The Adane-Okpe Festival

The Adane-Okpe Festival is an annual cultural event that dates back to the very foundations of the Okpe Kingdom. As a cultural rallying point for the Okpe people, the festival traces its origins from the meeting place of the four founding brothers, Orhue, Orhoro, Evbreke and Esezi at Orerokpe after the historic sojourn of migration of their ancestor from Benin early in the last millennium.

Till this day, the historic meeting point of the four brothers is visible at Orerokpe, and it is well known to all Okpe and non-Okpe as the Adane-Okpe. The hall of the Udogun (Okpe Supreme Council) where most traditional meetings are held is situated at the Adane-Okpe square. Adane-Okpe means so much to the average Okpe man and more so that it comes alive as the symbolism of a rallying point for all Okpe people.

 The Adane-Okpe Masquerade Festival of the Okpe People

Adane-Okpe is a socio-cultural festival celebrating the spiritual essence of the Okpe kingdom of the Urhobo people in Nigeria. The high point of the festival lies within the artistic display and dramatic performance of masquerades at the festival arena, revealing the revered aesthetic import of the Urhobo people. But beyond all this is the essence of the festival, which is believed in the accumulation and renewal of spirituality, a socio-economic emancipation and the political unity of the people throughout the kingdom.

Prince (Dr.) Joseph Obukowho Asagba is a descendant of Chief Asagba, the great-grandson of Prince Eyeyan Asagba, grandson of Prince Joseph Etietsola Asagba, and the eldest son of Prince Vann Etietsola Asagba of the Orhoro ruling house of Okpe Kingdom. His grandmother, Princess Alberta Aduviere Omarin, was the daughter of Chief Omarin Etajeme of the Ogoni and Evwreke ruling houses, making him a descendant of both the Orhoro and Evwreke ruling houses and a member of the royal family of Okpe Kingdom.

He received his B.S. from Tarleton State University, a part of the Texas A&M University system, and his M.Ed. and Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. His articles have appeared in college student journals and other scholarly publications. He is also author of the book The Untold Story of a Nigerian Royal Family: The Urhobo Ruling Clan of Okpe Kingdom (2005). His forthcoming books include From Slavery to Freedom: A History of the Delta People of Nigeria and Colonial Power: The British and the Nigerian Rulers of Western Delta.

He was born in Lagos and grew up around traditional relatives and elders in the Delta State of Nigeria. Dr. Asagba has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (U.S. Department of Homeland Security) as a human services specialist, as Director of Student Academic Support Services at Neosho County Community College (1997-98), as Residential Community Coordinator at Cornell University (1995-96), as Assistant to the Dean of Students and also as Assistant Director of Project Eagle Quest, a retention and outreach program in the Office of Student Affairs at the University of North Texas (1994). He also taught in the Denton (Texas)

The untold story of a Nigerian royal family

The Urhobo Ruling Clan of Okpe Kingdom

This book presents the story of the Urhobo ruling family of Okpe Kingdom and its political power in Nigeria. It traces the origins and history of the Okpe people and discusses their social and political organization. Topics include:

  • The Okpe revolution that led to the assassination of H.R.M. Esezi I in 1779
  • British colonial rule of the kingdom during the late 1800s through 1960
  • Civil war beween the Okpe and Olomu of Itsekiri in the 1800s and the palm oil trade rivalry
  • Urhobo-Itsekiri collaboration in the slave trade, and slavery in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Okpe.

It also examines the political role played by the traditional chiefs, the role of feminists who campaigned for women’s rights to participate in the all-male council of elders, and the effort by H.R.M. Esezi II to promote the democratic system of government within the Okpe council. It concludes with the story of the uncrowned king of Okpe Kingdom, including a brief history of the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-70, the reign of H.R.M. Orohoro I, and the story of the author’s candidacy for Okpe King after the death of Orhoro I. Postscripts include Nigeria oil policy, the Muslim-Christian strife, and human rights abuses.

The celebration of traditional festivals is an annual community affair throughout Delta State. Almost every village celebrates one festival or the other that attracts indigenes and non-indigenes at specific times in the year, usually between March and December. These festivals offer occasions for a reunion of family members, friends and well-wishers from far and near. However, the main essence of these festivities is to provide opportunities for ancestral worship and purification of both the land and the people.

Some of the important festivals celebrated in the state include Adane-Okpe, lyen, Edjenu, Okere Juju, Ine, Ulor, Ukwata, Ishe and Ore-Uku.

Adane-Okpe festival holds every year from December 22-30 in Orerokpe in Okpe LGA. It is a period of ancestral worship, which helps to promote the unity of the Okpe people. The occasion also provides an opportunity for the initiation of new Okakuros (Chiefs).

In Effurun, Edjuvbie holds for 14 days in March every year. The festival is a period of merry-making and the offering of sacrifices to the gods. lyen and Edjenu are two major festivals in Ughelli and Okpara. lyen is held annually while Edjenu takes place every 25 years . Another festival that is celebrated at intervals of 25 years is Ekele of Agbarha. One of the most important festivals in Isoko is Eri-Okpe festival which holds in March every three years. It is celebrated to usher in peace and a rich harvest.

In Warri, the dominant festivals are the Agbassa-Juju and Okere-Juju. While Agbassa-Juju is celebrated every three years between April and May, Okere-Juju festival starts in June and ends in August every year.

Among the Izons, the important festivals are Seigbein, Okabowei and Kalanama Oge. Okabowei festival, celebrated by the people of Patani, is held in April while Seigbein takes place in May.

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