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The Igbo and Edo Socio-Cultural Influence on Ibusa people of Nigeria

It is a town situated between the Igbo and Edo . It is also a town lying in the midst of people claiming to have both Igbo and Edo blood in them. This is the situation Ibusa, a town now situated in today’s Delta State ; south-southern part of the country has found itself geographically. The Ibusa town has socially and culturally been influenced by the Igbo and Edo in different ways.

The people of this town speak Enuani dialect which is Igbo and are known to belong to the proud Anioma family. Umejei, Edini, Obodo and Omuoha, the founders of the town are all known to have migrated from Nshi (Nri) and Isu in present Igbo land of the south-southern region. The name Umejei and Obodo are still borne in Igbo land of today though scarcely heard in Ibusa and other Anioma communities. In many several ways, certain Isu communities of the south-east have laid claims to the original home where Umejei, one of the founders of the town took off from. Not a single one of these communities have advanced strong historical discoveries supported by evidences to drive home their claims. The Ibusa people themselves appear to have over the time lost knowledge of the original home of their warrior founder, Umejei.

The people have mythologies of their origin supporting the claims of migrations from Igboland of the south-east. Evidently, their many of their cultures support this. The culture of “Ituni” rite during the funeral of a departed one is a clear testimony of this. “Ituni” requires materials such as goats and “Otogwu” fabric from the sisters of the deceased to accompany the remains to the world beyond.

There is also the “Ifejioku” festival otherwise known as “Iwaji” which resembles those of the people of south-east of Nigeria . The Ibusa people also bear Igbo names such as “chukwuemeka,” “Ikechukwu,” “Ifeanyichukwu,” “Chukwudi,” “Uchechukwu,” “Ebelechukwu,” “Chukwuka”. It is “Chukwu,” “Chukwu” all the way. Language of worship of the people is Igbo. A clear observation of this shows the mode of worship to be more on the side of the Igbo. The name Ibusa having been anglicized by the British soon after they politically touched the little town perhaps only exists on official papers. The true native name of the town has today become one of the most controversial issues challenging the town. Thanks to the British. Some would maintain it is “Igbuzo” but a lot more would claim it is “Ibuzo”.

However, the “Ibusa” as “manufactured” and forced on the people by the British have over the time had its pronunciation transformed to “Igbuzo”. Thus “Ibusa” is now “Igbuzo” Critics say the town christened with name “Igbuzo” by its kiths and kin from the south-east rather than “Ibuzo” a name by which the town was known by its immediate Anioma neighbours. “Ibusa” or “Igbuzo” the town moves on with the social influences it has gathered from the Igbo, Edo , Urhobo and Anioma communities.

The Ibusa quarters or villages are named in Igbo languages and usually begins with the prefix “Umu” which means the children of. Umu-Ekea, Umu-Odafe, Umu-Wagwu, Umu-Isor are all quarters in the town. These villages may have developed like those of the distant south-eastern states. Consider too that Ibusa is a community by origin politically organized in such a way that it was kingless. The society being a democratic one was socially rested under the leadership of an able “Diokpa” This is to a large extent an Igbo idea. Many Anioma communities are like this too. Ibusa market days are named and counted just like in Igbo land. The people have since origin become familiar with Eke, Orie, Nkwo and Afor, market days in Igbo land.

Traditional wrestling bouts called “Mgba” in the local dialect of the people are still practiced in the town today may have been imported from the Isu and Nshi, the heartland of Igboland. It was in the course of the friendly bout that Umejei, one of the founders of the town killed his opponent and made to flee in an exile that landed him in today’s Ibusa. It is another way; the Igbo have influenced Ibusa people socially. The sounds of sweet music, wailing, cries, surprises and amusements that accompany the bouts all natural to the Igbo people of the south-eastern region.

The Edo people of Nigeria have also affected the Ibusa customs and traditions in no small way. Chiefly, the town is geographically located in south-southern part of the country, something the British had since recognized placing the town on the Benin province. The town was later situated in the Western part of the country, Midwestern region and now Delta State before its present categorization within the south-south geo-political zone alongside its sisterly Anioma communities.

The traditional attire of Ibusa people just like the rest of Anioma people is close to the Edo . The attire requires the “Oto-Ogwu” or “Akwa-Ocha” white fabric tied to the waist for the male with upper part of the body left bare and heavy beads worn around the neck. In this present time, signet or T-shirt may be won. The native attire of the Anioma man is surely unique and now distinct. The Ibusa man may out of tradition religiously worship his God in “Ogwa” (shrine). In the entire Anioma community, Ogwa is usually found lying close to almost every house in the community. The Edo and people of Anioma surely have their God living closer to them than can be imagined. The articles of worship found inside of it such as “Alor” a spear-like instrument is religiously held precious by the Edo people.

Some common words in Ibusa language is derived from Edo . Idumu (clan) Ogbe (quarter) Iyase (traditional title) Ise (Amen) Ase (Benin) Ughagbe (mirror) Ugele (knife) Opia (cutlass) Osebuwa (god, supreme being) Osolobua (Benin) Iyi (steam) Some Ibusa festivals and dances such as “Alo” borrowed from Oko Anala community, Iwu and Ine may be Edo in nature.

Centuries back, the Ibusa borrowed monarchical idea from the Edo when King Ezesi from Umuogwo quarter of the town successfully plotted a coup and succeeded the then the Senior Diokpa of the town as the traditional ruler. He claimed that he had the authority of the Oba of Benin to rule the town. Altough he never lasted on the throne because of the attitude of his wife, he in turn was overthrown with the town returning to status quo i.e. leadership by the oldest.

Mention should also be made of certain cults like the Igbeh festival imported from Urhobo and Itsekiri of the Niger Delta regions. Adherents of this cult can still be found in the town today and are proud of it.

The Ibusa “Okanga” funeral dance recently described as the “running funeral dance” because of its nature by one historian of the Ibusa origin have affinity wit those of other Anioma communities chiefly Asaba (Ahaba) Ilah (Alaa) and Okpanam (Okpam) a trio of the three proud communities of Anioma never conquered by the Edo (Iduu) at any time of their history. The whole of Anioma communities from Igbanke to Aboh share common customary features with distinctiveness which makes the people unique.  

This is not to say that the cultures of Ibusa lacks uniqueness as their still certain common traditional features which finely separates the town from the rest of the world which is why the town is Ibusa.       

By Emeka Esogbue 


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