of Onitsha began with the migration of its people from the Benin Empire
towards the end of early part of the Sixteenth Century AD. The migration
was as a result of a wave of unrest, war and displacement unleashed
by the Islamic movement from North Africa.
during their passage through the outskirts of Ile-Ife that they acquired
the name Onitsha - a corruption of the Yoruba word Orisha and Udo, the
famous shrine worshipped by the people. As time went on, the combination
of the two words, Onitsha for Orisha and Ado for Udo culminated in the
present name , Onitsha Ado.
of Onitsha left the out skirts of Ile-Ife and resettled in the Benin
Kingdom and soon established themselves as one of the clans in the Benin
Kingdom exercising all the rights and privileges attached thereon.
As a result
of a long process of acculturation in Benin, the Onitsha people jealously
guarded their acquired rights particularly with regard to their revered
suggested that the reason why the Onitsha people quarreled with Oba
Esigie, (1404-1550), of Benin was because of the slight, the Oba gave
their shrine-Udo. It was customary for newly installed Oba to pay homage
to all important Shrines in the Benin Kingdom by slaughtering a cow
in the shrines enclave. Oba Esigie failed to do this at the Onitsha
people's Udo-Shrine, hence the quarrel.
the Onitsha people several years before they got to Obior and Ilah and
finally crossed the River Niger and established Onitsha Ado. They stopped
at several places in the then Mid-West now called Delta State, places
like Agbor, Issele-Uku, etc. This explains the affinity with the inhabitants
of Delta State like Ilah, Issele-Uku, Obbaamkpa, Onitsha-Olona, Onitsha
Ugbo, Agbo, Obior, Onitsha Ukwu and so on.
Another version hold that the people of Onitsha were part of the Edo
tribe. It is for this reason that Onitsha people fondly call their town
"Onitsha Ado N'Idu" meaning Onitsha of Edo Origin. It is also
believed that the emigrants were nicknamed "Onitsha" only
after their exodus from Benin by people whose territories they marched
through, revaging all that stood in their way. The name Onitsha has
also been translated to mean dispenser. It reflects the manner the emigrants
dealt with obstacles placed on their route by adjourning towns and villages.
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