The History and Culture of Issele-Uku Kingdom

The History and Culture of Issele-Uku Kingdom



The town Issele-Uku is a city in Delta State Nigeria and it is also the headquarters for the Local Government Area of Aniocha North. Benin-City and Issele-Uku are quite historic places in the old Bendel State of Nigeria. Benin-City is the capital of the state while Issele-Uku is a town in Aniocha Local Government Area. The distance between the two towns is about 90 kilometers.

Right from the 13th Century Issele-Uku has had connections with Benin and the Umuezechima, Oba Esigie in giving the royal bronze mask to obi OLIGBO on his enthronement at Benin-City in the early 16th century, re-emphasized that Issele-Uku was the Oba’s representative on the Eastern boundary of the Benin Empire. This was attested to by his Royal Highness Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Akenzua II on the 11th of February, 1976. To quote the Oba The bronze mask was given out by Oba Esigie to Obi Oligbo of Issele-Uku to symbolize his position as the Oba’s authoritative representation in the Eastern region of the former Benin Empire. The bronze mask is the face of Oba Esigie, while the FESTAC Ivory mask still in London is the Face of Queen referred to as the mother Idia of Benin”

It is said that as far back as the 13th Century, the Oba of Benin, Oba Eweka I appointed the first Ogei “King” of Issele-Uku kingdom to take charge of the eastern region of the former Benin Empire to ward off any surprise attack and check foreign invasion from across the River Niger and also to establish Edo presence in the area too. Oba Eweka I is said to have crowned Ogie Uwadie and sent him along with other group of Edos to rule Issele-Uku. There were warriors statesmen and women, including their children, wards and servants from Ogbe Ehaekpen, Ogbe Eribo, Ugbeka, Idumu Inele Ibiwe, Idumu Igun, Idumu Iken of Uselu, Idumu Oliha, Idumu Ezemo Nuzebu. The quarters they all occupied are still existing in Issele-Uku till this day and known as Ogbeofu Omado, Ishiekpe, Edemoka-Ogboli, Ogbidibo, Idumuinei Ebigwe, Idumuzu, Idumu-Ozoma and Idumu-Onishe.

Issele-Uku was founded by the Binis, in about 1230 AD, by Oba Eweka I of Benin Empire and first Ogie of the new kingdom was Prince Uwadie who was the second son of Oba Eweka I.

The original name of the new kingdom carved out of Benin Empire “ISI-ILE-UKU” signifies relationship with the Binis and Oba of Benin-City ‘Uku akpolokpolo Omonoba n’edo’

When Oba Eweka I created the new Benin outpost of Isi-Ile-Uku now pronounced as Issele-Uku, his main objectives was to check and stop the inrush of the movement of people from East of the River Niger, and people from Igala land into the Edo land West of the River Niger, for farming and fishing operations. Also to use Issele-Uku the new out post and kingdom as a defensive out post to the Benin Empire and moreover for expansion purposes.

Politically, there are about 20 rulers that have ruled Issele-Uku kingdom from its inception till date and they are as follows.

HRM Ogie Uwadie (1230-1290 A.D)

HRM Ogie Ohanla (1290–1351 A.D)

HRM Ogie Osamala (1351–14200

HRM Eze Ise (1482–1484)

HRM Eze Ikhimi-Chima (1284–1505)

Obi Oligbo-Origbo (1505–1583)

Obi Owelle (1583–1632)

Obi Osoezebiuwa (1632–1650)

Obi Jeboma-Esee (1650–1679)

Obi Alumona (1679–1695)

Obi Odia (1695–1723)

Obi Diei-Ediai (1730–1790)

Obi Ofiuwe (1790–1810)

Obi Usifo (1810–1839)

Obi Egbune (1839–1810)

Obi Osemene I (1910–1915)

Obi Osemene II (1936–1947)

Obi Osemene III (1963–1995)

Obi Ezeagwuna (1996–2014)

Obi Nduka 2016 till Date.

More so Issele-uku town is made up of eight quarters and wards that each indigene is likely to be a native of one of them. They includes;

Ogbe-Owelle

Ogbe-Utu

Ukpai

Ogbe-Ofu-Omado

Ogboli ‘Agidi’

Idumuinei-Inele-Ebigwe, ‘Ibiwe’

Umu-Ezeisei ‘Umudei’

Ishi-Ekpe

Ogbe-Eribo ‘Igbidibo’

Ogbe Ntiobi

Idumu Ahaba

The rich culture of the people of Issele-Uku can be seen clearly as it is been displayed on its Inne Festival Day that holds annually in the month of September, with bright colors all over the town. After the royal sacrifices have been made by the Obi and his chiefs to purify the land making it clean for the good people of the town and for its resident visitors too thereafter, sounds of melodious songs are being drummed out with so many traditional musical instruments that will have the king dance with all his people of the community to show that love, unity, peace and strength that the town embodies.

Issele uku also houses the Episcopal see of the Catholic Bishop of Issele-Uku Diocese where the Cathedral of Saint Paul is being located close to the Obi’s palace. Notwithstanding there are also different faith and belief system present in the town as it is not limited to just one religion or denomination.

The occupation of the Issele-uku people are predominantly farmers that cultivate food crops like yam, cassava, maize, beans, cocoyam and also vegetables for domestic consumption and commercial sale, the town also have a specific market day which is the Afor market day that comes every four days where sellers and buyers from within and neighboring town comes in to trade making it another spotlight and a link to good commerce because therein they get to sell the farm produce they cultivate and harvest during a farming period due to its rich soil in the community.

Issele-Uku is relatively populated with its habitants to be men, women and children living and coexisting in the town, it also have a distinctive dress code that is used for occasions and ceremonies to showcase the unity and oneness of the people, it is referred to as the “Akwa Ocha” white cloth, which symbolizes peace, cleanliness and unity. There is also a town hall located at the heart of the town close to the Obi’s Palace.

The town of Issele-uku is made up of really good and peace loving people with a top notch quality in culture and tradition.

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