Esan ethnic group; whether it is a sub-group of the Yoruba; religions practised; whether members of this ethnic group engage in Ogboni practices [NGA40291.E]

In a research study by Francisca I. Omoradion, an Esan anthropologist, entitled The Socio-Cultural Context of Health Behaviour Among Esan Communities, Edo State, Nigeria, it is stated that the Esan "form a small linguistic and ethnic group" with a population of approximately 500,000, and are located about "100 kilometres north east of Benin City, between two larger and better known Nigerian peoples, the Benin Edo to the west and the Igbo to the east" (HTR 1993). The Ethnologue Website of ethno-linguistic groups claims that the language called Esan is spoken among 200,000 people in the regions of Edo State, Agbazko, Okpebho, Owan and Etsako Legislative General Assembly including 7,000 Ekpon in seven villages (July 2002).

No linkages between the Yoruba and the Esan could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, one source provides the following information on the ethnic linkages of the Esan:

Edo refers to all clans of the Benin kingdom ... and include those who migrated such as the Esan, Etsako, Akoko-Edo, Igbanke and Owan. These clans today make up the Edo nation (The News 26 Apr. 2000).

The Edo State of Nigeria Website provides the following description of the "people and culture" of Edo State:

The main ethnic groups in the state are the Edo, Esan, Afemai, Owan and the Akoko Edo. All the ethnic groups have many things in common. Apart from the fact that they share a common origin, they are also exposed to the same cultural influence. These similarities are manifested in their religious worship, folklore, dances, festivals, and arts and crafts, etc. ... History has it that most people of the state migrated from Benin, the heart of the ancient Benin kingdom (23 Jan. 2000).

According to sources consulted, there are between 250 and 400 ethnic groups in Nigeria, and the three major groups, which are the Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba and the Igbo (Ibo), comprise between 57 to 65 percent of the population (NUS 1990; Ethnic Groups Worldwide 1998). The remaining ethnic "minority" groups "include such peoples as the Kanuri, the Nupe ... and the Edo" (NUS 1990).

Regarding religious practices, the Esan reportedly "follow either the traditional or Christian religions although there are a few Muslims in Ekpoma because of its proximity to Agbede where Islam is widespread" (HTR 1993). No additional information on the religious practices of the Esan could be found among the sources consulted by the Reserach Directorate.

No information regarding the Esan engaging in Ogboni practices could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Edo State of Nigeria. 23 January 2000. "People and Culture." [Accessed 7 Oct. 2002]

Ethnic Groups Worldwide: A Ready Reference Handbook [Phoenix]. 1998. David Levinson. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.

Ethnologue. July 2002. "Esan: A Language of Nigeria." [Accessed 3 Oct. 2002]
Health Transition Review (HTR). 1993. Vol. 3, No. 2. Francisca I. Omorodion.

The Socio-Cultural Context of Health Behaviour Among Esan Communities, Edo State, Nigeria.

National University of Singapore (NUS). 1990. Simon A. Rakov. "Ethnicity in Nigeria." [Accessed 7 Oct. 2002]

The News [Lagos]. 26 April 2000. Ofure Osehobo. "The Patriarch and the Monarch." [Accessed 3 Oct. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

The Encyclopaedia of Religion

IRB Databases


Internet sites including:

Africa Online

African Studies Association

Anthropological Index Online

Apologetics Index

BBC Africa

Daily Times Online

Edo Nation

Edo State of Nigeria

Esan Akugbe Association of Canada

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Indigenous Knowledge Network

New Nigerian

Newswatch Nigeria

Nigeria Daily

Nigerian Congress Online

Reformed Ogboni Fraternity



World News Connection (WNC)

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