The origin of Nupe Kingdom is linked to Tsoede also known as Edeji. He was the hero of the Nupe people as well as the founder of the kingdom. Tsoede united all the Nupe people under his rule and won independence from the Igala in the first half of the 15th century. He was believed to be the son of an Igala prince who resided in Nupe. The prince got married to the daughter of the chief of Nku and the union produced Tsoede. Before Tsoede was born, his father was recalled to Idah to become Atta of Igala. On his departure, he left two presents for his unborn child, Tsoede. The presents were a charm and a distinctive ring. Many years later, these gifts enabled the Attah to identify his son Tsoede when he was later sent to Idah as a slave tribute of the royal house of Nku.
Delighted by the revelation, the Attah treated his son, Tsoede very well and favoured him more than his other children. The jealousy shown by his Igala half-brothers consequently made Tsoede to flee back to his maternal relations in Nupe and organized the various groups under his leadership. This marked the beginning of the growth of Nupe Kingdom.
FACTORS THAT LED TO THE RISE OF NUPE KINGDOM
Tsoede’s flight from Idah was discovered by his half-brothers who pursued him. However, Tsoede was aided by his twelve Nupe slaves and two other men who were appointed to rule the “Kyedye”. Having eluded his half-brothers by hiding in the creeks of Ega, he sank his bronze canoe, and made himself master of the town. He proceeded and conquered all the Nupe areas making his twelve companions sub-rulers of the towns. The factors that led to the rise of Nupe Kingdom are as follows:
- The first was the expansionist activities of Tsoede. Tsoede was a great warrior who built up considerable forces of cavalry. He then led the Nupe people on territorial expansion. To the south of River Niger, he subdued the Yagba and Kakanda peoples. To the north, he extended his authority over Ebe, Kamberi and Kanuku areas.
- The second factor was the economic activities of Tsoede in the area. For example, Tsoede was credited with the introduction of new and important skills to the Nupe area. He was said to have brought the first blacksmiths and bronze casters from Idah. He also introduced the skill necessary to build large canoes for war and trade.
- Thirdly, the title “Etsu Nupe”, ruler of Nupe, is derived from Tsoede’s name. Four of Tsoede sons were said to have ruled Nupe Kingdom with one of them establishing Mokwa as a temporary capital. However, the dynasty became Islamized during the reign of Etsu Jibrin who died in 1759. Nupe Kingdom reached the height of its power under Etsu Mu’azu who died in 1795.
FACTORS THAT LED TO THE FALL OF NUPE KINGDOM
Following the death of Etsu Mu’azu in 1795, Nupe Kingdom was divided by rival groups. One important outcome of these crises was the founding of Raba in about 1796, which made it develop into a flourishing trade centre where traders from distant lands came into contact with Nupe people.
Consequently, by early 19th century, the existing political structure in Nupe Kingdom was affected by the outbreak of the Sokoto Jihad. As a result of the new political system that emerged, the old rulers were replaced by the new rulers.
Mallam Dendo, a flag bearer emerged as the paramount ruler of Nupe at Bida in 1804. He declared himself as the leader of the people. Mallam Dendo who derived his authority from the Emir of Gwandu, presided over the affairs of Nupe Kingdom. By 1832, Dendo’s son emerged as the first Fulani Etsu Nupe. Since then, the Fulani rulers continued to prevail in Nupe Kingdom.
The factors that led to the fall of Nupe Kingdom are as follows:
- The first factor was the division of the kingdom into rival groups. This division exposed the kingdom to external invaders who attacked the kingdom.
- The second factor was the penetration of the kingdom by the Jihadists. As a result of the weak state of Nupe Kingdom, the Jihadists easily penetrated it and took over its political structures.