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The Origin and History of Urhobo- Okpe

Delta -Urhobo

The Origin and History of Urhobo- Okpe

The Okpe people are part of the Urhobo ethnic group in the Delta State of Nigeria. Okpe Kingdom encompasses about 200 square miles and has a population of over 240,000. It is the largest kingdom in the Urhobo states. The River Ethiope separates Okpe territory from that of Oghara and Idjerhe. Okpe also shares common boundaries with the Urhobo states of Agbarho, Agbon, Ughienvwe, and Uvwie. Sapele is the second largest city in the Delta State, which belongs to the Okpe people (Asagba, 2005, p. 4).

The power and authority in Okpe Kingdom is derived from the following sources:
1. The Orodje (King)
2. The Otota (Speaker)
3. The Ekakuros (Chiefs)

The Orodje is the head of the kingdom and head of the Udogun Council, which is the supreme council of Okpe. The king is also the head and president of the Okpe Traditional Council.

The Otota is the spokesman in Okpe. In the event of the death of the Orodje, the most important spokesman in Okpe Kingdom is the Speaker. In fact, his position is similar to that of a Prime Minister.

Prince Igboze is the founding father of the royal family of the Urhobo Okpe people. He was the son of an Oba (king) of Benin Empire. In the middle of the seventeenth century, he noticed the decline of the power of the Empire and, fearing for its future, determined to found his own kingdom. For this purpose he obtained his title of Ovie (king) from his second cousin, Oba Ahenzae of Benin, who was then on the throne (1640-1661). He left Benin Empire in the middle of the seventeenth century with his wives, family, and a number of followers (slaves) and set out southwards from Benin.

He arrived at his new territory of Orere-Olomu. After a decade or so, when Igboze’s new kingdom was well established, he was later visited by an Ibo named Olomu. Olomu lived with Igboze for a long time and succeeded in winning the confidence of Igboze to such an extent that Igboze declared him his heir. Igboze, who had obtained the royal title of Ovie (king) to rule his new territory, was at the height of his power when he died. Upon Igboze’s death, Olomu took the title of Ovie. This caused a rift, because Igboze’s son, Okpe, quarreled with…

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