By DR.CHRISTOPHER.G. OKOJIE, OFR, DSc (Hon)
It will serve a useful purpose to remember right at the onset that there are two parts to every Esan district: the royal family and the common people. They were quite distinct, for nearly all the ancient ruling houses came from Benin City or its suburbs. The head of the ruling houses was and still is, the ONOJIE, who with his family, servants and brothers inhabited EGUARE, the administrative CAPITAL of the district. Another important thing an enquirer must take notice of is the use of the word BROTHER by Esan people. It can mean anything from a male blood relation to a very good friend. Secondly OBA's SON can mean a BINI and, in fact, it was recently, a common thing for any Bini, outside the city, to describe himself as the OBA's SON!
The correct name is EBHOATO.
The founder of Eguare was the youngest of OSOAH'S four principle sons, IBI, AGAAH, OSA and ATO. Ato was a man with an avid inten in hunting which made him more at home in the bush than in Eguare was its hustle and bustle which invariably brought his nerves on edge.
When he went hunting he and his colleagues used to keep the equipment and belongings in a cottage, and after hunting, they return home with their kills. As he grew more independent he spent longer day in the cottage until by the time his father died about 1520, his only strong connection with home was cut. That was the real beginning of Ate settlement. As the settlement grew its people started to think and act rather independently of Orikimi and so began to agitate for home rule. Round about 1550 Osawe installed Oloon, Ato's heir, the first Onojie of Ebhoat
1. EGUARE (Pop. 1953 - 354; 1963; 1366):
This was Ato's original settlement.
2. OGBE (563):
Has eight quarters and the over-all name is Idumu-Iyasele. The quarters were founded by various people from Uromi, Agbor and Emu became the very first settlement was founded by IYARE.
3. UHUNMOEBHO was founded by descendants of Ato, with early settlers from Agbede and Ehanlen Ewu, some thirty years after Ehanlen Oniha founders left Ehanlen Ekpoma.
4. ABHURU (1963 - 738)
This place was founded by Ohungba, one of Ato's sons. Later immigrants from Benin founded IDUNMEDO quarter (153).
In addition to the Uzebu origin of Ato's predecessors, there is cause for the strong connection between Ezomo of Benin and Ewohimi are in general , and Ewatto in part icualr . The first issue, a boy, Oba Ewuake had, called IDOVA, and the mother a woman of very low origin, came from Abhuru in Ewatto. Round about 1700 and in his teens, Idova found his way to Ewatto, where he grew up a strong and powerful leader. He later went back to Benin when his father had died and his legitimate brother had become AKENZUA I. Idova who later became IHENUA, carved a profitable name for himself in Benin history by his daring exploits in many wars. I was rewarded with the Ezomo title, a title which became hereditary in Benin right from him. As a great and influential man, Ihenua, now in Benin, did not forget the place of his childhood. His frequent reference to Ebhoato increased Akenzua I's interest in this part of Esan country and a stronger bond of friendship was superimposed upon the fact that Ezomo's Uzebu was the ancestral home of Ewohimi area.
The elders of Egbele - Ibhieramen form the Kingmakers in Eguare.
Until the arrival of the British round about 1900, Ewohimi maintains that the Onojie of Ewatto like that of Ebhosa, were sectional Enijie, under the tutelage of the Onojie of Ewohimi, and that there was no direct homage paid to the Oba by these Enijie. This was because the first Onojie of each place was installed by the Onojie of Ewohimi. These assertions were true during the early period in the history of Ewossa and Ewatto, but early in the 19th century, they were no longer true. Even by 1750 both places began to enjoy almost complete independence and after Ihenua became AkenzuaI's Ezomo, Ewatto began to find her way to Benin direct. In the case of Ewossa, Ewohimi's suzerainty came to an end when Ogbole went direct to Oba Oemwede about 1820.
Is His Royal Highness Sylvanus Osajie Ikhumhen who was known as Sylvanus Osajie Ikhumen Omenlimen as a Prince. After the death of the father - Omenlimen II on 30th October, 1980 after reigning from March, 1953 to 30th October, 1986, he performed the burial ceremonies and ascended the throne as the twelveth Onojie of Ewatto. A graduate of the Institute of Marketing, London, he was the Chairman of Lab silver (Nig.) Company Limited, a Benin-based firm dealing in scientific and laboratory equipments. He had his elementary education at St, Anthony's Catholic
School, Ewatto from 1957 to 1962 and Ishan Grammar School from 1963 - 1968. Although it is of no customary importance since it is new to Esan, his coronation took place on December 5, 1987 but he had been the Monarch of Ewatto since the demise of his illustrious father in October,
VI NON-AGGRESSION PACT:
Ewatto, by virtue of consanguinity, has been on peaceful terms with Ewohimi and Ewossa. Her traditional enemy was Ohordua. They were always at each other's throat until about 1880 when Usifo the Peaceful became the Onojie of Ewatto. He negotiated peace with Uwaifo the Peacemaker of Ohordua and an Okoven was established to forbid the sight of each other's blood.