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AYOGWIRI AND THE BENIN CONNECTION
By: Barr Aztogwe John Oglue
WHEN in 1478 Oba Olua, the then Oba of Benin died, a republican form of government was set up by the whites to replace that of the traditional, monarchical form of government. This change of government sparked off unrest allover the empire with revolutionary civil disobedience.
There was a break down of law and order because the interim government became very weak.
In midst of this chaos , prince Okpame took the courage to deliver the empire through incessant war.
After delivering the empire he was made Oba Ozolua. It was this period of unrest of inter-tribal wars, hostilities and rebellion that led to the migration of the Esan and Afemai to what is today known as Edo North and Edo Central. Ekperi was a nephew of Azama who was the founder and progenitor of the present day Etsako with Imekeye, Ikpemhi and Omoazekpe.
There was a great hunter at that time in Ekperi called AGIANA who married a Queen called Eleuma. When Eleuma became very heavy, his husband went on hunting expenditure and he killed a lion.
In the tradition of Edo people, it was customarily mandatory for any hunter who killed a lion to fray it and submit the lion skin to the Oba of Benin by himself in Benin. It was strictly enforced by the village Chiefs and the clan heads as failure to ensure strict compliance to this tribute to Oba attracts grave penalties such as dethronement of the village head and the clan head because of the Oba’s sovereignty over them. And the clan head of Ekperi clan, told Agiana to skin the lion and send the skin to Oba in Benin and Agiana said his wife was about to put to bed and if he goes to Benin, he might not return at all ,or it will take him at least three years to return so he would like to see his child.
This sparked off a sharp disagreement between Agiana and the clan head and the clan head warned Agiana not to skin it in his land since he is not willing to send the lion skin to Benin. So Agiana dammed the consequences, dared the Oba and was the first hunter in available records known to history to have’ challenged the custom ‘so he tied a rope on the neck on the lion and took his wife and dragged the lion out of Ekperi and his’ brothers, Imiegba, Okpekpe, Itsukwi and Imiakebu followed him out of fear that they could be vicariously held liable in place of their brother Agiana because the clan head of Ekperi went to Benin to report Aglana to Oba of Benin as custom demands. It was this killing of the lion that they nicknamed the present day Ugbekpe in Ekperi because each time the Oba sent his traditional police to arrest Agiana in Ekperi they will ask where is Ugbekpen.
As Agiana dragged it along, Eleuma ‘went into serious pains of labour and when the pains became unbearable, Agiana refused to move further and he took her with the Lion to a lake called Ikekhegbe in the present day Ayogwiri and frayed the lion there and, butchered it and used part of it to prepare pepper soup for his wife. His brothers were afraid that they were too close to Ekperi and might be found out easily by the Oba’s Police so they left Agiana and his wife to their fate in spite of the incessant appeals by Agiana not, to leave them alone. God on their side, the woman put to bed a baby boy. After many months, Imiegba, Okpekpe, Itsukwi and Imiakebu came to find out what had happened to, Agiana and his wife, and they met him cultivating the land by the lakeside for planting and they asked him, what sex of child did your wife put to bed and he replied them in a logical polite anger-Avhiugwi Omoavhia.
That is, no man gives birth to a vulture, man gives birth to a human being, from that time, any time they wanted to visit him, they would say let us visit Avhiugw. It was wrongly mis-spelt by the whites as Ayogwiri. Ayogwiri’ has no meaning in our language so we should try and correct this mistake.
The question now is, why is an average Ayogwiri man logical, diplomatic and having a tendency to revolt against any inhuman law? It is not our fault but a game in us that we inherited. One may now ask why was Agiana not willing to obey this culture and tribute feared and paid by all? The answer is that the killing of a lion was not an easy task to accomplish. That was why majority of those who went to pay this tribute to the Oba of Benin never returned.
They were seized on arrival at the palace. They were castrated immediately and made everlasting palace guards and whenever there was war against the kingdom they were made to serve as the leading soldiers to defend the empire.
The, unfortunate loyalists were mourned by their relations while they were away to pay tribute in Benin with the lion skin. They use to curse the day a killer was born because of the Barbaric culture as that meant doom for the one and one’s family. Now, the little wonder is “Despite the misfortunes one’s family incurred by killing a lion, why did people still kill lions with gusto. The reason Agiana did not go to Benin to pay the tribute was because of the risk to one’s life and the compelling love for his wife and his yet unborn child because, if people waited for three years for the hunters without return from Benin, their wives would. be given out to others. All their rights and privileges would be withdrawn. Now, if our founder father could save and redeem the entire Edo this Ignoble Barbaric punishment in those dark days, why can’t at least a date be set aside to celebrate this brave man by the entire Edo as the Maryslessor of our state. From all available, records to history, it was after Agiana survived this customary disobedience that other subsequent killers all over stopped sending the lion skin to Benin forthwith until all later gradually rebelled against the tribute generally and the custom died a natural death. Agiana was a brave warrior who was the first to change this custom Agiana was a true lover of his family and Ayogwiri was founded with and on natural love.
Agiana was not a hero but a brave hunter. A hero is a soldier who goes to war to fight and die in battle field while a brave soldier is a soldier who goes to war to fight and return. Agiana made the brave choice to remain a brave soldier rather than to be a hero because heroes are found in the grave.
Now, Ayogwiri, where is the love you were born with? Will you allow political differences and trivialities steal this love from you? The Motto of Ayogwiri is “unity is power”. Are you now leaving the track of unity that gives power to the opposite track of disunity that weakens? Let us go back to the drawing board today to retrace our steps back to history. We have retraced our steps back to our present origin, our root, the Ogieieni of Uzairue’s Palace. The first university graduate in Uzairue was Chief J. O. ILUEBEY the Ukpagi of Uzairue Ukpagi; is the only tree that can withstand the painful labour of an elephant. Is Ayogwiri still the Ukpagi of Uzairue today academically, politically and financially? Let us reclaim our true position in Uzairue and the only way is by unity and love and the power to do all good things will now follow. Is the exit of Chief Uluebey from service the exit of Ayogwiri from service? If not, who is an Ayogwiri son who is now in the leading position in the Federal, State and Local Government service today?
The boneless, toothless, handless earth worm says ,it is in imitation of his father that it enters the ground because it has no means of digging a hole in the hard earth, where is the love for our wives and children as Agiama laid down for us all. Do we send our children to school today? When Sir. Chief James Idornigie and Dickson Atogwe were yet unmarried they were training their brothers children. How many people today show that love to even their biological children;
Agiana knew how to live close to a river because of the necessity of water to woman who has just put to bed. That was why he erected a hut close to Ikekhegbe. Every Ayogwiri man has a logical mind of dealing with issues. The killing of lion was the highest way of proving bravery and varlour then. Our land is fertile so nature loves us we have six river~ and our sands are used to build houses. What more do you need from nature with corresponding blessed intelligent sons and daughters in Ayogwiri.
We are praised, called Ivhiuchekpeotor because Agiana dragged a lion to his settlement Ayogwiri-nibo, Ivhiuchekpeotor, this celebration should be made a yearly affair where unity and love should be preached in the Temple of peace in Ayogwiri.
A creditor’s silence over a debt -owed him is as good as frequently reminding a debtor of his Obligation to pay his debt for the debtor is never at heart ease when ever he comes across his creditor. Ayogwiri, by this celebration, the love that Agiana found you with is now demanding fulfillment from every Ayogwiri child let us learn to love one another as children from the same descendant.
As hard as an iron is, there is bound to be a mark on the spot where you continue to hit it repeatedly. It is only when there is no sincere wishes for true divination that a diviner puts it off for want of a lioness’ milk. Who can dare the forest where a nursing lion lives. You may wash snails of its slime to a consumable state but you can never rid off the slime completely if you doubt it, when you think you have washed a snail of its slime completely, add salt to it and you will see more slime than you have already washed.
The vulture that Agiana used metaphorically in reply to his brothers, is a symbol of safety, looking Askance at the vulture does not harm it. The vulture, a scavenger, is not an edible meat. No one normally haunts for the vulture. Whenever it is seen flying past or feeding on decaying f1esr. It is merely eyed either with hatred, contempt or suspicion. The fact remains that in whatever way it is looked at, the vulture remains unscathed. That is so because; all unspoken intention or ill-feeling towards one cannot harm one. The vulture says, is there no wise one in a community where a child fixes an arrow on a string and aims it at it? Whoever aims an arrow ,at the vulture aims it at the head of his father and mother. No one kills nor eat the vulture.
A fire brand should not be quenched by rain in a home where there is an elder. The lion which led Agiana out of Ekperi is the strongest animal in the forest and yet, it obeys the laws of the forest. A lion does not kill because it can kill. It only kills when it is hungry and it is the size of the animal it kills today that will determine when it will kill again. The lion does not live in disobedience and kills at random, otherwise, he would have killed all the animals in the forest at once and dies in hunger too because he will not have fresh meat to feed on nor fresh blood to drink. So it is not all you have power to do that you do. You· must allow all the laws of nature to guide you. There is no profession without guiding laws. Nothing exists without guiding laws.
An average Ayogwiri man obeys the law so he toys the fashion of the lion. Ayogwiri was nursed on a lion skin. When a common interest is what is sought, every one should have a stake in the comm. On effort being made to pursue and actualise he interest being sought, since if we are to eat, we must work. Watch it, a lazy child who sees nothing wrong in ransacking his mother’s basket as a means of livelihood shall soon become a thief. Let the good lead by example. It is natural that the good and the bad must live together in any community if the black oil does not go to sleep, the red oil will not be allowed to go to the market.
Do not quarrel but if quarrel comes, avoid a fight but if fighting comes, do not go to police. But if police action follows, do not go to court but if court action follows do not send to jail and if jail terms follows finally, when he finishes serving the jail term, he should still be allowed to come back to the village and live together again because if you keep him in exile, he will certainly become a bad ambassador to your community so it is better to’ avoid a quarrel because if you covert red pepper, people will bring black pepper to you. (ICHORA) you cannot be saved the consequences of your action. He who eats gluttonously without caution until he is sick must be prepared to fast painfully until he is well. I will finally on behalf of Aygwiri Community thank the Ogieneni of Uzairue who in spite of our disagreement for years still restored the Chief of Ayogwiri his rightful position in the palace. Long live Ogieneni of Uzairue.
Your Royal Highness Sir, no one waits for war to come before preparing for the war. You prepare well ahead time. The Federal and State Government are already c1amouring for creation of more Local Government Councils in Nigeria.
A clan is a large group of families that are related to each other with an interest or aim ruled by a clan head.
A kingdom is a collection of many villages ruled by a king.
An empire is a collection of many kingdom ruled by an emperor.
Your Royal Highness Sir, Auchi was clan that has now elevated their quarters to villages and has now become a kingdom to maintain equal status with you.
Avianwu Clan has elevated all their quarters to villages in order to have many wards. Auchi now has four wards.
For Uzairue to now have a Local Government you should elevate all the villages to various clans so that Uzairue can now become an empire. It is only Uzairue that has what it takes to become an empire in the whole Edo North by land mark and population.
A man who made fire before rain starts will not suffer the same cold like a man who allowed rain to start before making fire.
The Azama, Omoazekpe, Ikpemhi, Imeyeke are all children of the same parents hence they were called Ivieira, and Ayogwiri was the head quarters of the defunct Iviera Local Government Area. Therefore, let us be our brother’s keeper and live as one in Harmony. This is where we stand. Your Royal Highness Sir, The Ogieneni of Uzairue.
Your kingdom is second to none in Afemai and it will forever remain so because your great grand father was the founder and progenitor of the present day Afemai. So all matchets shall return to the Blacksmith.
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