Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Historical Development of Okpe Kingdom




Historical Background
Okpe people migrated from Benin is accepted by all scholars. The migration of the ancestors of the Okpe people from Benin to their present location was in several stages. First, the progenitor of the Okpe, Prince Igboze of Benin migrated from Benin and founded the settlement of Olomu.


Second, his senior son Okpe, in order to avoid continued conflict with his nephew Olomu (the son of Okpe's sister that was married to an Iaw), moved his relatives and close associates to found Okpe r'Ikpere (Okpe-Isoko) in contemporary Isoko territory. Third, the eldest son of Okpe, Orhue with two of his brothers, Evbreke and Esezi migrated from Okpe r'Ikpere to found Orerokpe. His third brother, i.e., the second son of Okpe, Orhoro, who had stayed behind and founded Orhoro (contemporary Ozoro) in Isoko territory, joined them in Orerokpe much later. These four brothers, Orhue, Orhoro, Evbreke, and Esezi, all children of Okpe and grandsons of Prince Igboze, established the Okpe Kingdom and the four ruling houses that bear their respective names.

Founding of Orerokpe
The migration of Prince Igboze, and that of his son and grandchildren leading to the founding of Orerokpe occurred in four stages. First, Prince Igboze founded his kingdom in Olomu. Second, his son, Okpe migrated from Olomu to found Okpe r'Ikpere (Okpe-Isoko) in contemporary Isoko territory. Prince Igboze died in Olomu, shortly after the drowning of his most senior wife in a canoe accident. In order to avoid a civil war with Olomu, the grandson of Prince Igboze, Okpe and his relatives elected to migrate from Olomu. Olomu was the son of Okpe's sister who had married an Ijaw man. Third, Orhoro, the second son of Okpe, founded Orhoro (Ozoro) in contemporary Isoko territory. Forth, the other three sons of Okpe, Orhue, Evbreke, and Esezi founded Orerokpe, the contemporary headquarters of the Okpe Kingdom . Orhue's expedition in search of fertile and more spacious land took him to the present Orerokpe. Upon his return to Okpe r'Ikpere he told his brothers about his expedition and asked them to accompany him to Orerokpe. Evbreke and Esezi went with him, while Orhoro joined his brothers at Orerokpe much later.

Establishment of Okpe Kingdom
Shortly after their settlement in Orerokpe, the four brothers - Orhue, Orhoro, Evbreke, and Esezi - decided to expand their territory by founding settlements and villages. These settlements were grouped under four quarters named after each of them - Orhue, Orhoro, Evbreke, and Esezi. They are known as Adane Okpe (Okpe Four Quarters) and constituted the present four ruling houses of the Okpe Kingdom : Orhue, Orhoro, Evbreke, and Esezi. Given the growth of their territory, and the need to establish a kingdom as did their father and grandfather, the brothers decided that one of them assume the kingship as the Orodje of Okpe.

Being the most senior, Orhue would have assumed the kingship but he disqualified himself because of his advanced age. He also did not want neither Orhoro, the second most senior, nor Evbreke to assume the kingship because of their perennial quarrels. They therefore asked Esezi, the youngest of the brothers, to be the first Orodje of Okpe. Esezi ascended the throne as Esezi l, Orodje of Okpe. Thus, the quality of avoiding quarrels and seeking peace which became a characteristic of the Okpe Kingdom was established by the four brothers.

List of Towns/Villages of the Okpe Kingdom
RULING HOUSES
TOWNS AND VILLAGES
Orhue
Onyeke and parts of Mereje; Okwetolo and other villages; Okobia; Okwobrisi; Opuraja., etc
Orhoro
Part of Elume and Ugolo Oha; Ugwagba; Arhagba; Amuokpe; Sapele; Esubi; part of Mereje and Egborode; Okwokpokpor; Okwokoko; Egbeleku; Okozi; Adagbrasa; Ugolo; part of Okwuhore; Imarhe; etc
Evbreke
Oviri; Umagwa; Evbriyen; Okweighele; Okwidiemor; Okwijorogun; Ohorhe; (Ebiuwhe) Okwitaire; Okwuloho; Adagbrarasa Ugolo; Okwimaife; Aghalokpe; Okioroka; Ajagueyibo; Ajagolo; Gugudu; Awharo-wha; Orhorufuoma; Unurho; Okuvbere; Okuegba; Ikeresa; Obotie; Umolu; Okogborode; Adeje; part of Mereje;Kkpokpogri; Iriama; Okorokoko; Osubi; Avbevbe; etc
Esezi
Okokporo; Okuovo; Okegborode; Okwodede; Ughoton; Jeddo; Okozi; Unuerhurode; Gbokodo; Umolu; Okuetolo; part of Mereje; etc

Location and Demography
Okpe is located on longitude 5.95oE and Latitude 5.43oE. Okpe is a kingdom in Delta State, Nigeria. Its capital is Orerokpe. The kingdom plays host to the Warri Airport, which is actually located at Osubi and the Delta State Trade Fair Complex.

Okpe Local Government is a territory that used to be part of the original Okpe Kingdom. It is made up of essentially of lowland – arable  forests and vegetation upland with swampy and mangrove forests inland. It shares boundaries with Oghara, Mosogar, Idjerhe, Agbarho, Agbon, Ughievwe and Uvwie communities.

The Okpe Kingdom is the largest of the twenty-three Urhobo speaking territories and has a territory of about 500 square kilometers. Its people are said to be descendants of four brothers whose ancestor migrated from the Benin Kingdom. Together, the brothers form the four ruling houses namely Orhue, Orhoro, Evbreke and Esezi. Today, the okpe kingdom is divided into Okpe and Sapele Local Governments.

Okpe Local Government has its headquarters at Orerokpe, with a population of 128,398 people whose primary occupations include commercial farming, fishing, hunting, trading and gas exploration.

Okpe lies within the tropical rain forest area of the Niger-delta. The region experiences high rainfall and high humidity most of the year. The climate is equatorial and is marked by two distinct seasons. The Dry and Rainy seasons. The Dry season lasts from about November to April and is significantly marked by the cool "harmarttan" dusty haze from the north-east winds. The Rainy season spans May to October with a brief dry spell in August.

Culture and Custom
Language
The language spoken by the people of Okpe is the Okpe language. English Language is also used especially “Pidgin English”.

Worships and Beliefs
Although the predominant religion in Okpe is Christianity, many natives still practice pagan worship. This is evident in the several ancestral shrines that can still be seen in Okpe. A critical appraisal of the belief system of the average Okpe indigene will reveal a combination of both Christian and pagan leanings.

Festival
The major festival of the people of Okpe is the Adane-Okpe festival which is sometimes referred to as Adane-Okpe Masquerade festival. Adane-Okpe festival is a socio-cultural festival celebrating the spiritual essence of the Okpe people in Nigeria. The high point of the festival lies within the artistic display and dramatic performance of masquerades at the festival arena, revealing the revered aesthetic import of the Urhobo people. But beyond all this is the essence of the festival, which is believed in the accumulation and renewal of spirituality, a socio-economic emancipation and the political unity of the people throughout the kingdom.

Food
The major food eaten by the people Okpe Kingdom is garri, yam, akpu and starch. Cassava is the source of most of the foods consumed by Okpe people. The people of Okpe are known for banga soup with periwinkle (imekpe) starch (Uri) or eba, plantain/yam with pepper soup (Iriberari). Another favourite is Owofugbo blended with periwinkle

Dressing
The mode of dressing of Okpe people is usually tying wrapper round the waist with a lace shirt, walking stick, cap for men and while the women with wrapper and blouse.

Dance
The most popular dance of the people of Okpe is the Ikpeba dance in which how good a dancer performs is measured by the qualities that constitute ‘amerhen’ which include ‘erhumu’ (beauty), ‘ehoho’ (resemblance), odidi (numinuosity), ‘agbengben’ (aesthetics), and ‘emrerhon’ (attunement). How good a dancer performs thus depends on the qualities of ‘amerhen’ he inculcates into his dance.

Marriage
The process begins with the period of courtship, the length of which varies between individuals involved. When both have eventually made up their minds about each other, the girl then unfolds her love affairs to her mother, to gain her support and necessary advice from time to time.

At a convenient time, the suitor, accompanied by a few friends and relations, approach the girl’s parents with drinks, kolanuts and money to inform them of his intention to marry their daughter.

On acceptance of the proposal, and, at a suitable time, the formal introduction of both families takes place. The ceremony begins with the host family welcoming the guests with drinks, kolanuts and some amount of money, usually presented by a spokesman (Otota) of the group. The spokesman of the guests accepts the presentations on behalf of the group. Prayer is said with the kolanuts and drinks according to the religion of those involved (Christian or Traditional religion), using broken kolanuts and some money by the guests is then followed by the announcement of the purpose of their visit, namely: to request the hands of the hosts’ daughter in marriage to their son. On acceptance of the requests, the formal introduction of both families takes place. A second presentation of drinks, kolanuts, and money is undertaken as a demonstration of the suitor’s appreciation for the acceptance of his request.

Detail of the date and plans for the traditional marriage is later conveyed to the family of the bride-to-be through their spokesman, after due consultation with the spokesman of the groom-to be. A list of the requirements for the marriage is also given to the groom-to-be through their spokesman. Thereafter, the spokesmen of both families continue with all the negotiations strictly in accordance with the wish of both families. At the end of the meeting, money, kolanuts and hot drinks are usually offered to thank the family of the bride-to-be for accepting his request. This acceptance fee is known as ‘Igho Arhonvberen.’

Taboos
Okpe people forbid the marriage to a close relative or any form of incest and adultery.

Health Status of the Community
Factors affecting Health
1.      Violence against Women: So many women suffer from domestic violence from their husbands and relatives, inflicting in them several injuries.
2.    Son Preference: This form of discrimination and one which has far-reaching implications for women is the preference accorded to the boy child over the girl child. They believed that the son is the one to carry on with the linage of the father when he dies. This practice denies the girl child good health, education, recreation, economic opportunity and the right to choose her partner, violating her rights.
3.      Early Marriage: Early marriage is another serious problem in which some girls are given away for marriage at the age of 11, 12 or 13, after which they must start producing children. The principal reasons for this practice are the girls' virginity and the bride-price. Young girls are less likely to have had sexual contact and thus are believed to be virgins upon marriage; this condition raises the family status as well as the dowry to be paid by the husband. In some cases, virginity is verified by female relatives before the marriage.
4.    Wife Inheritance: The practice of wife inheritance where a woman who lost her husband is compelled to get married to his brother or close relative. This affected the psychological and mental health and in some cases, the spreading of sexually transmitted disease as a result of the presence of polygamy.
5.    Food Taboos: several cheap, proteinous food and meat are forbidden for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers as a result of food taboos. Specifically, children are not expected to eat “big” meat and eggs because it is believed that this will indulge them and they may start to steal. Pregnant women and lactating mothers are forbidden from the consumption of snail for they believe that their children will salivate excessively.
6.    Malnutrition: This is mainly associated with children due to lack of awareness of their parents on what constitute a balanced weaning diet, lack of knowledge and skill about the best use of locally available foods, making frequent necessary and unnecessary journey and leaving the child behind or stopping breastfeeding before the child is at least year of age.

Resources in the Community used to Solve the Problem
1.)  Social and Infrastructural Development: Okpe has a general hospital and numerous private hospitals and clinics. The rapid increase in health-care delivery services, both public and private, has contributed immensely in lowering infant mortality and death rates generally in Okpe.
2.)  Rich Agricultural Land:  As a result of the presence of fertile soil in Okpe, there is availability of food from the farm. There is also the widespread production of palm oil and palm kernels. Limited amount of hunting and fishing is also done. Women form a large proportion of the farming population. They also engage in trade of food crops for cash to meet other basic household needs. The present of good agricultural land make necessary food available in the community and helps in solving the problems of malnutrition.
3.)  Educational infrastructure:  The people Okpe know the value of education and encourage their young to attend school. The people have been known to be very passionate about location of education infrastructure in the communities, believing it is a mark of progress. Schools serve as a major means of educating the people in the community on issue bothered by lack of adequate knowledge, malnutrition and general awareness of this people and at the same time improves the health status of the people.
4.)  Law Enforcement Agents: The community leaders such as the Orodje, Council of Chiefs, police etc. help in the enforcement of laws and ensure that the rights of people are not violated and at the same time ensure that the people in the community enjoy good health.
5.)   Development in Commerce: The people of Okpe are dynamic people which is adequately reflected in the field of trading and commerce.  The town its environs remains a major producer of a variety of major important food-stuff such as yams, cassava, garri and palm oil. 

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