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By JEROME MICHAEL EBRUPHIYO/Basis/Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Origin and History of Agbarho-Otor kingdom

                              
                            

The Origin and History of Agbarha-Otor Kingdom
Today we are going to take a dive into the origin and history of Agbarha-Otor Kingdom. Agbarha-Otor shares common traditions of with Ogor, Orogun and Ughelli Kingdoms. The four Kingdoms were founded by the four descendants of Oghwoghwa, namely Ogor, Agbarha, Ughelli and Orogun, the son of Oriarha, the only female among the four children of Oghwoghwa , who was married to an Ukuani man from Asaba-Ase, Oghwoghwa , their father immigrated from Benin through Ijo creeks and settled at Ogoviri with his two wives, Ebueruke, the mother of Ogor and Agbarha and Anehue who gave birth to Ughelli and Oriarha which is Orogun’s mother. Ogor, which is the first child, remained within the territory where Oghwoghwa settled while the rest children moved out to settle at different locations. Among the four children, Agbarha was outstandingly courageous and adventurous and his choice of location was determined by his desire not to be far away from the ancestral home, while being close enough to Orogun’s mother, their only sister in order to put a protective eye on her. The adventurous character of Agbarha made him travel to far places, including the Benin kingdom where he got engaged to an Ebelle princess and had his first son Ebellie who later became the first king of Agbarha-Otor due to the royal equipage he acquired from his maternal grand-father. Ebelle I reigned from 1573-1610 and was followed by Okpame (1630-1662), Ijaro (1662-1718), Omohwe (1718-1726). Ekokiyere (1726-1793), Okonoli (1793-1863), Owhe (1863-1897), Ojakovo(1897-1945), Awhariefe(1945-1952), Ekpe period of crisis(1952-1969), Okorefe(1971-1980), Ebelle II (1981-2012), Okorefe I (2012-till date). There was interregnum between Ebelle I and Okpame. Thus, the present king, Richard Oghenevwogaga Ebelle Okorefe I is number 13 in the order of kings of Agbarha-Otor.The kingdom has only one ruling house and succession to the throne is by primogeniture, which is from father to the eldest son. This article will provide the origin and history of Agbarha-Otor kingdom, location and demographs, occupation, education level, climatic condition, languages spoken, religious beliefs and lots more.

1. Location and Demographics of Agbarha-Otor Kingdom

Agbarho-Otori is situated on longitude 6.07°E and latitude 5.53°N. it is situated in Ughelli North Local Government area. The kingdom consists of thirty villages and the head quarters (Otovwodo) with a population of 75,000 by the 2006 census and the political and cultural head is the king (The Ovie). The king is assisted in the administration of the kingdom by the president-general of Agbarho Improvement Union and his executive members who are supported youth bodies.

2. Education Level/Activities of Agbarha-Otor Kingdom

Agbarho-Otor 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, and 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).

3. Climatic Condition Of Agbarha-Otor Kingdom

Agbarho-Otor 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.

4. Language Spoken in Agbarha-Otor Kingdom

The language spoken by the people of Agbarho-Otor 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”.

5. Religious Beliefs of Agbarha-Otor Kingdom

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

6. Festivals in Agbarha-Otor Kingdom

The major festival of the people of Agbarho-Otor is called the I “Ekene” festival which is the most celebrated festival in the history of Agbarho-Otor Kingdom which is celebrated yearly. Ekene festival “attracts people from all walks of life especially places where the people usually flock to Agbarho-Otor. It is accompanied with much fanfare, music, cooking and eating of delicious native food. It also includes masquerade display.

7. Consumable Food in Agbarha-Otor Kingdom

The major food eaten by the people Agbarho-Otor is garri, yam, akpu and starch. Cassava is the source of most of the foods consumed by the Agbarho-Otor people is 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.

8. Cultural Dressing Pattern of Agbarha-Otor People

The mode of dressing of Agbarho-Otor 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.

9. Occupation of Agbarha-Otor People

The people of Agbarho-Otor 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.

10. Housing System in Agbarha-Otor Kingdom

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

11. Taboos of Agbarha-Otor Kingdom

Agbarho-Otor people forbid the marriage to a close relative or any form of incest. Another taboo is adultery. 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. 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. 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. So many women suffer from domestic violence from their husbands and relatives, inflicting in them several injuries. 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.

12. Resources in Agbarha-Otor Kingdom

  • Social and infrastructural development: Agbarho-Otor has a primary 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 Agbarho-Otor
  • Rich agricultural land: As a result of the presence of fertile soil in Agbarho-Otor, 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 Agbarho-Otor 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
  • Educational infrastructure: The people Agbarho-Otor 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 Agbarho-Otor
  • Industrial development: Agbarho-Otor is blessed with crude oil, it is one of the oil producing areas of the state with several 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
  • 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
  • Development in Commerce: The people of Agbarho-Otor 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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