Tuesday, July 3, 2018

History of Ebira People


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Ohiyi Of Ebiraland (KogiOnline.com.ng)
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.

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