HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS OKOJIE OKOLO, 33rd ONOJIE OF UROMI – [Season One] By Kingsley Ohens
His Royal Highness Okojie Okolo was born in 1857 after seven months of gestation. He ruled Uromi from 1900 to 1918 and 1932 to 1944. He was the most powerful onojie of the 32 enijies who ruled before him, and till date no onojie has ever been as powerful as he was. As it were, the ascendancy to Royal throne of Uromi was hereditary and the first son of the ruling onojie who survives his father and performed the burial ceremonies was automatically crowned the Onojie of Uromi. His journey to the throne of Uromi was challenged by his younger brother, prince Iyoha Okolo. Usually, a pregnant woman needs nine to ten months gestation to have a baby but that of Okojie Okolo was not so.
Okojie’s mother, queen mother Agbonilolo from Efandion village Uromi and mother of his younger brother, prince Iyoha took in simultaneously. Prince Iyoha stayed for nine months before delivery but was beaten to second position by prince Okojie who was born only seven months after gestation.
Young prince Okojie grew up a strong, healthy, bold and intelligent young man whose lack of formal education did not dampen his ability to rule Uromi and out shine the British overlord. He showed signs of audacity at his early age and toughness which equipped him to be a powerful and highly respected Onojie of Uromi. The British overlord tried to curtail his excesses and interfere with his mode of rulership, a situation unknown and unexperienced by his late Father His Royal highness Okolo Aitua. He was a very wise man, bold, fearless and had a good knowledge of his people. He was the bridge between Uromi circular state ruled by his late father, Okolo Aitua who was dispose and murdered at Amedokhian village under the historic Utantan tree in 1900 by the British troops.
Although he saw the coming of the white overlord who killed his father, he could not easily discern what that event will mean to his throne and could not imagine the meaning of the handwriting on the wall. He had seen the ruler of Uromi under the firm grip of his late Father, Okolo Aitua whose might was law and order that must be obeyed. His influence radiated round Uromi and beyond. He cocky and very proud, with his shoulder high relying on the achievements of his great, great, grandfather, the deified Agba Nojie who killed oba Ozolua in Uzea war, 1503 and stopped his subjects from paying homage to the Oba of Bini and disallowed appeal cases from Uromi to the Oba’s palace in Benin.
Agba Nojie who ruled from 1488-1504, was a sagacious and fearless war veteran who swore to redeem his people from the Oba’s dominance. This led to the Uzea war in which oba Ozolua of bini was killed, leading to Independence for the Uromi people. Okojie Okolo was a product of this dynasty and his late Father never pay homage to oba of bini and of course, his coronation and crowning unlike his late Father’s was done by the British overlord.
When the white men landed at Uromi soon after the subjugation of Benin under oba Ovoranmen in 1897, they began to infiltrate into Esan territory. They were led into Uromi by the second son of Okolo called Iyoha. All Iyoha was after was to undo Prince Okojie Okolo and straighten his way to the throne of Uromi. When Uromi heard of the approaching white men who had desecrated the Oba of bini, they decided to fight for their land like men. Okolo Aitua was now old and fragile and could not withstand the invading white men, so he fled and hid at Amedokhian, one of the villages in Uromi. At Amedokhian, Okolo Aitua was rounded up by the British overlord and executed under the famous Utantan tree. This attack and final murder angered his first son, Prince Okojie Okolo who could not easily know why his father was captured and executed, because to say the least, Okolo was a fretful Onojie whose epileptic health would not give him the courage and fortitude to fight or repel the invading white men. He was accused of aiding the Oba during the 1897 bini massacre. The execution of Okolo Aitua did not go down well with his bold and fearless son, Prince Okojie Okolo who courageously fought to avenge the death of his father, to save his fatherland and his throne hummmmmmmm. The invading British troops were challenged, and most of the fighting was under the command of the active and bold young prince Okojie Okolo who fought bravely but could not hold on for long against the superior weapons of the white men and they gave up and went into hiding, hummmmmm. Chief Ezomo of Amedokhian told his people by getting a town crier to spread the news that the white white men have left Uromi in peace and all war veterans who were in their hiding could now return home. THIS WAS A LIE. All came out if hiding including the the unsuspecting brave prince Okojie Okolo who captured with the Iyasele by the British troops. They were given a kangaroo trial, found guilty and their beautiful beaded hair was shaved before they were led away in chains to serve a year imprisonment as war prisoners in calabar in 1900, but, he gained his freedom after seven months. Chief Iyasele was the commander of the tattered army. Huuuuuummmm!
Chief Ezomo was one of the paramount chiefs in Uromi. Why did he decided to trick the Uromi people into believing that the war was over and the white have gone that all veterans in their hiding could come out only to be rounded up.
NOTE; You know that the Ezomo took oath of allegiance to support and defend the people of Uromi but later compromise, hummmmmmm.
Crown Prince Okojie Okolo who was deported to calabar was later freed seven months later. He rode into Uromi triumphantly on the famous charger “OYEDO” a horse lent to him by his friend, the great Imadojemu, the onojie of Opoji….. What happened to the chief ezomo? Hummmmmmm
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT??
SEASON TWO WILL TELL