Emokpolo And Ewuwu Agbe Culture
By AMBROSE EKHOSUEHI
Emokpolo, the faithful wife of Emokpaogbe, the Aghoghidi-Enogie of Ugo was one of the famous Benin women, who championed affairs of her husband, she was a sorceress, a seer who helped her husband greatly, at leisure, in administration and in battles.
She always approached her husband in a cheerful manner to tell her tales in songs, and while at the courtyard-Agba, she entertained the audience and spoke of prevailing situations. At the harem, she educated the women, maids and servants on decency, thus “Irrie Owee, Irrie Ikhu, I we re Irinmwun, eigha son vbe Erie mwan-I took broom, I took cutlass, there shall be no grass growing in my domain”.
Emokpolo accompanied her husband Emokpaegbe, the Aghghidi-Enogie of Ugo on various war campaigns, and helped him, through her Ewuwu-agba songs to strengthened him. She could sense powers of various herbs, trees and plants which on several occasions were directed for useful purposes.
Ugo from time immemorial holds in esteemed custody all medicinal plants. During the annual isosun festival the medicines are further strengthened. The festival also commemorates the services of the Osun, that were brought to Ugo when the first Ogie, Agboghidi of Ugo was stationed there by Oba Ehengbuda to keep the warlike people of Iyekeorhionmwon from attacking Benin City.
Ewuwu-agba are songs of a dance ensemble created by Emokpolo, which had the power to help her husband-Enogie Emokpaogbe, Agboghidi, Okaokuo through the battles he fought and travails of his life.
Emokpolo was also a sage, seer, traditional physician or sorceress of great valiant. She accompanied her husband in series of crises. First she stood by him during ill health, when she sang O sinmwi-Odo do sinmwi Odo-e na ren re, ken a sinmiwi Odo see-ee”. Let all who can cure come forward to cure a husband, to achieve the purpose”.
The second travail was the Benin war against the Obi of Oboro-Uku where she firmly told her husband that if he kills the Obi, the offence wont be against him for if a cock, kills a cock, it was for the sake of a hen “Okpa ghai gbe Okpa, o maghi Khoo, emwe re Oghunmwun’ ne Okpa gbinna ba-o ee”.
It will be recalled that Obi of Oboro-Uku killed Adesuwa, a beautiful daughter of Ezomo n’ Uzebu during the reign of Oba Akengbuda. Troops under the command of Imaran Adiagbon and another contingent under the Enogie Emokpaogbe the Agboghidi of Ugo, husband of Emokpolo were sent to Oboro-Uku, to avenge the slain Adesuwa. After severe battles the town of Oboro-uku was captured and the head of the Obi
was brought to Benin.
Emokpolo with her cowry maracas sang songs of praises to strengthen the warriors, then to her husband to change into extraordinary being.
The third in the series the crises Emokpolo encountered, was the Benin expedition against the Agboghidi of Ugo. Emokpolo had helped her husband’s efforts with the beauty and the potency of EwuwuAgba songs and dance. She had tried to gain victory for her husband. The Benin allies took the towns and villages allied to Ugo. Ugbokonosote now Ugboko n’ Umagbae, the home town of Emokpolo was taken by the Benin warriors.
When Emokpolo heard of this she invoked “Orhiokho” a wind spirit to close all routes to Ugo. She met the Benin warriors at a farm Ugbo-Ugo. The warriors had eaten the crops in the farm; and longed to eat more for the farm was too small to feed them.
She told the warriors that he had no intention of making farm because Ugo held high the scepter Ada and does not handle machete. hence there was famine at Ugo. “Obo ne o mu Ada, ei mu Ikhu, 0 si Ohanmwen neo fi vbe Ugo” . A fierce battle was fought about a mile distant to Ugo-now called Ugbugo.
After the severe encounter with the soldiers, Emokpolo met her husband and sacrifices were made to Osun, and series of voyages from Ugo to owo-Orogho were made. Emokpaogbe escaped and drowned himself in river Akpowa. Before he did do that he ordered his soldiers to turn to special group of birds called Alumen.
“Ivbialumen a ye egbe ne Ughe” Till date the birds seem too close but cannot be caught, thus testifying the closeness of Benin warriors but none of them was lost. The other harem women in Emokpolo troupe changed into special palm trees, still a scene at owoorogho.
These and many other magical arts performed terrified the Benin warriors. They sang, ‘Ugo Obo enin; no sere owe enin. The hand of elephant that surpasses the leg of elephant”.
Emokpolo with her cowry maracas of Oriokho was taken to Benin city under the command of Chief Ogbonmwan, the Ologbosere of Benin Kingdom.
There at the house of Ogbonmwan harem, Emokpolo taught the wives, the songs and dance steps of the Ewuwu-agba, but Emokpolo refused all approaches to marry for she said ‘Enikhukhu I ronmwen Odo eva” — Pigeon does not marry two husbands. This earned her faithful wife of Ogiugo, a symbol of happy marriage like the house pigeons.
The dance troupe moved to the harem of Chief Ezomo n’ Uzebu, the second ranking warlord of Benin Kingdom. The troupe performed briefly for the lyase, the foremost General of the Kingdom.
The Ewuwuagba moved to the royal palace of the Oba of Benin Kingdom. There, the Ewuwuagba attained degree of proficiency.
Ewuwuagba is sung in seven (7) series of about forty-nine (49) especially during the time of catastrophe. Though the shrine is at Ugo the Ukoise called Ukoise Oriokho sewn with mystical Ikpigho ahannon-small cowries is kept this day in the home of Chief Ologbose of Benin Kingdom, along Akpakpava road, in Benin City. The famous Emokpolo herself presented the Ukoise Oriokho to Chief Ogbonmwan, the Ologbosere, while she danced to the arena-agba where she changed to a cattle eaglet-Enibokun and flew to meet her husband at Igbaghon-Jameson river, about the year 1804 AD; during the reign of the monarch Obanosa.
Since then, Ewuwu-agba of the famous woman champion Emokpolo, the faithful wife of Ogiugo features in Benin Culture.