This long essay deals
with the study of Morphology in Uneme. i.e the study of how words are formed in
The speakers of Uneme
are found in Edo state. The language speakers can also be found in Okene area
of Kogi State. The other names for the people are Uneme Ineme and Ileme.
According to the
informant, it was believed that the name Uneme was derived from Oba Eweka’s
first child who happened to be a female named INE-EMI meaning “it is not forbidden to
have a female as ones first child” whom is believed to be the mother ancestor
of the people.
According to Hakeem
(2003: 279), Edo State is found in the mid-western part of Nigeria. The Uneme
people inhabit a number of villages in the northern and south-eastern part of
Kukuruku division. The speakers of Uneme are found in the northern part of Edo
state which is located between latitudes 6⁰
45 N – 7⁰
35 N and longitudes 5⁰
55 E, 6⁰ 45 E. Akoko Edo is bounded in the
North by the present Kwara state and parts of the present Kogi state, in the
north-west by the present Ondo state in the south-east by both Etsako west and
Etsako north in the south-west by Owan.Etsako local government central is
located in the heart of Etsako land. It is bounded in the west by the Etsako
West Local Government, in the east by Etsako East Local Government in the north
by Okene and in the south by Esan territory.
Also according to
Aigbokhaleode (1991:8), Uneme North consists of the following communities Uneme
Akpama, Uneme Nekhua, Uneme Ekpedo Uneme Erhurun and Uneme Aki-Osu. While Uneme
in the south are Uneme Uzanu Uneme Imiava, Uneme Anegbette, Uneme Udochi Uneme
Oghomezie andUneme Ukpekho. This chapter being the introductory chapter will be
discussing the historical background of the speakers, the geographical
location, the people, Genetic classification, etc.
According to my
informant the Uneme people originated from Ile-ife in Osun state. There was a
time the Benin’s did not want the natives to rule them so they sent a message
to Oduduwa the ruler of Ile-ife appealing to him to send one of his sons to be
their ruler. The request was granted and Prince Oranmiyan in the company of his
friend Ogundare was sent to Benin. In Benin, Oranmiyan got married to Esimonde
who bore him a son named Prince Eweka.
ruling the Benins until the period that he discovered that the Benins were
difficult to rule. When Oranmiyan found out that they were difficult to rule;
he returned to Ile ife leaving Ogundare and Prince Eweka who later became heir
to the throne with the title Oba Eweka 1 of Benin.
friend also got married to a Benin woman who gave birth to a child named Ogun.
Ogun also got married and gave birth to a son named Ogunola. Prince Eweka also
became matured and got married and gave birth to a beautiful girl as the first
child named INI-EMI, whom has been mentioned earlier to be the mother ancestor
of the Uneme people. It was from her name the Uneme people got the name Uneme
from. Ogundare’s great grandson Ogunola then got married to INE-EMI who now
gave birth to the descendants of Uneme people.
The Uneme people are
immigrants from Benin. They left Benin because of the problem that arose as a
result of chieftaincy rift between two brothers in the royal house of Benin
kingdom, which led to a war that was so tense that everybody started fleeing.
The main Uneme
speakers are the Anegbette, Uzanu, Udochi, and Ologua. According to the
Informant, we were told that these people that spoke Uneme all came from the
same father and mother before they broke up into different communities that
spoke Uneme. Each community now developed into a larger community which now
lived as towns. These towns as mentioned earlier are Uzanu, Anegbette, Udochi
and Ologua.These four brothers migrated from Benin because of the war between
the two brothers that wanted to become king in Benin. The four brothers settled
in a place called Ugbebu. As these four brothers who formed an independent
community grew bigger, there arose a quarrel between two of the brothers
Anegbette and Uzanu. As a result of this quarrel, the Uzanu had to move to
Etsako East and Anegbette to Etsako Central. The war continued for a longer
period and Uzanu was having the upper hand and along the line one of the
Anegbette said they should send him to Bida to the Nupe people for assistance.
The request was granted and the man eventually left, but since there were no
vehicles at that time he had to go by foot.
Later on the war at
home was settled, meanwhile the man spent years trying to learn the Nupe
language, he got married and had children before he was known and allowed to
meet the Oba of Nupe. On getting to the king of Nupe, he explained the reason
why He was there to see Him. He told the king that some people are fighting his
own people (kinsmen) and they needed the assistance of the Nupe warriors in
their own war. As said earlier the people at home had settled the war and were
no longer fighting, by the time he got home with the Nupe warriors, there was
no war to fight. They went to meet Oriola who is the head of the Anegbette then.
Oriola said the Uzanu and Anegbette are now friends and can not kill each other
again (Oriola is the ceremonial president and the Olotu is the prime minister )
and that there was no need for war again, but the warriors that were brought
will not want to go back without anything. process the Nupe warriors told the
Anegbette to divide their land into two and the half be given In the to them
and that Anegbette should retain the other half, but Oriola refused and said it
was not possible, to him the only thing he can do is to release them to go into
battle with the Uzanu, but the Uzanu were not ready for war because they were
not expecting any war. The invaders came and invaded Uzanu, the invaders were
almost prevailing before their king (uzanu) who is known as “Iyema” decided
that Uzanu should flee from the portion, so the Uzanu fled and left. Before
they could know it the whole Etsako was affected by the invaders and they all
fled to different places that’s is why we have the Anegbette where they are now
and Uzanu were they are .
The following could
be observed among the Uneme. The language Uneme is used as a means of communication in the market and
it is also used in teaching in primary schools.
The Uneme people are
united by common traditions of origin. Their traditional craft as smith in
their dialects and in other social and cultural features. They are well known
for blacksmithing, casting of bronze, ornament, selling and manufacturing of
war weapons used for security purposes. In addition to these occupations the
southern Uneme engaged in fishing and trading in the Niger creeks while the
northern Uneme engage in farming and oil palm production.
The peoples favorite
food is pounded yam called ema with melon soup called usomhikpigba. Their best native attire for
women is blouse and wrapper while the men dress in buba and sokoto.
The people indulge in
traditional and religious practices such as sacrifice to ancestors and
initiation of boys and girls into manhood and womanhood respectively. They
believe in supreme being whom they call “osanobular” meaning God the creator.
It is believed that the supreme being cannot be communicated with directly,
except through the ancestors who act as link between the supreme being and the
people. It is also believed that the Almighty God hears and answers prayer
through ones ancestors.
The people of Uneme
engage themselves in craft works like blacksmithing, casting of bronze and
ornament, selling and production of weapons. They also engage in farming and
trading and they also engage in oil palm production and selling of iron
The Uneme people come
together to celebrate so many festivals, such as ogun festival Ukpekinimi
festival, New yam festival and ukpekema festival.
Ogun festival is the
festival of the god of iron while ukpekinimi is the festival of masquerades which
is celebrated twenty one days before the new yam festival. The celebration
comes up between the month of July and September of every year. Since they are
predominantly farmers, this festival precedes the incoming of the new yam.
During the celebration, they use the old yam for the celebration after which
they are now free to eat the new yam.