fled the Kwararafa Kingdom, and after crossing the River Niger together, left behind their kith and kins who were the Ebira Tao in Okene, Adavi, Ajaokuta and Okehi LGAs of Kogi State.
It is of interest to note similarly in name between Kwararafa Kingdom and the defunct Kwara Local Government later Kogi Local Government in Lokoja reas, and the present Kwara Sate. Both terms were derived from the Hausa name for a river called Kogin Kwara. In all the place they traversed, the Ebiras left behind their erstwhile brothers and sisters with whom they hitherto lived together and shared a common language. Each of the six Ebira sub ethnic groups derives its language from a corruption of the same Ebira mother tongue, with slight variation in accent, diction and etiology. Those of them not contented with the geography and traditional occupation of the new settlements, migrated further south to Okene in the present day Kogi State and Igarra in Edo State. The route followed by the different Ebira migrant groups probably commenced from Wukari. Ibi and Lunga in Gongola State, and then proceeded through Lafia to Nassarawa and Toto. It tooks off again from Nassarawa and Toto and proceeded to the banks of River Niger and Konton Karfe, Lokoja, Itobe and Ajaokuta from where it branched off the Ebira-Okene (TAO) dialectical groups, while it terminated at Igarra in Edo State for the Igarra speaking group whose mother tongues is a corruption of the original Ebira Kwararafa race. These distinctive settlement patterns are found among the Jukuns of Gongola State, the Ebira Pandas among the Idomas of Benue State, and the Ebira Koto of Kontokarfe in Lokoja as well as the Ebira Tao in Okene, Adavi, Eika and Okehi Local Government of Kogi State, and the Ebira-Igarra of Edo State.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Sketch History of Ebira (Itopa Ebira)


An elder beats the Agidibo to salute the spirits (Photo by EbiraView)
Ebira Tao is the largest of the several Ebira groups found in about 8 states of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Teritory (FCT). The other sister groups are Egbura Koto and Ebira Mozum (Kogi state), Ebira Panda, Ebira Oje/Toto (Nassarawa state), Ebira Etuno (Edo state), Ebira Agatu (Benue state) Ebira Oloko (Ondo/Oyo/Osun states).
Written records about the origin of the Ebira people were those compiled from palace sources by the British colonial administrators in early 20th century. The Ebira, through oral tradition, trace their descent to Wukari (in the present Taraba state) where they were a constituent part of the Kwararafa confederation. In about 1680 AD, they (along with the Idoma and Igala) migrated out of Wukari a chieftaincy dispute.
The Ebira later split into various groups and settled in different locations between 1680 and 1750 AD.
The Ebira Tao first sojourned with the Igalas at Idah but later crossed the River Niger and settled at Ebira Opete located the vicinity of Upake in Ajaokuta LGA. The 'father' of the Ebira Tao who led them to this premier settlement in Ebiraland was Itaazi. Itaazi had five (5) sons who all later migrated from Ebira Opete and were the founders of the various districts in Ebiraland. The children and the districts they founded are Adaviruku/Ohizi (Adavi), Ododo (Okehi), Obaji (Eyika), Uga (Okengwe) and Ochuga/Onotu (Ihima). His daughter named Ohunene settled in Eganyi district.
Members of the various clans in Ebiraland are descendants of the children of Itaazi. Ohizi had five children who are progenitors of the five traditional Adavi clans named after them. These are upopo-uvete (Apasi), Uka, Idu (Aniku), Adeyika and Uhwami. A migrant group from Eganyi known as Ezi-Onogu clan is also found in Adavi. The sons of Ododo who are the ancestors of Okehi clans were Okovi Oviri and Enwgukonyai. Obaji the founder of Eika had ten children named Ohiaga, Iyewe, Avassa, Ehemi, Anchi, Epoto, Egiri, Ubobo, Ogu and Eyire. Uga of Okengwe had two sons whose children constitute the present Okovi and Agada group of clans. Due to a sizeable concentration of other Ebira clans in Okengwe district, they formed a socio-political coalition known as Ada-ehi. Ochuga had six children and their descendants make up the six clans in Ihima.
These are Emani, Oha/Idu, Ohueta, Ure, Ohongwa and Odumi. The seventh clan is Akuta who migrated from Okengwe. Though Itaazi's daughter named Ohunene was the founder of Eganyi, not all the clans there are descended from her. Eganyi clans are Ede, Esugu, Eheda, Ogu, Onoko, Idu, Anavapa and Ogodo. The Aningere who are skilled craftsmen are found in all districts. They are, however, more concentrated in Okengwe and Adavi districts.

Ebiraland, the home of Ebira Tao, is located in the central senatorial District of Kogi state. It has a landmass of 3,426 sq km. The 1991 national census puts the population of the area 722,032. Another national head count was undertaken in 2006. The provisional figure of 884,396 released by the National Population Commission (NPC) is being disputed. It is distributed as follows: Okene LGA (320,260), Adavi LGA (202,194), Okehi LGA (199,999), Ajaokuta LGA (122,321) and Ogori Magongo LGA (39,622).

The Ebira people are republican by nature, outspoken and very hard working. Farming and cloth-weaving are occupations for which the Ebiras are well known. They are presently spread in five Local Government Areas of Kogi state namely: Adavi, Okene, Okehi,  Ajaokuta and Ogori-magongo. A sizeable number is also found in Lokoja Local Government Area and Oyo states. The paramount ruler of the people is called Ohinoyi of Ebiraland. The Ebira cherish their traitional festivals in spite of the infiltration of some negative tendencies.
There are several people who made tremendous impact on Ebira nation in ancient times. These were:
1. Itaazi - 'FATHER' or progenitor of Ebira Tao people
2. Ohizi (Adaviruku) - Son of Itaazi and founder of Adavi district
3. Ododo - Son of Itaazi and founder of Okehi district
4. Obaji - Son of Itaazi and founder of Eika district
5. Uga - Son of Itaazi and founder of Okengwe district
6. Ochuga - Youngest son of Itaazi and founder of Ihima district
7. Ohunene - Daughter of Itaazi and founder of Ihima district
8. Obege Ikaturu - Greatest herbalist in Ebira history
9. Otase - Greatest marksman in Ebira history
10. Atta Omadivi Abonika - Ebira war commander during the 1885 Ajinimo war (Nupe invasion of Ebiraland in which Ebira defeated the Nupe)
11. Ovanesi - War commander during the Ebira/Bassa war where the Bassa were defeated (1890).
12. Zainab Ejinovo Iyebe - Princess and later 'Queen mother' of imense influence
13. Atta Ibrahim Onoruoyiza - Leader with great vision and father of modern Ebira
14. Onono Idogido - Great social crusader and leader of 1951 women revolt against taxation.
15. Raji Abdallah - nationalist who fought for Nigeria's independence along with Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi  Awolowo. He was imprisoned by the British colonialists.
The Ebiras have several annaul cultural festivals. Three of the most prominent ones are 'Echane', 'Eche Ori' and 'Ekuechi'.
This is an annual masquerade festival celebrated in rotation from one district to the other in Ebiraland (between April-June).  In the past, it was only during the period of the festival that betrothed girls were given away in marriage to their suitors. That is why the festival is called 'Eche-ane' (women festival). Masquerades, though carried long canes, came out primarily to entertain people and received gifts in return. It is regrettable that this very popular and interesting festival has been bastardized and now a source of constant breach of peace.
'Eche Ori' is a new yam festival celebrated only in two districts in Ebiraland. These are Ihima and Eganyi. During the festival, traditional worshippers make sacrifices in the secret groove of 'Ori' (deity) high up in the mountain to show gratitude for its protection and provision of bounteous harvest.
The worshipers carry long canes with which they whip one another in turns without anyone exhibiting any sign of pain. This is a mark of strength or manhood. Another important attraction of the festival is the delightful 'Echori' music in which female singers feature prominently. Only after this festival can one eat or sell new yams in the market as it is a taboo to do so before the festival in Ihima and Eganyi.

This is a night masquerade festival which marks the end of the Ebira calendar year and the beginning of a new one. Ododo is popularly acclaimed to be the initiator of this masquerade festival. The 'Akatapa' masquerade in heralding the beginning of the festival often say "Irayi ododo osi gu, Irayi akatapa osi gu eeeh! Osa yeeeh!" which means "the year of the Ododo has ended; the year of Akatapa has ended. Here is another year".
The festival begins with a festival eve in which folk singers (ome ikede) perform to the delight of both men and women. The following day, the real festival in which masquerades sing and dance to entertain people from dusk to dawn takes place. It is restricted to men only so all women stay indoors throughout the duration of the festival. All dead relatives are believed to return to a earth on a visit this night, so, women prepare delicious 'Apapa' (bean read) and he-goat meat for the visitors. The women also, at times, leave monetary gifts with the men for the visiting dead relatives. Trust men, the meals and gifts are properly and neatly delivered to the beneficiaries who only the men have the privilege of seeing and interacting with, that night.

Source: Oyikete Ebira, by S.S. Salami


  1. very remarkable history.i am
  2. outstanding start to a genuine record of account.well written but details will make an interesting master piece.well done!
  3. Thank you mr. S S SALAMI, GOD bless the people of ebira and the federal republic of nigeria.(amen)
  4. I love this. God bless Ebira land.
  5. Thanks your Mr S.S salami for dis, i am impressed. God bless ebira, God bless kogi state and God bless Nigeria
  6. Beautiful piece, nice job Mr SS Salami
  7. Good one, brief but very reach. More grease 2 ur elbow Mr. S.S Salami.
  8. The pronunciation of those names are so unfamiliar but then it was an interesting one. So happy to know about my history today
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Group donates desks to school

Group members in  group photograph with the school authorities
By Ismail M. Kabir
To facilitate a conducive learning environment, sets of desks have been donated to a public school in Okene. The donation was made by EbiarView BB group, a civil society group operating on the Blackberry platform whose objective is working towards improving total welfare of Ebira communities with a special focus on educational development. 
The event which took place today in Okene was held at the school premises of College of Arabic And Islamic Studies, Okene (CAISO), the beneficiary of the desks. The presentation was witnessed by the management staff of the school led by the school's principal.
In his remark, the school principal, mallam Bello Jimoh praised the group for the generous donation while promising to ensure that the desks are put to best use. He further expressed his joy for the choice of his school as the first beneficiary of the scheme which is inteded to benefit more schools across Ebiraland.
The 30 sets of desks meant to sit 90 students were presented to the JSS 1 students of the school with the aim of improving their learning atmosphere. Speaking at the presentation, the teaching service commission zonal director for Okene, Ajaokuta and Ogori magongo Local Government zone, Mrs. H. O. Obajimoh expressed her profound gratitude for what she descirbed as a rare gesture. Mrs Obajimoh said the donation was an inspiration, praying that the effort would be a stepping stone to a greater achievements for the group.
A senior official of the state's teaching service and a former principal of the college, Alhaji Yunusa Yusuf also witnessed the event.
Prior to the presentation,the group held an interactive session with the students. The session which was led by a member of the group, Ibrahim Yakubu Ovosi was used to educate the students on various subjects bordering on self-development, academic disciplines, building reading habit and adopting good higene. The sessions were held in turn by Yakubu Ovosi, Umar Neemata Onyinoyi, Ismail M. Kabir and Naffy Ametuo respectively. The excited students commended the group for the educative session promised to pass the message to their colleagues who missed the memorable moment.
The entire school authority hailed the gesture as a welcome development in community development. Prayers were held for divine protection of the group members in their course of extending similar gestures to other schools in the community.
Photos of the event 
Some of the the donated desks

From left; Principal, Mall. Bello Jimoh, Mrs. H.O. Obajimoh (TSC zonal director) Alh. Yunusa Yusuf, former school principal 

College staff and some of the group members listening to the principal's address

Friday, February 08, 2013

The high-powered Turbaning Ceremony of Alhaji Muhammed Ataba Sanni Omolori as Ciroman Ebira

Preparing the Coronation Venue: Azad palace of the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, HRM Alhaji (Dr.) Ado Ibrahim
Okene is set to witness the influx of eminent Nigerian personalities on Saturday, February 9th 2013 at the prestigious Azad Palace, GRA Okene. The event is expected to be one of the most colourful in recent times in Ebiraland.
Maximum security arrangement is evident across the community as a joint team of Soldiers, SSS and Policemen parade the town.
Follow us as we deliver the event through Live Photo Stream, tweets and Webcast.

Uneme dancers