General administration in Enwan.
Traditionally, Enwan is ruled and governed by a king. Like the yoruba and bini kingdom, Enwan operates an Obaship system of governance. As a paramount ruler, Odafe is the title given to the king of Enwan. He serves as the head of the clan. So far, as at the time of this research, they have successfully had fourteen (14) Odafe.
Due to the fact that the kingship title isn’t completely hereditary, every kindred in Enwan has the right to the Odafeship. As a matter of fact, it rotates, in cycle, around every of the nineteen kindred of the 3 quarters. For instance, it will be the turn of Imiezua quarters if it has rotated every of the 4 kindred in Imiezakhor quarters. Then it will rotate all 8 kindreds in Imiezua before it becomes Imievanne’s turn to rotate. Thus, everyone is entitled to the throne. Though, a candidate must be popular, free from diseases; physical deformity and crime to be eligible. On the authority of the eldest man in the appropriate ruling house, a suitable candidate will therefore be chosen via consensus. This is, however, the summary of the declaration of customary law regulating succession to traditional ruler title under the executive council of the then Bendel state of Nigeria relating to Enwan. As at the time of the research, the new Odafe of Enwan, in person of Chief O.C. Daudu, has not been coronated as the case of his rightful succession is being challenged by another man from his kindred in court. We will do a little more research to know if he has now been crowned. But he has been actively up and doing, serving for the betterment of the community.
Mode of Dressing among Enwan People.
The traditional mode of dressing is very similar to that of the Yorubas. In the older days of the Enwan community, before the advent of European civilization, many people will prefer to use their native attires. However, present day outfits in the community include shorts, trousers, blouse and wrappers, etc.
Burial Rites in Enwan Land
As the highest title which man will attain after gathering every other thing on earth, death is inevitable. Everyone is as equal as one another in the eyes of death. When an elderly person dies, information will be sent to the relations in other part of the town so as to commence burial rites. However,in the Enwan tradition, burial rites are done minding ones title rank before death. If the deceased was of the highest title holder (Oroghaze), it means an extensive expenditure for the whole kindred to which the holder belongs. Otherwise, the deceased is buried according to religious or traditional rites. An Oraghaze is one who must have performed their historical Azeghi ceremony which come only once in a generation. There are series of activities that follows the death of the Oroghaze or the Egbidegua before their corpse are finally disposed off.
SOME NOTABLE EVENTS AND CELEBRATION IN ENWAN.
Every tribe has its peculiar celebrations and event. For the people of Enwan, these are some of their notable events and celebration ranging from the Age grouping celebration to marriage celebration.
The traditional Age grouping festival.
This is a festival that pulls a great lot of ceremony. It is done rarely once in a generation. Partakers of this historic event are conferred with the highest title obtainable in the land – the Azeghi. Thus, its membership highly restrictive such that when an age group is celebrated, there is no room for any other person to join until the next age group festival which will not hold until the last reigning Azeghi dies.
Contrary to the heading, money is what determines the membership. If one meets up with every requirement and if one’s father isn’t as qualified as you are i.e alive at the time of the celebration, then one is qualified. There are certain traditional duties conferred on the partakers together with the title.
The Azeghis, after the celebration, become the highest organ traditionally formulating and executing policies as well as adjudication on all matters of great importance. Each of them will be given the Ikuteh (a powerful staff of authority). The group also becomes the final arbiter on any issue and their decision is final. The last age group celebration was held 1972.
For the women, their kind of age grouping is different from that of the men. The women age grouping, just like that of the male, is also the highest title a woman can obtain in Enwan and the title – Egbidegua is conferred. But unlike the male counterpart, the Egbinegua isn’t an elaborate festival. It is done individually and due to its high rate of expenses, the eldest woman in the kindred will have to task every member of the kindred to uphold the celebration.
Okpa-ifiafia and ude- udemi.
The okpa- ifiafia is a traditional initiation ceremony for every male to attain manhood. Like the Christians baptism, every child will have a godfather and also godmother. The celebration comes up yearly so as for those that are yet to be initiated to be. It has no age limit. Any child, who has not being initiated, from age one above can partake. Therefore it is the responsibility of the father to make sure his sons are initiated properly.
The ude- udemi is the female counterpart of the okpa- ifiafia. It is conducted immediately after the Ikperemma festival. Just as the father is responsible for the sons, the mother is responsible for the daughters.
The ikperemah festival is the most anticipated event in Enwan. It is a great cultural celebration performed annually. It is marked by lots of merriments like the maiden dances, wining and dining for good nine days. It is celebrated between mid-April and May yearly. It is generally believed that the festival dated as far back as the origin of Enwan clan. The word ‘ikperemah’ comes from two Enwan word ‘ikperi’ meaning ‘band or to beat a drum’ and ‘emah’ meaning ‘food’. So literarily, one can say it is the beating of the drum for food.
It is that festive period that every Enwan anticipates. It is believed that this festival serves many functions. Some of which is to appease the god through a special prayer by performing the Oyami- ikhukhu( during this period, everybody will carry fagots along the streets reciting incantations for Oyame [spirit] to take away all their sorrows before going ahead to throw all the faggots to a dam outside the town). Another of its importance is that it kick starts marriage proposals as it allows suitors to ‘throw money’ to the family of their desired lover.
Marriage among Enwan People.
According to tradition in Enwan land, before a woman can be married, both she and family must consent to the proposal. However, the Enwan marriage system have been said to have suffered some changes and development. After accepting the marriage proposal, the traditional bride price and social values would have been paid by the parents of the bridegroom.
Moreover, due to civilization and the advent of evangelism, the traditional marriage system has suffered series of changes and development. Back then, the choice is being influenced by the parents though the boy and the girl will be consulted to some extent but they just have to be obedient. Back then, beauty they say wasn’t a criterion rather physical strength, ability to work, and health status of the family.
Once the family of the boy has made up their mind on a particular, they made their intention known to the family of the girl sending a woman to tell the girl’s family. The woman eventually serves as an intermediary for both families. However, the intention still have to be made known on the day of the Ikperemah festival by sending some token (money) to the girl’s family after which courtship begins if the girl’s family accepts the token.
In those days, it used to be said to be a simple ceremony until after the 2nd world war when some pomp and pageantry were copied from the Yoruba tradition. The marriage ceremony is in two stages; first is the Aghene-Ichacha where the bride would be mounted on a bicycle and the groom will be followed by a large crowd to visit each other’s family house.
Then the Akor-Ichacha will followed one month after the first stage. The bride will dance the Ukpepke dance naked with a three yard piece of white cloth hanging on her shoulders through the important street in the quarters while the groom will be carried shoulder high by hefty men during the dance parade. Then five days after, the bride will be escorted to her husband’s house with claps and song at night. This is called Ame-Ikuku.
We believe you enjoyed this. More content (language, maps etc) on this tribe (Enwan) will be touched in subsequent posts. Special appreciation to the Chief O.C Daudu (Odafe of Enwan) and Evang. ’Hayioye Samuel M. (Esq) (a teacher and P.A to the Odafe) for their warm welcome and attention during the initializing stage of this research in 2015.
- Dimawoh, S. (1998). A documentary on the people of Enwan(in Akoko-Edo LGA, Edo state). Edo: Uncle Ai printers.
- Ola-lawal M.O. (2015). Theory of Negation in Enwan (Akoko-Edo). Ilorin: Unilorin (Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages) Final year Projects.