Dr. Otive Igbuzor, a Pharmacist, Human Rights Activist, Policy Analyst, Development Expert and author is Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo Agege. In a lecture he delivered on November 23, 2019 at a book launch organised by Afrikanwatch in Ughelli , he emphasized, in perspectives, the past, present and future of the Orogun people in Delta State
Let me start by expressing my gratitude to the Africanwatch for inviting me to deliver this lecture and for considering me to be part of the awardees for this event. The topic, the Future of the Orogun People is very timely because we are living in an era of change and transformation. In the last fifty years, there have been tremendous changes in all spheres of human endeavour. Politically, democracy is being established in all parts of the globe and even traditional and community organisations are being challenged to imbibe democratic tenets and ethos. There is huge economic transformation across the world, and we are experiencing the greatest amount of wealth ever known in history. The irony is that we are also experiencing the greatest number of poor people ever known in history. Culturally, there are huge changes taking place and cultural practices handed over by past generations are being jettisoned. A typical example is Female Genital Mutilation otherwise called circumcision in Urhoboland. Socially, the conduct of persons is changing, and interpersonal relations are improving. Equally, oppressive tendencies are being challenged every day. Indeed, in the last fifty years, there have been tremendous changes in all spheres of human endeavour.
The topic of the lecture is relevant because there is a branch of Social Science that studies the future called Futurology. Futurology is the study of postulating possible, probable and preferable futures and the world views and myths that underlie them. In this paper, we look at future of Orogun by looking at Orogun Past, Orogun Present and Orogun Future. As Carl Sagan once famously put it, “you have to know the past to understand the present.” History is important because it helps us to understand why our societies is the way they are. In addition, understanding the past and the present help us to identify laws and trends that can help us postulate about the future.
The history of Orogun is essentially derived from centuries of oral tradition. As Otite has argued, reconstruction of history from oral form presents its own problems especially as competing versions claim authenticity. According to tradition, Orogun along with others like Ogor, Ughele and Agbarha descended from a common ancestor, Oghwoghwa, who migrated from Benin as a result of the hostility of a reigning Oba in the middle of the 14th century. Some traditions insist that Orogun was a female and sister of Ughele. Others argue that Orogun was a man and son of Efe, the brother of Amai, Abbi and Umukwata (Ukuani) who married Oliara (Oriarha), a daughter of Oghwoghwa. I hope that the new book that is being launched today will settle this controversy. Orogun is divided into five quarters made up of the male descendants of Orogun namely Umusu, Unukpo, Ogwa, Emonu and Imodje. Orogun settlements include Imodje, Orhokpokpo, Ekridjerhue, Oko-Idiovwa, Oko Eduviere, Ugono, Emonu, Sanubi, Onyobru, Ovara-Umusu, Ovara-Unukpo, Orhomuru, Igbuku, Eboh, Arhagba, Obodoeti, Idjerhe, Erhobaro, Ozuaka and Obiogo.
In the past, Orogun people were predominantly practicing African Traditional Religion. The people are known to practice totemism of worshiping Iguana (Ogborigbo). The annual Erose-Efe festival attracts participation from all and sundry. Politically, the Orogun people although considered to be the ‘Sokoto’ of Ughelli North because of the large number of votes that it returns during elections, the clan has not witnessed a lot of government presence or appointment. In the recent past, only three persons have occupied significant political positions namely Olorogun Lucky Oghene Omoru (Commissioner for Finance in former Bendel State); Chief Demas Akpore (Deputy Governor in the Second Republic) and Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege (Secretary to Delta State Government). Economically, there are no significant companies or institutions in Orogun clan. There is no single bank in the entire clan. Socially, there are few people in the upper class that can mentor and empower others. There are little or no changes in the political and cultural organisation with the practice of gerontocracy in traditional governance. Orogun clan is one of the few clans in Urhoboland without a king or Ovie.
At the moment, the religious colouration of the Orogun people has changed tremendously. Although, there are no statistics, one can safely say from observation that majority of the Orogun people today are Christians. In the last twenty years, there have been a lot of spiritual exercises through the Orogun Day of Prayer which is one of the first groups of people to dedicate one day to prayer every year. There are several Christian denominations that have set up altars and praying for the progress of Orogun People. The Orogun National Christian Association (ONCA) has been organising crusades and medical outreaches to villages in the clan. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and various Christian denominations are active in Orogun clan. Politically, Orogun is taking its proper place in the scheme of things. With the election of His Excellency, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the Senator of the Urhobo people and subsequently as the Deputy President of the Senate, an Orogun son is occupying a position, the 6th in the country and for the first time by a Deltan. Economically, small scale enterprises are beginning to spring up especially fish farms and agricultural enterprises. In the recent past, training in computer and entrepreneurship is being organised for Orogun people and we will reap the benefits in the near future. The seed of significant institutions coming to Orogun clan is being sown by the Obarisi of Urhobo land with the planned establishment of the Federal Polytechnic, Orogun. This has the potential to change the landscape and political economy of Orogun people.
Looking at the past history of Orogun and the present opportunities, the future of Orogun is bright spiritually, politically, economically and socially. In the future, the Orogun people will reap from the spiritual foundations that are being laid today. Charlatans and fake prophets are not likely to thrive in Orogun clan. In the future, there will be prayer cities and camps in Orogun clan. The political future of Orogun is bright. With an indisputable political leader that is focused on delivering dividends of democracy in the person of the Obarisi of Urhoboland, Orogun will witness huge infrastructural development. The Federal Polytechnic, Orogun will attract investors to Orogun clan. But for us to reap the benefits of this political opportunity, all the positive attributes that Orogun people are known for must be put to play. Unity of Orogun people is critical. The concept of mmadu a gharu nwane n’ogu must be operationalised. We must learn from errors of the past and avoid betrayals of our brothers and sisters. More importantly, we must forgive those who have wronged us in the past and forge a new unity with common purpose. We must imbibe the idea that politics is service and not an avenue for personal enrichment. Economically, we need to individually and collectively prepare to reap the benefits of revival of economic activities that will happen in Orogun clan. Only those that are prepared and well positioned will reap the economic benefits. We need to revisit the issue of gerontocracy and consider the possibility of an Ovie for Orogun kingdom. If you do not do it now, your children or grandchildren will do it. If Jesus tarries, there is no way we will carry gerontocracy into the 22nd century. I advise Orogun people to be strategic in all spiritual, political, economic and social considerations.
The Orogun people have some unique characteristics of courage, resilience and brotherly support. In the past, they were practicing African Traditional Religion but today majority of them are Christians. In the past, the Orogun people were marginalised in politics and governance. The marginalisation was so serious that we had to go to Aboh to reverse the ‘curse’ purportedly placed on Orogun people that had prevented them from developing. But today, every curse is already broken and Orogun people are preparing to take off. Economic revival is on the horizon and our people must prepare and position themselves to enjoy a bright future. I am confident of the future of Orogun. The foundation has been laid. Spiritually, politically, economically and socially, the Orogun People have a bright future.
God bless Orogun Kingdom. God bless Orogun People. mmadu a gharu nwane n’ogu