By Lawal Benjamin (Lawben)
One of the greatest philosophical assertions by the great philosopher, Aristotle, is the fact that ‘man is a social animal’. However, this has become a generalized cliché of widely acceptance. This concept is however a thought developed under the aegis of communalism. Communalism as a great philosophical concept deals with communal relationship and integration.
It is rooted in the cultural heritage of a people (especially Africans). Man’s quest for interaction played a major role in the need for habitual habitation of a particular community or society.
This therefore, informed the concept ONIBIKO as a social wing of communalism. The idea was borne out of necessity laid upon man to interact so as to prove the fact that man is neither a god nor dog.
Furthermore, it should be noted that this identification is a term that thrive mainly among the Egbas of the Yoruba kingdom. The Egbas are a major fragment of the Yorubas settled at the southwest of Nigeria.
They are mainly into farming and hunting. However, in discussing this term, our major focus is on their hunting duty. The Egbas are large in settlements though still a tribe. There is a great diversification in their communal habitation and this was brought about by their hunting expedition embarked upon by their forebears in their quest to earn a living.
Their hunting expedition brought them to a new land of fertility which most often has not been plied by anyone. This brought about the decision for most of the hunters to then settle in this new land discovered by them. A need is then laid upon them to bring their people and continue their lives with a new name being given to this discovered new area.
It then became necessary for more people to gather in this new discovered area so as to make live more glamorous and exciting. This need therefore, brought about the acceptance of people of different backgrounds to settle with the founder and discoverer of this land. Also the need for development created the reason behind the allocation of a definite area of land to this people based on their families to farm.
This people are then refers to as Onibiko (i.e the customary tenants). This was done in other to make a community out of a jungle. Therefore, this need then make the tenants indigenes of the community, and landlords as well as the owners of those lands allocated to them by the founder of the community.