Significance of Orji Efor Festival to Niger Delta clan
Every year, the people of Afor clan, in Ndokwa East local council of Delta State, gather to celebrate their New Year festival that was designed to mark the arrival of the progenitor of clan, Etim Uku The Great, during the great trek from Bini Kingdom centuries ago.
A journey that the founder of Afor embarked on, in trace of an arrow, with his three siblings, Opute Uku (founder of present day Ozoro, in Isoko South Local government area), Ozoma Uku (founder of Ashaka) and Esumei Uku (founder of the Aboh kingdom), both also in Ndokwa East Local Government Area.
Also with Etim Uku the great during that great trek that led them to where the arrow landed, in present day Umuachi, were his wife, Iye, and their four children, namely Ugbum, Obifi, Osonwu and Eleke. These four brothers are what make up the four quarters of Obetim, the only community allowed to oversee the ancestral deities left behind in their forefather’s residence.
However, of the four sons, Ugbum, being the first son, is the only one saddled with the sole responsibilities of maintaining and observing all traditional and cultural rites associated with Orji Efor, which is a binding force among the Afor clan.
This year’s daylong celebration was held on Monday, February 25, amidst pump and pageantry. As usual, gaily dressed natives converged at the ancestral home to mark yet another memorable day in their centuries-old home, presently located at Umuachi community, Afor. That was after the Otu Olile age grade, led by Mr. Joe Ukpor, of Umugbum quarter had by 6am, gone from Obetim to.maintain the surrounding bush, which signalled the beginning of the festival, whose faithful believe is a strong protector of any native that has faith in the efficacy of its native chalk.
ccording to His Royal Highness, the Okpala Uku of Obetim, Okwa Anie Nwose, “The significance of Orji Efor celebration is rooted in the remembrance of the founder of Afor clan, Etim Uku. My great forefather, who is also the progenitor and father of Obetim Community in Ndokwa East LGA of Delta State.”
Giving further insight into the history of his people, Okwa Nwose said, “As at the time Etim Uku arrived and settled in the present Orji Efor site, (a fortress dotted by mighty significant trees), he had four children namely Ugbum, Osonwu, Obifi and Oleke. Etim Uku later married the daughter of one Mr. Eze Ekpeshi (founder of Ognodigbo, the only community in Afor clan that does not share same ancestry with the other seven communities) named Enede, who bore him his fith son named Ifite.). Ifite bore the progenitors of Okolori, Ogbeti and Umuachi, where the site of the Orji Efor deity where Etim Uku mystery staff resides is presently located.”
Other respondents, which included Obetim Community chief, Chief Prince Okuguni, Okpala-Uku-In-Council Secretary, Chief Okuse and immediate past Community Development Committee chairman, Chief Austin Neme, as well as the local Vigilante boss, Mr. Henry Omenogor, the celebration of Orji Efor festival, which is held every February to herald the new year, means a lot to the people.
They reiterated that, “Out of the eight communities that formed Afor Clan¹ namely Obetim, Umuachi, Ogbeti, Okolori, Umuachi Ogo, Umu Okpala and Iselegu, Ogbedigbo is the only community not allowed to worship the Orji Efor deity. And they don’t also ascend the Okpala Uku of Afor throne.”
Chief Okuse said, “Specifically, Okpala Uku had nine days earlier, announced the commencement, and it was done on Nkwo market day, which is the usual date for the festival.“We hope to take to a higher height as we appeal to government to embrace tourism, whose potential for job creation cannot be underestimated. We appeal to our able governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa to look our way, as we believe so much in his developmental strides across the state.”
For Chief Neme, “We intend making this feast a world event. All we are pleading is for the state government to come to the aid of our community, Obetim that has been denied any form of political dividend for over 20 years. We plead him to help us break the jinx with his presence at Obetim. He should please come and help us out of political quagmire we found ourselves, which has denied our people to be voted for or be appointed into any office since 1999.”
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