Obiaruku is an Ukwani speaking community situated in Ukwanni Local Government Area of Delta state. Obiaruku was founded by a man called Morka a nature of Umuebu as a farm settlement in his question look for a fertile land for farming after migrating from the Benin Kingdom. At the time Morka settled in today’s Obiaruku, he did not have any idea if there are other areas around him here people inhabit.
According to history, the people of Okuzu crossed the River Ethiope and also settled there; the Europeans also came to Obiaruku and they were the ones who change the name of the community from Obi-aluku to Obiaruku. In Ukwani language, Obi means “the heart, the centre, the point or the main” while alu uku customarily referred to as aruku for easy pronunciation means the name of a particular trees that were found in the area. These trees are big and have large canopies which make the place comfortable for Morka to settle under these trees.
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. There are nine clans that made up the local government which are Akoku, Amai, Ebedei, Eziokpor, Ezionum, Obiaruku, Umuebu, Umukwata and Umutu.
The people of Obiaruku practice gerontocracy where the oldest man referred to as the Okpala-Uku is usually installed as the traditional ruler of the community.
Location and demography
Obiaruku Community is situated on longitude 6.2° E and Latitude 5.81°N and shares boundaries with Oghara, Mosogar, Idjerhe and Amai. According to Census 2006, it has a population of 11,936 inhabitants.
Obiaruku community is ruled by Okpala-Uku which is usually the eldest man in the community. The community market is known as Afia-Ogbe and people go to the market to buy and sell.
Obiaruku lies within the tropical rain forest area of the Niger-delta. The region experiences high rainfall and high humidity most of the year. The climate is equatorial and is marked by two distinct seasons. The Dry and Rainy seasons. The Dry season lasts from about November to April and is significantly marked by the cool “harmarttan” dusty haze from the north-east winds. The Rainy season spans May to October with a brief dry spell in August.
Custom and culture
Ukwani language (an Igbo dialect) is the main means of communication. Therbo, Yorue are also some other languages by very small groups of non-indigene in the community, these include Urhobo, Yoruba, Hausa and some other Nigerian Languages. English Language is also used especially “Pidgin English” in communication between the various non-indigenes in the community.
Worships and beliefs
The people of Obiaruku are predominantly Christians. Traditional worship still thrives despite the strong onslaught of Christian principles. 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.
There are three major festivals celebrated by the people of Obioaruku Kingdom. They are the Ikenga Festival, The Nduku Festival and the New Yam Festival.
The Ikenga festival
The festival is celebrated between the month March and April every year. Its celebration last just for one day.
During this festival, there are wrestling matches, display of magical powers of charms against different participants. The men believed to be the brave men of different quarters in the community come out to display their magical powers. 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
The Nduku festival is celebrated in the month of November. This festival lasts for seven days. During this festival, the age-grade initiation is carried out. This festival is celebrated once in every five years.
During this festival there is a display of a 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. 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.
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.
The New Yam festival
The New Yam Festival is celebrated in the month of October. This festival lasts for seven days. During this festival the people in the community harvest their yams. During this festival, titles are conferred on person with the biggest tubers of yam and this title is known as the Ogbu-Iji. People during this festival offer sacrifice to their gods for the successful farming year.
The major food of the people of Obiaruku is pounded yam with pepper soup, akpu with egusi soup, etc.
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.
In Obiaruku, when a man sees a woman that he wishes to marry, he will go straight to the parent of the woman and will pay homage to the parents by going to the farm to work for the woman parents. If the woman’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 woman’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
- 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.
- Early marriage: Early marriage is a big problem in the community especially among young girl who get into unplanned marriages as a result of teenage pregnancy mostly unplanned which affect their health status.
- Low level of education: The level of education of the people of Obiaruku is still very low which lead to different ignorance related challenges such as malnutrition
- Son preference: This form of discrimination and one which has far-reaching implications for women is the preference accorded to the boy child over the girl child. This practice denies the girl child good health, education, recreation, economic opportunity and the right to choose her partner, violating her rights.
- There is a very high presence of mosquitoes in the community which lead to level of communicable disease like malaria.
Resources in the community used to solve the problem
- Health facilities: The primary health care centre in the community help in the treatment of minor ailments and the delivery of women during labour. Also present are traditional birth attendance who also help in delivery of pregnant women.
- Rich agricultural land: The present of good agricultural land make necessary food available in the community and helps in solving the problems of malnutrition.
- Law enforcement agents: The traditional and political leaders as well as police in the community carry out the role of law enforcement agents in the community thereby guarding the people and settling interpersonal disputes.
- Schools: Schools serve as a major means of educating the people in the community on issue bothered by lack of adequate knowledge, malnutrition and general awareness of this people and at the same time improves the health status of the people.
Other resources on the community include market, hotels, secretariat, electricity, motorable road, water supply facilities, local government secretariat, hotels, churches, etc.