Dr. John Odior Anaweokhai.

Chief Patrick Ajayi Oboarekpe who later became the Oghieavianwu of Avianwu in 1986 was occupying the highest seat in the land while growing up but was embroiled in a fierce legal battle with Chief Ikhanoba Ikpeto from Ivhiorevhor over the throne. The ensuing litigation divided Ogbona into two stiff oppositions with tents pitched on both sides, of course, with attendant polarizing consequences. The effects of the dispute transcended the confines of the immediate and extended families of the two parties involved in the imbroglio. It affected every facet of the life of the community. Hitherto friendship bonds which had taken years to build were slaughtered on the altar of of power tussle. Men put their lives on the line and did things unimaginable all because of the Throne. I remember one particular incident where Eramhas Ikielu Omiawa, Okpokpo Itsani and Izagidi went to Ivhiorevhor in broad daylight to purloin Chief Ikhanoba’s Ukpi, his symbol of authority. How a heinous act of that magnitude was plotted and executed with such success remains a mystery to this day though some people have attributed the success to the deployment of the traditional power of invisibility otherwise known as Ebiko. It was a suicidal mission that no man in his right frame of mind would ever contemplate. After a while, Chief Ikhanoba passed on. The legal fireworks that were ensured between Chief Ikhanoba and Chief Oboarekpe pales into insignificance compared to what transpired between Chief Vincent Omadimhe and Chief P.A. Oboarekpe over the same throne. It was a war of sorts that divided the four quarters in Ogbona into two factions. Ivhiorevhor was in solidarity with Okotor while Ivhiochie and Ivhido were on the same page over the issue. This is not to disparage the pocket of opposition that existed within each side too. Chief Oborekpe was a tobacco farmer while Chief Omadimhe was a saw miller and a transporter. By all standards, Chief Omadimhe was a successful local businessman who made a fortune for himself while his peers were still struggling to meet their daily expenses in the village. I remember his rice mill factory, the two lorries, Obayaye and Ozoghor of blessed memory. In the end, both Chief Oboarekpe who was a teacher before he became the Okphe Ukpi in 1955 and Chief Omadimhe extended a considerable amount of their fortunes in court cases over the throne.

Though the community was evenly divided along those lines, issues that bothered the well-being of the community were jointly handled. I remember when Ogbona had an issue with Ekperi over a gravel minefield. In unison, Ogbona went there in broad daylight, chased out Ekperi people with little or no resistance, took over the land, sold off the gravel and returned home with all their mining tools.

The war between Ogbona and Imiava was succinctly dealt with in the 12th episode of this series. all the same, every Ogbonan was involved and affected directly or otherwise by the impacts of the war. the most unifying incident I can remember without straining my memory walls was the construction of Ogbona Secondary School’s premier classroom and staff room buildings between 1979 and 1980. It was a project that brought out the best in Ogbona. It put to rest permanently in my mind the question of the existence of a contrary power against the potency of unity inherent in a community when brought to the fore. It proved to me as a young lad that there is no limit to what the power of togetherness can achieve when plainly explained and properly harnessed for the common good of the people one was left out. Even as a primary four pupil, one boy and I were made to carry 2*2 sawed wood from Imhakhena Primary School along the main road to the school under construction. All the artisans in Ogbona were involved. even non-artisans were involved as labourers. The women were not left out as they also helped out with the concrete work. Ogbona people levied themselves heavily to ensure the school was completed in time. It was gratifying to note that regardless of which side one was over the throne legal fireworks, there were always red tapes.

It is appalling and disappointing that despite the potential danger posed to the well-being of the community by the dispute over the Throne, we never bothered to find out about the procedures or steps to the Royal Stool of Ogbona kingdom. Steps to The throne are well spelt fact, there should be no shadow of doubt or disagreement on who should be the legitimate Opkhe Ukpi of Ogbona. But before we proceed further, who is qualified to be The Okphe Ukpi of Ogbona?

Every male child of Ogbona is qualified to aspire for the highest seat in the land because, like The Other Four Villages of Ivhiarua, Ivhinone, Uralo and Ogbona that make up Avhianwu clan, kingship is not by primogenitures. In other words, kingship is not monopolized by one family and there is no perpetual heir to the throne from a particular family or quarter. It is rotated among the quarters that make Ogbona. It must be posited herein that The taking of the OKHEI title is sine qua non to one’s eligibility to contest for the Royal Stool. It must also be clarified that there is no illegitimate son in Ogbona.

Ogbona is divided into two ruling houses. As such, The Ukpi rotates between the two ruling houses of Ivhiokhua and Ivhiomierele. Those two names should bring to our minds how age group rites are performed among the male folks. I heard of Ivhiokhua for the first time during my age group initiation. All positions are shared between the two houses.
Ivhiokhua is made up of Ivhiorevhor, Ivhitse, Ivhiobore, Ivhiosano, Ivhiobiri and Ivhetso while Ivhiomierele -Okotor is made up of Ivhiozima, Ivhioroke, Ivhiovhaghua and Ivhioverah

The other subordinate Chieftancy titles rotate among the following kindreds
At any given time, two of these four titles fall to either Ivhiokhua or Ivhiomierele
At any given time also, if UKPI is in Ivhiokhua, The EGBUISE goes to the other house.

EGBUIIKPISE is on the same side with
UTOKHO UKPI NAIVHO while on the same side with
UTOKHO UKPI NA’PE though silent.
The following people have ruled Ogbona from the two ruling houses as far as oral tradition can be relied upon.
From Ivhitse : Chief Osigbhemhe,Chief Ortoto and Chief Oboarekpe
From Ivhiobore: Chief Izah, and another Chief Izah though one of them had a shorter reign., Chief Odior ruled without Ukpi because he was a warrant Chief and all efforts by his son to succeed him were thwarted

From Ivhiosano: Chief Atsegwasi whose reign was very short.
From Okotor-Ivhiosua/Ivhioroke: Chief Aleghe ,Chief Okozi.
From Ivhiozima/ Ivhiagua : Chief T.A Osigbhemhe
From Ivhioverah: Chief Akpabeghie
From Ivhioverah : Chief Iyevhe . chief Akpabeghie was deputizing for Chief Iyevhe because of his old age.

From Ivhiorevhor: Chief Anyai who was a substantive chief from Ivhiokhua but was sent into exile by the British because of his loyalty to the Germans during the scramble for the partition of Africa by the colonialists, on his way to Exile, Chief Anyai handed over to his kinsman, Chief Ototo of Ivhitse quarter.
Adih forms the basis of Ukpi and other subordinate chieftaincy titles in Ogbona and they used to be ten number but now increased to over thirty and are scattered between the two ruling houses in Ogbona.

It would have been worthwhile to give a cavalcade of all the Chiefs that have ruled Ogbona before now with dates, unfortunately, save for the recent ones, everything else was handed down orally by people who were not too conversant with the modern system of denoting times and seasons with dates.

All in all, it can be said that understanding our community’s traditions and customs is crucial for our growth and unity. Let us strive to preserve our heritage and work together towards a brighter future.

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