Ukwuani And The Urhobo People Up To 1900 – A Study In Inter-Group Relations

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Ukwuani And The Urhobo People Up To 1900 – A Study In Inter-Group Relations


Abstract


This work is on the inter-group relations between Ukwuani and Urhobo peoples up to 1900. One aspect of Ukwuani and Urhobo history that has not received much attention from historians in recent times, is the effect of inter-group relations between them. Many have written on the various aspects beginning with the origin, culture and annual festivals of the Ukwuani’s and the Urhobo’s. Yet, the more recent events – the inter-group relations between them, which virtually have affected nearly all aspects of Ukwuani and Urhobo lands has not caught the attention of many historians despite the fact that many of these people are now living witnesses to the events. It is therefore, the aim of this study to construct the history of Ukwuani and Urhobo in relation to their experiences and analyze the events as they occurred and show how they were affected in terms of their political, social and economic activities up to 1900.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Before the European colonisation of the area that became Nigeria in 1914 the various peoples of Nigeria had been in existence. Many of these peoples had, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, lived in their present locations for centuries, and had had their own ways of life (Orugbani, 2005). They had, for example, practised their own traditional religions and had operated their own social and political systems based mainly on the principles of gerontocracy and primogeniture. Blood and family ties determined, to a large extent, the nature of relationships. Life in general was essentially communal; everybody was his brother’s keeper (Orugbani, 2005). In some places where conditions were favourable, well-organised states, kingdoms and empires sprang up and flourished. In the north for example, were the Kanem-Bornu Empire and the Hausa States of Kano, Katsina, Zaria, Nupe, Kebbi, and Kwararafa. In the forest region were the powerful kingdoms of Benin and Oyo, while in the extreme south, in the area popularly referred to as the Niger Delta, were the citystates of Nembe, Elem Kalabari, Okrika, Andoni, Bonny, Opobo, Ode-Itsekiri etc. (Alagoa, 1970; Stride and Ifeka, 1971, Crowther, 1978). With regard to inter-group relations, the various peoples of Nigeria had freely met and traded together. The coastal peoples such as the Ijo, Andoni, and Itsekiri produced fish, crayfish and salt, which they exchanged for the agricultural products of their hinderlandneighbours such as the Isoko, Urhobo, Ukwuani and so on. The major rivers such as the Niger, Benue, Forcados, Benin, Bonny, Escravosetc, for a long time served as trade routes and means of contact between the various peoples of Nigeria, especially in the south and the middle belt. In the north, pack animals such as camels, mules and donkeys were effectively used in the movement of goods and people from one place to another. These economic contacts, no doubt, led to social, political, and even religious relations amongst the peoples of the different geographical zones.

At the dawn of independence, African States hoped for political and socio-economic development. Unfortunately, this never materialized and many states were soon embroiled in conflicts. These conflicts took the form of internal wars (as in Angola, Mozambique, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo) or coups (as in Nigeria, Ghana, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Ethiopia), often with ethnic and at times religious undertones, and were fuelled by political intolerance (Osei-Hwedie, 200). The result has been a devastating impact on political and socio-economic development. In fact, Obasanjo (1991) stated that Africa continues to witness socio-economic development decline and regression and the hope ofdevelopment in the decade of independence has been replaced by a revolution of rising frustrations characterized by economic structural adjustments, rising poverty and withdrawal of government involvement in the social service sectorIndeed according to Awe (1999) while governance in the pre-colonial period was largely the participation and the accommodation of the interest of all, the later periods witnessed the alienation of the ruled from the rulers; an elite group, the British and their Nigerian successors, made the interest of the majority subservient to their own. The long period of military rule only increased this alienation. Other potential factors of conflict such as ethnicity and religion intensified the subsequent crisis, which was further aggravated by the oil boom and the attendant consequences of corruption, economic mismanagement and challenges of resource allocation which it encouraged . According to Adejumobi (2002) in Nigeria, primordial identities of ethnic, communal and religious formations have taken the centre stage in social and political interactions. Ethnic socio-political organizations like the Afenifere, Ohaneze and Arewa are perhaps the most palpable on the political turf. These groups have penetrating networks and profound influence in the Nation’s political parties. The corollary of these groups especially at the youth level are the • ethnic militias, such as OoduaPeoples Congress (OPC), Egbesu Boys of Africa (EBA), Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Niger Delta Volunteer Force, ljaw youths, Arewapeoples Congress (APC) and other religious militia groups in Northern Nigeria. These groups claim to represent specific ethnic or communal interest and adopt various tactics including violence in the conduct of their activities

This work is on the inter-group relations between Ukwuani and Urhobo peoples up to 1900. One aspect of Ukwuani and Urhobo history that has not received much attention from historians in recent times, is the effect of inter-group relations between them. Many have written on the various aspects beginning with the origin, culture and annual festivals of the Ukwuani’s and the Urhobo’s. Yet, the more recent events – the inter-group relations between them, which virtually have affected nearly all aspects of Ukwuani and Urhobo lands has not caught the attention of many historians despite the fact that many of these people are now living witnesses to the events. It is therefore, the aim of this study to construct the history of Ukwuani and Urhobo in relation to their experiences and analyze the events as they occurred and show how they were affected in terms of their political, social and economic activities up to 1900.

The Urhobo People

The Urhobos are people located in Southern Nigeria, near the northwestern Niger Delta. The Urhobo are the major ethnic group in Delta State, one of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Urhobos speak the Urhobo language.

The word Urhobo refers to a group of people rather than a territory. Approximately two million people are Urhobos. They have a social and cultural affinity to the Edo people of Nigeria. The Urhobo people live in a territory bounded by latitudes 6°and 5°, 15° North and Longitudes 5°, 40° and 6°, 25° East in the Delta and the Bayelsa States of Nigeria. Their neighbors are the Isoko to the Southeast, the Itsekiri and Ijaw to the West, the Edo people, Bini, to the North, the Ijaw to the South and the Ukwuani people (to the Northeast). Urhobo territory consists of evergreen forests with many oil palm trees. The territory is covered by a network of streams, whose volume and flow are directly affected by the seasons. The wet season is traditionally from April to October, and dry season ranges from November to March

The Ukwuani People

The Ukwuani people (also called Ndokwa Ethnic Nationality) are located in PRESENT DAY Delta state of Nigeria. They are centrally situated inwithin the state. They share Boundaries with the Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, and the other west Niger Igbo groups within Delta state. They also share boundary with the Bini in Edo state and the larger Igbo nationality east of the Niger. Up to the end of the twentieth century, most discussions on the Ukwuani were centered on the Aboh Kingdom, because of its commercial success during the pre-colonial era. But surprisingly the aboh kingdom is just a small percentage of the Ukuani community. As a matter of fact, the pre-colonial Ukwuaniland was a two sided communal society. Aboh was a military and a commercial kingdom, while the rest upland Ukeuani, excluding Emu Kingdom, was an acephalous community made up of sovereign autonomous communities. Currently Ukwuani land is divided into three geo-poliitcal units namely; Ndokwa West, Ukwuani LGA and Ndoka East.

Apart from the envisaged projection of cordial and peaceful relationships betweenthe two ethnic groups which is a basic requirement for development this project is projected to provide people with the knowledge about their contiguousneighbours.


1.2 Problem Statement

The prevalence of conflict in the world and particularly in the African sub-region has been a major source of concern to individuals, families and (the) society at large. People have become apprehensive about the negative consequences of conflict, due to the way and manner it erupts in our society. At the global level, nations of the world are concerned about conflict and its effects as a result of globalization (which has reduced the world to a global village), to the extent that the negative impact of conflict in one country is shared by others. The African sub-region has been identified by Kidei (2008) as the worst hit by conflicts when compared to other sub-regions of the world.

The wars and crises in Somalia, Kenya, Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria (Niger Delta crisis), to mention but a few, have resulted to serious threats to humanity. These threats according to Kidei include high death tolls, displacement of people from their homes and livelihood, increasing number of civilian casualties, increased violence, human abuse and mutilation, resulting to the use of children as instruments of war. Kidei further presented a statistics on child soldiers world-wide which show that out of about 350,000 child soldiers in the world, 200,000 are Africans. The above situation, no doubt presents a serious threat to Africa’s development (millennium Development Goals) as children are looked upon as responsible future leaders of tomorrow. The problem of this study, therefore, is to identify the services which academic libraries can offer to bring about conflict resolution and peace in societies.

This article is an attempt to properly document the relations between the Ijo and Itsekiri in precolonial times. The aim is not to divide the people, but to enable Nigerians and the international community to put in proper perspective the recently hostile relations between the two groups.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The specific objective of the study is the Inter Group relations between the Urhobo and the Ukwuani people

The general objectives are;

  1. To examine the relevance of inter-group relations.
  2. To review the interaction between the Ukwuani and the Urhobo people
  3. To examine and determine the Historical sources of conflict and its consequences on the relationship between the Ukwuani and the Urhobo people.
  4. To suggest ways of improving the relationship between the Ukwuani and the Urhobo peopleand relevant measures required for an improved inter-group relations in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

Question One

What are the pre-colonial relations between Ukwuani and Urhobo people?

Question Two

What are the historical sources of conflict and what are Its Consequences On The Relationship Between The Ukwuani And The Urhobo People


1.5 Significance of the Study

This study will be useful to the government in planning and decision making. It will help in policy formulation, formulation and re-evaluation in Delta State as it would deepen the understanding and Knowledge about the intertribal co-existence between the Urhobos and the Ukwuani people. The study will be of great benefit to Deltans and Nigerians at largebecause it will be expose us to the challenges facing inter-group relations.

It would also be of great significance to researchers by way of making them aware of problems that have been uncovered by these researchers, so that they would know where to start from in their subsequent research work in the area of inter-group relations in Nigeria. The study would be significant to policy makers and policy implementers, as they would make use of the findings and recommendations of this study. It will also serve as a reference material to other researchers who intend to embark on this or similar topics.


1.6 Scope and Limitations of Study

This study spans a long period of time, specifically from 1500 to 1900.

The choice of 1500 is informed by the need to adequately reconstruct the origin of who at this time had ensconced themselves in their present abode or were in the process of establishing themselves within the subregion. It would also give the researcher ample time to reconstruct the tradition of origin of the Ukwuani people to ascertain their aboriginal home.The researcher encountered some constraints, which limited the scope of the study. These constraints include but are not limited to the following.

  1. Availability of research material: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
  2. Time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

1.7 Definition of Terms

Inter-Group Relations:

The interactions that exist among various ethnic group.


1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  • Chapter one is concerned with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to reiterate that the objective of this study was to evaluate the Ukwuani and the Urhobo people up to 1900.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in supporting the view the findings from the study that evaluate the impacts of inte-relations between the Ukwuani and the Urhobo people.


5.2 Summary

The study has evaluated the impacts of interelations between the Ukwuani and the Urhobo people of Delta State. A due background was introduced in the first chapter where the study’s objectives were highlighted and defined which included to examine the relevance of inter-group relations, to review the interaction between the Ukwuani and the Urhobo people, to examine and determine the Historical sources of conflict and its consequences on the relationship between the Ukwuani and the Urhobo people.

To suggest ways of improving the relationship between the Ukwuani and the Urhobo people and relevant measures required for an improved inter-group relations in Nigeria.. The research methodology was described in the third chapter while the data so generated were presented in the fourth chapter of this study.


5.3 Conclusion and Recommendations

The analysis conducted above revealed that group inter relations plays a significant role in the general performance of Nigeria as a whole. This is so because this groups that are interrelated will be able to translate their improved human capital and better understanding of diversity into improved organizational performance.

Conclusion

It is necessary to state that one way of resolving conflict and improving inter-group relations will be for the government to resolve the issue of hunger and poverty in the land. The focus also must be on the h~an-centred values and norms of peace, social justice and freedom for the citizenry. People desire decent income, education, political freedom, security and guaranteed human rights. There is also a need for discussion among the various peoples of tlus country. Nigeria must start from the very beginning in rebuilding Nigeria. They are very convinced of the need for a sovereign national conference. It is the only plausible forum where people as equals can express their grievances. It will provide a platform for all sections and groups to express their feelings about how tl1ey can mitllmize conflicts and achieve the needed harmony so as to be able to live together as one Nation. Only this way will the imbalance, distrust and suspicion between the North and the South be corrected. 177 ?11rs.) ution relates to how the veen the parties and their needs and aspirations of variants of this method 1ail and coercive physical •alized or to impose an The major shortcoming 1g the salient issues of rantages. :mal process in which a to an agreement through md through helping to Tims, conciliation is an t and cooperation that is al understanding of their •d includes appeasement r resolving conflict vary nation of these methods ~ conflict and improving )lve the issue of hunger uman-centred values and uy. People desire decent taranteed human rights. peoples of tlus country. g Nigeria. They are very :e. It is the only plausible ances. It will provide a ings about how they can o as to be able to live e, distrust and suspicion Cotiflitts& lntergro11p Relation in Nigeria: IF’ hat way Forward Indeed as stated by Obasanjo and Mabogunje (1993), democracy must incorporate .equity, human rights and security for all members of the Nation irrespective of ethnic, religious, or other group identification; it must meet the basic human needs and provide an enabling environment for to develop the productive abilities. So, in enhancing unity in diversity, Nigerians must learn to live in peace with one another no matter what part of the country they are from. They must accommodate each other by building on their strengths and ignoring their weaknesses as a people. They must learn to speak about the destiny and future prospects for the country by learning how to undertake more equitable distribution of resources and addressing the needs of the citizenry appropriately. Above all, inter-group relations can only be encouraged through Consultations, Dialogue, Mediation and Negotiations in all dealings with one another.


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