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All You Need To Know About The Okpe People of Delta State (part 1)

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source: facebook.com/oghenek

The Okpe People of Delta State Nigeria are one of the major clans of the Urhobo. The Okpe People are found in Sapele local government Area and the Okpe local government Area of Delta State and are also spread across Warri City and Benin City. The Urhobo tribe is made up of several group of people who are referred to as a clan and the Okpe clan happens to play a major role in the Urhobo land.

The Okpe kingdom has been in existence so early in the 17th century and since then the kingdom has had four traditional rulers known as the Orodjes which in translation is King in the English language.

The Okpe and Urhobo historians has shared a few stories of how the Okpe kingdom came to existence and it is believed that the Okpe people are originally from the Benin kingdom. So many years ago the King of the Benin kingdom who is called the Oba Benin had several sons and one of them named Okpe. Prince Okpe wasn’t the first son of the Oba and so is no where close to becoming the Oba of the kingdom so he decided to move out of the Benin kingdom and go search for a land to settle down and form is own kingdom.

Prince Okpe was given a few women and some slaves so he moved out of the Benin kingdom and went across the Urhobo land and settled in one of the Urhobo lands located before the present day Warri City. Prince Okpe lived with the Urhobo people for many years before moving forward to create his own settlement not too far from the Urhobo people and the land in which the settled was named after him as “Ore-re-Okpe”. Ore re in the Urhobo language means “town” and when put together with “Okpe” it then means “Okpe’s Town” which  happens to be the capital town of the Okpe kingdom where the Orodje of Okpe’s palace has been til date.

The Okpe people

source: facebook.com/oghenek

Okpe became a King of the Oreropke land had four son which he named Evwreke, Orhue, Esezi and Orhoro. And then proclaimed the four sons as the rules houses of the Okpe kingdom and he instructed the four sons to adopt a rotational system of leadership. In this system of leadership, the son of a current Orodje is not to take over the throne when the Orodje dies, instead the leadership go to the younger brother to the dead Orodje. Today, every Orodje is either from the Evwreke, Orhue, Esezi or the Orhoro house, so if you are an from the Okpe kingdom then you should be from either of the four ruling houses. This system of leadership has been helping in sustaining the social equality and peace between the Okpe people up till date. King Okpe came up with the rotational system of kingship in order to make sure his children wouldn’t have to face what he experienced at the Benin kingdom which lead him to leave the kingdom.

The rotational system of leadership in 1770 produced His Royal Majesty, King Esezi the 1st as the first king of the Okpe kingdom and he ruled till 1779. His Royal Majesty, King Esezi II took over the throne and ruled the Okpe kingdom around 1945-1966.

In 1972 H.R.M Orhoro I was made the third Orodje of the Okpe kingdom and he ruled 1972 to 2004.

On July 8th 2004 His Royal Majesty, Mujakperuo, the Orhue 1 was elected as the 4th Orodje of the Okpe kingdom and later in 2006 he received the staff of office from the Delta State government led by Chief James Onanefe Ibori. King Mujakperuo is the current Orodje of the Okpe kingdom and had also served in the Nigerian Army who retired as a high ranking major general.

The present day Sapele town is a local government area of Delta State and also a part of the Okpe kingdom and under the leadership of the Orodje of Okpe. The town was originally named Uriapele after the deity being worshipped by the Okpe people. The Uriapele shrine can still be found in the present day Sapele and is still being worshipped by a few. When the British colonial masters came to Uriapele town they had much difficulty pronouncing the name”Uriapele” so they changed the name of the town to “Sapele” to ease pronunciation.

 

The Okpe people migrated from the capital and other neighboring villages and settled in Sapele. And later people from the neighboring towns and villages also moved to join the Okpe people of the present day Sapele after the British made the town a trade center. Today you can find the Itsekiris, the Ijaws and other Urhobos in Sapele, bringing the to about 242,652 as of 2005/2006

 

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