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All You Need To Know About The Urhobo People of Delta State Nigeria




source: Instagram @urhoboelites

The Urhobo people of Delta State of the southern part of Nigeria are not just a single tribe, the Urhobo is made up of several groups of people with very similar customs and traditions coming together to form a single ethnic group sometimes referred to as the Urhobo Nation. The Urhobo people are mainly located in Delta State and are very dominant when it comes to the politics in the state.

The government of the Urhobo land is politically divided into two groups. The gerontocracy in which the government of an Urhobo land is run by the elders of that land, and the plutocracy where the government of the land is run by indigenous Urhobo people of the rich and wealthy class tho with a little bit of gerontocracy. The Urhobo government comes in two levels which is either a government of the kingdom run by the Ovie who is the king in an Urhobo land. In the level of government, the Ovie has a council which is made up of the Otota who is the speaker, Ilorogun who are the high ranked palace chiefs. Not all clans of the of people call their king”Ovie”, an example is the Okpe people who call their king the “Orodje” of Okpe.

The other level of government in the Urhobo land is practiced within an Urhobo town. At this level, the government is run by the high chiefs and the egweya which is a judiciary system made up of the elderly women of the town.

The Urhobo People

Urhobo marriage ceremony. image source: Instagram @urhoboelites

In the Urhobo culture, marriages are conducted in the bride’s family’s house where the ancestors of both the bride and the groom are invited to witness the marriage but not excluding God who is referred to as “Oghene” in the Urhobo land. In the Urhobo land, it is believed that the spirit of the bride doesn’t go with the groom after the marriage rites, but the spirit of the bride is said to remain in her family’s house and for that reason when a woman dies the body is returned to her family house for burial. Before the bride is accepted into the groom’s home, she is asked to confess of her previous relationships with other men. The woman is highly forbidden to get involved in any kind of sexual activities or relationship with other men or else the wrath of the ancestors would be on her and this often leads to death is not addressed on time.

The Urhobo kingdom is made up of 24 subdivisions and the Okpe land is the largest of them all and speaks a different language call the Okpe language. When other Urhobos say “Oghene” which means God, the Okpe man says “Oso-ogwe”. The general word for greeting an elder in the Urhobo land is “Migwor” but the Okpe man says “Degwor”. So you see it’s two different languages although there are a handful of similar words used in both languages. The Okpes and other divisions of the Urhobo kingdom share the same tradition, religion, and even dresses alike.

The Urhobo land is surrounded by the Itsekiri to the east, the Isoko to the South East, the Ijaws to the South and the Ukwuanis to the North. The Urhobo is the largest ethnic group in Delta State with a population of over two million people living within the state. The Urhobo people are believed to have migrated from the Benin kingdom in different groups starting from the end of the Ogiso dynasty.

All the deities in the Urhobo land are believed to have a divine connection to the almighty God so they pray to the deities for protection, victory in times of war and when in need of prosperity. The Urhobo people pour dry gin to the ground in tribute to the deities when praying. And the most popular religion in the Urhobo land the Igbe religion which is mostly dominated by the women.

The Urhobo People are not only settled within Delta State but also have some pretty large settlements in Sagbamo of Bayelsa State, Ikpoba Okha of Edo State. Owo, Okitipupa, and Ore local government areas in Ondo State. In kwara State the Urhobos are settled in Oro and in the popular Lagos State the Urhobos are mainly settled in Ajegunle local government area.

The Urhobo People of Delta State Nigeria

Dancer on stilts (Ikenike) at #Orughworun in 1971. image source: Instagram @urhobowaado



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