Olden Days Traditional Music in Ebiraland
Traditional Music: Irrespective of whatever form the traditional music takes in Ebiraland, the messages are essentially the same (details of which have earlier been treated under Echahana and Ekuechi festivals).
Few people are gifted with the talents of traditional music in each clan of Ebiraland. These rare talents have to be discovered in the child following the child to foster it Though at first, the real parents may not like the idea as soon as the talents have been discovered in their child because of the native impacts on the child’s life as a whole.
He tries to discourage him by giving him the bad sides of being a traditional musician. But somehow along the line when occasion calls; particularly when another clan traditional singer dares to sing against the clan the need to groom the child to respond to this arises. By and large, he fully uncovers himself and trains day and night as a traditional musician!
As an amateur musician, he attaches himself closely to a particular musician whose style he intends to take. He first tries to copy his songs and later starts composing his own songs in that style. He later brings innovations to this style. Later when he starts gathering fame, he may compose songs of completely new styles, and also new styles of drumming, etc are steadily introduced to match.
Depending on the chosen occupation of the traditional musician he is more often than not found singing, humming or soliloquizing songs of the past or new compositions. In those days when farming was the main occupation the Ebira to be traditional musician’s talents were normally first discovered at the farms, groomed by his fans, and later brought to stage at home during the chosen festival; depending on the nature of his talent i.e. whether it is for ‘ikede’, ‘eku irahu’ or so.
Very recent innovations in Ebira traditional music are existences of promoter’s social clubs under various guises but predominantly on clannish lines.
And on the eve of the festival itself, rehearsals are now organized for the fans to master the songs before the day. While some subtractions are made to some songs additions or complete modifications are made to others to perfect the songs during these practices. All the more reason why fans sing so fluently after the traditional singer these days with little or no amends. And with growth in population more or more traditional musicians of high repute now abound in Ebiraland.
Notable traditional musicians in Ebiraland are the following amongst others classified as follows:
- Though some of these traditional musicians are either now late or too old to have active participation they are regarded as the real custodians of our culture and the Ebira Oral history and traditions are transmitted from one generation to the other through them. 1. Eku Irahu Custodians: these include: Ododo-•, Obaji; Ada’ai Ichimiri; Ada’ai
Salawu Ovosi; Ada’ai Isa Danga; Ada’ai MomohAjagu and others.
Salawu Ovosi; Ada’ai Isa Danga; Ada’ai MomohAjagu and others.
2. Ichekene/lkede Singers: these include: Salawu Ikekere (Isungwe); Audu Adavojo (Okengwe); Sarki Avajara (Egge); Maliki Ajavara (Ihima); Ahmadu (Okaito); Audu Salami (Nagazi); Isa Ake (Kuroko); Sule Olli (Okene); Sule Adeku (Okengwe); Isa Er
omi (Ihima) Okasime (Okengwe);
(Ihima); Itopa (Kuroko); Momoh Jimoh
(Kuti); Salawu (Ofelele) and M.O. Onukoko (Ihima) among others. Notable drummers include Osivave, Jimoh (Onuvoha), Adebayo, Ireyi, etc; without them traditional music is incomplete.
3 Echori Singers: These include: Isa Enevene (lhima); Sunnonu Omechori (Ihima) and Audu Omechori (Ihima) amongst others.
4 Onyimuruweyi Singers: these include Ademi (lhima); Onyiabara (Ogaminana);
Ajoku (Kuroko) Hassana (Ihima) amongst others.
5 Ogugu/Eku Echichi Singers: these include: Maliki Ajavara (for Akoko Ihima);
Adeku Busy (for Imorimo Adavi); Raji (for Evara Ogaminana) and others.
- The Ebira lineage tracing is best obtained from the homage to each and every one of these in this regard.
- In fact, the Ebirah traditional musicians have over the ages kept a memory record of the Ebirah history. Even one of the names given to the Eku Irahu may sound strange but are quite revealing historically e.g.
- Awuruteji, Achewuru, Avotokuta, Okevere, etc. These are all Ebirah names the meanings of which are quite suggestive e.g. Ogugureba, Ezizireba, Oratauvo, Adebira, Ochebira, Ovasaraki, Avookuta, etc.
- The first style of traditional music in Ebiraland
(most probably used by Ada’ai Obaji was in the form of ‘Arigede’. Hence the name of his settlement, ‘Obangede’ (contracted from “Oba
Blacksmithing: This is a subject of great importance in the existence of Ebira people as a sovereign entity following the departure from Idah C.1550 AD Blacksmithing is a subject/occupation reserved for the Blacksmiths; popularly called “Aningere”; a people who must have migrated as loyalists of Abutu Eje all the way from Puje (today’s Wukari).
Where they were regarded as Those that migrated with the final “Abakwariga”, those that migrated with the final team who arrived Idah from Agatu were said to have settled at Ineme; South of Idah (51/2 ON, 61/2E); from where the early ones used to come to Opete on “Ohungere” market days; Ineme being pronounced “lngele” by the Igala people was also pronounced as
“Ingere” by Egbura/Ebira people. The first set that finally decided to settle at Opete was believed to have been led by Iyakize; historically said to have been persuaded by Uka, the second eldest son of Adaviriku (Ehinkoto) to settle with him and he was said to have provided him space within his “cacti” fence work; to be used as a workshop called ‘engwuhi” to avoid the inconveniences of traveling up and down on market days.
Sequel to this other kiths ånd kins joined and their growth in Ebiraland started as Ebira people (by assimilation and not by origin); freely intermarrying with the Ebiras and Participating freely in Ebira Cultural activities but their craft of Blacksmithing is their exclusive preserve and traditional occupation
Passed from generation to generation while retaining their culture in respect of marriage and burial ceremonies but their original language is now almost extinct; their younger ones having taken Ebira as lingua franca spoken in their homes,
Much later, after the 17th Century Bini Invasions, the Blacksmiths of Ekpe (Ekpedo) origin (in today’s Akoko—Edo) came into Ebiraland, From the foregoing historical treatise, the Ebira Opete group (of Ebiraland) have no blacksmiths of Ebira origin since the blacksmiths in our midst are settlers in Ebiraland; being a people of Ineme/Ekpe origin; having their language and culture quite different from ours.
Their lingua Franca is Ebira language and has been fully assimilated into the Ebira communities in our socio-political scheme of things. However, Ebira oral traditions have it that our Egbura Igu brothers are historically regarded as the “Igbirra Koton-karfe” meaning “Igbirra- Okpoto people of Iron (metal)” by the Hausa-Fulani traders, who used to come all the way from the far North to buy their locally smelted iron products; hence the town called Koton-Karfe today.
It is sometimes spelled “Koton—Karfi” meaning the “Powerful Koto” referring to what remained of the old Igu settlement after the Invasions by the Fulani and Nupe Jihadists. However, it could be inferred that the concept of the former was accepted which is maintained today in the spelling of the name of the Egbura Igu settlement.
The nomenclatures such as ‘akuru! (bellows); ‘usu’ (anvil); tapukat (tongs) etc which are typical Ebira words associated with blacksmithing tools, could not have been introduced by the Ineme/Ekpe people assimilated into the Ebira communities. In fact, these words have their roots in Ebira origin actually associated with such crafts of which some Egbura Igu stock specialized as far back as the 17th century.
Therefore the traditional technology which involved Mechanical Engineering works was exclusively reserved for the Blacksmiths in our informal educational system. It is only in Western education schools, colleges, and Universities that the modern Ebira children have acquired Mechanical Engineering knowledge.
And with the discovery of iron ores right in the heart of Ebiraland, at Itape (often misspelled as Itakpe), the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex has to be established alongside the neighborhood of the Opete settlement of our ancestral father Ada’ai Ita’azi. These establishments will go a long way to boost the industrial and technological advancements of Ebiraland.
And in the realization of the usefulness and the relevance to have the indigenous Ebiras trained in relation to these establishments, the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy has established at Osara a settlement that historically was a village in the game reserve (‘Osa’) as the name connotes.