A PROFILE OF AGBON,
A MAJOR URHOBO CULTURAL UNIT,
IN NIGERIA'S NIGER DELTA
Culturally, Urhobo is segemented into a total of some twenty-two units. The Urhobo use several epithets to recognize these cultural sub-units: orere, otôr, and ubrotôr. Under colonial rule, the British applied the Scottish term clan to designate each of these twenty-two cultural units of Urhoboland. Although it stuck and was widely used in its English rendition, the term clan was always an awkward epithet in the circumstances of Urhobo history, in large measure because it does not bear the nuances of its usage in ancient Scottish or German history and anthropology from which the term was obviously borrowed by the colonizing British.
In the postcolnial period, different names, other than clans, have been applied to convey a more accurate sense of the meaning of these units of Urhobo culture. In precolonial times, only a few of these cultural units had kings. They are uniformly called Ovie (plural Ivie). In modern times, beginning with the experience of Agbon in the 1950s, other cultural units which did not have kings previously, now have their own Ivie. Nowadays, each of these cultural units has a king, called Ovie.
It is in these circumstances that Urhobo's cultural units have been renamed kingdoms, to reflect the fact that their cultural affairs are presided over by a king. However, the translation and meaning of "kingdom" (usually used in English) is probably as unsatisfactory as those implicated by the use of "clan" in colonial times. But the term "kingdom" has rapidly gained ground in modern Urhobo. It should be noted that Chief Imo Otite, the author of the following profile of Agbon, has used "kingdom" in place of clan for Agbon, although he has used both terms (clans and kingdoms) in discussing the wider matrix of Urhobo affairs.Peter P. Ekeh
Agbon Kingdom (clan) covers about 375 square kilometres. The land is bounded in the north by Ethiope East Local Government Area, made of fellow Urhobo communities, and Orhiowon Local Government Area in neighbouring Edo State, with Benin communities. On the east, it is bounded by Abraka Clan and Orogun Clan, Ujode River, and Ekrerhavwe, all of them Urhobo communities in Ughelli North Local Government Area. In Agbon's west lie other Urhobo communities of Agbarho Clan of Ughelli North Local Government Area and Orerokpe and Aghalokpe of Okpe Local Government Area.
Agbon is naturally blessed with very fertile land and agricultural activities are well developed. Food, mostly yam and plantain and cassava, are successfully farmed. In addition, such cash crops as palm trees and rubber plantations are highly developed.
In addition to all these, Agbon has many oil fields in its territory. In fact, more than two of the most viable oil wells belonging to the oil prospecting companies in Nigeria are in Agbon Kingdom. Besides, the Erhorike Oil wells are said to be the shallowest wells in the whole world.
Apart from these, results of some seismic/geological investigations undertaken in the area have revealed large prospects of oil deposits in most parts of Agbon territory.
Dating back to Nigeria's 1963 Census, Agbon has been ranked as the second most populous cultural unit in Urhobo, coming only after Okpe. To-day, using scientific projection with the 1963 population figure as a base, we believe the Kingdom now has a much greater population and most certainly retains its second ranking among Urhobo cultural units.
God's greatest gift to Agbon Kingdom is its people. Its hardworking citizens have been in the forefront of development in Urhoboland. It is also on record that Agbon produced the first Principal of Urhobo College, M.G. Ejaife. He later served as Urhobo's first Senator. Agbon also produced the first Chief of Staff of the Nigeria Army, Major General David A. Ejoor, as well as the first Urhobo Chief Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Justice Ayo Irkefe. It is from this portion of Urhoboland that Nigeria had its first Commissioner for Labour, Chief T.E.A. Salubi, during the colonial administration.
Many Agbon sons fought honourably in the Nigerian Civil War. A prominent example was the late Major Nicholas Smart Otite, who was a squad mate of General Babangida, General Abacha, General Useni, General Hanadu, and Major General Nasko. Smart Otite died at the Onitsha theatre of the war.
COMPOSITION OF AGBON KINGDOM
Agbon Kingdom is made up of the following sub-clans which are descendants from the children of Agbon:
In the course of time, Igun has become part and parcel of the Agbon Kingdom. It is on record that Igun migrated from the descendants of Ohwoyovwe in Ewu and settled in Agbon Clan. The residents of Igun were later adopted by the Agbon people. (1) OKPARA (FIRST SON)
(2) KOKORI (SECOND SON)
(3) EKU (THIRD SON)
(4) ORHOAKPOR (ORHOKPOR – FOURTH SON)
(6) OVU (DESCENDANT OF OKPARA)
Until the mineteen twenties, Ovu was part Okpara. As a result of the high rate at which the population of Ovu was growing, they moved from Eregbe Quarters of Okpara to their present abode, where they found fertile land for their farming occupation.
Up till to-day the Ovu people maintain cultural ties with Okpara people. These were developed before their settlement in their present location.
We will now list towns and villages of Agbon Kingdom as follows:-
(1) Isiokolo (2) Ekrebuo (3) Kokori Inland (4) Erhomeghwu (5) Okuidjerhe (6) Samagidi (7) Egbogho (8) Urhwokpe (9) Ekraka (10) Erhonaka (11) Erhorike (12) Okpara Inland (13) Okurutuyo (14) Okurekpagha (15) Unumane (16) Okoradaode (17) Okurufor (18) Okururhujevwe (19) Umiaghwa (20) Okurihohi (21) Okwibada (22) Erhokori (23) Orhuakpor (24) Ekrudu (25) Okwukpokpo (26) Okureghwro (27) Eku (28) Igun (29) Otumara (30) Okpara W/S (31) Okorogba (32) Okurekpo (33) Okredafe (34) Oviorie (35) Ovu Inland (36) Okuemeka (37) Okurekpagha (38) Okuogbamu (39) Ovwere (40) Urhobo (41) Okumodje (42) Obadjere (43) Ekpan (44) Igwevwore (45) Okwokpokpo
(46) Ekusioro (47) Okurobi (48) Okuronika (49) Okuighele (50) Ekirugbo.
Agbon Kingdom has been a pace setter in the whole of Urhobo land. From producing the first President of Urhobo Progress Union – in the person of Chief Omohwovo -- it later gave Urhobo two other Presidents General: Chief John A. Okpodu, who succeeded Chief Mukoro Mowoe, and Chief T. E. A. Salubi. It has contributed much to the educational development of Urhoboland and boasts of having one of the heaviest concentrations of graduates, medical doctors, and professors -- in all of Africa.