Emai People In
EMAI can be described, as the land is suitable to
human livelihood. It also means that after the
settlements of this group of people, they decided to
spread to other lands in order to acquire more land.
The history of Emai was one of unbroken successful
existence of one single soul who was brave, courageous
and such a man was Imaran.
Imaran was the first born of Prince Kuoboyuwa, the
eldest son to King Ewu, the Great of Benin. Born in
Edo (Benin City) in about 1410 AD. He became much
troubled in mind after the sudden death of his father
who died while his father, Ewu was still alive.
He subsequently found life in his grandfather's house
unbearable and decided to migrate with his entire
Prince Ima and his wife stopped at Ogulu forest and
later moved to the present site near Uokha clan. The
place was said to have been uninhabited and unclaimed
before his arrival. Here, Ima built a camp, which he
named after himself 'Eko-ima' meaning Ima's Camp.
After a long period of time, Ima was called 'Emai'.
His wife delivered a son named Uzuambi. Ima returned
to Benin and left Uzuambi in Emai.
On hearing of his father's death, Uzuambi went to
Benin to perform the burial ceremonies.
He later returned to Emai bringing with him two Benin
wives, Odidi and Oron. Odidi had three sons namely;
"Owunno, Oruamen, and Urule.
Unfortunately for the second wife, she had no child of
her own, and Odidi died and was survived by three sons
and her husband.
Oron killed the three sons of Odidi. Hence, the saying
in Emai, meaning 'Elegant legged Oron is the mother of
Important villages in Emai Clan include Uanhumi,
Afuze, Okpokhumi, Evbiamen, Ovbiowun, Ojavun, Ogute,
Eteye, Okpa and Ugboa.
Its political /economic system
In the case of Emai clan, the body that held all the
three arms of government was the central council of
The oldest man presided over these councils' meetings.
These councils usually delegated powers i.e.
legislative, executive, and judicial to the village
councils of elders. Almost all cases tried in these
village councils were minor ones. The village councils
also legislated on minor matters and their executive
powers were also very circumscribed. Major matters are
left to the central councils of elders to handle.
But customs and traditions of the people were held in
high esteem. So that legislating was in fact very rave
in the central and village councils, there are checks
and balances in the administration.
What is necessary was the preservation of the customs
and traditions of the Emais by these councils and the
people jealously guarded these.
The basis of the economy is both subsistence and
market. The patterns of production, consumption and
distribution are based on the mobilisation of the
resources. Land belongs to the community, in this case
there is also land inheritance from parents to
Various crops and trees are planted and the yields are
consumed or sold or redistributed through networks of
kins and friends.
Domestic animals such as pigs, sheep, goats are reared
in the grassy plains of Emai. These animals are very
important to the community because the animals are
used for food, also for religious and ceremonial
There are four important annual festivals in Emai:-
Agangan festival - which is celebrated by the whole of
Emai, is comparable to Egungun festivals in the Yoruba
Urule celebrates Eseokha - The origin of this festival
can be traced to its name Okha. It is a cotton tree,
which supplies materials for making mattress and
The word "Ese" means near. So 'Eseokha' means near the
After the birth of Urule, his mother became very ill
and weak. She was unable to sleep on bare mats, so a
mattress had to be made to make her have a comfortable
sleep. This is why Urule chose to observe the
anniversary of the name of the tree, which gave his
mother a sort of comfort. The annual festival of Urule
was and is still 'Eseokha'.
The celebration of Agangan , which is still being
practised last a whole day. All the people in Emai
clan except the aged and invalid participate in the
jubilation. It is like a war dance. Activities start
about noon and people in different attires walk round
the towns. Men paint their faces to look terrible.
The festival is merely celebrated to remember the dead
as a mark of final burial rites for them.
The celebration of either Okeke or Eseokha lasts for
three consecutive days. It is celebrated in honour of
newly born male children who must be within the same
age grade of three years.
Period of the Festivals
Agangan is generally celebrated around July/August,
Ukpodugborera around October/November. Eseokha is
celebrated in December and Okeke around
December/January of each year.
Religion of Emai clan
The people of Emai worship God in two different ways.
The purely local native way and the Christian way,
that is, the Emais are divided into two in religion,
the first group are those of loosely designated pagans
and the second are those arbitrarily described as the
The first group makes up five per cent of the people
of Emai while the second make up the remaining 95 per
The so-called pagans really worship God (Oiselebua)
but they do so through other gods. These other gods
may be carved gods bearing the name of "Orimiyan while
other gods have different names.
One of the essential things here is that each of the
gods has its special festival during which occasion it
During the 'Orimiyan' festival the artistically carved
images are borne by professional dancers whose
messages (whose duty it is to clear the way for them)
carrying funny images called "Okoko Bioroko" or
The surviving elders of the deceased family normally
carry out inheritance after the completion of all the
funeral rites by the children.
Caution and strict adherence to the rule of the
customs must be adopted in order to avoid disunity and
sometimes court case among the children of the
It is most important to note that all major decisions
connected with such rites are usually left to
delegates from the paternal side, while
representatives from the mother's side mainly observe.
Representatives from the maternal side are therefore
charged as customs demands to prepare the dead for
interment, in close contact with the children of the
All the properties of the deceased will be itemised
both the tangible and the intangible ones. For
instance, houses, cars farmlands, etc. The family then
moves on to the issue of sharing these and other
properties of the deceased. The first and main house,
that is, where he lived before he died and this must
be shared to the children according to seniority,
irrespective of the numbers of wives.
If the eldest child is a woman and the man has other
sons, the eldest daughter shares in the third
position. If the extended family is aware of this
fact, it must equally be respected and protected.
When property are being shared in Emai land, a lot of
heat is usually generated and so utmost care is
usually taken to avoid chaos and disunity.
Wilson discussed this topic with the Lagos Museum
Study Group, recently.