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!
Ekekhenlen is derived from two words, Eko meaning Camp and EKHENLEN meaning traders. The founders headed by OMOKHUA, were Binis trading to Esan. These particular traders dealt with Igueben, Ugbegun, UDO etc. Between 1890 and 1895 during the reign of Oba Ovonramwen many of these traders rested at Camps which they built at this spot before fanning out to sell their wares. The land on which these huts were built were originally Igueben's. Round about 1915 when slavery abolition really began to have meaning in Benin and Esan, many emancipated men and women in confused attempts to make out their homes in Esan landed at Ekekhenlen and never got beyond there.
Till this day the dialect spoken in this village is Bini - Ekekhen has always from its inception been administered as a part of Igueben. The 1963 population figure of 10, 897 for Igueben included the 1,553 population of Ekekhenlen.