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(a) His Royal lineage, and Brothers: Okpame, the banished prince from Edo, had a long line of Obas before him. There were twelve apart from his two elder brothers whom he succeeded in Iater years as Oba Ozolua. The twelve with approximate year of accession were:

1 Eweka I 1200

2 Uwakhuahen 1240

3 Ehenmihen 1250

4 Ewedo 1255

5 Oguola 1280

6 Edoni 1290

7 Udagbedo 1299

8 Ohen 1334

9 Egbeka 1370

10 Orobiru 1400

11 Uwafiokun 1432

12 Ewuare 1440

Prince Okpame (alias Uguan)
The two brothers, who succeeded their father Oba Ewuare, were Ezoti and Olua who reigned for seven days and seven years respectively. It was on his recall that Okpame, the third son
Succeeded his elder brothers as Oba Ozulua in 1481 A.D Okpame was thus royal in blood, bones and brain. It was he who gave birth to Oraekpen the father of Ora in about 1476.

(b) His Nature and Personal Characteristics: Okpame is the subject of this portion. Okpame, like most other names in this part of the country, has a meaning which is partially ordinary and partially idiomatic. Okpame in the ordinary sense is a large expanse of water and a very heavy rain. It is also a great flood following very heavy downpour. In the idiomatic sense. Okpame connotes a person with profound greatness. Okpame was a handsome, sturdy, intelligent and loving young man who, in many ways, was very much like his father. He was a rascal yet in the end a very great warrior. To his natural prowess, he added a good knowledge of medicines and charms Much later, during his reign, ‘’Ozolua made himself respected at home and dreaded abroad”.

A short digression here is appropriate. How did his alias name Uguan come about’ An account says that Odi as a word in Edo Language and means a dumb, but Okpame who was nick-named Uguan was at no time a dumb. The account goes on to say that Okparne was not given another christening name (which is unusual); that an oracle foretold that Okpame would by his action in a peculiar way reveal his name at the tight time, and that while at play he shot an arrow into the palace courtyard and on inquiry as to who did so, he said ‘Uguan (some say Ohuan) did”, and hence he became Uguan.

Anoiher view said rather definitely that Okpame was clearly not a dumb, only that in spite of being ordinarily named Okpame, he spoke sparingly. He grew to become a young man who would rather perform than talk or boast about what he would do He was nicknamed a rare talker, not a dumb. At this period, Ora as a people was not yet born, talk less of her dialect in which, as noted earlier Uguan means a different thing altogether.

Okpame in a display of personal peculiarity chose, we are told, at an opportunity of wall-construction. to mix mud with keg Full of palm oil instead of water. He was a rascal and was proud somehow. Out of sheer stubbornness he disregarded advice and warning, and because palm oil was plentiful at his disposal, he went ahead with his waste full task.

Naturally, before the following morning, when his mound of mud would have begun to mature. lots of soldier ants had taken over every part of it; they feasted for days on the palm oil and seemed bent on exhausting it altogether before they would leave. When Uguan with his follows went with the intention to turn the mound ¡into ‘balls’ for use, the ants would not allow them; the ants could not be driven away nor gotten rid of in any way. Uguan was disappointed and deflated. His genetic stubbornness is alleged to be bequeathed through and through to many of his great grand descendants who obstinately delight in doing certain things their own way - part of Ora factor in another perspective.

But on reflection, Ugan was a replica of his father in many ways oba Ewuare according to chief Egharevba was initially ogun just as Oba Ozolua was Okpame. Both of them (father and son) were very powerful, great travelers and warriors Both of them justifiably experienced banishment Records have it that Ewuare worked hard and enjoyed the appellation ‘N Ogidigan ie, the Great; so did Oba Ozolua who introduced his appellation ‘Nokhua’ or ‘Akpolokpolo’, though he later enjoyed till death being addressed Ozolua N’Ibaromi i.e. Ozolua the Great Conqueror

(c) His Banishment - Cause, Decision and Preparation to Leave:

¡. Cause of His Banishment

Banishment when it was in vogue in Edoland was not pronounced on any person for fun, A number of reasons was put together at the right time to pronounce it on Okpame and this by implication meant his leaving Edoland, not many particular destination It was only so far he moved away from the land - to survive or to die.

First, he had thought (not without confiding in some palace members among whom were a few unreliable, who are always around) that it he succeeded in extending part of the palace with his oil-mixed mud, he would seize power from his father who was already ageing What an ambition and at such a tender age. It showed too that he did not reckon much with his two elder brothers. However, he failed in his scheme He did not want to bear the shame hands down; he took time and care and planned a new line of action

Occasionally, the Oba s sons and other palace boys were ordered to trim any over-grown branches of trees that were supposed to adorn the interior of the palace court-yard. this kind of palace duty was under the supervision of Oshodin. Okpame took a matcher, Sharpened it, and in order to test its sharpness for good job, he went outside the palace premises and chopped off the head of a young passer-by. Amu write that “and to test it (the sharpness of the cutlass) he went into the street, and got hold of a beautiful youth and cut off his head’’

Okpame was neither wicked nor mental. He was not hostile; He was merely youthfully proned to actions unusual, which he enjoyed. The action of beheading an unsuspecting innocent young lad did not only appear to expose others to similar fate, it also really “so stirred up the indignation of the citizens that they went directly to the Oba to exile his wicked son”

The Oba loved Okpame but was greatly disturbed by the type of worrisome actions his son delighted in. He had created a State Council (the Eghaevbo n’ore) which was in charge of such serious matters. The Oba chose not to interfere in their decisions. Agreed, the Council had freehand but it had a problem. In the oral handown it is said that he told the Council members to go and recommend what to do to the young murderer to satisfy the people. not himself the Oba, but he added a very powerful statement from the words of the elders This was that ‘sand-paper’ leaf is never used to wipe the anus of any child whose feaces is bad’. In Ora, this story and statement has been so told and retold that the statement has been contracted into a personal name i.e. Aigbomobea, or by others Aigbomobe.

Okpame was aware That death was The usual punishment for murderers. Efforts to qualify his own as unpremeditated and a mere youthful action failed. Somehow, the young man assured himself that only the decision of death would stop his ambition; lf he were pardoned he would re-plan his ambition; if the decision favoured banishment, he would only be too happy as it would embolden him to aspire more quickly to his great expectation - to be a leader in the capacity of an Oba, never mind where.

The tittle bit Edo history has on the cause of Okpame’s banishment is that he lied, covering up his burying Owere (Ezotis son and heir and his mother alive in a pit he had dug) and “reported to the elders that prince Owere died from national causes .Oronsaye simply put the cause of his banishment as due to “his bad reputation’’ which in any case as a clear pointer to the seriousness of his action. Okpame was later a big time warrior, and murder is part of warriors way of life.

¡¡. The Decision of Banishment

Generally, the people feared to worsen the feelings of dthe Oba who already had shown great worry about his son who erred seriously The citizenry felt that the son should be out of their way. They got the cream of the newly created State Council to support their wish. After due consideration, the Council decided that Okpame be banished, and he was banished. Has banishment forcefully brought into his senses that a community is greater than any of its components - the individual. He thus understandably did not contest the decision. Okpame was, however, offered support in view of his safety and security as soon as he got prepared to leave, and this was within a period of nine days.

¡¡¡. Preparation to Leave

Oba Ewuare secretly felt touched that his loved son who though least of has three sons and was (but for his slow style of speech) most like him, was on the verge of missing becoming the Oba over Edoland. He however, publicly showered blessings on his son wishing him heaven’s protection and success. Before Okpame left the palace on his banishment vis-a-vis adventure, the Oba gave him part of the royal oracles and some magical powers. He further advised him to be in  touch even though, on the decision of the Eghaevbo n’ on and his approval, he should not personally visit Edoland without being granted pardon

Oral  hand-down has it that Okpame respectfully told the Oba that he was already a man and so in position to re-design his fate in accordance with the unfamiliar prevailing circumstances in his going into the unknown The Oba could not but accept his son’s final decision. with painful equanimity.

From time immemorial in the entire animal world, mother’s love has been well established and was, as it is now, always demonstrated greatly at crucial moments. Usiedo of Osuan family the mother of Qkpame was said to have had her request to leave the town with her only son turned down, Oba Ewuare would not and did not want to lose two loved members of his family just like that; Okpame himself rebuked his mother for daring to suggest that he was not mature enough to venture into the unknown. He wondered if time men who migrated earlier in batches, the men who were sent to war (and never returned) and the men who were banished to mention a few, went with their mothers, or their mothers with emotions stood on their way. Okpame manfully accepted his fate, and was resolved to leave. Usiedo wept and felt the decision of her son for quite a long time. She was concerned with love for her son but Okpame was concerned with the name he itched to make through personal exposure to the risks of adventure and exploration Ora myths have it that Usiedo told her son that whenever he decided to pick a wife she would be most willing and prepared to send him a suitable Edo young woman. But after they parted, mother and son never met again.

d. His departure with a variety of followers
Okpame’s father, Oba Ewuare, was on the throne for about 33 years. Okpame being the Oba’s third son whom he very much loved but then on the verge of going on exile, was in his early twenties when he left. His departure naturally shocked Ewnare’s frame and probahly hastened his death in 1473.

Okpame left Edoland shortly before his father’s death. He left the scene for his elder brother to reign. His journey out of the city began at Ore-igbeni (Oregbeni) ni his mother’s home. along the northwestern outskirts of the outer-Edo city

Being a prince, he was followed by many people from Edoland. The large group of persons did not necessarily comprise men and women close to him as relations and friends. The group consisted of:

¡. Some palace youths who, not without palace approval, chose to follow Okpame.

¡¡. A number of guards given orders to, as far as was humanly possible. guarantee the prince’s care and safety from the beginning of his departure to his place of settlement wherever the place would be.

¡¡¡ . A batch of carriers whose assignment was to convey provisions along the journey

iv. His maternal uncle who loved him dearly and who some writers described as his cousin or by others as his bosom friend by name Obazuwa (Obzua or Obazuaye); who vowed to follow his nephew on the unfamiliar journey to Protect him in addition to being his very close companion

v. Other people who chose to seize the opportunity to leave the city over which harsh proclamations were made through town. Criers- most of such people did not only feel free from the restrictions at home (Edo Land) but also and more importantly, felt confident and safe under the leadership of Okpame wherever he went or stopped. No wonder the city was greatly depopulated. Oba Ewuare’s later order that hosts of fleeing people should tattoo the bodies of the latter did not help matters. There were no reports oral or written. of any return of migrants after the revocation orders.

vi .The class of adventurers who Ieft to experience what life was like elsewhere. It was not everyone in this class that followed Okpame. By implication, such people’s setting midway and/or off-route confirmed the fact that the prince was not aware of nor accountable for everybody that appeared to start out with or soon after him. Okpame was not like Moses, the Biblical leader of the Israelites who were on their sure journey to Cannan; nor was he Iike a teacher taking a batch of students out on an excursion, a planned one with a dear purpose. a definite route and a sure destination, and most importantly in which the students are known to the teacher

in passing, the claim by some people that the founding of Ozalla originates from when one of Okpame’s wives (!) gave birth feet-first to a male child (see Amu pages 5-6) hits the rocks from every angle. The banished prince had not married as he journeyed to exile. Neither long-standing oral handdown nor recent written history mentions Uguan’s relationship in this direction. In language and culture, Ozalla has always had clear and great similarities with Esan Ozalla had no relationship whatever with Okpame as popularly upheld by recent writers. Any such claim may not be different from Ora’s supporting her traditions as since the time of Eweka.

One further clarification is necessary concerning whether or not both Okpame and Obazuwa were already married before they left Edoland. There appears a mix-up here. Amu states that ‘’Obozuwa took his wife with him and then joined prince Uguan and his family” whereas elsewhere from the same pen there is the statement that Uguan took a maid (the emphasis in the writer’s, not another) for a wife and how ‘’two best friends (obviously Uguan and Obazuwa) who had been sleeping together, became separated today through the opinion of woman’(Uguan’s wife). A studied view holds that Okpame had not married before he set out on banishment. nor was Obazuwa wa, his uncle and  companion

In an Ora  Lyric sung into the twentieth century, neither Uguan nor Obazuwa had a wife when they trudged on into exile. They were daring young men. Igele, they were hunters and warriors. they were diviners and healers and they were humble yet famous leaders. It was sung of them ‘’The men loved their travels and trade more than women and wine”. The lyric went thus:

“Edion n’igele. igele n’ebo Davb’uman d’uman na rea Iofen nain. Vbohiogh’ evbo-arlo Nain-i mienho gh’eghezle
Nain-i mienho gh ‘ikhuoho Ena i kh’edion, igele n ebo”
Transiated as

“Elders who are stalwarts, stalwarts who are doctors from  town to town, they are feared.

Because of the community ahead they have no time for idleness.
They have no time for women these are elders stalwarts who are doctors”.

Okpame saw Odorlerle as a challenge and accepted it, He consoled himself with the strong feeling that if the land of the living was hostile, the land feared to be of the bad could be tried trusting that fortune would not abandon him half way in his new world. He trusted that his magical powers would be handy in darnig any unfriendly development. Being mysteriously more powerful than all of his followers now subjects, he was regarded as (omiagbon mierlinmi, seer of both earth and heaven). Some of the colleagues were reported as capable of easily communicating with fairies ghosts; and beasts. The whole people who settled with Okpame simply felt at home. They were confident that any evil could be dealt with with thier collective will and powers.

e. His route out of the city

Okpame with his team of followers left Oregbeni with dogged determination to Survive and succeed no matter wherever fortune or circumstances led him. He, however, had the choice of directing which direction, to advance -— straight Or to turn right or left. There was definitely no running back.

His group of migrants was not the first body of emigrants that Left Edo land or that went northwards, along the same route for a start. Going eastwards westwards or southwards did not attract him All the same, he did not use beaten paths through and through. Earlier emigrants founded their settlements or invaded weaker scanty settlements along the route.

Okpame did not fancy the take-over of earlier settlements the principled prince that he was made him consider such an option as lowering his prestige. He thus kept pressing onwards, it times on some portions of existing routes, at times on fresh portions of the bush. He did this. We are told, until a mysterious sign directed him to the place he felt ideally good for him to settle. This was his place to dwell, it was land full of forest and a variety of animals, birds and insects; streams with all Sorts of river creatures: a land wíth no signs of earlier human occupation.

The peace-loving prince, with a strong determination not to ride on the back of earlier or weaker settlers to achieve his mission, as a welcome adventurer as he went on. He enjoyed the sympathy and substance of most of such settlers whenever he stayed briefly to refuel or to seek information about the nature of the way ahead. especially about any known land marks or specific geographical features of importance.

Certain that he had left the domain of some earlier settlers, (cg. the Aisan or Esan people ni particular) and was confronted with a far - off land depression on which he had no information, he became more cautious how hence he went. Later on, he observed a strange column of cloud, dark and broad sky-ward but pointing vertically downwards to a distance lowland, Smoke would usually begin from some- where on the ground and spread skyward into air, but this on a reverse route did not touch the ground Okpame and Obazuaye consulted their oracles and trustingly moved to where the spectacle pointed They began to hear a noise likc from human voices. This also subsided as they approached the place. The dogged determination of Uguan and Obazuwa continued to inspire their follower in spite of obvious fright Fears and weakness kept reducing the size of the initial followers, and there were definitely no more known beaten tracks It was all more of bush - cutting and tracing occasional animal-paths to find their way.

The column of cloud came lower and lower in a thread-like form to the ground. Then followed a deafening sound, a type of thunder. Okpame ordered his entourage to stand still in awe while he intensified incantations. As the column of cloud disappeared a great wind causing lots of tree - branch breaking cleared an area where a dying isolate of a tree (akobisi) was. Here the people made shelters and settled. It became the heart-land or the home-land of Okpame’s son vis-a-vis Ora.

(f) Destination

It needs be remembered that all along Okpame with his people communicated in Edo language as they went This destination was named Odorlerle, probably after the style of Ore igbeni (streets of elephant killers); the slight amendment which resulted in Odorlerle is the reversion of the streets or abode of the dead (not the dead’s streets or abode, not Ore-odo but Odo-ore/Odorlerle)

The following reasons stand out as basis for why Odorlerle was so named:
¡. Odo  is a common word for the dead as evidenced in one of Ora age-long dirges Odo rie owa rie (2ce) Oi ye mon odo. –This means the dead is going to its home (2ce), it is not doing of the dead (Because of non-literacy to ascertain the word and its spelling. some singer sing dododo wa e...”! However the key word or portion of it is Odo’(the dead).

¡¡. Many years after the initial founders and settlers under Uguan had left there, successor -settlers of Ora community, which in turn moved away from the site, retained it for the purpose of their departed chiefs to particular, using common graves on Unit basis. As recently as some twenty years back not less than a dozen corpses of some Ora High Chefs (Edion urukpa) were taken there for burial.

iii. An ancient Ora  lyric  has it that Uguan fled to safety after traversing ten grass lands and ten thick forest lands
‘’Uguan se rb ‘oa vb odorlerle
Vb ‘ira ato igbe bi ugbo igbe’’

¡v. The column of cloud which disappeared for a thread.Iike link between earth and heaven was considered as a special endowment to Ora powerful persons or the initiated, for invocation and use. Oghoo of Eme was one, among others. who used (this) invoked thread to climb into the clouds..

Today, among reasons why the awe and value of Odorlerle are practically lost to Ora are movement away from the site sheer carelessness or non-maintenance of the significant antiquities there, advent and acceptance of Christianity and civilization, and  acquiescence of neighbours’ claim to much of the area

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