Let me state that the following are information obtained lip to ear and may not be found in any treatise on IKA land. For too long, the IKAs have been classified with the ANIOCHAS and NDOKWAS in a broad classification dubbed IKA-IBO in the Nigerian socio-political nomenclature. This taxonomy is occasioned by the scanty information about the IKAs; gained prominence during the Nigerian civil war (1967-1970), and was exacerbated by the mental colonization of the IKAs in studying IGBO as a subject in elementary schools situated in Ikaland. It is this classification that is still being used today to describe the Ikas in the currency of political discussion in Nigeria and needless to say that this classification is a misnomer,and if not corrected may negatively impact on the development of our people and land. This is because the broad classification makes us a subset ofthe larger IGBO tribal group. The Igbo has consistently averred that they originate from Nri, hence from the onset there is a dichotomy of originas the Ikas and Aniochas originated from the Bini Kingdom.
IKAS: DISTINCT FROM NEIGHBORS
Onyeche has done a marvelous job in opening a chapter on IKA origin and people. First, I disagree that AGBOR, and by implication Ikas as a people have a direct linkage with the Umu-Ezechima of Aniocha.This is because the Umu-Ezechima, although claims to hail from BINI has distinct dialectical differences with the Ikas. The dialect of the Aniochas,spoken by Umu-Ezechima, is miles apart from the IKA dialect. Infact,the Aniochas and Ikas do not understand one another, when their nativedialects are spoken. The latter does not imply that we do not have similarities or distant blood linkages, as over the centuries interaction must have modified our relationships as both groups share a common boundary. The same applies to the Ukwuanis and Ndokwas who have boundaries also with Ika land. The Aniochas claim to have their royal lineage from Eze Chima.I do not think any Obi in Ikaland can claim to have a direct lineage from Eze Chima. In this wise, our lineage as Ikas is different from the Aniochas. The only Obi, outside of Aniocha land to have a linkage and relationship with Umu-Ezechima is the Obi of Onitsha. One can readily observe the similarity in culture and language between the Aniochas and the indigenous Onitsha people. Having said this, it is obvious that Ikas have been influenced over the centuries by their neighbors, as observed in the similarity of names with the neighbors.The neighbors are the Aniochas, Ukwuanis, Ndokwas, Bini and the Ishan.Could it therefore be that different bands of these neighbors settled in Ikaland, and eventually influenced the Ikas? This is food for thought.
As is customary with tribal groups that have borders with each other, there are bound to be influences in culture, linguistic affinities and blood relationships. This is because inter marriages would have occurred amongst the groups over the centuries. An example is the IGBANKE people,whereby there is duality of language within the same town (Bini and Ika), alsoin IGBODO (Ika and Aniocha). There is an observable pattern of slight dialectical differences amongst the Ikas and Ukwuanis.
IKAS: COMMON ORIGIN
The main question that arose from Onyeche’s article is: Are there differences between the Owa and Agbor people? By this, I mean differences in phonology, culture, appearance and dialect? The answer to these is NO. In my interactions between the Owas and Agbors, there is no iota of difference in our idiosyncrasies, culture and language. Thus, would their origins be different? In fact, I believe that IKAS have a common origin, and that differences are man-made, and have been grounded in ancient rivalries, animosities and mistrust among erstwhile brothers. This is not uncommon among relations. We should therefore be careful not to widen the artificial divide but to explain to posterity our understanding of the social dynamics of our people. The history of other races/tribes readily comes to mind, I do not know of tribes having the same language/dialect that have different origins.
Hence, if history is to be a guide, all Ikas have a common ancestry and origin. For instance, the Ondos, Ile-Oluji and the Idanre people of Ondo state, although have slight dialectical differences, and in the mainare Yorubas, due to the similarity in phonology and dialects, refer toa common lineage, and the respective towns are said to be founded by brothers.In fact, their ancestry suggests that they are cousins. Given the preceding, I do not believe that the origin of the Ika-speaking people is not common.
My thesis is that since there are no dialectical, physiognomic and cultural differences amongst Owa and Agbor people, and by implication all IKA speaking groups, it follows therefore that all IKAs have a common ancestry and root.The latter does not infer that each Ika group is not independent of another. Hence, it is known that the following Ika groups have their own kings,who in their own rights are independent without paying any allegiance whatsoever to each other. They are the Obi of Agbor, Obi of Owa, Obi of Umunede, Obi of Igbodo, Obi of Abavo and others that do not readily come to mind. Consequently, the allusion that the Agbors were the first settlers in the area known as IKA LAND is wrong, misleading and has continued to foster tension and division amongst cousins.
ROYALTY IN IKA LAND: EQUAL IN RANK & STATURE
It is a truism that due to colonization and the initiation of the indirect rule system, by the British, AGBOR metropolis (consisting of Owa and Agbor) gained prominence in the geography of Nigeria, and the Obi of Agbor became the widely recognized king from Ika land in the western House of Chiefs in the old Western region. With time, this has gained popularity amongst other Nigerians that metro-Agbor is being ruled by the Obi of Agbor. It is time to let the world know, that there are other kings equal in rank and staturein IKA land to the Obi of Agbor, and that the hitherto propagated mythof Obi of Agbor being the most revered paramount leader in Ika land is false. Metropolitan Agbor has a schism, Boji Boji Owa and Boji-Boji Agbor, with each section having a paramount leader, equal in stature and rank. The time has come for worthy sons of Ika land to come forward and set the history straight. This would help in removing the age long animosity and mistrust among Ikas, and usher in a new era of understanding. Thus creating an atmosphere of mutual growth and development for the Mecca of all Ikas, BOJI-BOJI.
From information obtained from our fathers, OWA has its origin from the BINI kingdom. In actual fact, there is a town in current Edo State called Owa,
and the Owa people are said to have migrated from there to settle in the present land encompassing Owa Kingdom many centuries ago. OWA is comprised of the following clans:
As Onyeche pointed out Owa-Idumesa was settled by Ishan people. It is a known fact that the Ishans or Esans originated from Bini. Thus, bands or waves of emigrants must have settled in Owa land from the ancient Bini Kingdom to form the Owa Kingdom. This observation would also be true of all Ika groups. In fact most Owa and Ika names seem to have Bini roots. For example, Usifo, Iwerebor, Ugbaja, Obaigbena, Obugbe, Obaze,Iduwe, etc. are names that akin to those in Bini Kingdom. Further, the chieftaincy titles in Owa land are similar to those in Bini Kingdom, e.g. Obasagbon, Ihaza, Iyase, Osula etc. In the main, Owa originated from Bini Kingdom as all other Ika speaking groups. To attempt to ascribe another origin to the Owa people is to use the back door to infer that Owas are not original settlers in Ika land, which would be the height of fallacy. Owas and other Ika speaking groups are brothers and settled in Ikaland concomitantly.
The current metropolitan Agbor, east of the Orogodo River was originally OWA LAND. Agbor land naturally stopped west of the Orogodo River. However,because IKas were mostly farmers in the days of yore, the Ika speaking Agbors approached the Ika speaking Owa-Ntas, who were the custodians of the land for Owa, for a lease of the land, which the Owa-Ntas willingly acceded to. At the beginning of colonialism, when Boji-Boji was to be surveyed and determined who owned what, especially the land north of the old Lagos-Asaba road, there was a protracted legal case between Owa-Nta and Agbor. The agreement to lease land to the Agbors was oral, as our people in those days were stark illiterates. Basically, it was a gentleman’s agreement.However, since the Agbors have cropped sizeable land acreage, it was decided in the courts, after a protracted legal case, to allow the Agbors to continue to use the land north of the old Lagos-Asaba road. This was the origin of the subsequent partition of Boji-Boji into Boji Boji Agbor and BojiBoji Owa. I am sure that records are available somewhere in the National Archives for any interested student of Ika land. This is discussed in order to set the history straight and shed light to younger generations, who have been wondering why there is a partition of such a beautiful metropolis into two.
Currently, Boji-Boji Owa is part of the Ika North East Local GovernmentArea, while Boji-Boji Agbor is in the Ika South Local Government Area. Any keen observer needs to know that this development is abnormal. I hope the foregoing would put to rest any lingering doubts about the partition.
Webmaster’s note: This article was written in the year 2000 in response to an earlier version of an article on the Ika history by Onyeche Joseph.