The History Of Uromi Clan

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Written by Christopher .G. Okojie {Last Update January 17, 2022}

The correct name is URONMUN.
This name was unknown before the arrival of the immigrants mostly from IDUMUOZA of Benin City; during the mass exodus following Oba Ewuare the Selfish’s inhuman mourning laws. It would be a mistake to think that there was no human settlement in the land today called Uromi before 1460. Just as ORAMIYAN arrived to rule the people already in existence in Benin, so the Binis fleeing from autocracy and the selfishness of Ewuare, arrived various parts of Ishan to dominate and in many cases, to eliminate the primitive aboriginal settlers, who through civil wars, the harsh rule of the pre-Oramiyan Bini Kings known as OGISO, sought refuge in the unknown jungles of Ishan between 900 and 1400 AD. These early settlers, who left Benin in inconsequential numbers, were either criminals or fugitives and so had to lead the secretive, wary and timid lives of men bent on not BEING FOUND OUT. Such then was the life possible before 1460.

The founder of the first settlement in Uromi was the second of three brothers, all Sons of an erring Oba’s wife, called OAKHA. To save her life, the dutiful and loving Sons escaped with her into the jungle where at least, there was a chance of surviving hunger, pestilence and wild animals. With Oakha in Benin, her doom at the hand of her angered husband was certain. After wandering for months they reached a spot where the second son called EGBELE, a man handicapped by mutilated fingers and toes, thought they had but a safe distance between their mother and the avenging Oba, their father. ASUKPODUDU, the senior, who was in command of the escape said that the anger of their father, Oba Egbeka, would know no limit as a result of they, the Sons, cheating him by making his vengeance on Oakha impossible. He would traverse jungles, uphill and down-dale to get his victims. Therefore he counselled going further so that the Oba would take them as dead— possibly fallen victims of the ferocious animals that then roamed the virgin jungles.

Egbele said that far, was the limit he could go with his handicap— locomotion being really a torture to him. He proceeded to unload his property. Oakha who loved all her children who had left the ‘security’ of Benin for the many enemies in the wild jungle, could not help but follow the senior. Similarly the junior son was for Asukpodudu. Where Asukpodudu with the youngest brother finally settled is today UZOZOGHAINGHAIN of Idinegbon of Uzea. As the fugitives got surer of themselves in their primitive hide-out, they re-established connection with their determined brother, whose settlement is known today as lDUMU-OTO-EGBELE. This is the connection between Uzozoghainghain Uzea and Uromi.

Many of the early people who came to bear company with Asukpodudu’s second brother came from this place in Uzea. It is therefore plain that in talking of the origin of a large district hike Uromi, care must be taken. Patience and care are required in listening to many old men who on being asked, “What’s the origin of Uromi?” glibly answer, “Uzozoghainghain” or simply, “Benin”

During the organized mass exodus of Binis in 1460 therefore, those who finally reached the present Uromi area found human habitation. That place was OTO-EGBELE and its people can be taken as the aboriginal settlers of Uromi or even Ishan.

The members of the Ruling House were the leaders of the organized immigrants who left the disintegrating Great Benin Empire in 1460, The disciplined body had three leaders of note, all said to be BROTHERS. They were said to be the founders of the Ruling Houses of Irrua, Uromi and Ubiaja. In their migration they led their people to a place here they found human life at Egbele. At a point today marked by ALUOTOEGBELE, they stopped for rest and division of their property, consisting of IVIE (Coral beads), slaves etc. Then they separated. The senior brother went to the place that is today Eguare Irrua, the second to a place that is today Ivue while the third settled further on in a district that grew into Ubiaja.

Again and again the reader must be warned about the use of the word BROTHER in Ishan and by all Africans. Until modern times when people became less sentimental, places founded by brothers years and years ago, lived as such however far apart, and the spilling of blood amongst them was strictly forbidden, at the pains of causing the ire of departed forefathers, e.g. Ekpoma, Egoro and Opoji; Emu and Ohordua, Ubiaja and Udo etc. in such genuine cases throughout our history, there was no record of inter-tribal wars. But it is not so with Irrua and Uromi, or Uromi and Ubiaja. The great Irrua—Uromi War of 1892 and the incessant Uromi—Ubiaja Wars that drove Ubiaja Ruling Family from Oyomo refers. The truth then is that these leaders from Benin were merely brought together by a common foe, having come from different parts of Benin.

All these are by the way; what really concerns us is that these organized and victorious settlers, who fed up with life under a despotic Oba, wanted a place they could live like human beings. They were no fugitives — actually they had beaten Ewuare each time he had tried to force them back to the City during the exodus; they were free and proud men who had no trouble in dominating their surroundings. A proud and progressive community soon began to grow at Ivue, under the leadership of OGHU or OWU.

In 1463, Ewuare the Selfish saw the futility of trying to rebuild the great Benin City that cracked up under his inhumanity, by forceful return of determined subjects who had migrated to other parts. He saw the wisdom of stooping to conquer. He sent out invitations to all the leaders of the deserters, who he now recognized as true leaders of their respective community: he wanted to honour them with titles! From all corners of the area today comprising Ishan went undefeated warriors at the head of their settlements.

Oghu unfortunately could not honour the invitation as he had incapacitating Tertiary Yaws of the soles of his feet, which made walking appear as if he was stepping on red hot coke: the journey to Benin then took 4—6 months, through road less jungles. So Oghu asked his Senior Son. OGHALA to deputize for him Oghala, a proud and lazy type, told his father he was not the type of man that should be trekking through forests, not even to please an ageing father. In the midst of a family squabble that followed this disobedience Oghu succeeded in getting his junior brother, ICHESAN, to attend the Obas Palace for him. There, as had been seen already, Ewuare played his master stroke; working on the human love for power, he created those who attended OJIE (King) of their

Present Onojie of Uromi H.R.H A. Eidenojie II

people and made it abundantly clear that the honour was not transferable. The title made each invested person the unquestioned ruler and master of his people, responsible only to his good self EWUARE. He made them come to believe that they were no longer mere mortals and that there were then few men in the world they could shake hands with. Thus junior brothers, Sons and in some cases, Chief Stewards, found themselves Rulers of their communities, and masters of all, including those who had sent them.

At Ivue Ichesan returned to tell Oghu, his senior brother, that he was now the lord of the community at Ivue. To spare himself and his senior brother embarrassments, he moved further away to live in a spot that is today, EGUARE. When they arrived at this spot they found a very small and primitive habitation in a place which, today, is first in Eguare—OKPUJE. This quarter was named after the man who was found in this lonely settlement with his family. Eguare has been consistent in carrying forward this recognition of First come first served.’ No matter how old a man is today in any other part of Eguare, he could not be made the Odionwele. That title is reserved for the oldest man of Okpuje, who automatically becomes the Odio of Eguare. Uromí, the largest single district in Ishan, consists of three groups representing the centre, the right and the left flanks of the army. These groups are:—

1. Eguare              2. Egbele                 3. Onewa
4. Utako                5. Unuwazi              6. Arue

1. Ebhoyoma        2. Efandi9n             3. Ekhue
4. Uwalor             5. Ubierumu          6. Idumeza
7. Erer                 8. Ivue                   9. Obeidu.

1. Ukoni                2. Amedeokhian    3. Awo.

This  itself consists of

(a) OKPUJE : Which vas the aboriginal settlement in Eguere. The founder is believed to have been a dissatisfied man from the original Ohonsi or Egbele settlement.

(b) ODIGWELE: Was originally the place where slaves were kept, the man entrusted with this job being OKAIWELE.

(c) IKEKIYALA: Here the Onojie’s executioners lived. The condemned had to be first washed with native medicines by Idumuje (IdumuIjie).

(d) OYOMO: Is the residential place of the Crown Prince. As a minor he lived first at UWALOR. When his grandfather died and his father became Onojie, the Prince now moved forward to Oyomo — getting to Odugha inch by inch.

(e) OKHIERANLEN: So called because here Ichesan’s party first stopped to cook their meal. It was the hiding place for slaves.

Eguare therefore had two distinct origins. The Ruling family was founded by Ichesan, whose senior brother, Oghu, was the leader of the second batch of deserters from Benin City. A majority of these original men came from IDUMOZA Quarter of the City. Ichesan, now Onojie of the new settlement of Eguare, soon surrounded himself with servants, slaves and men seeking protection. Thus right from the time Ichesan’s children were sent to Herbalist IJIE at Ebhoyi, Eguare came to contain nobody likely to cause friction for the Onojie, but only those from whom nothing but cringing obedience was expected. To enure this, any princes who was found still living in Eguare when Onojie, their father had died, had their property seized by the heir, their brother, The late Prince USIAHON’S case is fresh on most people’s minds since it happened in modern time; Usiahon’s 8 wives and property passed to UWAGBALE, and his heir, Thomas Ojeabulu Okojie, got nothing.

This is the oldest settlement in Uromi. But for the domineering attitude and the actual superiority of the new-comers, the early settlers of Egbele could have remained distinct from the rest of Uromi, which was made up of the Onojie and his family and subsequent immigrants who carne to join him. This is supported by the fact that Egbele do their OTO worship separately while the rest of Uromi have theirs performed by the people of Unuwazi. Secondly, after an Onojie has been installed in Eguare, custom demands that he must come to ALU-OTOEGBELE for his final installation as owner of ALL Uromi land.

As happens to every settlement other immigrants came to swell the ranks of the first settlers. Men came to live near friends, wife’s people or came seeking protection from enemies in their original home. Soon these new-comers, who Ishan custom gave equal status as those they found, got swallowed up in the growing community. Only evidence we have today of their alien origin is the fact that they could marry from the families of the aboriginal people. Egbele was no exception. Other immigrants came to swell the population. To understand the growth of a town, we will take Egbele quarter by quarter.

(i) IDUMU-OTO-EGBELE: In strict sequence of settlement this is the oldest habitation in Ishan, senior even to ancient Uzea. When the children of OAKHA fled with her round about 1395, Egbele who was handicapped by deformed hands and feet was the first to tire after months of trekking and wandering in the merciless jungle, and so he settled here while Asukpodudu with the mother and the youngest son went on. Egbele’s first settlement is today a sacred spot and is marked by a shrine — ALU-OTO-EGBELE. The priest is the official holder of EHOLO and the present holder of the title, who traces his descent from Egbele, is IYORAH.

(¡¡) IDUMU-ESELE: This was founded by ESELE — the junior brother of Ichesan. He was in charge of the Onojie’s ward-robe; one day while walking across a corridor one of the Onojie’s wives cautioned him so that he might not make the mistake of stepping across her legs, an act equivalent to adultery in Ishan; this very much annoyed Esele and to avoid future friction, he decided to run to Irrua. On his brother later hearing of this unfortunate incident he went after him and begged him to come back. Esele would not forgive the woman but seeing his brother so sorry he agreed not to go so far as Irrua but insisted settling where his brother caught up with him. The Onojie then cut a stick and planting it for future reference, he warned his junior brother to remember URONLEN IGBOBHIO (Whatever happens blood is thicker than water)

(iii) AFUDA was founded by some of the princes from Ebhoyi.

(iv) IDUMUEKHUERE: The founders were natives of Agbor.

(v) IDUMUAGBALA of the beloved AGBA fame was founded by men from AVBIELE (Agbede).

(vi) UKPATO was founded by some of the fugitives that fled OKAIGBEN Ewohimi same time as the great Blacksmith OMI of Amedeokhian.

The first inhabitants were the people of Udomi part who were some of the followers of Ogha of Ivue. Some of them came from Ebhoyi.

UTAKO : This place in the main had a double origin. A part came from Okaigben, the actual founder being OKOGUN who was the first ISODOLE; the other part was founded by men from Idumesogban in Ebhoyi.
IDUEDESO quarter was founded by a native of Ighanlan (Igalla).

UNUWAZI : They are the worshippers of the general OTO UROMI. A majority of the early inhabitants came from Avbiele and hence were of the same set as the founders of Idumuagbala of Egbele. Only the founders of ODOGBE were of different stock; they came from OTE near Ebhoran in Kukuruku Division. Of the other immigrants who came to make up Uromi, only Egbele is senior by age of arrival, to Unuwazi. Their traditional dance is AYELE which is danced every other year during the worship of OLAAN.

ARUE: Part came from Uzea and EKWEI (Ekperri). In those days of terrible superstition, the first son in each family used to be hidden so that he could grow up without inciting anybody’s jealousy. Thus the great EBOLO of Odogbe in Unuwazi had sent his heir to grow in Arue. This man later founded UZENEMA Quarter of Arue. His own heir was the great IDU — founder of Obeidu.

EBHOYOMA (EBHOYI): Soon after Ichesan settled in Eguare his family increased in proportion to his harem. This large family was struck with an epidemic, not unlike Cholera. All about the harem and Odugha men and children lay prostrate after prolonged vomiting and loose bowels. Ichesan’s first thought was that the wrath of his ancestors had descended upon him for what Ewuare made him do to his senior brother, Oghu. Goat blood flowed from the ancestral shrine but members of his family continue to drop like files, until a great medicine man called IJIE came from EMU. He saved the Onojie and his family from a sure extinction. Lavishly rewarded herbalist Ijie was implored not to return to Emu but to live nearby- as the herbalist to the Onojie. Agreed, he was sent to one of the Onojie’s hereditary chiefs, the Esongban. Where he settled is today IDUMIJE. This quarter is the first and most vital in Ebhoyi as regards the ceremonies surrounding burial and installation of Uromi Enijie. They are responsible for all acts of purification and protection of the throne. A man to be killed for appeasement of the Royal ancestors had to be washed with medicines by the descendants of Ijie.

Esogban was already living in this area before the arrival of Ijie, but the, quarter founded by him IDUMUGHELE of Idun-Esogban had to be second to that of Ijie, because of the important personalities Idumije contained—Ijie himself and the princes sent to him for care. On Ichesan’s death all the Princes with the exception of the heir, went up to their guardian or second father, Ijie who had saved them all years before. This was the origin of the plan of sending princes to Ebhoyi on the death of their father. As an equivalent of the modern family doctor, ever before the death of Ichesan, Ijie had become so well known and loved that a better guardian could not have been found for Ichesan’s children. Secondly the Ishan word for brother is OBHIABA. There is an Ishan saying that IBHIABA BABAORIA which means that “Brothers’ jealousy is as hot as fire” And to minimise the jealousy that was bound to arise, the heir on coming to the throne, was protected by sending ah his brothers away from Eguare.

At Idumije everything was done to curb the desire to return to Eguare. The princes had the advantage of having their health guarded by the best medicine man in the land. An efficient smithy was later built there to keep the young rascals occupied the man in charge.

The second batch of Binis who left Benin City during the time of Ewuare the Selfish, and headed for the Esan country, were mostly from IDUMUOZA Quarter of the City and were under the leadership of OGHU. First they settle very near to Irrua, at a spot today marked by EKOEIMUHI. Incessant friction and unpleasantness from Irrua as a neighbour made Oghu move further to his final settlement at Ivue the actual original settlement being OBHIEI, where the Ohen Oghu is found today.

When Ichesan returned from Benin to tell Oghu that he had been made Onojie, that is, Ruler of his people, and that all in Ivue then had become his subjects, wisdom counselled his moving away from the rigina1 settlement to save himself and his brother sure friction. According to Ishan custom, it is the junior brother who pays homage to his senior; thus though Ichesan had become the overlord of the settlement he was wise not to expect or demand homage and the yearly tributes from his senior brother Oghu with the result that traditionally Ivue paid no such tributes to the Onojie at Eguare.

IDUMUIGHA part of Ivue was founded by Eigha, one of Oghu’s sons. ODHAN, Oghu’s second son, founded IDINGUN. This settlement was increased in population by immigrants who came later from Eben’s Idumu-Igun of Igueben. Here the titled man of Ivue is founded today, because after Oghu had driven his stubborn first son, Oghala, founder of Udomi, Irrua, Odehan, the second son naturally assumed the role of the heir.

The very first quarter here was founded by IDU, the first grandson of Herbalist Ebolo of Odogbe, Unuwazi. Some of the founder‘s children who had become recognized native doctors, migrated to start a settlement, IDUNEGBON of Idumebo, Irrua.

This large village consists of





UJIAGBODOR was the second son of Agba the Beloved; he was living in a Camp. When he fell sick the Onojie, his father sent a powerful native doctor called AWENWEN, to go and treat him. This man was a native of lgbaken. When he got better he prevailed upon the herbalist to remain with him and protects him from the incessant waves of Amedeokhian warriors’ troubles. Where the Prince settled became IDUMUODAFEN while the settlement of the doctor and his family became IDUMUODION. Awenwen’s junior brother called OMONOALE founded IDUMUESOLON. The founders of Idumeka were from Idumeka of Efandion. Prince Ujiagbodor’s junior brother, IHANMOLEN, founded IDUMUOGO, which was thus an off-shoot of Idumuodafen.

Some of the early settlers of Ukoni were members of Egbele Imiokoko, dcscendants of the great war-lord, Ojeade of Ewu.

There are two main quarters: IDUEDEVA and IDIGUN, and their history make interesting connection between Ewohirni and several places in Uromi.

The great founder of Okaigben in Ewohimi called IZINOMON came direct from Benin City to join the Onojie of Ewohimi. He died leaving four ‘principal sons—OMI, ODIALE, OKHALE and OKOGUN. Like the children of all great leaders, they themselves were men of considerable respect amongst the people they led. The second brother Odiale, was an Ibieguae, but he committed adultery with one of the Onojie’s. .wives, and according to tradition, irrespective of birth, the punishment was death, the alternative of banishment could only be decreed at the Onojie’s pleasure. In this case, it pleased the Onojie to demand Odiale’s head, and despite the stiff opposition of the other three brothers, supported by the whole of Okaigben, the Onojie ot that head! Okaigben people were incensed, crying that they had left Benin because of the Oba who was not subjected to any constitutional check, and now this was their reward. They decided to seek a new home but the three brothers decided to have their own back on the tyrannical Onojie before seeking peace and happiness somewhere like the majority of their people who had already begun to risk the jungle rather than remain at Ewohimi.

Soon all Ewohimi was summoned to Eguare as there was an impending attack from a neighbouring chieftain. As usual there had to be a preliminary war dance to ensure everybody was in a state of frenzy before talk of war would have any meaning. But the three brothers needed no such working up, though they were very grateful for the frenzied state of the others, for in the confusion, they fell upon the Onojie and his head rolled on the ground. Instead of the intended meeting to plan how to meet an outside enemy, here was war right in their midst The rest of Ewohimi attacked the people of Okaigben, the result being that many of the inhabitants who had not originally planned to migrate, sought refuge anywhere else in Ishan. The three brothers who had carefully made their plans left, heading for IGHANLAN.

At Ubiaja someone tried to coax them into staying but they felt that with the nearness of that place to Ewohimi, their heads were not worth more than a few cowries; so they trekked on till they got to a lowly settlement called OKPUJE where a man called ODEVA stopped them, asking them where they were going to. Omi, the leader told him they were on their way to Ighanlan. “Oh a long, long way yet, come in and have a smoke” urged Odeva, after whom the more inclusive name for the small Okpuje was named. As they were enjoying Obodo, the long pipe of friendship, Odeva got the strangers to unload their minds. “You have come a long way,” said Odeva, in that well known sympathetic voice that had won Uromi many inhabitants through the ages:’ “Rest today and leave first thing tomorrow.”’ The fugitives, who were glad for a chance to rest their acheing legs, acquiesced. Next morning Onu woke to find Odeva’s children scraping roasted yams with fiat pieces of the back of palm branches. “What” he exclaimed, “Cutting yams with sticks! Where are your knives? “

“Knives?” cried the children; “Never heard the word before” Omi, who just could not hide his amazement, called out their kind host and narrated what he saw the children-doing, ending with, “I say where -- are your knives ?““Knives?“ cried Odeva, “Knives! What are they — are they like the Onojie’s Ebelen? Poor men don’t have Ebelen!”

For answer, Omi who was himself a first class blacksmith, called out his junior brothers, emptied their bags and within a short time they had rigged up a smithy. He beat a knife out of a piece of iron, called for a piece of yam and slashed it in a way an executioner with a new Ebelen (State Sword) could have envied Odeva’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets! Yells upon yells of admiration came off his opened mouth and this brought a few of his co-villagers to his door. Odeva narrated how he found the men and how from a piece of EMATON Omi had fashioned out a miniature Ebelen, the nearest cutting thing yet known to them! As a confirmation Omi made more knives, ELO (women’s type of knives), and from a bigger piece of iron, he made a wider knife’ which stuck to a stick was used for digging (Hoe)—From a much bigger piece, he made a large knife for cutting down trees (Matchet).

“You will not leave us” cried all Okpuje. All Alu-Idigun were desecrated, the god of iron being stolen for Omi to make what he called UKPOGHALE for them. The elders despatched messengers to inform the Onojie of the wonders of the new arrivals to their settlement: “They make Ebelen of various sizes and shapes, all extremely useful” they asked the messengers to convey to the Onojie. The nearby settlement of IMIOMUZA was also informed of the wonderful news

The Okpuje elders loaded Omi with bribes, including a wife in an attempt to make him forget Ighanlan. Imiomuza people also gave him a wife. The Onojie sent that such men must be made to stay at all cost, making good his word by sending a wife and requesting Omi to call upon him at Eguare. At Eguare, when the Onojie had seen what Omi could do he proceeded to confer the title of ONIHA, next only to that of Onojie. But Omi declined the offer telling the Onojie that he was a busy blacksmith and would not have time for frequenting .Eguare; so he put his immediate brother OKHALE forward and he was duly installed, while the most junior brother OKOGUN was created the ISODOLE. The Onojie, thus was able to get at least two of the three brothers to come and live near him, the Oniha moving to Efandion while the Isodole went to Utako.

Meantime Omi’s influence and riches increased; he already had three wives and from all Uromi came men to buy what is used to ‘divided something’ (Oghale), and hoes. One day he came to see the Onojie and at the Palace he saw some newly woven baskets which fascinated him just as much as his knives had made Odeva marvel. He told the Onojie these strange things would be excellent for carrying charcoal from the fields to his smithy. He was bent on buying the baskets, but so fascinated was he that he removed the costly Coral Beads round his neck in exchange for these mere cane work, to the great astonishment of the courtiers. They wondered not at his wealth but at his stupidity: “Imagine exchanging Coral Beads for mere OKHUALE. He must be a sheep — a damn fool“The name stuck! From that very day he was referred to as OMI NO OHUAN (Omi the Sheep).

When the great blacksmith died, he was deified for his great contribution to arts and crafts in Uromi. Amedeokhian who descended from him is came to be known as IBHI OMI NO OHUAN. His great shrine today still stands at Amedeokhian and the priest who descended from him is OKHUELEGBE.

Uwagbale the Onojie of Uromi
Uwagbale The Onojie of Uromi

Uwagbale was one of the most loved Enijie in Ishan today. He lost the sting of a firm ruler, the day he heard a cork say goodbye to a bottle, he was a joyous, innocuous Onojie, more anxious for peace and happiness, than to indulge in the serious study of state craft. His disposition is such that he could not make an enemy of a man for long.

Rulers of a district where politics is carried on rather to the detriment of its welfare, Uwagbale has done all he could to preach by his tolerance for less malice and more charity in politics. He has had two stretches on the throne of Uromi —first as a young handsome Regent when his father was arrested and deported in 1919. He acted in this capacity till 1931 when Ogbidi returned. He stepped down for his father and returned to Oyomo, the Crown Prince’s official residence. On the death of Ogbidi in 1944 he came to the throne de jure.
In his lifetime he has seen a rapid growth of Uromi with a terrifying political consciousness of his subjects. But for the Ishans’ respect for unwritten but definite constitution and the guidance of his educated heir, Prince C. U. Eidenojie, there is no doubt he could have become a mere puppet. The town of Uromi has grown considerably, its large market, the largest in Ishan, being a great incentive to foreign settlers. Started by the Catholic Mission and buttressed by the progressive people of Uromi, a Hospital on the way to becoming a combined Government-Mission Effort, was opened in 1948. That too has added another fillip to the growth of the district.

3. Kingmakers:
The actual authoritative body consists of the elders of IDUMIJE Ebhoyi. Owing to the growth of Eguare in Uromi, it is no surprise that Eguare has no hands in the matter of Onojie title.

Uromi, like Irrua, where the heir is already well and traditionally known during his father’s lifetime, has saved herself from succession disputes, by this customary recognition. As a young Prince, third in line of succession, he lives at Uwalor near Oyomo. When his father ascends the throne he moves to Oyomo. Thus by the time his father dies, he is already known by all Uromi and the Kingmakers’ duty is only to install him as soon as he has paid his respects to his dead father by performing the burial and Ogbe ceremonies.
It would appear as if Uromi is an exception to the custom of the Osukhure being a member of the Kingmakers. It is only so in appearance for the Onojie’s Osukhure in Uromi is the traditional head of the IHOGBE and comes from Ubierumu. The part of Ubierumu from which he hails, was founded by the people of Ebhoyi—DESCENDANTS OF ENIJIE AND PRINCES. Owing to the system of the Princes not living in Eguare, Uromi’s kingmakers are bound to be found OUTSIDE Eguare.

4. Installation:
As soon as the Onojie dies, the IBIWELE the trusted members of the Palace Society, send for the Oniha at Efandion. He at once takes charge of the Palace and assumes the duties of the Onojie. He sends to all the chiefs who collect food and forward same to Eguare for the feeding of the hundreds of women and children in the harem, who otherwise could have been without care during this interim period. A mat is sent for at Uzea (a reason why an Uromi Onojie forbids sitting on a mat at Uzea Once and once only; and that is before he is buried and after the dead body has been washed and all the inner secret ceremonies consisting in the olden days of slaughtering myriads of slaves, have been completed, the body is wrapped with the special mat and buried in the special Burial Bush at Eguare.

The Prince now moves from Oyomo to Idumuewele. He summons his Egbele consisting of the elders of Ebhoyi and announces to them formally the death of his father. Then he can start the burial ceremonies at once, ending with Ogbe. All the ceremonies take him about three months and all this time he must live at Idumuewele. On the last Rest Day Edizele, which is a day following Uromi market day, he is subjected to his last insults and labour: he sweeps the village square, climbs a palm tree and he is given three other men to form a Street Watching Team for that day. He arranges for food for his colleagues. Thus he has done all men must normally do in an Ishan community.

Then he returns to the Palace in triumph for the pre-installation ceremonies. These ceremonies consisting of making medicines for the throne and acts of purification of Odugha for the new Ruler are presided over by the Elders of Idumije. The heir is then blessed by Osukhure who, since Ubierumu moved out of their original ancestral Ijie, is EWELE. After this ILUOBO the actual counting on the throne is done by the ONIHA. He is then the new ONOJIE. His job completed the Oniha in recompense for all his duties during the past three months, steps into the harem, for the last time, and he is given the bewildering joy of making a choice out of the hundreds of beauties in the harem. He then hands the reins of office to the new Onojie. The Onojie, who installs the Oniha, is rewarded in a similar manner when a new Oniha assumes office of Uromi Ruling House is the longevity of the Enijie. Right from ICHESAN, the first Onojie, to the present day, each Onojie with the exception of IKENOA, had lived up to a ripe old age. Ikenoa had powerful brothers who eclipsed him even as Onojie. The psychological effect of this might have shortened his life. But for AGBA the Beloved’s challenge to Oba Ozolua, he might have lived much longer; though he might not have merited the honour Uromi pays him even till this day.


AGBA N’OJIE (1488—1504) was the second Onojie of Uromi. He came to the throne as a sagacious and fearless young man with an obsession: To redeem the unfettered position every leader of his people had before Ewuare’s trick brought his father, Ichesan and the other Enijie under the suzerainty of Benin once more. He swore to himself that he would redeem himself and his people from the annoying servitude to the Oba of Benin. Thus as soon as he succeeded his father he began a methodical preparation for a show down with Ewuare’s son, the fighting Ozolua. Falling to enlist the sympathy of the rest of the Enijie in Ishan, he decided Uromi was strong enough under his own personal and dauntless leadership, for the battle that would culminate in the reversal of authority. First Agba stopped all the yearly tributes from Uromi to Benin and secondly, laughed to scorn the jelly-like attitude of his brother Enijie who went to pay homage to the son of a Ruler their father had beaten and won freedom from. Had it been another Oba, things could have been bad enough—but this open revolt against an Oba like OZOLUA who developed paralysing cramps when he had no war to fight, bothered on suicide on Agba’s part.

THE UZEA WAR, 1502—1503.

Oba Ozolua

In 1502 Ozolua could not bear the insult any longer and marched oil Uromi by way of Uzea. As usual when he marched with his equally blood thirsty soldiers, the inhabitants along the road, fled into the jungle but at Uzea, the Onojie there who knew Agba’s stand offered a resistance. In the battle that followed, the Uzea Ruler was slain and Ozolua made a decree there and then that that was to be the last Onojie in Uzea. The Onojie’s head was taken to Benin and cast in brass as a trophy. Agba did not wait for Ozolua to reach Uromi. He called on all his Ekakulo to defend their fatherland.

The indomitable IKHIRIMO of Ebhoyi rushed and asked his wife to cook Ema quickly before he went to obey his overlord’s summons. He got back to the house to find the yams where he had left them, in desperation ate them, and as he left for battle, he cursed his wife and said that if he returned from that battle it would be goodbye to that obdurate wife but if he did not, any of his children who worshipped him with food cooked by a woman could be sure of getting one part of his body— his back! Ikhirimo never returned but he was deified and till this day, is worshipped with uncooked food, since all cooking is done by women!

From Ekhue came the thick-necked warrior, IDEDEKPANELE, who thought he alone could face Ozolua’s tested men. He was slain where he stood, but was rewarded with deification by his people.

Agba with his valiant fighters armed with poisoned arrows, matchets, cudgels etc., as guns had not been known then, went to meet Ozolua - but his attacks were so ferocious and persistent that Agba thought discretion was better part of valour: the Great War lord fled to the edge of the Niger at a spot near the present Amalu Ugboha. The leader of the nomadic fishermen there gave him sanctuary but as he sat brooding over his wounded pride, he saw a grasshopper being chased by Driver Ants. Struggling for dear life the insect hopped but landed on the laps of Agba, who irrelatively seized the cheeky thing and flung it right into the columns of the ants. The man who had given Agba refuge, seeing this, shouted in utter amazement: here was a man pursued by his enemies; he gave him refuge and he was happy; but a terrified insect fleeing from equally ferocious enemies, running to him for protection was flung back to a certain death at the hands of the ants “Agba” he said, “Pack and leave my house-you deserve no mercy.”.

Dejectedly Agba found his way to Uromi and Ozolua immediately attacked him with his usual gusto when he had a battle to fight. Whenever Agba made himself scarce, Ozolua unhurriedly and determinedly camped at Uzea, which had become an occupied territory. To him time was nothing as long as it was spent in fighting! Thus for a whole year no farming was possible in Uromi. Men had deserted their homes and were living in the jungle. Packed in hovels and starving, epidemic diseases took heavier toll of the men than were actually lost at the battles. Ozolua, of course, could not maintain his supply line from Benin and his men depended upon the food pillaged from Uromi deserted homes and farms. When these were exhausted they too began to die like files, not from acts of battles but from inanition and infections.

On both sides everybody except the leaders whose prides were hurt, were tired and sick of the fluid battle. On both sides the followers began to think alike: but for Ozolua and Agba they could have been home then with their families instead of facing hunger and racking diseases in huts and hide-outs. The warriors on both sides finally got to the comic stage where they could meet on the road or bush and instead of the usual hateful exchange of poisoned arrows, they shook hands and asked if their respective leaders were not yet tired of the stupid situation. Finally the amazing fraternization got to a stage when the more audacious ones summoned a highly secret meeting of the men in immediate command of the warriors on both sides. They met in the jungle and came to the following conclusions:

1. They were tired of war.

2. Their enemies then were the War-mongers Ozolua and Agba.

3. To end the war and get back to their families, these war-mongers must be eliminated.

4. Each side to select four top-ranking and trusted men who would make a sure and hasty despatch of their respective leader and

5. Assembling all the known articles of war and all the jujus known to Benin and Ishan they took a solemn oath to ensure each side carried outs own assigned duties.

The Binis, who had not known stretch of six months peace since Ozolua ascended the Benin Throne about 1480, were the first to act. They did not want to carry the guilt of killing their King and leader on their conscience, so they informed trusted Uzea soldiers that Ozolua always wore a coat of iron so that all arrows and cutlass blows fell harmless on his body. This used to frighten attackers so much that the legend spread far and wide that Ozolua vas invulnerable and that by means of powerful medicines, arrows and cutlasses were meaningless as articles of war against him. Thus the sight of Ozolua at- the head of his Warriors used to make would-be attackers bolt into the bush without a fight.

At sunset Ozolua relieved himself of this heavy burden and took a refreshing bath. That was his weakest hour. Truly on the evening of the day this vital information was conveyed, the warrior undressed and as he was taking his bath, his chief steward, ELAISOLOBI threw a stone over the fence as an agreed signal to his enemies, A man climbed up the fence and as Ozolua looked up, a poisoned arrow landed on his hairy chest. The great warrior writhed in pain and within a few hours he was a dead man.

As his followers could not carry Ozolua’s body to Benin, they cut his head which was sent to Benin City while his body was buried at a spot removed from Uzea for fear of desecration. Some soldiers were stationed to guard the spot and these soldiers were the founders of OTOKHINMIN in Ugboha, which marked the grave of Ozolua’s body.

This done the Benin leaders sent to Uromi that they had fulfilled their own part of the secret agreement. The fearless Agba not knowing that those around him had become worse than open enemies planned his impending attack on Ozolua at Uzea. A few disguised men stepped into his room and took him prisoner. The great leader was led into the bush behind the present Uromi Rest House. They recounted for his information the ills that his lust for war had brought on Uromi; men, for over a year had not been able to farm; they were separated from their homes and families; people were dying like files from want of food and care, and now, they were sick of war. “Guilty or not guilty ” Agba looked at his most faithful and bravest brothers in arms in a disdainful bewilderment and finally asked, “Are you men mad or have I gone crazy? We couldn’t all be sane?”“There you are wrong bloodthirsty Agba,” they echoed, “We, like you, are all sane; we are tired of war and you should prepare to die like a man.” Their words were as good as their deeds for they then tied up his hands and feet. Then came a hitch, they never foresaw. WHO WAS TO DELIVER THE FATAL BLOW? Oath or no oath, here was their sovereign in fetters, “It won’t be me to take the life of a man who had led us all these years” each man protested. With this racing through each man’s mind, they lost their nerves and were prepared to spare Agba’s life.

There was a one-handed man amongst them, called AGOBO; he in a quiet tone told the rest to remember the perfidy their weakness was driving them to commit. The great Ozolua was already dead in fulfilment of the solemn oath they took with the Binis. Now for them to cheat them after they had lost their leader would bring everlasting shame on Uromi, not to speak of the fury of the Binis who would be driven to fight to a finish to punish this treachery. He would never be a party to such a chameleonic treachery. “Well said” the warriors commented — “But we maintain history shall not record that we loyal subjects took the life of our dear King!” So saying they disappeared into the jungle one by one leaving their beloved king still agonizingly immobilized, with that single man of integrity. Agobo’ saw to it at great pain that Uromi’s side of the grave agreement was carried out. He returned to his colleagues and told them that he had saved the name of Uromi. This information was received with mixed feelings and sensing that the, rest might report him to the uninformed people with a sure torture and death, he fled out of Uromi, to Ugboha, via Uzea, to inform the Binis that Uromi that day, had carried out the terms of the Armistice. Agobo was the originator of IDASUN of Idinegbon, Ugboha.

Many of the top-ranking warriors of Uromi knew that Agba was taken to the particular bush now called AHOJIE but they were not present to know how he died or what Agobo, who was himself a native of IDUMAGBALA, Egbele, did with him, but all they-knew- was that this strong hearted individual saved the name of Uromi. Had they succeeded in that terrible treachery, the Binis could have fallen upon Uromi with a redoubled strength and immeasurable fury. A few of the immediate and trusted relatives of Agobo in his quarter knew what he had done, and for long answered the question,. “Where is Agba?” with “OVADE” (He’s coming), hence that quarter got the nickname of IDUMU-OVADE.

With the disappearance of the two great leaders, Ozolua and Agba, from the theatre of war, the two sides wandered about without leaders. The Binis finally went home and Uromi people returned from the bush to rehabilitate and resettle their towns.

A year after the disappearance of Agba, people started talking of him in a nostalgic way. All his faults were forgotten. They said that any ambition he had had was on the long run, to establish the supremacy of Uromi, since the other Enijie were too cowardly to attempt to change the old order of things. So at a big remembrance ceremony, Agba was given a fitting burial by all Uromi and he was deified.

Agba is now a venerable Shrine attended by women and men from ah corners of Uromi. The priest is from Ubierumu and the worship, done on Uromi Market Day.
It will be interesting to mention here that Agba’s strong feelings against the Oba of his lifetime had been handed down the line. Uromi Enijie have never had real love for any of the Obas of Benin. What little love there was, had not been nurtured by the bestowing of the Okaijesan Title on the Ojirrua by Oba Akenzua I about 1723.

Ohen Agba
Ohen Agba N' Ojie

Worship at Agba Shrine takes place every fifth day, on Uromi market day. The Ohen Agba Ebosele, whose father Ehikhebo was an Ohen-Agba too arrives at the shrine between 11 and 12 noon worshippers, a majority being women arrive in accordance with the prescription given them by the diviners or native doctors all over Uromi. Some are told that to be pregnant they must go and worship Agba, taking along kolanuts and chalk, or coconut and chalk, a cock and kolanut with chalk etc. Whatever is prescribed kolanuts and chalk must be added. Wine, foufou, dogs, fluted pumpkin etc. may be ordered too. After the worshipper has told the Ohen what she was asked to tell him, which may include how the actual worship may be performed, the gifts are handed over, and holding the Ukhure Agba with his left hand, he recites the blessings, which may be asking Agba N’Ojie to ward off bellyache, impending sudden death, difficult labour or cure sterility. This done, he rubs white chalk on the outer aspects of both arms and forearms and particularly in the case of women, rubs the chest, back and down the abdomen. Some wet chalk is then given to be used by the family at home. Any child or relative, who accompanies the recipient of the blessings, is similarly smeared with chalk the sign of purity or good tidings.

The presents sent are accepted, it’s not his place to dictate the quantity or kind or value; the chalk is thrown on the shrine, the kolanuts go into his bag and any palm wine is drunk by the Ohen and his friends who invariably surround him for perquisites; a piece of kolanut is given to the worshipper. And so he goes through the queue which on good business days could be long.

As a result of the great Agba’s influence; pride-and the great-respect he commanded from his subjects, his sons were abnormally proud Princes. With such a proud father, many did exactly what they liked and some amassed wealth faster than even their father. Thus when Ikenoa ascended the throne about 1504, it was near correct to say that many of his brothers considered themselves Enijie in their new homes at Ebhoyi. The second brother, ONINA who later founded Afuda, was particularly so rich and influential and so commanding in words and deeds that he virtually eclipsed Ikenoa who ought to be his overlord, but for his humility. All the brothers regarded Onina as the boss and all services which ought to have been rendered unto the Onojie were directed unto the wealthy Onina. Hurt and left lonely in the Palace, Ikenoa brooded over his fate. He at last resolved to punish his brothers who feared Onina more than himself. One day he invited them all with the exception of Onina and his junior brother who could have been too proud to attend in any case. When they were all assembled in a hall in the palace, he locked the door and set fire to the building. His disrespectful brothers were roasted alive.

Hearing this Onina was infuriated and at once organized Uromi against the meek Ikenoa who had been driven to this stern measure by Onina’s wicked bluff. The humble Onojie paid all the fines which Uromi inflicted upon him, but Onina said nothing short of an eye for an eye would satisfy him. He and his junior brother, IYOR, swore that it would be their sacred duty to make the Onojie, their brother, die the same death as he had prescribed for their brothers.

Later a man at Eror committed adultery with one of the Onojie’s wives, that is, O HA IGBEN, a crime punishable by the man being tied up high on a tree near the present Dispensary at Uromi and left to die a slow death, while the woman was shaved, the bare scalp riddled with small incisions, oil was poured on her and with the legs spread out, the feet were pinned to the ground and the woman left alone to die a slow death in shame. If she came from an influential family or was a Princess, her life was bought through the Princes of Ebhoyi and she was banished for life from Uromi.

The Eror man who had misbehaved with Ikenoa’s wife knew this would be his fate but either because of the Onojie’s meekness or just because he was merely rebelling against Ishan laws, he was unrepentant and nobody seemed to do anything about it. Then an heirless man died at the same village but his property was not sent to the Onojie according to custom. Even angels sometimes lost their temper, and in this case Ikenoa could not keep his: he marched on Eror. After he had gone an informant went to tell Onina that Ikenoa had passed to Eror so he and some helpers hid near the road and on the Onojie’s return he was taken captive. Onina tied him up and sent word to Iyor that he had at last got Ikenoa where he wanted him and that he should come down for the satisfaction of their oath—but Iyor had gone to his farm. He had Ikenoa’s head shaved, as was done to a condemned man, waiting only for his brothers return before he burnt the Onojie alive.

The helpless and friendless Ikenoa begged Onina to call him his (Onina’s) first son to give him water to drink. Onina called out his son’s name, “AIGBOJIE, AIGBOJIE!” The boy answered, ran in and Ikenoa begged his brother to call the boy’s name again. He obliged with “AIGBOJIE!” and before he could repeat the name Ikenoa interjected, “What of me now?” for the boys name meant ONE DOES NOT HARM HIS KING. This disarmed Onina who then told Ikenoa why he was angry with him. Aigbojie knelt down and implored his father to remember the name he himself had given him and hence he should not kill this one. Onina told his son to remember that he and Iyor had taken a very strong oath to the effect that the first person to get hold of Ikenoa should burn him alive. The sensible boy told his father he was aware of that but suggested that there was a way he could get round that Since Ikenoa had been shaved he should burn the hair to denote that he had been burnt as arranged. This pleased Onina who did as was suggested and then he set the prisoner free. Aigbojie then escorted the Onojie home. Immediately, Iyor returned from farm, and he foamed from his mouth when he was told that Ikenoa had been caught but was allowed to go. He seized a matchet and gave a chase but the Onojie ran into herbalist Ijie’s house where the honoured doctor was able to pacify Iyor.

On reaching the palace Ikenoa sent to Oba Esijie making a free gift of Onina’s and Iyor’s quarters to him.


Soon after the subjugation of Benin under Oba Ovonramwen in 1897, the white men began to infiltrate into Esan Country. They were led into Uromi by the embittered second son of Okolo, called IYOHA. All he was after was to undo Prince Okojie and straighten his way to Odugha. When Uromi heard of the approach of the white men who had desecrated the OBA they decided to fight for their land like men. Okolo, who was lame and by now was quite old, fled and hid at Amedeokhian. Prince Okojie was a courageous and able man but not a warrior. It is true that his thought at least was disinterested in matters relating to war, but when wolves are about the good shepherd must guard his flock, even if he himself does not care for mutton. Thus most of the fighting was under the direction of the active and bold young Prince. Uromi fought bravely for their land, inch by inch, but their first collapse came when Okolo was captured at Amedeokhian and executed there. This very much pained Okojie who redoubled his effort not only to fight for the land of his birth but to avenge the disgraceful end of his great father at the hands of the invaders.

Then ONOKPOGWA, the Ezomo, played a trick on his people. A few days after the execution of Okolo he got the news spread that peace had been made and that all Uromi in hiding in the jungles could then return home. All came out of their hiding and the unsuspecting Prince Okojie was seized with the Iyasere by the white men. They were given a summary trial, found guilty and their beautifully beaded hairs were shaved off before they were led away in chains to serve a year’s imprisonment as War Criminals.

With Okolo dead and Prince Okojie gone, Uromi was left without a leader. EBOHON, Ologbosere’s brother, who did so much to make the white men’s entry into Benin territory impossible and after the forced entry he became their greatest friend and guide, was asked to be in charge. All Uromi knew was that the Prince was gone, probably had suffered the same fate as was meted out to the innocuous Okolo. The only black man then wise in the white man’s ways in Uromi was Ebohon; he bled the Princes of Ebhoyi in order to fight for Okojie’s redemption from the white men. Goats, oil, money etc., were collected and given to Ebohon, who alone knew that Okojie was not killed but sent to serve a term of a year’s’ imprisonment at Calabar. He pretended to be working hard bargaining hard with the white men and in fine months, Okojie returned via Opoji. He rode into Uromi in triumph on the famous charger, OYEDO, lent to him by the great Imadojiemu of Opoji. All members of the Ruling House in Uromi were deeply indebted to the wise Benin man who all the time as he bled them, had been muttering to himself, ESAN NE ELAMEN OHA.

Okojie Okolo Onojie of Uromi
Okojie (Ogbidi) Onojie of Uromi

(iv) OK0JIE ALIAS OGBIDI (1901—1918 AND 1931—1944):
As a Prince Okojie was a handsome, alarmingly agile and bold man. Before his father died he had built a name of respect for himself and Uromi. For Uromi he was the best think between the OBA’S WORLD and the White man’s Regime. His great and famous life was chequered because of his early inability to adapt himself to the menial position the white man had reduced our most honoured title — ONOJIE; Ogbidi felt it humiliating to be converted from the lord supreme of all he surveyed in Uromi to the ‘Onojie-in-Council’.
As has been seen already, before 1901 he was already a popular and respected Prince. His arrest and deportation to Calabar in 1900 made a martyr of the man who had fought bravely for his fatherland. Thus when he returned in 1901, he found all Uromi at his feet. He first lived at IBHALE’S place at Ebhoyi, while the ruins at the Palace had to be rebuilt.

He then went to Idumuewele and began the customary burial ceremonies before he was installed Onojie towards the close of 1901. He was not new to the position of authority. Knowing his people’s admiration for him, he ruled like any of his illustrious predecessors. He was treated with awe at Uromi and outside Uromi and Irrua, men thanked God they were not natives of Uromi. He refused to believe it was stealing, inheriting the property of a man who died without a male child, as his fathers had done since the time of Ichesan. He demanded and of course got a leg of every cow killed at every Burial Ceremony in Uromi, that alone making the buying of meat at the Palace quite unnecessary! Even after the white man had been firmly established at Ubiaja, he continued the lucrative habit of looting all men who had died without heirs: homes, farms, cows and even economies plants, not to mention the proverbial CUTLASS and HOE of the dead man were removed to Eguare. At this time too the timber industry was just coming into Ishan and men were required to work in shifts of six months for which they got a lump sum of £6. The timber merchants went through the Onojie for labour and thus it became customary that Ogbidi could send men for timber work. Those who did not want to go bought themselves freedom for £6 apiece and those who went returned to thank God and Ogbidi for their safe return by the payment of just £6; he never asked for more.

Abolition of Slave Trade was white man’s affair and since he was no white man, Ogbidi indulged in what all lovers of Wilberforce would have classed as degrees of slavery: Only 7 miles from the District Commissioner at Ubiaja, he continued to amass wives by the old system of marriage by seizure. Those in his octopus grip got their release by pledging their daughters, wives or themselves. Despotic Ogbidi, shouting orders and demanding cringing obedience from even his highest aids, punished minor offences with severe terms of imprisonment and meted out to more serious offenders that most ancient and un-republican of sentences — plundering of the offender’s village of origin.

With such terrorist tactics, Uromi people felt they had had enough of Ogbidi: it had become painfully apparent that the martyr of 1901 had become the Nero of 1917. Angry rumblings began to gather from all corners of Uromi, and in 1918, suffering humanity, broken and disillusioned, rose like one man against the erstwhile beloved Onojie.

With so much disaffection, the white men who knew themselves what regards Ogbidi had for their authority, had to deport him to Benin in 1918. Ogbidi at Benin made very little difference from Ogbidi at Eguare, Uromi. His strong tentacles reached and influenced every major decision at Uromi, so in 1926 he was moved 250 miles further to Ibadan. There he organized a successful escape and he returned to Uromi to cause a stir. Given a chance he could have wrought vengeance with all his usual thoroughness, on all his enemies, right from every Uromi citizen through his son and heir, Uwagbale, to his godson, Okojie of Ugboha who he came to hate so avidly because it was alleged he plotted with Uwagbale to make his return impossible so that he and Uwagbale could have Uromi and Ishan unto themselves. The quick action of the Government saved everybody concerned. He was arrested and charged with entering Uromi without permission. He was tried and sentenced to three months imprisonment which he served in Benin City before he was sent back to Ibadan, where he remained till August 1931 when he was given a free passage to his native land.

In accordance with Ishan laws and custom, Uwagbale stepped down for his father and returned to Oyomo. By now Ogbidi had only fully understood the might and cunning of the white man, but had grown older and mellower in wisdom. Though he still commanded a lot of respect and had all the dignity that befitted a Ruler, he only ejaculated, “I am King of Uromi“in words and no longer in deeds. His last years from 1931 to 1944 brought experience, stability and good government to Uromi. His autocracy was replaced with benevolence and his early greed made good by the indiscriminate spread of joy and happiness to all around him. Till his dying day it is doubtful if he fully forgave the two who were nearest his heart before his troubles in 1918 — Uwagbale and his godson, Chief Okojie of Ugboha. “If thy right hand offends thee, cut it out” was his guiding principle in life, and but for the rigidity of Ishan traditions, he could have cut them both out. Uwagbale, as long as he performed the customary ceremonies owned the throne by right and Chief Okojie had gone to the next world where Ogbidi’ s might was unknown.

A lot of good things happened during the long lifetime of Ogbidi. Two years after he became Onojie, that is in 1903, the first Native Court which was B Grade, was built at Uromi and this made Uromi become the centre for Ugboha, Ubiaja, Ugbegun, Igueben, Ebelle, Okalo and Irrua which itself did not have its own court until 1905. The Uromi Government School opened in 1906 is only second in age to that at Irrua opened in 1905.

Just before Ogbidi’s-second exit from Uromi in 1918, a disturbance broke out which necessitated the arrival of a machine gun patrol under Captain Kennedy. The captain’s display of the white man’s power so impressed Ogbidi and all Uromi agitators that only one harmless shot was fired: the shot went through the 7 to 10 huts that housed the past Enijie at Alu-Ijesan, like a knife through jelly, leaving a clean hole through all the apartments. Turning round the Captain smiled: “That is just one shot and this machine can spit hundreds like that, mowing everything on its way down, before you can blink twice: that includes rioters”.

Direct tax was introduced shortly after Ogbidi left Ishan, in 1920. Men paid 2/- and women, 1/- In 1927 taxation of women was abandoned and the tax of men rose gradually, leading to the tax agitation of 1931, headed by Uromi. Ogbidi’s firm handling of his people was recalled by both the agitators and the British Administrators, who felt that Uwagbale’s weakness was responsible for the trouble. The poor man was really in a fix; his people accused him of increasing the tax while the authorities blamed him for lack of control on his people. The final result was that Ogbidi was recalled from Ibadan once again he entered Uromi in triumph in August 1931.

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