ONYEKPEZE AND IKA
Consequently, these intruders have influenced Odinali Ika in many dimensions. Focusing on Bini, the great influences of theirs on Ika are political, religious and cultural. The people of Ika kingdoms (except Idumuesah kingdom) and the Binis have both ancestral and cultural similarities, which point to a common origin or ancestral identity.
There are varied related customs and etymological resemblance between Ika and the Binis in cultural and ancestral similarities. Some of the Ika kingdoms linguistically bear Bini features and meanings. Ika people trace their origin of kingship to Benin; that is in succession to the throne of the Crown Prince and followed strictly the sacrosanct law of primogeniture.
The antiquity of Ika Obis and Chiefs give reference to Bini tradition of immigration into Ikaland. All Obis in Ika were installed into office by the Oba of Benin in the olden days; and he gave them insignia (ada and ebeni) as a mark of recognition and support for which they paid tributes to the Oba in return.
The Regalia of the Ika Obis are similar to that of the Oba; that is, wears in profusion, coral beads and necklace wrapping. Except Idumuesah kingdom, all Ika kingdoms have traditional kingship institution.
Like in Benin, elaborate circumlocutions are used to avoid saying that an Obi is dead. An Ika Obi, like the Oba, thus becomes apotheosized at death and enters the rank of the clan’s royal ancestors; and thought of still enjoying royal rank after death.
Bini system of principal order of chieftaincy shares common features and similarities with those found in Ika kingdoms; they are of three categories – councillors of state or king-makers (Uzama Nihinron); the clan Chiefs and the Palace Chiefs. All traditional chieftaincy titles have almost the same names and similar functions in both Benin and Ika.
Bini influence is also apparent in the existence of hierarchy of hereditary or non-hereditary officials and Chiefs found around the Obi. This group of ‘nobles’ are known in both Benin and Ika as Ihaime (Ohaime, singular).
By character, Ikas and Binis are known to be religious. For example, Olokun and Obu (Idibie) of Bini prove to be practically true of what are known about the Ika people. Ika festivals are in many ways closely related to those of Benin Kingdom. Take for example; Igue and Ikaba festivals in some Ika kingdoms have their equivalent in Benin Kingdom. The festivals are celebrated by feasting and dancing in both places. Igue festival forms a common arena for social and political life; and also serves as religious functions of the land by people from Benin and Ika through Ubi rie (bad spirits go). As does the Oba of Benin, the first shrine visited by the king of Agbor during Osi-ezi festival is the Aliogbe shrine at Ihogbe quarters. Other festival like Okwan in Okpe village in Abavo was introduced from Idumwigun in Benin.
There is a strong tradition relationship not only because of common festivals, but essentially because of taboos like abstaining from eating monkey, the soup prepared with the seeds of gourd and eating yam and cocoyam together (whether pounded or not).
Generally, the cult worship is the predominant form of Benin Kingdom. The worship of the dead kings and ancestors is practised in Benin and Ika. Both Benin and Ika people have identical funeral obsequies.
The Bini forms of element are preserved in Ika forms of address. This specifically and identically are seen in the origin of tribal marks (egbugbu or Igu) and appellations such as Okenyen-Oba in Ika and Okpioba in Benin. They are found in Ika right from the beginning of times as Okenyen-Oba and Okpoho-Oba with which the adult male and female are identified respectively.
In Benin, where a daughter remains unmarried and stays in her father’s house for the purpose of raising children in his name (Idegbe), thus putting her in the position of a son to succeed her father’s landed property is also applicable in Ika kingdoms.
The articulated age set and age grade systems with formal rites of passage, which are well established in Ika kingdoms, have Bini origin. There are other social organizations, mode of dressing, music, arts and craft, which have Bini background; and which no doubt, mirror the source of origin of the Ika people.
Visit the great and ancient historical centres and shrines of the Ika people, read their traditional literature and listen to their folklores, folktales, folksongs, folk memories, etc. all bear witness to the cultural riches which Ikas have drawn from the Binis.
To be continued…