JUST A BRIEF ON THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE IGBO,YORUBA AND IJAWS IN THE EARLY 1500s
𝐄𝐬𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐝𝐨 𝐝𝐞 𝐒𝐢𝐭𝐮 𝐎𝐫𝐛𝐢𝐬 by Duarte Pacheco Pereira, which was completed by 1508, speaks of the Ijo group of peoples, the Yoruba, and the Igbo of southern Nigeria but no mention of the Bini ethnic group under any name. It is likely that at the time, the identity of the people now known as ‘Bini’ was still being formed among the various refugees who settled the people of Udo and Idu.
As for the name “Benin”, there was the region Benin and the city called Benin City but known as Udo by its natives. Udo was an Olukumi-Yoruba kingdom. The name Benin is Latin and was given by the Portuguese as a name for the region and a nickname given to Udo, the city they termed the capital of the region.
The name “Bini” was coined by the British from the name Benin and given to the Edoid group we now know as Bini in the 1800s. People mix up the two terms and this is where the confusion comes in. Also for clarity purposes, the Benin City mentioned by Pancheco Pereira is not modern day Benin City.
Esmeraldo de Situ Orbis mentions the Yoruba, Igbo, and Ijaw group of people as thus:
𝐈𝐣𝐞𝐛𝐮-𝐘𝐨𝐫𝐮𝐛𝐚: In the book, the name Ijebu was written as Geebu. In Portuguese, just as with some words in English, the /ge/ or /gi/ make a sound similar to the English ‘J’ sound. So here the name in English would be spelled as “Jebu”. In this same note about the Ijebu, it states that at the time, the ruler of this kingdom was known as Awujale [spelled Agusale]. (Page 124)
𝐒̣𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐨: The journal mentions the Yoruba demigod Orisa Ṣango as being a king who lived in the interior, east of the Great Benin (Udo). Of course that is in the direction of Old Oyo and the original Ife. The name Ṣango was spelled as Liçosaguou, which is Lisa Sagoe or Orisa Ṣango. Sango was known as Lisa Sagoe to the Ewes, who through their own tradition was living in Nigeria at the time. (Page 126)
𝐈𝐠𝐛𝐨: The people identified as “Opuu” in the journal who were said to be one of the peoples who lived towards the source of the Rio Fermoso (Benin River) and had an abundance of pepper and ivory in the land are identified by pre-colonial and colonial sources as being Igbo people. Some identifying them particularly with Aboh. (Page 127)
𝐈𝐣𝐚𝐰: The Ijaws are mentioned in the journal under the name “Jos” and are described as a warlike people who lived in a large country. (Page 129)