Unenurhie: A Kingdom Long Denied In Evwreni

By Young Erhiurhoro


Why is Unenurhie community in Evwreni kingdom in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State agitating to be identifies as a distinct, independent and autonomous kingdom, separate from the present Evwreni kingdom that comprises the two communities.

I stand to be corrected by any other person; the questions seeking immediate answers here are: Why Unenurhie as a community can’t be autonomous and independent. Which sections of the Nigerian Constitution prohibits Unenurhie people from seeking autonomy and independence from Evwreni kingdom? Also, what cultural taboos in Urhobo, and the making of kingdoms in Nigeria, stands against the community in this pursuit?

However, let’s examine some concrete facts and proven evidences to help us in getting down to the truth.

Sadly, truth has eluded so many Unenurhie people as a result of fear of intimidation from leaders and wealthy people around us. This led us as a people to sell our inheritance and birthright long ago. Fear, ignorance, self-centredness and pride of bad leaders from a very long time ago in the history of Unenurhie community is at the root of the problem. However, we will discover now that our future is in shambles, including the future and destinies of generations yet unborn in our dear community.

In my candid opinions, nothing is wrong if Unenurhie people say they want to cut away from Evwreni kingdom. We shouldn’t forget, there is time and season for everything on earth as God purposes. This desire to be independent and distinct is the reality for today, and one that must be addressed without fear or favour.

This naturally brings us to examples of struggle for independence and self-determination in our immediate environment.

At the peak of the colonial rule in Nigeria, our indigenous leaders that were trained by the colonial masters asked for autonomy and independence from the British government after they knew the truth. After a short time of deliberations, our desire was granted in 1960.  After, different states and regions were again created by the government to make administration easier and bring it closer to the populace.

Interestingly, let’s look at the historical foundations of some Urhobo and Isoko kingdoms to drive home my point.

First, initially Okparabe and Arhavwarien belonged to Eghwu Kingdom in present day Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State. But after many years of living together, these two communities separated themselves from Eghwu Kingdom and became two distinct and independent kingdoms.

   Delta State Governor, Rt Hon Sheriff       Oborevwori

Two, Abraka before now was one kingdom. But after a while, Oruarivie-Abraka sought for autonomy and independence. They were granted by the government and today Abraka has two separate and independent kingdoms without war or crisis, and duly recognized by the state government.

Three, Enhwe in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State is a neigbouring community to both Unenurhie and Evwreni. Don’t forget, our oral history has it that, the forebear of Enhwe, Okpolo, was a brother to both Usu, the forebear of Unenurhie and Ewurhu, the forebear of Evwreni. What am I saying? Enhwe is a one single community like Abraka, and it was one kingdom before now. However, as we speak, Enhwe has two distinct kingdoms. That’s, Okpolo-Enhwe has emerged as a kingdom from the old Enhwe kingdom.

I have many more examples to give, but I want to end it here for now.

Immediate Past Delta State Governor, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa


The question at hand is, why is Unenurhie community agitating for autonomy and independence to have their own kingdom from Evwreni at this time? There are many reasons why these agitations are coming at this time. I want us to examine few of such reasons, and conclude for ourselves if it’s right at this time to continue to treat people as slaves in their own father’s land. These few reasons as I have written in my earlier publications on this same issue are:

1. Geographical Location: It’s glaringly clear that Unenurhie is naturally demarcated and separated from Evwreni community with natural boundaries of streams and rivers. This is what nobody, even the Evwreni people can dispute. If Abraka and Enhwe could produce two distinct kingdoms in a single habitation, then what prevents Unenurhie that is distinctly separated from Evwreni from seeking her own kingdom?

2. Wrong Classification: This is another humiliation melted to the Unenurhie people, preventing them from enjoying their inheritance. How can you classify a whole community as a quarter in a kingdom? In order to cajole us to accept this cultural aberration, they raised the status of the three quarters they have, viz: Uneni, Okpawha and Urevwe, to that of community by just name. But naturally, they are quarters. If we don’t know, we should know now, that Evwreni as a kingdom has two distinct communities with adjoining villages and hamlets. The two communities are Evwreni community, with three quarters, namely Uneni, Okpawha and Urevwe; and Unenurhie community, with two quarters of Enurhie and Uruwheru. Also, the many adjoining villages in the kingdom naturally belong to Unenurhie community. They are Ivwrorude, Ivwrorha, Eruruigbedi etc. Therefore, it’s a cultural fallacy to classify or group a whole and distinct community as an ordinary quarter. It’s an act of humiliation and dehumanizing.

3. Wrong Sharing Formula: Based on the above wrong classification, a wrong sharing formula is also enacted by the Evwreni leaders. Whatever the government, corporate organizations or individuals bring to Evwreni as a kingdom, it is always shared into four parts.  While Evwreni community goes with three parts, Unenurhie is entitled to only one part. This is another traditional oppression to the Unenurhie people.

4. Political Marginalization and Oppression: I consider this as the highest of all the injustices done to the Unenurhie people. In Nigeria today and also in our state, Delta, our political system is so structured to carry everybody along in the act of governance. In order to achieve this, we now initiated a kind of rotational or zoning system of government. This is done to make sure everybody or tribe or ethnic group in the country or state have a taste of power. The system doesn’t count so much on population. You will agree with me that, this system was what made Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to rule Nigeria as president. If we should consider population, there is no way, today a southerner can win the presidential election in the country. This same system, I strongly believe runs down to the ward level. However, in the case of Evwreni Ward which comprised Evwreni and Unenurhie communities, it doesn’t operate on this acceptable political system.

It will be glaring to note that, since the creation of Evwreni Ward from the old Uwheru Ward, no Unenurhie person has ever emerged as a councilor representing the ward in the local government council.  Again, in party leadership, as I know, no Unenurhie person would be allowed to serve as chairman or secretary of any political party. All Unenurhie people could become is to serve as vice or assistant positions. Is this not slavery in modern politics?

5. Seniority Clause: In fact, from the time I went to Eni Grammar School in Evwreni, none of my classmates or friends of Evwreni origin would accept the simple but bitter truth that Unenurhie community is senior to Evwreni community in the kingdom. Because the kingdom was named after them (Evwreni kingdom), they always claimed to be senior over Unenurhie community. This is nothing, but turning the truth against itself. Let our elites and educated folk go back to the historical foundations and making of these two communities. Yes, we may succeed in painting black to be white in order to win cases in the law courts. But our forebears and nemesis would definitely reveal the truth at the right time in our history. There is no doubt Unenurhie community according to our oral history is senior in every standard to Evwreni community. We shouldn’t be carried away with false notions that, because you are the tallest, strongest and wealthiest, then you want to claim seniority from whom you know is your senior. This is practically aberration in Urhobo land. Our traditions and customs seriously frown against it in all ramifications. This is exactly what the Evwreni people are doing to the Unenurhie people.

6. Traditional Institutions: Even though, Unenurhie and Evwreni belong to one kingdom, but we have traditional institutions different from each other. Before now, what we have in Evwreni kingdom was Odion as the clan head and not Ovie as it’s today. The turning point came around 1930 when this Ovie stool was created by late Chief MukoroMowoe of the blessed memory. If you go into records, the Odion of Unenurhie community was recognized and gazetted as the clan head of the kingdom. However, this change of power overrode the stool of the Odion and made it a second in command. Very importantly, Unenurhie traditional institutions as established by our forebears in order of hierarchy are Odion,  Otota, Akpohor, Olotu’Rode, Olotu’Ovwraghwa, Odiotu’Ewheya, Otota’Ewheya. This arrangement was quite different from Evwreni’s traditional institutions.

In fact, having examined these few reasons, I believe you are convinced beyond measure, that Unenurhie community is long overdue to seek for their own kingdom. Again, to add to these few reasons, I also want to bring out some peculiar features that make Unenurhie community a distinct community in Evwreni kingdom, and that qualifies the community to seek for their own kingdom. Some of them are:

a. Cultural Festivals: Evwreni and Unenurhie indigenes will agree with me that, even though the two communities celebrate the ‘Ohworhu’ cultural festival, but it’s being celebrated in different styles and patterns and different dates. Again, Unenurhie community apart from these Ohworhu cultural festival, have other cultural festivals they celebrate to honour the community’s deities of ‘Ererivwin and Uhor’ at different times of the year. These are quite different from the ones in Evwreni community.

b. Market Days: Unenurhie as a distinct community has her own market day different from the one of Evwreni community. In this case, I want to ask, if the so-called Uneni, Okpawha and Urevwe are communities as named by the Evwreni people, why each of these so-called communities not have their own market days like Unenurhie community?

c. Union Administration: Unenurhie as a community have her own community development union different from the one of Evwreni community. Even though, they named theirs as, ‘Evwreni Clan Improvement Union’, how many times has Unenurhie person become the president-general of that development union? It’s just a mere name to cover up their wrong doings. Evwreni community has her own president-general and Unenurhie community also has her own president-general.

d. Oldest Man and Woman: We must also note here too that, the oldest man or woman in Evwreni community is not the same oldest man or woman in Unenurhie community. Unenurhie has its own different from that of Evwreni. The two are not the same. Again, the traditional installation process of the oldest man or woman in Unenurhie community is not the same in Evwreni community.

e. Marriage and Burial Rituals: The process of marriage initiation in Unenurhie is practically not the same with that of Evwreni community. The administration of Unenurhie community has established a marriage committee to oversee the processes surrounding the initiation of marriage in Unenurhie community. This doesn’t extend to Evwreni, neither theirs extend to Unenurhie community. In the same way too, processes of traditional burials are quite different from each other. The two are never the same without doubt.

My esteemed readers and the general public, I want to conclude this short piece by saying that, if truly Nigeria as a country is practising democracy as in other countries in Africa and the world, then let our freedom of speech as a fundamental human right speaks for the oppressed in this country. Without being told, I know because it has happened to me as a media practitioner number of times, that I must have offended so many people with this write-up. These offences may emanate from my own people that this struggle for freedom and justice is meant for, maybe as a result of the same fear of intimidations from higher power or inducements to have personal gains as it was in time past in the community leadership. But I’m totally convinced that, wherever or whoever that wants to pick that over me in the form of issuing threats to me or my family, is only doing that to seek the wrath of God and the ancestors. As a person, I’m only guided by the principles of truth, fairness, equity and justice. Again and again, I want to sound it here that, seeking for freedom, autonomy and independence do not necessarily involve war or crisis especially in modern societies. The world has grown over the crude mentality of trampling on someone’s dignity and fundamental rights or subjecting people to modernized slavery in their own fatherland.


Young Erhiurhoro;Kjc is a reporter and a member of the Urhobo Historical Society

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