Understanding The ‘Warri’ ‘Itsekiri’ Name Pattern.
For more than 400 years after the founding of Warri Kingdom, our forefathers, ancestors and historians where completely aware of the difference between the name “Warri” and “Itsekiri” but in the last 70+ years these names have been used interchangeably like one is synonymous with the other.
This mistake of using one of the names for the other is becoming very common among people in recent times.
Let’s take a look at the various set of names that falls into Itsekiri and Iwere, and their correct usage.
The word Itsekiri
The word Itsekiri has the following variations;
The word Iwere
The word Iwere has the following variations;
12. Iwere > Iwerrian ( People of)
Usage of The Two Set of words
Usage of Iwere
Iwere refers to the land and kingdom. As in the usage Ale Iwere which means the Land of Iwere. The people in the kingdom are not called Iwere but can be referred to as Iwerrian, as did by Landolphe (see 11-1786 Capitaine Landolphe)
The Word Iwere and its variants have appeared in Maps as early as the1600 ( Check Maps 1a-c. Above). This is an attestation that Iwere and Warri refers to the land and not the person. There are a few maps where Itsekiri appear (Chec map 2 Below) but these are maps that show the people in that area not the land or kingdom.
Iwere which is also Warri today, refers to the Kingdom and the whole land within the three Warri Local Government areas of Delta State. Ale Iwere is the land and Warri City is just a small segment of the entire Warri Kingdom, note that we also have Big Warri (Ode Itsekiri).
This is the reason the king (Olu of Warri) has always been known as such for more than 500 years. See 1620 Pedro da Cunho: Ad limina report, 27-9-1584 Diogo da Encarnação: Appeal for priests and 1600 ff. Story of Dom Domingos, Prince of Warri @ http://www.dhspriory.org/kenny/DHdefault.htm.
The Usage of Itsekiri
Itsekiri refers to the CITIZENS OF IWERE KINGDOM, it is always used to refer to the people of Iwere nation. All the various variations of Itsekiri refers to the people. Before now the word Itsekiri had never been used to refer to the kingdom but to the people of Warri kingdom. This means that the word “Itsekiri Kingdom” is totally wrong. It got no antiquitic( From Antiquity – Before the coming of British or colonial masters) usage.
The use of the word Itsekiri Kingdom is like using YORUBA KINGDOM to refer to The kingdom of Lagos. The kingdom of Ife or The Kingdom of Oyo. Although their inhabitants are Yoruba, they have their distinct kingdom which is totally different from the name of the people or their language.
Next time you hear someone talking about Itsekiri Kingdom, be confident to correct them that it is Warri Kingdom or Ale Iwere and that the indigenous people are called Oma Iwere or Itsekiri. Oma Iwere literally means child of Iwere (Warri) which we now say in pidgin Warri pikin
Thanks To Mr. Mofe Oteri for editing this article.