By Dr Christopher G. Okojie

The Traditional ruler known to Esan people is the Onojie (THE KING). Each was lord supreme of his community, owing allegiance only to the Oba of Benin before the advent of the British in 1900.

Out of respect, he was never called by name but referred to as ERAMEN (My Father); his children were known as IBHIERANMEN or IMIERANMEN (the children of my Father). In some parts of Esan the Onojie was known as ERAMAN, (Our Father) sounding a bit too much like Etsako!

After the introduction of Islam particularly to Irrua in 1897 the word ZAKI which is Hausa for Lion, was introduced and today every Esan Onojie is addressed as ZAKI, although the Hausas call their King Sarki which maybe what ended in Esan as Zaki. This over the years had eclipsed the usual Esan word ERAMEN, which is a pity. With so many Natural Rulers not only in Esan but all over the country being addressed as HIS HIGHNESS or even HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS after the British left, these royal appellations are not only foreign but hackneyed. Many Enijie are now trying to get something more original and befitting an Esan Ruler. It is a well considered opinion that ERAMEN is not only customary but respectable enough and Esan should go back to it like the Binis with their Omo N'ObaUku Akpolokpolo. No other Benin Chief dare use it.

Thus - Eramen Ehizojie,Onojie of Ogwa, or
Eramen Osifoh II, Onojie of Ewohimi.

No Esan chief whether hereditary or of the THANK-YOU type can be so addressed. This is better than being regaled in a foreign tongue with LION or worse still, SARKI or Zaki.


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