By DR.CHRISTOPHER.G. OKOJIE, OFR, DSc (Hon)
It will serve a useful purpose to remember right at the onset that there are two parts to every Esan district: the royal family and the common people. They were quite distinct, for nearly all the ancient ruling houses came from Benin City or its suburbs. The head of the ruling houses was and still is, the ONOJIE, who with his family, servants and brothers inhabited EGUARE, the administrative CAPITAL of the district. Another important thing an enquirer must take notice of is the use of the word BROTHER by Esan people. It can mean anything from a male blood relation to a very good friend. Secondly OBA's SON can mean a BINI and, in fact, it was recently, a common thing for any Bini, outside the city, to describe himself as the OBA's SON!
With the internecine land dispute between Emu and Orowa which has been on for some forty years, one has to be careful over the history of this small but isolated Community of Orowa and I would like to refresh the memory of the reader over what I said in my letter from the Author "Maurice Friedman warned - "Every Ethnographer records rules and regulations. When he publishes them they become part of a record upon which, sometimes to the dismay of the recorder, people may draw in support of a legal or political argument ...”
If the enquirer was in Emu he would be told that the founder of Orowa was ODIN, a brother of OZE of Emunekhua, meaning that Orowa is an outgrowth of Emu but in Orowa everybody exudes with astonishing happiness, "We came from Iriwa (Uruwa!)”. Between the two versions lies the truth.
There is indeed a close relationship between Emoa, the Iyasele's quarters in Orakhuan (Eguare) Emu and Orowa. First, the majority of the founders of Emoa came from Afuda Irrua. Secondly the great warrior ADOKPANRU himself who’s ancestral home was the same Irrua, was very friendly with the people of Emoa. Emu and Ubiaja went to war over the correct procedure for disposing of a killed leopard in Esan; but for the prowess of Adokpanru Ubiaja with its large population could have swamped Emu. Uwagbo who was the first Onojie of Emu, showed his appreciation by giving Adokpanru, a title and a piece of land separated from Emu by Ogbezomon. Naturally a majority of the people who followed him to this new area where he could wax in glory without incurring the jealously of anybody, were birds of the same feather - Uruwa people! This settlement became Orowa, still not far from the name of their ancestral home.
II. Today the Orowa Community consists of:-
1. Idunmodin which is the name of its Eguare.
3. Idumun-Oniha, the seat of the second man to the Onojie.
4. Ukpoke and
IV. Present Onojie:
Good natured Atayeho Ojoba II joined his ancestors in the early hours of Friday 15th January, 1993. He was born in 1905. Though he did not have much education, his travels to Lagos, Kaduna, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Benin and the then British Cameroons enriched his experience and wiseness in the Whiteman’s ways. He ruled for thirty-five years.
His son and heir Prince Syril Aidenojie attended S1; John Bosco's College Ubiaja and did his advanced level at Obokon Advanced School from 1983 to 1984 after which he joined Esan South-East Local Government Council as a Clerical Assistant. He attended the Local Government Staff
Training School, Bekuma, Akoko Edo Local Government Area in 1988; he returned to his job and advanced to Grade Level 7 before his father died. He was installed as AIDENOJIE Onojie of Orowa. He began the all important Burial Ceremonies on the 2nd of December, 1993.
A word about dates particularly as shown against the reigns of Obas on whom most Esan narrators hang their information. Often tired they say it was during the reign of Oba, or the year Oba Esi passed through to Idah or Oba Osemwede had just ascended the throne, a few years before the Nupes destroyed Ukhun or Idoa etc. Because he in Esan much of our oral transmission of history is accompanied with names of the Obas who were then sitting over the destiny of Benin and appendages, I took great pains in getting the complete list of these Oba I cannot vouch for the dates of their reigns which were available at Benin Museum. There are therefore few dates outside the nineteen hundreds, I could put across to the reader with any degree of confiders these few we owe to our early contact with the Portuguese the first whom, Ray de Sequere rather than Juan D'aveiro who was the second visited Benin in 1472 during the reign of Oba Ewuare who is so import in Esan history. There is also written evidence for dates of the Idah” of 1515 to 1516, a period the Esan famous Oba Esigie was ruling Benin.
With painstaking efforts I found songs, poems, proverbs involved Enijie, warriors, medicine men, wars fought, names foreign to Esan language Enijie ruling neighbouring towns etc. useful in estimation of dates. There is a famous Ukele dance song in Irrua: "De o iyi Ogun Osemwede k. Oba!" This tied up the ruling Ojirrua, Ogun, at the time Osemwede became Oba.