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Interesting facts about Edumoga people of Benue State

Written By Idoma Television on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 | 1:18:00 AM

Somewhere on the plain south-west of River Benue, about 140 kilometres from Makurdi, the Benue State capital, sits the township of Edumoga, one of the three districts of Okpokwu local government area of Benue State; the other two being Okpoga (the local government headquarters) and Ichama.

To its northern end lies Ochobo in Otukpo local government area, on its southern end lies Otukpa in Ogbadibo local government area. Okpoga is to its east, while Olamaboro community (in Kogi State) is to the west.

Edumoga is one of the largest districts in Nigeria, with several wards; among which are Amejo, Okonobo, Ugbokolo, Eke, Ojigo and several villages. It is an extensive plain traversed by streams. It is well known that the local government derived its name from the River Okpokwu.

The major tribe her are the Edumoga-dialect people (who are a part of the Idoma nation). History

The name ‘Edumoga’, is said to be a coinage from a combination of Edeh, who is regarded as the forefather and founder of the settlement, and that of his son, Oga. 

According to legend, Iduh, who is believed to be the forefather of the Idomas, due to the pressures of Northern invaders during the ‘horse wars’ of the 15th and 16th centuries, migrated southward and settled on the present Idoma land. One of his offspring, Edeh, begot Oga. The sons of Oga – Adatanwata, Ekeh and Abah – each established his own family settlement within the locality, and they grew to become the first citizens of Edumoga. The locals began to refer to the place as Ede no m’Oga (meaning, ‘Ede who gave birth to Oga’)”. Over time, it was modified to Edumoga. To this day, the locals of this place hail themselves with the slogan ‘Edeh!’That said, Edumoga has been in existence for almost a century and-a-half.

Edumoga is known for its hospitality, especially towards strangers. It is the practice of the people to welcome and treat strangers with lavished love. For this reason, people of neighbouring towns refer to them as “okploda le yoga” (‘those who go borrowing in order to take care of people’).

Political organisation
Edumoga is a chiefdom governed by a traditional ruler who is addressed as Och’Edumoga. The headquarters of the chiefdom is Olanyega, one of the villages which constitute Edumoga township. Each of the villages has a village head called Ijachi, who runs its affairs. Although the post of Och’Edumoga was held in high esteem for years, modernity seems to have eroded the culture of paying homage to the chief and the degree of power which comes with the office.

The first Och’Edumoga was said to be Adogobeche, who happened to be the forefather and founder of one of Ogene-Amejo, one of the villages on the south-eastern axis of Edumoga. However, following series of tussle over the seat and what appeared to be loss of power and control by the last Och’Edumoga, Chief Daniel Adulugba, no other chief has been appointed for years. 

Usually, people who vie for the seat come from among the king makers who have been close to the palace for a considerable period of time and have acquired the requisite experience. A new chief emerges after the kingmakers’ meeting and then he is given the symbols of authority and recognition by the Och’Idoma, the grand Chief of the Idoma nation.

Socio-cultural living
The rich cultural heritage of the people is one that is, arguably, unequalled elsewhere in the world. This is most reflected in their festivals and ceremonies, namely; Ejalekwu (an annual feast of the ancestors), Achomuduje (New Yam Festival, also an annual event), marriages, christenings, funerals, etc. During such occasions, various aspects of the people’s culture –oral tradition, dance, eating habit, social relationship, etc. are observed.

Achomuduje, the New Yam Festival, is very important and dear to the people of Edumoga, despite the helpless encroachment on the people’s culture by modernism and religion. Since yam is the chief food crop of the people, Achomuduje is held once every year during the yam harvest period, usually between late August to early September, on a day to be agreed upon by the council of elders, as thanksgiving to the ancestral gods (just like in ancient times) for successful planning and harvesting in the out-going season. This festival signals the commencement of the consumption of the new yam and families slaughter animals (goats, cattle and other edible ruminants) to make the ogbono or egusi soup to be eaten with the pounded yam.

The major occupation of the Edumoga people is farming, though it is the subsistent type. A variety of crops, ranging from cereals and legumes to roots and tubers, are grown here. Since yam is the staple food which is not primarily grown for sale, cassava (a root crop) serves as the major economic crop. Hence, it is cultivated on a larger scale. From this, garri (the grainy food), akpu and alebo are made.

Edumoga has two markets, namely; Afor (the main market in Odessassa-Ugbokolo on the south-western end) and Ekeh (on the north-western end) all of which are held once in five days. So much buying and selling goes on here and the people are patronised by traders from far and near.

The foremost commercial town is Odessassa-Ugbokolo where the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, is located.

In spite of its size, though, Edumoga is hardly as developed as it should be. It has not benefitted from much from government in terms of provision of social amenities and basic infrastructure.

The poor state of its roads has remained a huge challenge for its commercial and economic development, as goods are hardly conveyed from the farms to the markets without huge losses. Even the farming, which is the economic mainstay of the people, is still practiced at the peasant level with manual labour and crude tools. Community efforts have been the major source of development in the land.

But these things have hardly eroded the pride of the people of Edumoga. They take solace in the fact that they have produced some illustrious sons and daughters, among who are; the Minister of Interior Comrade Abba Moro, former Federal House of Representatives member David Idoko, former Senate President Senator Ameh Ebute, executive director of Nigeria Export Promotion Council David Adulugba, national project coordinator of the Federal Ministry of Education Professor Michael Umale Adikwu, popular music star Innocent ‘2Face’ Idibia and a host of others.

By Adah Abah

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