Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Historical Development of Ughelli Kingdom

Historical Background
The oral tradition on the present generation talks proudly of our descent and origin from the Great Benin Kingdom. Oral tradition has it that our great ancestor and founding father of Ughelli (Ughene) is the second son of Oghwoghwa, a Prince from Benin Kingdom. As history has gone, Oghwoghwa in search of his own kingdom first settlement was at Tarakiri and later left for Ogoviri now the current site of Ogo Techinal College. 

Due to inter-family crisis, Ughelli left Ogoviri and founded Ovwodoawanre (Old Settlement) before the present settlement headquarter at Otovwodo. Ughelli is been headed by a tradional ruler known as King (Ovie) and the first to settle and ruled since moving from Ogovirir was HRH Awhaide. Ughelli kingdom is said to have seven major clans namely; Ughelli, Orogun, Agbarha, Agbarho, Uwheru, Evwreni and Ogor each with a traditional ruler. The people are Urhobo. It is also the seat of the Ovie of Ughelli.

Location and Demographics
Ughelli is situated on longitude  5.59°E and latitude 5.30°N. it is the headquarter of Ughelli North Local Government area.  According to the 2006 census Ughelli had a population of 54,206.

Ughelli is one of the oil producing areas of the state  in Delta Sate with at least 45 oil wells. With an area of 1440 square kilometers, it came into existence following the split of the defunct Ughelli LGA into North and South. It has an estimates population of 200,000 spread across seven major clans namely; Ughelli, Orogun, Agbarha, Agbarho, Uwheru, Evwreni and Ogor each with a traditional ruler.

However, Ughelli is one of the largest communities in Urhobo land, both in terms of size and population. The town has several schools owned by a government and private individuals, a general hospital, local government secretariat, good motorable roads. The community is a notable link between Delta North and Delta South. The community is rich is crude oil and gas which is evident in the presence of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Ughelli 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
The language spoken by the people of Ughelli is the Urhobo language. It is linguistically similar to that spoken by the neighboring Isoko people. But as a result of globalization and development of the community and to enhance effective communication, the English Language is also used especially “Pidgin English”.

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

The major festival of the people of Ughelli is called the Iyerin during which cultural display of 'Omanoku' is performed on the river by the market  festival which is the most celebrated festival in the history of Ughelli Kingdom which is celebrated yearly. Iyerin festival "attracts people from all walks of life especially places where the people usually flock to Ughelli. It is accompanied with much fanfare, music, cooking and eating of delicious native food. It also includes masquerade display.

The major food eaten by the people Ughelli is garri, yam, akpu and starch. Cassava is the source of most of the foods consumed by the Ughelli people. Garri, starch meal, akpu are cassava derivatives. Standard diet consist a bowl of Garri taken with egusi/ soup adorned with fresh fish or bush meat.

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

The people of Ughelli are predominantly farmers and fishermen. The economy is tied to fishing, farming and trading. The major crops are cassava, plantain, yam, and corn. As a result of rapid development, several white collar jobs like teaching and civil service jobs are also present in the community.

Until the last four decades the mode of building our houses and the type of buildings which we had in Ughelli community were inherited mainly from the Benin Kingdom.  The houses in ancient Ughelli were mud houses built in three stages, by communal efforts, before roofing with thatches. These thatch houses have disappeared for modern houses in Ughelli  community giving way to brick houses with corrugated roof houses.

Ughelli people forbid the marriage to a close relative or any form of incest. The eating of Orua is also forbidden. Another taboo is adultery.

Health Status of the Community
Factors affecting Health
1.    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.
2.      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.
3.    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.
4.    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.
5.      Violence against Women: So many women suffer from domestic violence from their husbands and relatives, inflicting in them several injuries.
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: Ughelli 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 Ughelli.
2.)  Rich Agricultural Land:  As a result of the presence of fertile soil in Ughelli, 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. On market days, it is common to see Ughelli women peddling their assorted goods around neighboring villages. 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 Ughelli 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. There are numerous public and private schools in Ughelli. They include: The major schools in are the Anglican Girls Grammar School and St Theresa's College. Government College, Lulu Secondary School, Kogbodi International School, Noble Crest Secondary School, Government College, etc.
4.)  Industrial Development: Ughelli is blessed with crude oil, it is one of the oil producing areas of the state with at least 45 oil wells. It is one of the largest oil producing communities in Delta State. The community is also known for the production of cassava, farm oil and fish and this has greatly contributed to the development of the community.
5.)  Law Enforcement Agents: The community leaders such as the Ovie, 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.
6.)   Development in Commerce: The people of Ughelli 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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