Tsoede, the unifier and liberator of Nupe
Before his people came under a united kingdom, the 12 federating villages —Tafie, Bida, Doko, Esa, Nupeko, Eda, Towagi, Egbe, Ewu, Yesa, Gaba and Panjuru — had lived as a loose political entity in the 15th century. Though, these settlements co-operated in cases of military needs or in the settlement of disputes, they lacked the anchor to make them live as a kingdom and to fully protect themselves.
Born to the Atta of Igala by a Nupe woman, Tsoede was raised in his mother’s homeland. During this period, the more organised Igala Kingdom subjected the Nupe people to pay tribute to them.
Some of this tribute came in the form of slaves to which every household was expected to contribute a member.
Tsoede was contributed as a tribute, which enabled him to go to Idah, the capital of Igala. At Idah, his father, the Attah (King) recognised him as his son and brought him into his palace as a prince and heir apparent to his throne. He became his father’s favourite and a major contender for the throne of the Attah.
On his father’s death, his half-brothers conspired against him and he returned to Nupe.
Tsoede left Idah in a celebrated bronze canoe and some essential insignias of his office. He settled at Nupeko from where he organised his army and through military mighty and persuasion brought all Nupe speaking people under his Kingdom, known as Nupe Kingdom.
Tsoede expanded his territory and also emancipated his peopvle from Igala domination. He developed his kingdom, especially in the areas of arts and culture of which credit is still given to him till date for the Tsoede Bronzes.
Some of the bronze artifacts form his kingdom are on display at the National Museum, Lagos.
Regarded as the first Etsu (King) of Nupe Kingdom, Tsoede died in 1591 in one of his military expeditions.
• Compiled by Omiko Awa
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