History of The Ebira People

Ebira

Every culture, language and people preexist within the embers of history. No nation or culture of the world is without history. Thus, the Ebira people are called so because of existing reference to history. Historically, there are two sources as to how and where the Ebira people came from; the Oral and the Written.

Through oral tradition, it is said that the Ebira people’s ancestry can be traced to Wukari (present Taraba State) where they established as part of the Kwararafa confederacy. They, along with Idoma and Igala in about 1680 AD, migrated out of Wukari due to chieftaincy tussle. They later split into various groups and later settled in different locations between 1680 and 1750 AD. The Ebira Tao first sojourned with the Igalas to Idah but shortly after, crossed to River Niger and settled in Ebira Opete located around Upake, Ajaokuta.

The father of the Ebira Tao who led them to this premier settlement in the Ebiraland is “ITAAZI”. Itaazi had five 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 who was named Ohunene settled in the 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 Uhami. 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 Okohi 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.

The present Ebira Tao is one of the three main ethnic groups (Igala, Ebira and Okun) located at the central senatorial district of Kogi State (not far from the Niger-Benue confluence in Nigeria) which is why the state is popularly referred to as ‘the confluence state’. Though a rare Linguistic case, the majority of the Ebira speakers are monolingual. They speak only one language.

By some level of affinity observed so far, the Ebira people are described in groups. The Ebira Tao of Kogi state is the largest of the several. Other groups include:
the Ebira Ehi of Kwara State
the Ebira Igu of Ebira Koto of Kogi state
the Ebira Agatu of Benue state
the Ebira Panda or Ebira Toto or Umasha of Nasarawa state
the Ebira Mozum of Bassa local government area of Kogi state very close to Okene
the Ebira Etuno of Igarra District of Akoko-Edo local government area, Edo state

Spread across five (5) Local Government Areas in Kogi state Adavi, Okene, Okehi, Ajaokuta and Ogori-magongo. However, Okene is the administrative headquarters of the Ebira speaking people in Kogi state. Thus, using the name of the most popular town of the land, we may refer to them as Ebira Okene.
The Ebira Ta’o occupy the hilly stretch of land southwest of the Niger-Benue confluence area and share boundaries with the Yoruba-speaking people of Akoko, Owe and Ijumu to the west, the Akoko Edo people to the south and south-west, the Hausa, Nupe and Ebira groups at Lokoja to the North and the River Niger to the east.

The term “Ebira” literally means “BEHAVIOUR with ETHICS and HOSPITALITY as a compliment. Republican by nature, the paramount ruler of the people is called OHINOYI of Ebira land.


ThankGod E. Airiohuodion

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Florence Ogedengbe
Florence Ogedengbe
June 17, 2021 3:18 pm

A well written article. An exposE on Ebiraland, my home. KUDOS!!!