By PROF. PATRICK E. EGBULE
Writing of any book, and more especially on the history of a people is an arduous academic task. This is largely due to the fact that there are always variations in the account of the social, political and economic lives of the people at different epochs.
The biases of the author in terms of training, beliefs, age and dispositions could also influence documenting the history of an ethnic group, not the least, historicizing Orogun. Notwithstanding these challenges, the author still embarked on this challenging, but ennobling task.
This151-page book, “Historiography of Orogun: Divergence in Perspective” by Mark C. Orgu published in 2019 by Afrikanwatch Services, Lagos has an Introductory Section and Eleven Chapters. In the Introduction, the author documented the origins of the Orogun Kingdom, particularly from the perspective of oral history presented by its early leaders, the majority of whom had died decades ago. This work is therefore, an effort to help to fill gaps associated with such research method.
There was a version of the origin of the kingdom that reported that the founding father of Orogun was Efe, who migrated from the ancient Bini kingdom and fought many battles to retain his gallantry. Documentary evidence confirmed the argument that Orogun was a warrior who fought several battles to arrive in his present location. Orogun Kingdom, made up of about twenty-five major villages and town, are all descendants from a common ancestor. The government of the clan is fundamentally gerontocratic with a decentralized system of government.
The Preview by Professor F .1. Opute was quite apt and summarized most of the critical and unresolved issues about the history of Orogun, origin and the gender question (that he was a man not a woman), travails and descendants among others. Expectedly, the author addressed some of the outstanding matters on the history of Orogun, but that does not foreclose the need for more researches on the subject.
Chapter One: Examined the Genealogy of Orogun, focusing on the Bini Extraction and the cultural battles that were fought. The author argued and rightly too, that history has positive effect on the present and future generation of the people, not the least, the Orogun. He argued that Oriete was the father of Efe:
Efe being the father of Orogun, and Orogun gave birth to Umusu, Imodje, Emonu, Unukpo. and Ogwa. The people of Orogun Kingdom revered and pays homage to the god of war called Erose Efe which reportedly saved Efe and his children during the time of adversities.
Chapter Two looked at the birth, migration and children of Orogun. In a major work on the history of Orogun, Igba gave account of the birth of Orogun. Subsequent report showed that Orogun might have moved to Aboh in the subsequent year of between 1500 and 1510 AD, and when he attained the age of 17 years. This implies that Orogun left Oviri between 1498 A.D. arid 1508 A.D. It was reported that, there was an assumption that after Orogun migration, he must have settled down to marry his first wife in the year, between 1502 and 1512 AD, and started giving birthday to his children”. Available evidence shows that between 1500 or date, thirty-five Kings (Ekpara) have ruled Orogun Kingdom, with their period of reign ranging from one to fifteen years.
Chapter Three: Examines the governance structure of the Orogun kingdom. From its inception, Orogun kingdom has always been a gerontocracy, where the oldest man from the Umusu quarters was the Okpara-Uku. Thus, the recorded past Okpara-Uku who had reigned over the Kingdom were presented in tabular form and can be found in Chapter Three of the book.
Chapter Four: Examined the gender debate of Orogun: Man or Woman? Citing the work of Johnson Orih titled, The Deities and Minerals Found in Orogun, the author concurred that Orogun, was a man not a woman. And there were historical facts and deities to support the contention that Orogun was a man who married two wives.
Chapter Five looked into the General Culture and Tradition of the Orogun People.
The author has argued that the Orogun people have maintained their cultural and traditional endowment from generation to generation, and its sustainability over the years have remained intact. This is quite evident the reverence of the totemic animal, Iguana, on account of the role it played in sojourn from Aboh to their present location. As a tradition of the Original kingdom, an indigene of Orogun is forbidden from killing or harming the Iguana, or eating its meat. The same culture is extended to any stranger living in Orogun land. The danger of any stranger trying to do otherwise, and if caught, will face negative consequences.
Chapter Six: Discussed the Governance of the Orogun Kingdom. This, the author has done in the rest of this Chapter. The Okpara-Uku must come from Umusu; he is assisted by the Ukor-Okpara- young boys who represent and care fore the Okpara-Uku on behalf of the Ukomo. who is the true regent in Umusu Okpara- Uku system.
Chapter Seven examines the history of administration of the Orogun kingdom from the Amai Council, reconciliation with Aboh with emphasis on the roles played Late Chief W. Okpu.
Chapter Eight: Discusses the Orogun Hegemony and the Denial of Rights largely in the context of the successful transition from Ukwuani to Urhobo land, taking note of the division and suspicions among other challenges.
Chapter Nine: Provided an insight into the land sharing formula and land dispute the Orogun kingdom had with one of its communities, Sanubi-Orogun. Whenever, there is a sale of Orogun land. The money goes to the Okpara-uku in Orogun, because in the book of the kingdom, it is only the king’s name that is there, and empowered to order for the sales of the clan’s property and land.
Chapter Ten: looks into the Social and Cultural Characteristics of the Orogu kingdom, paying attention into marriage outside and within Orogun Kingdom. There are sanctions on a married woman for extra –marital relations
Chapter Eleven: Examines the history of religious activities in Orogun. This started in 1884, with the prefecture of upper Niger which was created by Roman Catholic Church authorities to provide missionary care around Lokoja and north of the town.
There were sections on the commentaries on illustrious Orogun Sons and daughters.
In this account Mr. Orgu has made an invaluable exposition and contribution to available literature on the historical antecedents and development in Orogun kingdom.
I therefore recommend this book as a compulsory text not only for Orogun sons and daughters but academics, politicians, public servants and civil society actors, students and the general public. It is compulsory. It is a must buy.