I have watched the needless and divisive arguments by few Okpe sons and daughters who are bent on carving out a separate identity for the Okpe nation and I feel it is high time I air my view on the subject matter
The truth must be spoken and even if my voice is drowned by the cacophony of dissent and rancour that sometimes trail such literary interventions, let it be on record that on this day the seed of truth and liberation was planted and the idea of a new and unified beginning for a people that I have come to love more than life itself, my people, the Okpe/ Urhobo people was berthed. And for these views, these ideas, these contributions and these philosophies, as disagreeable as they may be to some, I offer no apology.
Okpe is not just the largest Urhobo kingdom, indeed within the concept of the old Delta province and the present Delta state, Okpe is a major force and first among equal in many respects because the Orodje of Okpe has more subjects than any other monarch in the entire state with his kingdom hovering over the present Sapele and Okpe local government.
It is worthy of note that when the legendary Urhobo patriot, symbol of Urhobo unity and mobiliser, the irrepressible Mukoro Mowoe of blessed memory wanted to found the Urhobo Progress Union, the first meeting place was at Orerokpe the capital and ancestral home of the Okpe people.
It is also worthy of note that not only did he fix its inaugural meetings there, he ensured that an Okpe man in the person of Late Chief Ayomanor of Sapele, chaired the meetings before handing over to the first UPU President General from Ethiope East.
Okpe is not just part and parcel of Urhobo, it is the heart, kidney, soul and epicenter of activism and activities that led to the formation of Urhobo Progress Union.
Right from day one, Okpe has always been considered a kingdom making up the Urhobo nation. The supreme council of the Okpe people, the Udogun-Okpe which is the only body that is competent to speak on behalf of the Okpe people has said several times that Okpe is part and parcel of the great Urhobo nation and it will remain so until otherwise stated.
Only few okpe indigenes have this identity crisis. There are so many Okpe communities that speak general Urhobo dialect as their first language and identify with the Urhobo tag.
The insugnificant few who are having this identity crisis must be made to understand that divided we fall and united we stand. Just imagine if other sister tribes from Uvwie, Udu, Ughelli, etc start coming out to denounce being Urhobo just because of greed from a politically divided mindset. Who would foster the Urhobo project? I mean, even Delta north tribes are now united under the aegis “Anioma” so what is the problem and intentions of these proponents of Okpe Identity? We all migrated from Benin at some point and the term Urhobo came to be used by a group of people who settled in what is now Delta state because we share the same cultural similarities and have adopted a general language which is the Urhobo language. It is also my belief that no tribe is more Urhobo than the other.
The protagonist of Okpe identity only speaks from a political perspective just like the Isokos who used to be Urhobos at some point and later went thier separate way just for political gratification.
Even after stop being part of Urhobo nation, they are not better of politically as it would take a minimum of 56 years if all things are equal for them to produce the Governor in Delta south. The three senatorial districts have done 24 years and when it rotates round again the Ijaws might produce the Governor when it get to the turn of Delta south after 16years and they will have to wait for another 16yrs to produce a Governor that is if only the Itsekiri and Ijaws do not outsmart them when it gets to their turn again.
Needless to say that Majority of Okpe indigenes speak both the general Urhobo dialect and the Okpe dialect. Some Okpe towns like Oha, Orerokpe, Osubi, Sapele etc speak the general Urhobo dialect, only core Okpe towns like Ughoton, Jeddo, Ugbokodo etc speak the core Okpe dialect
Apart from Okpe playing a major role in the formation of UPU, the Aziza of Okpe kingdom, Chief Patrick Aziza an Okpe son until his death was the President General of Urhobo Progress Union. Till today, his records in the strategic restoration of Urhobo fortunes both at home and at the national level remains unbeaten.
I want to also state here that since the highest ruling body of the Okpe people has reiterated the fact that Okpe is Urhobo, anybody who doesn’t see it that way is lost and does not know the implications of what he or she is doing to his own people. He is simply affirming and confirming an insulting label which has deep sinister, mystical and spiritual connotations.
It is a new dawn, a new day and a new era. And I fervently believe that the God of Heaven and He who sits above the circles of the earth is about to do something new, something refreshing and something very dramatic. Why? Because it is our turn to shine and the forces of darkness cannot prevail.
My name is Sanco Ese
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