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The Origin and History of Ozoro Kingdom

JEROME MICHAEL EBRUPHIYO Wednesday, July 28, 2021 Basis

 

The Origin and History of Ozoro Kingdom
Ozoro is the headquarters of the Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria, is one of the two administrative units in the Isoko region of Delta State, southern Nigeria. Ozoro had been incorrectly spelt as "Usoro" in some older maps of Nigeria. Ozoro, the capital city of Isoko North, has a population of approximately 186,000 inhabitants. This article will provide the origin and history of Ozoro kingdom, politics and government of Ozoro kigdom, economy of Ozoro kingdom, education, religious beliefs and occupation of Ozoro people.

1. Origin Of Ozoro Kingdom

It is believed that Ozoro Kingdom originated from Edo as the oral tradition passed on to the present generation, talks proudly of the descent and origin of Ozoro Kingdom from “Aka or Edo n’ Ubini” as the Great Benin Kingdom is fondly referred to by its people.

2. History Of Ozoro Kingdom

Ozoro is said to have been founded by Opute who migrated with his wife to Ozoro in the 7th century from the shores of Igodomigodo or ancient Benin Kingdom to Isokoland in the Niger Delta Region. This was during the reign of Ogiso Orrorro, the 7th Ogiso (King) of Great Benin Kingdom (600–618 AD). The ancestor and founding father of Ozoro, Opute, was a great warrior. In the company of his wife, he migrated from Ancient Benin. Opute's decision to leave his birth place was forced on him by circumstances. There was trouble at home which made him a personal non-grata. Oral tradition has it that Opute and Ogwaran were sons of the same father but from different mothers. Their mothers had a quarrel in the market place that resulted in a fight. Opute's younger brother, Okpe, shot an arrow during the fight which mistakenly blinded Ogwaran's mother. Opute scared of the wrath and anger of his brother Ogwaran, a giant with legendary strength, fled Benin Kingdom with his wife Ozoro, Okpe his younger brother, and his brothers from the same mother, namely; Odume, Osumiri, Ozormo, Etimi, Iselegwu and Obodogwa. Ogwaran's medicine man known as Obogelowo gave a hot pursuit to Opute and his brothers. On getting to Ologbo River, Obogelowo stopped the pursuit and returned to the land of Benin, he could not cross the river for fear of losing his magical powers. Opute is said to have left the shores of Benin armed with a plethora of magical powers for victory in warfare and success in life endeavours. His father gave him a magical staff (“Usu”), the seed of a possession tree, and the replication/artifacts of his own deity. In Opute's flight from Benin, his magical “Usu” was put to use by him to test for a favourable place of settlement. In every likely place of settlement, he performed the ritual of thrusting the “Usu” into the ground and pulling it out. If he successfully pulled it out, such a place was regarded as not suitable for settlement. After so many suns and moons in his journey of destiny, after crossing so many rivers and streams, subduing both attacking beasts and men, and testing many other places which the “Usu” rejected, he finally arrived upland in the heart of the Niger Delta. Here, he thrusts his “Usu” into the ground at the exact location where Eri-Okpe Community deity is housed today. At this fortuitous spot, he could not pull the Usu off the ground as was the case in previous “unwanted” locations. The powers that followed, led and backed him, had chosen and approved his divine settlement! He planted the possession tree at this place to possess the land and he built a shrine for the ancestral deity on the same spot. His younger brother, Okpe, later became known as Eri-Okpe after the name of its high priest Okpe. As at today, the age-long family that produces the deity's high priest is known and called the Okpe family or “Olua-Okpe”. Opute gave birth to five sons, who settled in Uruto, Erovie, Etevie, Urude and Uruamudhu, in order, who fanned out and settled in star-fashion from Ala which represents the geographical and administrative center of Ozoro, in a manner very reminiscent of the present ring road in Benin City.

3. Politics and Government Of Ozoro Kingdom

As the administrative center for the local government, it houses the council offices. Ozoro is made up of five communities: Uruto, Erovie, Etevie, Urude, Uruamudhu. The traditional ruler and custodian of the people's customs and traditions is the Ovie. The Ovie is influential in Isokoland in matters relating to Ozoro. He is also a member of the state council of traditional rulers, which also provides him an additional platform for influence on statewide matters.

4. Economy Of Ozoro Kingdom

Ozoro has vast amount of crude oil and natural gas deposits which are yet to be developed to their full potentials. Shell Petroleum Development Company and the Nigeria National Petroleum Company NNPC, were the main developers of the oil wells and oil platforms around Ozoro and Isoko land. Ozoro is home to the campus of one of the Delta State Government Polytechnics Systems with ultra-modern stadium, and have many Lecturers that teach in various academic fields. Ozoro has a large concentration of lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants and bankers that work in various institutions and branches of various large Nigeria financial institutions such as First Bank of Nigeria, Zenith Bank, and Unity Bank Plc.

5. Occupation Of Ozoro People

The main occupational activities of Ozoro people are large-scale food and cash crop farming, accompanied by game and varieties of wildlife hunting. Ozoro and it’s environs have a wide variety of wildlife and fisheries due to its various rivers, lakes and its proximity to the River Niger and the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the major staple and cash food crops produce in large scales in Ozoro are cassava, varieties of yams, palm oils, mangoes, oranges, plantains, bananas, guavas, etc. Ozoro Women are very beautiful, strong and form a large proportion of the farming population. Ozoro is fast developing with increasing commercial activities, exporting locally produced cash crops to nearby larger cities such as Ughelli, Warri, Sapele, Benin City, Asaba, Port Harcourt, and as far as Lagos and Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. On market days, Ozoro beautiful women sell assorted wares in the city's various markets. Cassava is one of the major staple foods consumed, followed by rice and beans with stewed beef, or varied fishes with fried plantains.

6. Educational Level/Activities in Ozoro Kingdom

Ozoro has several primary, secondary and post-secondary schools. Secondary institutions in Ozoro include Notre Dame College, Saint Joseph College, and Anglican Grammar School (formerly a girls-only school called "Anglican Girls Grammar School"). Post-secondary institutions include the Delta State Polytechnic Ozoro.

7. Religious beliefs Of Ozoro Kingdom

Although the predominant religion in Ozoro is Christianity, many natives still practice African traditional religion, which has been practiced for thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans to Africa. This is evident in the several ancestral shrines that can still be seen in Ozoro. A critical appraisal of the belief system of the average Ozoro indigene will reveal a combination of both Christian and pagan learnings.

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