Edo N’ekue Phenomenon: A Study in Pre-colonial Benin Imperialism and its Impact on Akure, Ikere and other Communities
AbstractMost societies in pre-colonial times experienced one form of relationship or the other with their neighbours. More often than not, these relationships came in form of commercial, cultural and political relations. Characteristic of these relations were intermarriages, linguistic borrowings and other interactions dictated by the needs of the societies involved. In the case of pre-colonial Benin and some parts of Eastern Yoruba land, their relations always ran against the tide. But the issue for consideration here is not so much of the contradictory nature of these relations, but the preponderance of the Benin influence on virtually all aspects of the existence of the communities in focus. This study is necessitated by the need to straighten the record that the relations that once existed between the Benin and these Eastern Yoruba towns were purely commercial, and that the Benin elements in these communities are war captives. The paper interrogates the pervasiveness of the Benin socio-cultural and political influence particularly on Akure and Ikere. It seeks to investigate the circumstances for instance, where a Benin representative became a king and established a dynasty in Ikere where Benin elements had overwhelming influence and power under a recognized ruler not answerable to the Onikere of Ikere (King of Ikere); and in Akure where the Benin ‘ambassador’ acts like a potentate in Akure. The piece also seeks an explanation to the avalanche of titles of Benin origin found today in not only Akure, Owo and Ado but also in Ita-Ogbolu, Igbara-Oke, etc. The paper concludes, based on copious empirical evidence, that most communities and towns under review must have been for years, under the Benin suzerainty during which time,
the Benin foisted its socio political influence on them, before the vast empire became too unwieldy to be administered by the central administration.