The People of Weppa Wanno of Nigeria

The People of Weppa Wanno of Nigeria

 



The people of Weppa Wanno according to history were immigrants from the old Benin kingdom led by Adaobi; one of the warriors of the then Oba Ovhorawhen the first of Benin Empire in 1509 as a result of disagreement and disputes. These people settled at the riverside of Edo state, the present day Etsako East local government, Edo north. They share a river boundary with the Igala people, Idah in Kogi state down South, Ibie towards the North axis and Uneme, Ekperi and Fugar towards East and West axis respectively.

Traditionally, the language of Weppa Wanno people is called Uwanno with over seventeen clans. These clans speak the same language and have the same cultural celebrations which include the Ukpe (New Yam festival), Akhe (Cooking Title for women) Otu (Age group festival for the male youths), Isomhi (Marriage ceremonies for the ladies) and Ukpi (Chieftaincy title for men). However, these different celebrations are guided by the laws of the land especially the Ukpe, Akhe and Otu festivals which are observed for three days with different masquerades, traditional food and dance.

As a man who grew up in the village, my experience of the Otu festival was overwhelming; ranging from temporal tattooing of the body, tying of well knitted wrapper, bare-chested and being given a carved wooden staff to initiate one into manhood. This right applies to every other male children from different families who are due for the celebration. On the third day of the celebration,  both the Odogu and Idu masquerades which are as tall as the iroko tree visit to entertain the villagers. More so, different drummers and dancers come to display their talents whilst those financially buoyant spray them money to appreciate their talents.    

Technically, growing up as a little boy in the village with my grandmother was an eye-opener; an experience worth witnessing. I am from Iviarhi, one of the clans of Weppa Wanno in Agenebode the capital of Etsako East Local government, whose people are called Weppa Wanno. Essentially, the Weppa Wannos are known for farming, hunting, fishing and business. These traditional occupations over time have contributed immensely to the development of their various communities as some parents transfer these skills to their children before their demise, others use the profit generated to sponsor their children’s education. 

Religiously, the Weppa Wanno people originally worship ‘Ise’ as their deity whose shrine is located in Agiere, one of the clans of Weppa Wanno.

However, after the advent of European and Arabian missionaries, many of the people embraced the Christian and Muslim religions which they still practice till date. Naturally the security practice which also began in the late 17th century and still unofficially practiced till date is the guild of vigilantes; a common phenomenon in all the communities of Weppa Wanno to safeguard lives and properties for the progress of the people and communities at large. Their kingship title is called Okumagbe, meaning the ‘Unifier’ of all the clans whose name is His Royal Highness George Oshiapi.

Esegbomhi (Fresh Fish Soup), Egusi (Melon Soup) with Fufu or Eba (Starch) are the traditional food of the people of Weppa Wanno till date, while Kola nuts and Aromatic dry gin are used to welcome male visitors.  Currently, Weppa Wanno is one of the most populated clan in modern day Edo state of Nigeria.

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