Owan People

History of Owan

The Owan people belong to the Edo-speaking sub-ethnic group in the present-day Owan East and Owan West Local Government areas in Edo State, Nigeria. They are a part of the Edo North Senatorial District.  The area geographically lie along longitude 6°E and Latitude 7°N. Owan is bounded in the North by Akoko- Edo sub-ethnic group, in the South by The Bini and Esan sub-ethnic groups, in the East by Etsako sub-ethnic group and in the West by the Yorubaland.

Some of their founders are said to have been expelled from Benin at one time or another. One of the founders, Oba Ozolua (Prince Okpame) took refuge in Uokha when he was banished from Benin in 1473. It was from Uokha that he founded Ora whose people are still referred to as Ivbi-Ozolua or the “children of Ozolua” to this day. Prince Okpame also founded Uzebba and when he returned to Benin to become Oba Ozolua, he left one of his sons Oguan at Ora.

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Owan is today made up of eleven clans, namely : Emai, Evboi-Mion, Igue (lgwe), Ihievbe (Sebe), lkao, Iuleha, Ivbi-Ada-Obi, Ora, Otuo, Ozalla and Uokha. All the people of Owan migrated from Benin at various times. except for lkao which claims to be of Yoruba origin.

The name Owan was said to have been derived from River Owan, the longest river in the area. According to history which has been passed down through generations, the name Owan is the abbreviation of Onwanvbua, which means one who makes merry in affluence. Onwanvbua was an Ora woman who got married ¡to an Otuo man. She built great wealth through hard work and entrepreneurship but unfortunately was unable to bear any children, something that attracted negative attention in those days. When she died after a protracted illness, her corpse was not returned to her place of origin as was the custom in the culture. As the corpse decomposed, it turned into a spring spiritually cleansed and patriotically moved, beginning as Usobua stream at Iyen Otuo and finding its way through appropriate lowlands before arriving Uhonmora village her place of origin. in great volume to bid her kinsmen farewell before joining river Osse.. The people took up her name of Owan to immortalize her for her doggedness and determination, even in death.

Owan is considered a food basket as the people are mostly farmers in food crops like, yams, plantain, cassava and maize. Cash crops like Cocoa thrive in the area and this is why a branch of Federal Government-established Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria was situated in Uhonmora-Ora.

There are many tourist attractions in Owan including, the Giant Footprint of Ukhuse Oke, according to Wikipedia, “between a village called Ukhuse-oke and Ukhuseosi lies this distinct footprints of a prehistoric giant that are embedded permanently on flat granite rocks it is believed that the footprints were made when the world was still in its molten state. It presents a challenge for archaeologists and anthropologist.