“Aga mi Idu, Idu oba. Osiri ko osiri, osiri igmo je Oru. Obiala bia di.”
Ogba legend and oral history indicate that the ancestors arrived in the present Ogbaland in 3015 BC, archaeological evidence show that many towns and villages of Ogbaland were inhabited between 3015 BC to 235 AD.
The Ogbas are originally from Benin in the present Edo (Idu) state of Nigeria, the kingdom was known as Igodomigodo.
According to the famous Benin Historian, Jacob Egharevba:
The (Binis) acertain that they came all the way from Khem (Ancient Egypt) to found a more secure shelter in this part of the world after a short stay in the Sudan. They settled at Ile Ife which Benin people call Uhe.
The empire of the first period or dynasty was founded about 900 AD, the rulers were commonly known as “Ogiso” which means ‘rulers from the sky, before the arrival of the Oduduwa and his party at Ife in Yorubaland about 12th century of the Christain era…. Ali Ogba, History of Ogba People By Ellah, Francis J. (20).
In Ogba myth of origin, Akalaka is the founder of Ogba nation. The Ogba Nation 1460-2003 Volume 1 By Ben-Fred Ohia and Henry O. Onyedibia (19).
He left Benin as a result of war. He prepared some charms which he placed on his bow and arrow, and when he shot the arrow, it directed him to the destination where he could find safety. When the arrow flew to the east, he and his followers prepared for the eastward journey. The number of years it took Akalaka to get to this area cannot easily be estimated because of orality of the narrative. When he arrive at Ogba, there were very few persons whom he displaced. Francis Ellah comments on this thus:-
Those who went from Benin to Ali-Ogba either settled down side by side with those ancestors who had occupied the area in 3015 B.C or the late arrivals may have displaced pioneers. Consequently, it may be that the original inhabitants were extinct before the ogbas arrived or they may have mingled with with Neighboring groups or the late arrivals may have met them and absorted them. The last proposition appears to be the most plausible -(91)
The name of his eldest son was Ekpa-Ohiah (Ekpeye), which means “Bush Bag”. He begot a second son whom he named Ugbah (Ogba), which was reminiscent of his ancestral home, Ogba in Benin, which he established at Ubuke after leaving Ula-Ubie. This was their place of settlement after a long journey from Benin. The Oba who reigned in Benin was a terrorist. He threatened and frightened his subjects. He used powerful and influential Chiefs in his Kingdom to perpetrate his evil acts in the kingdom. At the peak of the state of anarchy and insecurity resulting from Oba Ewuare’s tyrannical reign, Akalaka felt the desire to flee with his supporters. Akalaka left Benin in the turbulent reign of Owurure (Ewuare) whose younger brother, Uwafiokun usurped his throne and was later murdered by him. Egharvba posit: “Ewuare the great was the great-great-grandson of Eweka 1 and he ruled Benin in the second period of Benin history” -(13)
Historical evidence traced the remote cause of the crises in Ogun’s reign as an Oba in Benin to his two sons. The families of the empire Ezuwarha and Edaiken- “the two Princes loved each other dearly.
Ezuwarha , the second son would send presents of yams from Iyowa where he was a chief to his brother, Kuoboyawa and whenever Ezuwarha visited Uselu where Kuoboyawa was the Edaiken, they would embrace each other affectionately”-(14). But a day came when Ezuwarha was very indignant because Kuoboyawa called him a ‘bushman” by sending him farming tools: axe, hoe and matchet on return for his own present of yams. Thus, hatred and jealously replaced the love that had always existed before, and they poisoned each other and they died on the same day.
No one summoned up courage to tell the sad news to Ewuare, but Akaromwon, the royal jester, put it in form of parable “Oh your majesty”, he said, it rains at Iyowa but it does not reach Benin City. The Oba could not understand the meaning, so the elders sent the aged Ihama to explain it to him” -(14). Ewuare on receiving the bad news wept bitterly for his sons. He told the town criers to announce the news to the people and ask them to mourn the death of his sons with him. He also made a strict law forbidding anyone in the land to have sexual intercourse, wash and/or dress up for three years.
This law however caused great confusion and a large number of the citizens migrated to various places in 1460. In the country, Akalaka of the lineage of Ekaladerhan who was banished from Benin in the first period of the foundation of the empire migrated out of Benin with his followers and later founded Ogba in 1460. Though from archaeological data, there were inhabitants, who were in the land before the arrival of Akalaka and his men. They may have been displaced forcefully by Akalaka or voluntarily withdrew at the sight of the new settlers in the land, Ellah (1995). Akalaka regarded himself as being in LOCO parentis as he played the role of a parent/leader to all his followers.
Oriji explains the story thus:
Under the domain of Ewuare was a town known as Ogbah which was under the headship of Akalaka. Akalaka later became a victim of Ewuare’s tyrannical rule. There are variant versions of the main under currrents of the feud between the Oba and his subject – Akalaka – This development quickly sent signal to Akalaka and his people that they had lost favor with the monarch. To escape any assault. Akalaka decided to migrate with his followers – (144)
It is that this mythic story is close to reality because of the traces of physical setting and historical antecedents. The different versions could be as a result of the narrative being transmitted orally. In the the narrative, the content of historicity and context of physical setting in Benin and Ogba do not change. To plot is straightforward and clear.
Oba Ewuare is personified as Oguaroh in Ogba folklore and is believed to be a giant, as there may have been no person of his size in the whole Benin Kingdom. To crown it all, he was said to have created lakes wherever he had passed in Benin and such lakes and other marks he left in Benin are still there till the present time. Due to his size and character, he was feared by the people who lived in his time. In the myth, Akalaka was confronted by a problem, the conflict between his grandchildren, the children of Ogba and Ekpeye.
As a result of the conflict Ogba’s son killed Ekpeye’s son. Ogba had the premonition that his elder brother Ekpeye might wreck vengeance and therefore he decided to abandon their original settlement for a new site at Obigwe, after wandering in Igbo land and Etche for about sixty years. Obigwe was a haven of rest for them. He resided there for many years with his children and much later, Agburu, one of the offsprings of Ogba, left Obigwe and founded Omoku. Later, others started to migrate down in very small numbers. This is how the present day Ogba came into existence.
Jacob Egharevba goes on to say:
Though it is impossible to know the precise date of their foundation, some of the import villages which already existed in the first (i.e. the Ogiso) period include the following: Ihimwirin, Avbiama, Oka, Idogbo, Utesi, Ogua, Urhoho, Ute, Eyaen, Aho, Irighon, Azagba, Igo, Egbaton, Ughoton, Udo, Eri, Okha, Umoghumwun, Orogho Uhen, Okenuhen, (okelure), Okehuwmun, Ikoha, Use, Ego, Ekho, Ebue, Irokhin, Udeni, Ema, Ugha, Orhua, Urhuekpan, Amagba, Ughen, Evbuekori, Ekhua, Ogan, Isua, Uhi, Ekae, Uzeghudu, Iyowa, Omin, Ikoka, Iyekeze, …Ogba , Ogbokhirima, Okuo, Owe, Ominara, Unuame, Ugolo, Ikpako, Uhogua, Ayen, Osio, Uwan, Egbaen, Idumwonwia, Ohovbe, Ogheghe, Uvbe, Ite, Iguogbe and Izikhiri.
The inclusion of “Ogba” highlighted above among the villages founded during the Ogiso period is noteworthy.