The Origin Of Ora People In Edo State

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Almost 200 years after the departure of the Uokha people, another group left Benin. While the Uokha represented the conquered Ogiso people, Ora emerged from the political establishment of the kingdom. Ora formed a community, a cluster of six villages and numerous wards or quarters. The founder of Ora was Prince Uguan (ca.1504—l536), the son of Oba Ozolua who led Benin during a period of great crisis, expansion, and dispersal of people. If Uokha represents the pre-Eweka political organization, Ora seems to be a replica of dynastic Benin as it had been organized around 1500.

Uguan obviously sought to create miniature chiefdom in Ora after his sojourn in Uokha, where he married the daughter of Akpwewuma. Uguan created the leopard as the “national” totem and a shrine to the leopard for all the citizens of Ora. He had been a prince of Benin and the leopard had been the royal emblem of that kingdom.

An Odionrukpa of Ora
The traditions suggest that when Uguan had been expelled from Benin, he had turned against the leopard. However, when his wife had difficulty in birth, a diviner insisted that the father return to his totemic emblem. He did. The son was named Erhae-Ekpen (OraEkpen), the “fiery leopard.” The fiery leopard had numerous Sons who, according to the community charter, founded the six villages which together made up the Ora community. Since every one of the thirty quarters of Ora revere the leopard, it became the supreme example of a political totem. It does not mean that all the people of Ora descended from the fiery leopard.
Ora-Ekpen married six wives according to tradition and the six villages of Ora descended from their sons. The six villages are listed in Ora in the order of their seniority, on the assumption that the oldest descended from the first son and the sixth from the youngest. A substantial body of evidence challenges this tradition of the community charter. It will be assumed that the order of seniority does reflect the age of the villages that Ohia the most senior had been founded before the others, and that Eme-Ora had been established last. The evidence suggests that all six had been in existence prior to Ora-Ekpen, the fiery leopard, since the tradition suggests that his father, Prince Uguan, had died on the migration and prior to their arrival in Ora. The shrine traditions analyzed, strongly imply that the youngest village, Eme-Ora, had been under female leadership and in existence prior to the royal ¡immigrants. Another tradition makes a similar treatment for the fourth village, Uhonmora. Furthermore, the Otuo tradition suggests that Prince Uguan led twelve age grades out of Benin, and these still possessed a corporate spirit when they left Ora ca.1632—1664 and migrated to Otuo in protest of political developments. It becomes even more significant that six totemic clans—and only six—in Ora became strangers or incoming migrants from Benin, suggesting that the age grades might have been comprised of single clans or kinship groups. Additionally, the most senior village, Ohia, was an exclusive Boa clan village, usually identified as the snake cult under female leadership. Finality, the unknown place name meanings decrease from 60% in Ohia to 44% ¡n Uhonmora, the fourth village, to 10% in Eme-Ora, the last settled. It seems logical to assume that unknown meanings should increase as one goes back in time.
Of the six villages, all but one possesses village totems. It will be assumed that these preexisted the royal arrivals and that each village consisted of one clan; this frequency was the case in lgbo villages, often the prototype of a cephalous organization. To suggest this is not to suggest that the population was Igbo or Igbo-speaking, but merely that the villages were organized on the principle of one clan or settlement. As table 3 shows, These village totems represent those of the pre-leopard migration
The Origin Of Ora People In Edo State

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