Itsekiri are characterized by class and uniqueness but also with a different kind of peculiarity.
The Itsekiris are closely related to the Yoruba of South Western Nigeria and more widely to the Urhobo and Edo peoples.
Undoubtedly, the rich traditional and cultural heritage of the Itsekiris is as a result of an evolution brought about by a hybrid of cultures.
Below are five things to know about the Itsekiris
1. The Itsekiris have one of the oldest histories of western education in West Africa and are noted for producing one of its earliest university graduates, the Olu of Warri Kingdom, Olu Atuwatse I, Dom Domingo, a 17th-century graduate of Coimbra University in Portugal.
2. Before the introduction of Christianity in the 16th century like many other African groups, the Itsekiris followed a traditional form of religion known as Ebura-tsitse, an ancestral worship which has become embedded in traditional Itsekiri culture.
3. The Itsekiris are a mixture of many different ethnicities and races that have settled in that area, however, the Itsekiri language is very closely related to the Ilaje and other south-eastern Yoruba dialects. Their language has also been influenced significantly by the Bini, Portuguese and English languages due to centuries of interaction. However, it remains a key branch of the Yoruboid family.
4. Traditionally, Itsekiri men wear long-sleeved shirts with George wrapper and coral beads. The women wear George wrapper and depending on the occasion, either have the wrapper tied on their chest or it is worn with a blouse.
5. The Itsekiri people practice a gerontocratic system of governance where elders are chosen as leaders. The priests are also highly revered.