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Written by Christopher .G. Okojie {Last Update January 19, 2022}

Round about 1480 OGHALE’s son went to Benin City to pay homage to the new Oba, and on his father’s behalf. As he was having a war dance and making a lot of show round the city, a man challenged him. The young Prince’s pride being hurt he slaughtered the challenger there and then. Two things were unfortunate in this incident: First the man thus wantonly killed, turned out to be a son of the Oba, and secondly, the Oba happened to be OZOLUA whose chief desire even before he became Oba, was to have plenty of fighting.

Ozolua was not satisfied with an eye for an eye; he traced the Prince to his home, Ekpoma, and massacred not only the innocent Onojie, Oghale, but all his children. Some of the servants and a majority of Eguare fled to ENE; only one young man was saved in this expedition of vengeance and attrition. His name was UDA, a grandson of the Onojie, and whose mother was married to a man in Emaudo. Ozolua, a veritable fighter saw something attracting in the young man, and having seen Eguare deserted, he took Uda captive to Benin.

Uda was given to a chief to look after. During the yearly wrestling festival, courageous Uda threw all who challenged him. At another meeting he killed all his opponents and this attracted him to the admiring Oba. Now a grown-up man, the Oba made enquiries about him and the guardian explained that Uda was not a native of Benin but the young man who was brought from Ekpoma during the battle of vengeance against the Onojie of Ekpoma. Oba Ozolua, always a lover of courage, was much impressed with Uda’s exploits, and feeling sorry for the extinction of the Ruling House of Ekpoma, he sent Uda back to resuscitate the royal family of which he was a descendant. That was about 1485. Ozolua fitted brave Uda up like a duke giving him men, property and money. Some well known warriors and medicine men,were given him to see him safely installed as the ruler of Ekpoma. After a long triumphant journey, Uda and his men found their way to Eguare Ekpoma. The flute player who accompanied him later founded EGBE EKHUILE of Emaudo. Many of the men who followed Uda to Esan became founders of now well  known districts of Esan when they had seen Uda well established as a monarch, and they themselves could not go back to the City.

During this unfortunate interregnum, UASE, Oghale’s senior slave, gathered the dead Onojie’s wives who had taken to the bush during blood thirsty Ozolua’s massacre, built houses for them, and to be sure he did not fail into temptation over his late lord’s wives, he burned his male organ, and honestly took care of the women for five years. When Uda returned to begin the second dynasty of the Royal House and saw such faithful service to a dead master, he was so moved that he rewarded this slave by sharing the whole of Ekpoma with him. Uda chose Eguare,Ene and Emaudo, while the ex-slave chose Ihonmidumun, Ujemirue (Iruekpen and Ujemen), Igor (now Ernuhi) and Uhiele. This is the origin of the traditional method of sharing booties  or labour in Ekpoma. Whatever there is to be divided is first shared into two for Eguare, on behalf of Ene and Emaudo, to choose first, while Ihonmidumun takes the other Part on behalf of other villages of Ekpoma.

From the above, Uda’s greatness with a fitting deification throughout Ekpoma could be understood. Since according to Esan tradition, OJIE KHE BHO (The king is the Community), a man who resuscitated the ruling Family of Ekpoma was as important as the very first Onojie. So deep was the gratitude of the people and so powerful and glorious was Uda, that Ekpoma, Ilke the rest of Esan who always appreciated and recognized power, came to think of him as a god, and with that the name UDA crowded out not only the name of those that had ruled before him in the first dynasty, but those that were his immediate successors. The result was that many of these names had been lost to history. Those of Odia and Udawe are remembered because of:

(a) The great family Odia gave rise to; for example, he was the father of the fabulous AFUA founder of UWENLEN-AFUA and

(b) UDAWE, Odia’s first son was the father of the famous SIX PRINCES OF EKPOMA: IKEAKHE, ISIDAEHOMEN, OGUAMELE, ERONMON, 9IYORIA and OZUA. These six nearly changed the history of Ekpoma, Uda had so bravely rebuilt.

It is interesting to observe an item in the Intelligence Report on ISHAN DIVISION of Benin Province - Page 10 III HISTORICAL: According to tradition, the founder of Egoro was one Owele, who Iike the FOUNDER OF EKPOMA and OPOJIE came from Benin with a title of Ogie from the Oba. He is said by one story to have come with Uda, the founder of Ekpoma..”. And under Ekpoma, paragraph 30, “Historically it may be accepted that UDA WAS THE FOUNDER OF EKPOMA AND THE FIRST OF THE ENOGIES AND PROBABLY THE SON OF AN OBA”.

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