A Brief History of Iyaño, IBAJI LGA

 IBAJI LGA Iyaño was founded after the Igala-Benin war of 1515. The founder of Iyano was called Onuja, a famous warrior in the Igala-Benin war of the 1515. Onuja was not likely to be the real name of the warrior. It could be just a nickname as a result of his gallantry.

The entire Ibaji Local Government Area was founded after the Igala-Benin. The warriors of Attah Igala took the war to Benin soil and after the war, most of the warriors did not return to Idah. History has it that the Attah’s warriors did not keep the instruction given to them and as a result, their earlier victory vanished.

The warriors then fled from Benin, crossed the River Niger but did not come to Idah directly. They crossed to Idah South and settled beside the river, on a portion of land which was until then a big forest. This settlement later grew into a district known as Ibaji (Iba-aji), which means “beside the river”. The founder of Iyano, Onuja, was believed to be one of the Attah Igala’s warriors who returned from Benin but settled in Ibaji.

Oral history has it that Onuja gave birth to Akuro, Ayah and Iyano. Akuro was the eldest while Ayah and Iyano were twins. Other relations of Akuro, Ayah and Iyano who are believed to have come from the same ancestry are Ujeh, Iregwu, Odekpe, Igbedo, Iteh, Ikaka, Ekpeli,, etc who till date regard themselves as one Alubi.

The original settlement of Onuja is lost to history but his children, Akuro, Iyano, Ayah and others settled separately as each found his own land to occupy. Iyano settled in a place, which was named after him, and his first settlement is the place referred to as Efoja or Ache today. In those days, villages were named after founders. History has not disclosed whether Aluaja, Iru and Itale are all children of Iyano because these three names are only descriptive. They are not names of persons like Iyano. History has only disclosed that Aluaja, Iru and Itale were names of clans of Iyano village. If the three are not names of persons, how did they become the children of Iyano?

Aluaja, Iru and Itale got their names according to their geographical locations. Iru settled at a place where there was elephant grass; Itale settled where there was a shrub known as Itale while Aluaja’s name came out of the location of the village market. It is therefore likely that Aluaja, Iru, and Itale are not descendants of one ancestor. It is also difficult to know which of the three is the child of Iyano.

As far back as the 16th century, most settlements in Igala land had markets where bought and sold items. There was also trade among neighbouring villages. Iyano had a market, which was located in front of Aluaja. This is to say that Aluaja, Iru and Itale were existing names right from Ache, contrary to some people’s belief that the name came about when Iyano moved to its present settlement.

History has it that at their original settlement, the three clans of Aluaja, Iru and Itale settled separately. Aluaja and Itale settled next to each other while Iru was on the opposite side of the two. There was a gulley separating Iru from Aluaja and Itale which made the villagers use the service of a single-wood bridge to cross to both sides.

Aluaja had five major sub-clans, which were Iyemi, Obiyo, Okpatawo, Imetima and Anolo. Iru had three sub-clans, which were Ikwu, Ugbena and Itakpa. Itale had three sub-clans, which were Ofebule, Ofanyo and Ubochi. Some elders interviewed however said that Itakpa and Ubochi became clans of Iru and Itale respectively in the presen settlement of Iyano and not in the first settlement.

Aluaja, Iru and Itale have their distinct greetings. Originally, Aluaja was greeted Anuu; Iru was greeted Aika while Itale was greeted Ameche. Later, there emerged some adjectives to qualify these greetings. Aluaja’s greeting became Aiko Oma-Anuu, Iru became Aika Oma-Oba as well as Itale, which was greeted Oma-Oba. In the case of Aluaja, the greeting was qualified following the good behaviour of an Aluaja son who, on waking up every morning, endeavoured to wake his father and greet him before doing anything. The father, one day happily commended the boy saying “the child of Anuu, you are he cock that wakes me up every morning. May it be well with you”. From then, the greeting of the children of Aluaja became Aiko Oma-Anuu. In my interview with the elders of Iru and Itale, nobody was able o tell me why Oma-Oba was added to their original greetings.

Iyano occupied a large portion of land in its original settlement. Iyano shared boundaries with Ayeke and Unale on the East; with River Niger on the west; with Ojuba and Agbalugbojo on the North and with Ishi and Akuro on the south.

This large portion of land was divided among Aluaja, Iru and Itale clans. This was as far back as the 16th century when they settled at Ache. In the allocation of the land, Aluja got the Western wing, sharing boundary with Ikaka, Agbalugbojo and the River Niger. Iru got the northern wings, sharing boundary with Unale and Ojuba while Itale got the southern wing, sharing boundary with Ishi and Akuro.

The major occupation of the people of Iyano then and till now is fishing and farming. History has it that some Aluaja farmers used to come all the way from Ache to farm at a place now called Udaba, Ona-anya, etc in their own portion of land where Iyano moved to later, and which is the present Iyano.

Iyano had cultural festivals, which were celebrated jointly by Aluaja, Iru and Itale. There were social and cultural dances and masquerades such as Abucha, Oloja, Ofogoli, Odeli, Agba, Abule, Egwu-agwitale, Egwu-odo, etc. there are dances performed during burial ceremonies. All these masquerades and dances reflected the background of Iyano people as Igalas

To be continued.

COUTESY: Jacob Apeh


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