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Sunday, November 1, 2015

ESAN CULTURAL VALUES AND PRACTICES - An Opening Remarks by High Chief Tom Ikimi At the 11th Esan Economic Empowerment Workshop @ChiefTomIkimi


ASSOCIATION OF ESAN PROFESSIONALS 11th ESAN ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT WORKSHOP 

OPENING REMARKS BY HIGH CHIEF TOM IKIMI - CHAIRMAN OF THEME DISCUSSION
ESAN CULTURAL VALUES AND PRACTICES
31st October 2015

I am greatly honored by you the President and Members of the Association of Esan Professionals for inviting me to Chair this aspect of your Esan Empowerment Workshop devoted to Esan Cultural Values and Practices.

Let me begin by appreciating the presence here today of His Excellency The Comrade Governor, Governor of Edo State who is our distinguished Special Guest . The Comrade Governor who has maintained a long and cordial link with Esan Land can today be rightly described as one of us. His installation as The Adolor of Esan Land, two years or so ago was an event of a significant display of one of our rich cultural ceremonies

In a similar vein I like to salute all our Royal Fathers gathered here today led by HRH Zaiki J.O. Eiliujierio I , the Onojie of Igueben and Okaigun of Esan Land. Your collective presence here today bears eloquent testimony that you are the true custodians of Esan Culture. I wish you all good health, long and beneficial tenures in your various domains.
I also welcome all of you distinguished delegates and guests to Igueben, the youngest of the districts in Esan land and the youngest of the Local Governments created in Esan Land in the political structure of Edo State.

We look forward to a very interesting discussion this morning on the subject of Esan Cultural Values and Practices. While it is not my intention to pre-empt the distinguished key note speakers this morning I feel obliged to categorically state my commitment to all genuine efforts at preserving and fostering the cultural values of our people. Edo State Nigeria was created on the 27th August 1991 when I was National Chairman of the National Republican Convention Party NRC, out of the former Bendel State. One of our illustrious Esan sons, one time Vice President, the late Admiral Augustus Aikhomu played a determining role in the process. His genuine intention at that time was to create an ethnic homogenous State balanced on three stable legs, the Afenmai people of Edo North, Esan people of Edo Central and the Binis of Edo South. Relying on the figures of the 2006 census as released by the National Population Commission, Edo State has a population of 3,233,366 which comprises of Edo North 955,791, Edo South 1,686,041 and Edo Central 591,534.
The historical evolution of the peoples of these three districts is inextricably intertwined.

We look forward to the two papers to be presented this morning one by Professor J E Ahiamba, Dean Faculty of Environmental studies, Ambrose Ali University and the other by Professor M O OMO-Ojugo. Believing that a people's culture and heritage is inextricably tied to her history, on my part , let me say that the Esan peoples which is our main concern at this meeting refers to the nearly six hundred thousand people of a proud heritage. They are distinctly one of the Ethnic Nationalities in our Nation of over 400 Ethnic Nationalities. While traditional accounts of the origins of Esan people sometimes based on folklore myths, usually stories told as moonlight tales, that the original people of this land fell down from the sky cannot be substantiated, I have read with interest recorded accounts by various scholars interested in the subject.

A good friend of mine, the veteran journalist, Peter Enahoro from Uromi, in his recent book "Then Spoke The Thunder" very convincingly traces the origins of the Esan people as the descendants of one IDU who emerged as the head of a hill top settlement called UHE a people who had escaped from the ravaging floods of the Benue Plateau area and sought refuge on higher ground across the River Niger thus establishing UHE in some location there around 6th Century AD. Relying among other things on the historic dating of the NOK culture which existed in that area around 1000BC, his research further records that the progenies of Idu's children and the migrants that accompanied them from Uhe are the four clans we know today as Etsako, Esan, Bini and Urhobo inhabiting Edo and Delta States in former Midwestern Nigeria. Idu,s second grand son, Esan n' Obhiodu (Esan The Bravest) whose mother Ehi was Idu's third daughter, is the eponimous ancestor of the Esan Clan. Akka died in a place we know today as Irrua sometime early in the Seventh Century AD. His nephew, Esan n' Obhiodu chose to remain in the place where his uncle Aka was buried. He told his younger uncles. "Irru' uwa"-" I am home- Comfortable here". Irrua became the nucleate home from which the Esan people evolved. However there are those who may choose to rely on accounts recorded of the large group that broke away or escaped from Benin in the middle of the fifteenth century during the reign of Oba Ewuare as the origin of Esan people. That movement known then as ESANFUA literally translated meaning "JUMPED OFF" has over the years been shortened to ESAN and eventually corrupted by colonial masters to ISHAN. I am sure many of you may be conversant with this story.

The two presentations today according to the program do not deal with the origins of the Esan people. I believe that a realistic settlement of our peoples' historical origin is fundamental to putting her culture and heritage in proper perspective.
Having now seen some accounts of our peoples origin one dating back to the 6th century AD and the other to the 15th century, I strongly believe that investing in a detailed and thorough research of the origin of the Esan people is now an urgent project.

The Esan peoples culture and tradition expressed most times through the celebration of feasts, festivals and masquerades is a distinct component of our heritage. Significant occassions including the coronation of our traditional rulers, the appeasing of Gods and Goddesses, the initiation of men and women into age grades or merely as traditional get together events have set patterns that need to be recorded and preserved.

In this regard the Esan music and dance needs to be researched, developed and choreographed. Similarly Esan Architecture, Dress mode and jewelry need to be researched and documented. I therefore congratulate your organization for the extensive work I understand you have done recently to research into Esan cultural values particularly language, music, dance and ceremonial practices and to package her rich cultural heritage for posterity.

Esan land is as big as some entire independent nations in the world and so the language of its people handed down for centuries cannot be ignored as has been done by those who mischievously claim that Nigeria has only three languages.

This event is being held on the occasion of your 11th Esan Economic Empowerment Workshop, I should urge you to continue to maintain unity and commitment to the lofty ideals of your organization so that it may continue to grow from strength to strength and so contribute its viable quota to the development of not only Esan Land but Edo State and Nigeria.
I wish you all a very successful and exciting meeting.


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