THE BEGINNING DATE OF
THE OMONOSE TRAGEDY
By Chief Imo Otite
Businessman, Lagos, Nigeria
Dear Prof. [Ekeh],
THE OMONOSE SAGA
I read your article on Omonose only a few hours ago. I also took out time to read the contributions from Mr. Edevwie and Mr. Arhagba. I find all the right-ups both informative and educative. We can definitely do with more of this – I mean the research and write-ups, and not the event!!1
My own contribution has to do with the actual date of the sad event.
Growing up in my father's compound where meetings, social gatherings, and trial courts were held, I was privileged to hear about quite a lot of current and past events.
This is how I was able to know the actual date OMONOSE COMMITTED THE FIRST MURDER – KILLING THE FORMER WIFE AND HER NEW HUSBAND. The date is AUGUST 4, 1934.
Before deciding to write you this letter I reconfirmed the date from CHIEF MOSES UWEJEYAH. Chief Uwejeyah told me that he also got the same date from one great brain and genius we had in Okpara by the name of Mr. ALBUQUERQUE B. OGODO IBEGHRE. He confirmed this date from his personal notes, before he died.
You may recall that Mr. A. B. OGODO IBEGHRE, is one of the earliest Urhobo educationists THAT TRAVELLED ALL OVER Nigeria and the Cameroun, fighting illiteracy.
While writing you this letter, it suddenly came to my mind that you can do us another favour by researching and writing about this great URHOBO MAN. Don't you think that we will gain a lot from his educational missionary work, his contact with the NYMPH- aziza or okrobogbowovo – and his activities after that?
I believe that at the end of the research there will be overwhelming evidence that the existence of AZIZA, which has been co-existing with us in Urhobo from time immemorial, is real.
So over to you Prof.
Finally, thanks for a good job done on the Omonose Saga.
Okakuro IMO JOE OTITE.
It is probably important that I add several explanatory notes to this most welcome contribution from one who was in a good position to hear stories of the Omonose saga. Chief Imo Otite is a businessman who currently lives in Lagos. But he is from the same street of Okpara from which Omonose hailed. Imo's father was a famous Chief during British Colonial times. Chief Imo's eldest siblings, from one of the largest families in Urhoboland, were most probably born in the early 1920s. The eldest of the Otites, Johnson, was my teacher in 1945 when he was probably in his mid-twenties. That means that the progenitor of the Otite dynasty would know a great deal about the events of the Omonose tragedy which were unfolding when he was already a married man and a father. Chief Imo Otite has become one of the most prominent of the Otites to follow from a great Chief. Moreover he cares about the history and culture of Okpara. He is thus in a strong position to let us know more about this saga.
The date of AUGUST 4, 1934 which Imo Otite has provided as the beginning date of the murders is an important amendment and corrects my guesswork of 1938. It definitely comes from a good source. In my youth at Okpara, Mr. ALBUQUERQUE B. OGODO IBEGHRE was a wonderment. We knew him simply as Ogodo. We were told that there was no word in the English Dictionary whose meaning he did not know. How did he become so brilliant? Well, he had an encounter with that mysterious spirit, OKROBOVOWOVO. Literally, this translates as Missing-One-Hand-and-Missing-One-Leg. In Urhobo, he is known by what he does not have. But in English, it would have to be One-Handed-and-One-Legged-Man, defining him by what he has, not by what he is missing. He had a nickname : AZIZA, by which he is also known. We can postpone a discussion of the attributes of this spirit to some other time. The point here is that Ogodo was educated and had the presence of mind to jot down the beginning date of the Omonose tragedy, possibly thanks to his unfailing friendship with a spirit that could be kind but also terribly mean. That is a bit of the culture in which Imo Otite and I grew up. We believed all of these. It would be unfair to ask me what I believe now. I have been away from the Okpara milieu for so long.
One final explanatory note. CHIEF MOSES UWEJEYAH is my elder from Okpara. He lives in London and is currently President of Okpara Patriotic Union in the United Kingdom. Like me, he grew up at Okpara. The Omonose stories would be rampant in his age group. I am delighted that he had followed the story to the point of extracting from the genius Ogodo the beginning date of the Omonose tragedy before Ogodo passed away.
May 1, 2001