Ije people

Ije / Holi

Ije / Holi / Ohori

The Ije, Holi or Ohori are a subgroup of the Yoruba people of West Africa. The local domain of the Ohori is South-eastern Benin north of Pobè town expanding westwards to and west of the Ouémé River. Often, Ohoris, together with groups of Ifonyis, Aworis and Ketus are known collectively as 'Nagos" in Benin.

The Ije of Benin are numbering 110,000. This people group is only found in Benin. Their primary language is Ede Ije.

Geography

Ohori areas are bound by various Yoruba subgroups to the North, East and South. Egbados (Yewas) are to be found towards the East, the Ifonyis bound them to the South, while to their Northern boundary are the Ketus. They are bounded by the Gbe speaking Fon/Mahi group towards the West.

They live in the surroundings of Onigboló, in between Pobe and Ketou.

 

Culture

Not having received the influence of Christian and Muslim missionaries as their neighbors in Nigeria, the IJE is one of the last groups to continué doing facial and body tattoos and scarification.

Yoruba-IJE women are fashion conscious and have distinctive way of self-fashioning; displayed in hairstyles, dressing and body decorations such as marks paints and tattoo. Yoruba body-marks are of two major types and both are permanent.While tattooing consist on introducing color, either under the skin or on the skin surface, the scarification is done for the purpose of creating a wound that would eventually heal and form a scar. Whereas tattooing is more fashionable and ornamental, scarification tends to serve ethnic or political purposes.

Having tattoo on the body in contemporary times can be attributed to a number of reasons such as enhancing gut appeal, reinforcing positive feeling, suggesting an element of mystery, all of them connected to the ancient practice and traditions of tattooing.

The process of tattooing is often painful. A greater number of today's tattoo wears among the Yoruba-lje women did had it when they were young and were able to daré or withstand the pain involved in the process of marking.

IJe tattoos and scarifications are one of the best in Black Africa due to its perfection and extension.They are real works of art that beautify the Yoruba-lje feminine bodies and sustain their cultural heritage.

 

History

The Ohori natural environment is a naturally swampy/marshy waterlogged depression (Kumi swamp) with what could be described as adverse physical conditions, therefore the area had historically been a safe haven for people fleeing persecution from the larger entities of Ketu, Oyo and others. Because of their relative inaccessibility during the rainy season, the Ohori were considered by their neighbours to be among the most conservative Yoruba, and their speech is quite distinct. By the 19th century, Ohori area fell under an area of French colonial ambitions. Unfavorable policies by the French led to an Ohori uprising. By 1914, there was a full-scale rebellion against French rule. The rebellion was brutally crushed and Ohori-Ije the main town was totally destroyed. After that, a large population of Ohori began mass migrations to the British-ruled Nigeria to the east. By their own classifications the Ohoris can be subdivided into two groups: The Ohori-Ije who live in the great samps between Ipobe and Ketu, and the Ohori-Ketu who can be destribed as the 'drylanders'

 

Dialect

The local Ohori speech is known as Ede Ije which is mutually intelligible to speakers of other dialectal forms of Yoruba. According to Ethnologue, Ede Ije has a 91% lexical similarity with Ede Nago, and an 85% similarity with spoken Yoruba of Porto-Novo. Although even more dialectal levelling is taking place among the Ohori with increasing social and geographical mobility, as they become more exposed to more popular forms of Yoruba, as well as through increasing Education and Media exposure.

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