Historical development of Obiaruku Community

Historical background

Obiaruku’s history is strongly linked to the great Benin Kingdom after it was recorded that Morka the first man to settle in Obiaruku migrated from Benin in his quest for a fertile land to settle. At the time Morka settled in today’s Obiaruku, he did not have any opinion whether there are other people in the area.

After Morka has settled in Obiaruku, other people migrated from Okuzu through River Ethiope, also the arrival of the Europeans actually changed the name of the community from Obi-aluku which it was initially call to Obiaruku for easy pronunciation.  The named Obi-aluku is a combination of Obi and aluku is a name of a particular tree where with large canopies which make the place comfortable for Morka to settle under these trees.

There are nine clans that made up the local government which are Akoku, Amai, Ebedei, Eziokpor, Ezionum, Obiaruku, Umuebu, Umukwata and Umutu. The Okpala-Uku who is the traditional ruler of the community is usually the oldest man in the community.

Location and demography

Obiaruku Community is situated on longitude 6.2° E and Latitude 5.81°N. Obiaruku is the headquarter of Ukwani Local Government Area of Delta State which was carved out of Ndokwa West Local Government Area on 4th December, 1996. It shares boundaries with Oghara, Mosogar, Idjerhe and Amai. According to Census 2006, it has a population of 11,936 inhabitants.

Afia-Ogbe is the market day of Obiaruku and people go to the market to buy and sell.

Custom and culture

Language

The major language spoken by the people of Obiaruku is the Delta Igbo language there are other languages spoken in the community as a result of proximity to the Benin variance of language and the present of people from other part of the country as a result of the hospitable nature of the people of the community.

Worships and beliefs

Christianity is the major religion of the people of Obiaruku, but there are others who practice African traditional religion. The traditional belief of the people is on a god referred to as “Ikenga” who is believed to be the greatest warrior in the whole world.

Festivals

The people of Obiaruku observed three major festivals. They are New Yam Festival, Ikenga Festival and the Ikenga Festival.

The New Yam Festival

New Yam Festival also referred to as Iwaji is usually celebrated in the month of October. the celebration of the festival usually last for seven days during which titles are conferred on person with the biggest tubers of yam and this title is known as the Ogbu-Iji. Also during this festival, people carry out sacrifice to thank their gods for a successful farming season.

The Ikenga Festival

He Ikenga festival is usually celebrated with the display of bravery and wrestling matches between the strongest wrestlers in the various quarters. There is also display of magical powers by magicians in the community. The festival is celebrated between the month March and April every year. Its celebration last just for one day.

The nmawu (masquerade) are also on display; during the nmawu display, the men, women and children dance throughout the town alongside the nmawu.

The Nduku Festival

During this festival, the age-grade initiation is carried out. This festival is celebrated once in every five years.  The Nduku festival is celebrated in the month of November. This festival lasts for seven days.

During this festival there is a display of various masquerade such as “ewolor”, Olu, the masquerade called the “ewolor” whenever this masquerade comes out, it is a taboo in the community for a female to see this masquerade. During the festival from the first to the sixth day, a particular masquerade called the “olu” comes out to dance in the village square and people come out to watch it. On the last day (seventh day) of the festival people go to their various shrines to offer sacrifices after which everybody go to the village square to eat and celebrate.

After the olu, the ewolor comes out and during this period, any fowl found wandering about will be killed by the followers. It is a taboo for a female to see the ewolor and if a female sees it by mistake, she will be made to go to the ewolor shrine for sanctification and a list of items for sanctification will be given to the female which include tubers of yam, alcoholic drinks, fowl and all other ingredients for the preparation of the yam, native chalk, etc.

Food

Pounded yam and pepper soup, akpu with egusi soup, etc. are the major food of the people of Obiaruku.

Dressing

The mode of dressing of the people of Obiaruku is very unique, the men tie one wrapper with a lace shirt, wear hat and hold a walking stick while the women dress by tying two wrappers on their waist, a lace blouse and a head tie which is known as “canopy” on their head.

Marriage

When a man sees a girl that he likes and wishes to marry, he will go straight to the parent of the girl and will pay homage to the parents by going to the farm to work for the woman parents. If the girl’s parent agreed to give their daughter hand in marriage to the man, a will be fixed for the traditional marriage to be carried out. There is what is called “ego ishi (an amount of money to be paid to the woman’s parents). The man will have to buy a hat, necklace, working stick and wrapper to the father of the woman. The father will ask the man to pay homage to three elderly members of his family and girl’s mother’s family. They will also give a list of items to the man for the traditional marriage. The list usually include palm wine, salt, cigarettes, drinks, etc. the man is also asked to pay N5,000.00 which is known as the bride price.

Health status of the community

Factors affecting health

  1. Low level of education: the people of Obiaruku although presently has begin to embrace education by ensuring that their children are educated. But in totality, the level of education is still very low as many of the youths are not very eager to pursuit education. They usually go into some business in order to make quick money and this has affect the community as a whole as also affected the health status of the community as education is very important in seeking for solutions to ailments.
  2. Early marriage: The prevalence of early marriage in the community as a result of ignorance has several negative impact in the community as most of the girls are involve with teenage and mostly unplanned pregnancy and also as a result of parents giving their teenage girls hand in marriage to rich suitors for some benefits or influence in the community.
  3. Poor environmental sanitation: The level of environmental sanitation of the community is very poor. This usually leads to the pollution of the environment and transmission of communicable diseases.
  4. Son preference: In Obiaruku, special preference is paid to the male child at the expense of the female child. The female child is always treated with some biased feeling on their beliefs that as soon as they get married, their attention will be focused on their husband’s family and forgetting the parent. So they do not pay them the required attention or care required to an optimum life. This is due to the fact that the male child is the one that will continue with the linage of parents after their death.

Resources in the community used to solve the problem

  1. Schools: The low level of education in the community is greatly beginning to reduce as people has began to embrace education as many people has seen the importance of education and they are beginning to send their children to the various school in the community as a result of this, there is remarkable improvement in the health status of the people in the community and people now have sufficient knowledge on how to deal with various health challenges.
  2. Law enforcement agents: The community has several law enforcement agencies which include the Okpala-Uku, the council of chiefs, the youth leader, etc. This ensures that the people in the community live at peace with each other and also ensure that people rights are not violated and offenders are punished according to the severity of their offenses.
  3. Health facilities: The primary health care centre in the community help in the treatment of minor ailments and the presence of traditional birth attendance in the community in the delivery of women during labour.
  4. Rich agricultural land: The presence of rich agricultural land which attracts the first man to Obiaruku is still exists in the community. This is evident in the present of various food stuffs available in the market on the Ogbe day. This attracts people from different communities closed to Obiaruku.
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