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OKPE TRIBE IN DELTA STATE AND HER CULTURE

Reclaiming Orerokpe Town after 150yrs

Esezi the first Ekweri was very wicked, and the other 3 houses of Orhue, Evbreke and Orhoro , assassinated the king and waged War against the Esezi house, So they chased them from Orerokpe, called “Adane Okpe” as at that time….Later the 3 remaining houses of Orhue, Evbreke and Orhoro, also quarreled and waged War on themselves, this led to the destruction of Orerokpe and it was abandoned around 1780, it was abandoned for 150 years. During this Period, the Okpe people, founded 2 more capital for themselves, the first one was in Ugolo around 1840, and they elected Idiemor as the clan head,…But quarrel broke out between Idiemor and the Amuokpe House led by Orholor and Orholor was killed….And so Amuokpe led by Odjegba son of Orholor declared independence. ..The other Okpes from Ugolo declared total War on Odjegba of Amuokpe, but Odjegba whose mother was from Itsekiri, brought her people to aid her son and the Okpes were defeated, many of them were captured and sold into Slavery…..But Later, the Okpes became united, and deposed Idiemor, and moved the Capital from Ugolo to Odjedi, this happened in 1890….They then finally made Peace with the Esezi house, and elected the oldest man in the whole of Okpe the “Okpaku Okpe” from the Esezi house in Ughoton, to be the new head of all Okpe people. This Old man was called ANOVWAN… So they brought him from Ughoton to Odjedi in 1890…..All the Okpes accepted him and Peace was restored….. His Otota was Odiete son of Owhebor of Oha, while his Chief Executioner was Okolo of Orhue house….Other senior Members of the Odjedi Government were Odjegba of Amuokpe, Kogoro of Arhagba, Agbaifo of Aghalokpe, Edjebba of Iriama….But in 1897, one of the Odogun Chief of Odjedi named Eyaju, murdered a Woman….The British then had come…So they demanded that the Odogun should give Eyaju to them for trial…But the Odogun disagreed, saying according to Okpe native law he was not guilty of any serious crime, because the woman she killed was a slave….The British then marched on Odjedi, dissolved the Odogun Government, arrested Eyaju and deported him to Calabar…..So the Odogun ended in 1897,…and each Village now controlled his own people….. Seeing that there was disunity among the Okpes,, Outsiders started attacking them, the first community to attack them was Ikweghwu in Agbarho in 1898,..they kidnapped one Oha girl to Ikweghwu to be a wife . Oha declared War on Ikweghwu and the fight was a terrible one with both sides losing much lives. But the Osuivie of Agbarho had to declare the Peace by burying a life goat to make the Peace with Oha in the direction of Oha….That oath and covenant was called “ochurhobo” oath…..After that in 1919, Oha declared War again on Ovu ..I will give you the details of that War, now in link I posted earlier. By 1927 when the Whitemen brought Taxation, Chief Egbele of Onyeke Village, went to Odjedi again to revive the Odogun, …he issued a decree that he was now the new head of all the okpes and that no Okpe man must pay taxes again….His Government was Supported by Temisan of Umiaghwa, Mujakporue of Oviri, Echerusi of Ughoton, Ogoro of Oha Atche of Iriama. But unfortunately Egbele was not the senior Okpaku of Okpe….3 senior Okpaku, Kogoro of Arhagba, Agbaifo of Aghalokpe and Akalusi of Ughoton, denounced the Odjedi Government, and started a new Odogun in Orerokpe….. By this time the Ohas have already secured Orerokpe from the Ovu people…. So they divined the Edion Oracle on what they should do to restore the Town, this divination of the ancient Edion Oracle in Orerokpe was done by Chief Akalusi and Agbaifo….What the Oracle said, I cannot say here, because it is not meant for the social media, …But the summary was that “Owhere must perform the sacrifice” to restore the Town. At that time Chief Ayomanor was the Otota of the Owhere house, the message was given to him,…He went to Ife to a Juju called the Agban Juju, and performed the Sacrifice and restored the Edion and the Adane….He then built his house the first in Adane after 150 years…. And he was thus became a factional head of the Okpe people once again in Orerokpe, while Egbele was the factional head in Odjedi….But the British refused to recognize the Odjedi Government and asked him in 1931, to join the Ayomanor led Odogun or get arrested… Egbele and his men thus went to Orerokpe and reconciled with the Ayomanor faction, . . And thus the complete Odogun sat, again in Orerokpe under the Protection of the British after 150 years….The Government quickly recognized this Odogun and Gazetted it in 1934

Location and population

It is pertinent to give some ethnographical background of the Okpe, for the reasons that such ethnographical frameworks inform musical philosophy, creativity and practices and would therefore enhance our understanding of Igoru music. The Okpẹ country is situated at the heart of Delta State of Nigeria within latitude 6o and 5o North and longitude 5o 501 and 6o 251 East (Onigu Otite, 1973: 4). It occupies a large expanse of landmass about 500sq kilomitres of mainland, mangrove, swamp and rivers (Otite, 1982: 121). It is politically divided into Okpe and Sapele Local Government Areas of the state. Within the confines of this location, Okpẹ shares borders with Warri, Uvwie (Effurun), and Agbarho on the Southwest. On the Northeast axis, it has boundary with Oghara, Jesse, Benin and Agbon.

The Urhiapẹlẹ River, Ethiope River and the Warri River mark its boundaries somewhat. It is one of the 374 ethnic groups in Nigeria (Otite, cited by David Dafinone, 2000: 8 [Internet\). Among the other ethnic groups in Delta State, the Okpe have the largest kingdom and highest population density up to 248, 314 in 1991/1992 census commission report (Onokerhoraye, 1995: 48).

It should be noted that some authors use the colonial political grouping that put the Okpe together with other Urhobo clans in the former Urhobo Division and discuss its population as such. Some of these authors therefore claim that “the Urhobo people are the 5th largest ethnic group in Nigeria and constitute the largest single ethnic group in Delta State (www.urhobo.org, author’s names not in the article), or claim that “In land area, Urhobo is larger than Switzerland (Dafinone, 2000: 3 [Internet]).

The illustrious kingdom of Okpe as history recalls had four sons: Orhue, Orhoro, Evwreke and Esezi. These four Okpe ruling houses later decided to adopt a rotational system to produce a ruler for the kingdom. This has helped to stabilize peace and social equality in the kingdom till date.

The first king produced by this system was H.R.M. Esezi I, Orodje of Okpe whose sovereignty was around the period of 1770-1779.

H.R.M. Esezi II became the second Orodje of Okpe. A visionary and highly idealistic monarch who believed in the system of democracy. As a pioneer advocate of democracy in the land of okpe, he also was pivotal to Nigeria. He was amongst delegates of Kings that attended the 1957 Lyttelton Conference held in London in order to seek the Nigerian independence from the indirect government of the colonial master. He ruled the kingdom around the period of 1945-1966.

H.R.M Orhoro I, the third Orodje of Okpe ruled the kingdom from around the period of 1972-2004. He was educated at a catholic school and also served in the Nigeria police force. He later earned a Business Administration Diploma in the United Kingdom. His early life experience served him well as a springboard for establishing and becoming a director of a company, the New Africa Industries Limited. He was a worthy and peace-loving monarch that held several other public posts. One of his sons, Prince (Amb) Godwin E. Ejinyere serves as the current Mayor (LGA Chairman) of Okpe Local Government Area.

H.R.M Mujakperuo Orue I Orodje of Okpe is the fourth and current king of Okpe. He is a worthy monarch that served his nation as a high-ranking major general in the Nigerian Army. There is great expectations of the greatness his monarchy will add to the already illustrious history of the kingdom of Okpe.

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