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The history of Ukhiri Dukedom

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Ukhiri Community was founded about 1500 AD, by Warrior/Chiefs of the Oba of Benin who were retired from active service. Notable among the warriors was (Aramwogie) now corrupted to Aramwingie, Ezomangban, whose tomb is still there. Oba Esigie built an Acestral Shrine for him at Erie Street by Sokponba Road Junction, Benin City, in honour of his great deed for the then Benin Empire.

Another warrior was Asa, which is now the main deity of Ukhiri today. Okhuahe, a warrior also migrated from Ukhiri when he found it difficult to settle at Ukhiri because of other warriors he met there. Some of the warriors were childless, hence, they became deities.

The first, Ohen Asa of Ukhiri was Aiyoba-Ogbon, who was the great-grand son of Okungbowa who was the Eson of Benin during the reign of Oba Ohuan and Akenzua the first. His grand father was the late Chief Odigie Okungbowa, who was the Eson of Benin during the reign of Oba Akenzua the first. His father eas Osifo Odigie who was the Uwangue of Benin during the reign of Oba Eresoyen and he later became the Eson of Benin during the reign of Oba Akengbuda. All these High Chiefs from one family were the Aborigines of Ukhiri; they had their root and also maintained their family base at Iguisi, Ibiwe and Ogbe in Benin City from where they attended their palace functions at the Oba palace.

Aiyobagbon the first son of Osifo Odigie settled at Ukhiri as one of the founders of the area. He was made the Ohen Asa of Ukhiri during the reign of Oba Akengbuda and also became the first Odionwere of Ukhiri in about 1750 AD. This Ohen Asa title was made hereditary. Till date, the Deities worshipped for and on hebalf of his esteemed Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin in Ukhiri, include Asa N’Ukhiri, Adakpo, Aranmwingie, Efai and Odighi (goddess of the late).

The first Enogie, Prince Aghahan was installed by Oba Eresoyen about 1735 – 1750. Prince Aghahan had a daughter named Ekhaguere. He joined his ancestors without a male child who would have been a successor to his throne, thus putting an end to his lineage and this gave rise for a replacement to occupy the vacant stool. Prince Aghahan’s daughter Ekhaguere gave birth to Aiwekhoe, Ogbebor Odaro Igbinogun. Aiwekhoe is the mother of Ekhovbiyi who is the mother of Nosakhare Izore, a one-time chairman of Oredo local government area. Ogbebor was the only male child of Ekhuguere. Ogbebor who had twenty children, worked and retired as a sanitary Inspector in the then Mid-West Region and later became the Odionwere of Ukhiri, princess Odaro died without a child. The last daughter princess Igbinogun married Pa Oghede Amadasun of Oduna Community on Ekewan Road. She had six children. Among whom are the Elola Osa of Igun, Chief Aghakue Ogbeide (aka last kobo) and Chief Omogiate Ogbeide (the Osaivbie of Benin Kingodm). Oba Osamwende made prince Iduhon the Enogie of Ukhiri in place of prince Aghahan. (N’Ukhure Oghe Laibo).

It is celebration of one life & time of a notable warroior with an Oba, Asa by name. He was one of the founders of Ukhiri Community now Ukhiri dukedom. Asa settled in Okhiri after his exploits with the Oba. The present day Ukhiri Community was founded by notable persons, whose deities are worshipped today as Asa Adakpo, Aramigie. You will note that this is a structure built for one of the notable founders of Ukhiri at Erie Junction, the grave till today is in Ukhiri, likewise those of Asa Adakpo & other deities.

We remember them for their great war exploits.

The festival of Asa deities, spans across about 3 weeks, with some days for rest. The actual show is about 7 days & it is broken into 2 stanzas. One of it takes place in the Idogbo-Oba area, while the other takes place at Iduokha side of the community & that is where it is concluded.

The chief priest of Asa is chief Idahosa Aikhorogie. Aikhorogie is from Agba community, the father was in the Ivbebo group in the Oba’s Palace. He was sent down to head the worship of the deities by the Oba. The first was he who came in the reign of Oba Akengbuda.

The present day chief, Priest Idahosa Aikhorogie whose grand father was appointed by the Oba. Before now the traditional priest of the Asa ancestral deities was the Areragbon families. It was hereditary, and they also took up the worship of the Asa deities. It got to a time one of them along the line was not capable of handling the deities, there were now lapses. Since the deities were worshipped on the Oba’s behalf, the Oba then sent a chief from the Ivbiebo class in the palace to take over the worship. Today, the head of the chiefs that were sent is Aikhorogie Idahosa.

Aikhorogie Idahosa and the Arovbagbon and go hand in hand in the worship of the deities.

The Asa diety is not an act of paganism. It is the symbol of Ukhiri community as a people and it should be seen by all as such.

The Oba is the link to our ancestors, the god we can see,

The worship of the Asa diety is directly handled by the Oba, and the Enogie of Ukhiri has a part to play. When the first Enogie was brought to Ukhiri, the Asa area was a no go area for initiates, the servants and animals strayed into the area and they will be missing, that was in those days. So in a deliberate quest to know what was behind it, the young priest loaded a gun and went there to find out for himself, the result was that he was reported to the Oba and the Oba while deliberating on the issue decided that the Enogie should equally play a part in the worship of the diety.

The Oba is a fountain from where the Enogie exude their power. He is a become stone. He is the milestone, the land mark, the author and Finisher of our tradition. And a man mightier than the mighty. The Oba should be described in the English Palance as an emperor, because the Bini’s occupy an empire. No body will say he interpreted Oba to mean King. Oba is simply an Emperor. How will you say a King is in charge of an empire that is paradoxical to say the least. If we say Benin is an empire and the Oba is the head, then he is properly the emperor.

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