Olu Ginuwa: The Untold story of a Disowned Son of Oba Olua of Benin Kingdom
Olu Ginuwa also known as Iginuwa is the ancestor of the ITSEKIRIS, was a disowned son of Oba Olua of Benin. As a result, in 1480, Iginuwa was sent away from his home in Benin City and wandered to an unspecified location in the swampy forest regions around the Benin River.
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By a stroke of fate, he was picked up by the Ijaws of that region in their evil forest, referred to as “SEIKIRI.”
The Ijaws, in their usual act of kindness, provided transportation for Iginuwa and his entourage, numbering about seventy people, all men, across the river to the Ijaws’ homeland of AMATU. This is the settlement where Iginuwa and his entourage underwent their first rehabilitation.<
This view is supported by the account given by a British national and former professor of history at the University of Ibadan, Professor Allan Ryder, in his book titled “Benin and the Europeans, 1485–1897″.
Tradition relates that Olua’s eldest son, Iginuwa, became extremely unpopular in Benin, where it was made clear that he would not be accepted as Oba,” says chapter one, page 13.
His father, therefore, sent him off into the swamp forest around the Benin River. Around this wandering band formed the embryonic Itsekiri Kingdom… “.
Note that the reference is to the Itsekiri Kingdom and not the Warri Kingdom. More revelations were made in another book titled “History of the Itsekiri,” written by renowned Itsekiri historian William A. Moore.
“Prior to the arrival of Benin Prince Iginuwa, the territory now known as the Kingdom of ITSEKIRI or IWERE was inhabited by three tribes: the Ijaws, Sobos, and Mahims,” he wrote.
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The most populous among them were the Sobos ( URHOBOS) . They (Sobos) occupied the hinterland while the Ijaws occupied the coastline and the Mahims squatted on the seashore near the Benin River.
Prince Ginuwa ( Olu Ginuwa )
Prince Ginuwa first landed at Amatu, where he squatted for about three decades. He moved to Oruselemo, where he married an Ijaw woman named Derumo.
After several years of staying at Oruselemo, a dispute arose between him and the Ijaws of Gulani (Ogulagha) on account of the woman, Derumo, who was killed by him. He therefore moved to Ijala, where he later died, and Ijijen (Ijeyem), his senior son, took his place. Hence, Ijala is held to be the Olu’s burial ground by the Itsekiri.
Ijijen led the entourage from Ijala to Iwere, or Ale-ode-Itsekiri…. The settlement at Ode-Itsekiri, the Itsekiris’ ancestral homeland, took place around 1520AD.
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Olu Ginuwa Ijaw Version
Iginuwa and his servants have been picked up in that portion of the forest known to the Ijaws as’ evil-land‘ and were aptly named by the Ijaws as” SEIKIRI-OTU“, meaning people from the ‘evil-land’. “SEI” means “EVIL” in the Ijaw language, while “KIRI” means “LAND” and “OTU” means “PEOPLE.”Ijaw compound words that are descriptive of land that some of the readers would recognize are: AMAKIRI, BOROKIRI, TORUKIRI, TARAKIRI, DAUKIRI, etc. With the passage of time, SEIKIRI-OTU became adulterated to ITSEKIRI by the non-indigenes, but the Ijaws, to-date, still maintain the usage of SEIKIRI-OTU in reference to the descendants of Iginuwa. Thus, ITSEKIRI is not a derivative of either an Edo (Bini) or Yoruba language, but of an Ijaw word that underwent an innocent transformation.
Olu Ginuwa (also known as Iginuwa) was the first Olu of Warri. He was the eldest son of Oba Olua, the 14th Oba of Benin
# Olu Ginuwa