TH TRUTH ABOUT THE URHOBO MIGRATION OUT OF THE GREAT BENIN (UDO)
1. According to Urhobo tradition, they traditionally identify Great Benin, otherwise known as Udo, by the nickname “Aka”.
2. The Urhobo speak of a migration out of Aka due to a turbulent event. Although the Urhobo have their own authentic migration story that was backed by archeological evidence discovered in the 1940s and 50s, there was an attempt to suppress and replace this Urhobo tradition with a fable of a Bini author.
3. In the narrative of the Bini author the name “Aka” was derived from the name of an Ubini king by the name Ogbeka who had been ruling at that time. The claim is that Oba Ogbeka was a high-handed ruler and caused a dispute which led to the Urhobo fleeing the kingdom.
4. Oba Ogbeka is purported to have reigned from 1370–1400. The name “Aka” is claimed by Ubini writers to be short for Ogbeka. That Aka is a mispronunciation of Eka, which is a part of the name Ogbeka.
5. Apart from the fact that the Bini explanation of the origin of the name Aka doesn’t make sense, two main things that render the story untrue and a gross violation of common sense:
(1) Udo was the place we know as Great Benin and there is no Oba Ogbeka in Great Benin (Udo) traditions
(2) The Ubini settlement was not established until the later 1600s, so given the date of the character Oba Ogbeka– said to have reigned in the 1300s, there is no way possible for him to have been king of Ubini, the modern day kingdom that claims to have been Great Benin, either. King Ogbeka simply never existed.
6. The authentic tradition of Urhobo migration out of Great Benin, otherwise known as Udo, has it that the name “Aka” was derived from the palm kernel nuts of a peculiar type of palm fruit found only in Udo. This peculiar palm fruit, according to legend, did not need boiling in order to commence the extraction of the fruit’s oil. According to tradition, the Urhobo fled the kingdom during a turbulent time.
7. In fact, in 1948 a botanical study led by Eustace W. Jones was carried out at Okomu forest Reserve, an area that was under Great Benin (Udo) and currently under the same Ovia senatorial district as Udo, and it was discovered that in just about every pit dug for soil analysis there were charred palm kernels, fragmented pottery, and charcoal. Interestingly, this type of palm specimen could not be found in any other place but Okomu.
8. Robin L. Chazdon writes the following in her book titled 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝 𝐆𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐭𝐡: 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐓𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐅𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐑𝐞𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐧 𝐀𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐃𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧:
"In the mid-1950s, Eustace W. Jones of the Imperial Forestry Institute of Oxford published a two-part detailed description of the plateau forest of the Okomu Forest Reserve in southwest Nigeria (Jones 1955, 1956).”
“.. Jones (1955) noted frequent shards of pottery, charred fragments of oil palm seeds, and charcoal in the soil pits, causing him to question the undisturbed nature of this forest. He observed that dominant emergent tree species of the reserve, such as Alstonia boonei and Lophira alata, are characteristic of older second-growth forest vegetation and lacked smaller size classes in the forest (Jones 1956). Based on ages of canopy trees, Jones estimated that this was a second-growth forest established at least 200 years earlier on land that had previously been intensively cultivated and densely populated.
Jones was right about the secondary nature of the forest, but he was wrong about its age. White and Oates (1999) retraced Jones’s steps and obtained radio carbon measurements for charcoal and pottery from his study plots and soil pits. Charcoal samples dated to 760 ± 50 cal BP (calibrated calendar years before present, based on radiocarbon-dated years), between AD 1177 and 1378, during the Late Iron Age. White and Oates speculated that 700 years ago the site where Okomu Forest now stands was an oil palm plantation associated with the ancient town of Udo. For reasons that are not well understood, the plantation was abandoned and gave rise to what is now a mahogany forest, dominated by several gen- era in the Meliaceae family. The oil palms remain only as charred legacies in the soil."
9. Interesting, the findings of the aformentioned scientists are inline with the Urhobo Great Benin migration tradition to the T. Also interesting is the Urhobo are famous for Palm oil production, the popular delicacy Banga soup is an example Urhobo fondness of the Oil Palm. The Urhobo were also recorded in history to have been been the controllers of the palm oil trade in pre and post colonial Nigeria.
10. The Urhobo are an ethnic group linguistically related related to the Igbo and Yoruba ethnic peoples. An astounding linguistic connection that further confirms the Urhobo tradition about a migration out of Udo is that their word for the peculiar palm kernel nuts, “Aka”, is a cognate of the words for palm kernel in both Igbo and Yoruba languages.
11. In the Igbo language the word for palm kernel nuts is “Aki” and the word in Yoruba language is “Ikin”. This further confirms the Urhobo tradition of the origin of the nickname for Great Benin (Udo), Aka.
12. The historical Great Benin King is the Udo Kingdom of Ovia SW LGA, Edo State. It is not the Ubini Kingdom of Oredo LGA, Edo State. The name “Benin”, is a European name they called Udo.