THE EVOLVEMENT OF NUPE AND PRE-FULANI PREIOD.
Attahiru Fadlu-rahman Manga
The nupes have been known to be living as a community and ethnic group since early 13th to 14 century as history has it. Ibn batuta (1380) as an explorer and adventurer travelled to nupe land and spoke of them as a very prosperous people who lived in the mediaeval period and with well-defined and articulative culture.
At the collapse of their early great empire, they became kingdomless, the nupe scattered and split into so many groups which some of then occupied the lower Niger valley in Nigeria, had continued to be dominated by other clans that usually defeated them in the wars fought. Their tormentors at that period were their immediate neighbours which included the Yorubas, the Jukuns, and of course the Igalas. Varies of collection regarding on how they were subjected to maltreatment by their subjugators.
Then an opportunity they have been longing for came for them to live as a vassal entity under the tutelage of igala kingdom. This happened at Nku village. At that time, the Binis were united in Confederacy under the chief of Nku and since Nupes were then tributary to the Attah (King) of igala at idah, tributes were paid in slaves to the king by Nupes and other subordinates.
Along the line, it so happened that the Prince of igala once went hunting to Nku village in nupe kingdom predominantly. While at Nku he met and fell in love with the daughter of the chief of Nku, a young beautiful lady whom he lived with for a while, until when the news got to him that his father the (king) is dead and he had to leave for Idah for succession of the throne. But before he left, he had realised that the daughter of the chief of Nku whom he was with, was pregnant for him. Regarding to that, he left in her possession some valuable items of his, with which to recognise his unborn child in future. These included a chain, a piece of cloth etc.
In a jiffy time the child was born and ‘Edegi’ as a name is been given to him; the name which was derived from the piece of cloth left to her mother by his father before he left. The early nupe history as an ethnic group, gyrates and revolves around he (Edegi) as their cultural hero and mythical founder of the first nupe kingdom.
In a jiffy time, the old chief of Nku village who was his mother’s father died and his descendant, who happened to be Edegi’s maternal uncle succeeded him and became the chief of Nku. Time went on, and Edegi became 30years of age. His maternal uncle who was the new chief sent him and others as a slave to Idah. On their arrival at Idah, the Attah the (king) recognised his son among the new slaves by the chain he put on. Hence, Attah (king) welcomed him into his house, kept him closer to him self and rain him with love, treated him almost like his legitimate son.
The male children of Attah the(king) soon became envious towards their half brother after they realised their father’s tremendous and enormous love and affection for him. They considered him as a threat to them and to their birthright in the future. And so, they concluded planned to abate their father’s unabated love for him. They therefore began their hatred toward him and posed cunning opposition to hin by bidding it to public that he was a gold digger and he is after all the wealth their father had accumulated and he’s an illegal prince of igala as their father did not officially marry his mother.
Along the line, Attah the (king) fell sick for which no one could provide a cure. The court (majalisa) diviner prophesied that he could only recuperate from this cunning illness with a fruit to be plucked by one man from an evil forest filled with witches and wizards. All Attah’s the (king) so called legitimate sons were compel to get the fruit but their efforts one after the other proved abortive and in futile as none of them could undertake the such hazardous journey to the forest to get the fruit.
In the hopeless time, Edegi was called upon, been given a chance reluctant to make an attempt, he undertook the journey to the forest and succeeded in getting the fruit used to cure their father the (king) illness and also surmounted all the cunning spirits he had encountered on the journey and in the forest.
After the King’s reinstatement, Edegi’s bravery and determination get him more endeared to the Attah (king) and also added to his credit a honour and respect in the court (majalisa). Unfortunately, all this credits attributed to him didn’t go down well with his half brothers which altering to jealousy and severe hatred.
Hence, Attah the ( king) foresaw his death nearer, he called Edegi and advised him to go back to his mother land Nku. He suspected that after his death, Edegi’s half brothers would do everything humanly possible to decimate him and make his presence become inexistence and as such, he felt that his planned on advising him to go back to his mother’s land would help ward off a foreseeing serious clash between Edegi and his half brothers. So Attah helped Edegi in his voyage, gave him all kinds of riches and bestowed on him various insignia of kingship. These comprised, a bronze canoe manned by twelve nupe slaves, the long bronze trumpet (kakati) stills the symbol of the kings in nupe land and drums beautified with brass bells.
Edegi, having all these in his possession sets out on his voyage to nupe land. It said that on his way having been far, when he’s half brothers got to know about His trip and they went after him in a hot pursuit but he ‘Edegi’ used his braveness to escape them. He hid at Eggan village till his pursuers got tired of their fruitless chase and returned to Idah. On the way, two men helped him and he later rewarded them by making them chiefs and second in command in ‘kyadya’.
Edegi and his men left the canoe and suck it in the river at Eggan. It said that, people of Eggan still perform annual sacrifice on the spot where it’s believed Edegi’s canoe was sunk and during the ceremony, they always claim they could see the bright bronze of the canoe glitter in the water. Edegi later arrived at the nearby village called ‘Nupeko’, killed the chief and made him self the chief there. He also conquered Nku his mothers land and gathered people together to lead them against there aggressors. With their victory assured, he made himself the ruler of all the binis and assumed the title of Etsu. Thus, he became known as -Tsoede- which was contracted to form of Etsu-Edegi or pre-suffix as ‘Tsu-ede. He also made the twelve Who had accompanied him from Idah the chiefs of the twelve towns of Bini and bestowed on then the sacred insignia of chieftaincy (brass and bangles and magic chains). the present chief of bini claim descent from these twelve men.
To be continue! The arrival of the Fulani and their dynasty