Oron (state)

Oron (state)

Oron was one of the major states in the Akwa Akpa Kingdom of present-day Nigeria. Oron people share a close ancestral lineage to the Efik people in Cross River State; Ibono, Uruan, Eastern Obolo in Akwa Ibom State and the Andoni (Obolo) people in Rivers State. The Oron people (Örö) are a major ethnic group in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

Contents

Geography and Government

The Oron Nation is a Bantu ethnic nationality which is said to have migrated from somewhere around present-day Abyssinia (Ethiopia) through Central Eastern Africa (around the Congos) and through the Southern regions of the Camerouns to present-day area of South-Southern Nigeria. The Oro land and its people consist of 9 Clans called Afaha. They are the Afaha Okpo, Afaha Ukwong, Ebughu, Afaha Ibighi, Effiat, Afaha Ubodung, Etta, Afaha Oki-uso, and Afaha Idua (Iluhe).

The geopolitical restructuring of the State and Local Government creation has seen the Oron Nation become politically fragmented into two states in Nigeria, namely Cross River and Akwa Ibom State. As a result, Oron is made up of 5 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Akwa Ibom State and one LGA in Cross River State. These include: Mbo LGA, Oron LGA, Okobo LGA, Urue-offong Oruko LGA and Udung Uko LGA of Akwa Ibom state; and Bakassi LGA of Cross River State.

Traditionally, the Oron people have a King known as the Ahta Örö. The Ahta has all the Ofong (also known as Ivong or Ifong) Afha and Paramount rulers as members of his traditional Ruling Council. There are high chiefs such as the Ikpoto, Akpha and Okete Okete which are also recognized by the Ahta's council.

Today, the President General of the Oron Union worldwide is usually regarded as the administrative head of the Oron Nation and second-in-command at the Ahta's traditional's Ruling Council

Language

The Oron people speak a dialect known as "Örö" by the Oronians, but widely called "Oron", an anglicized spelling and pronunciation. Oro language is a very distinct language spoken and understood only by Oron people. The only group who understand a little of our language are the Ekid, Ibeno and Obolo people of the state. Many Oron people are also fluent in the Efik dialect. Örö has many dialectical similarities with the Ibibio and Annang people, hence many Oronians can communicate proficiently in Ibibio and Annang languages.

The phonemes of Oron comprise seven oral vowels í, ε, e, a, o, σ, u, five plosive consonants b, kp, d, t, k, three nasal consonants m, ђ, n, three fricative consonants f, s, h, two semi-vowel consonants w, y and one lateral consonant I.

The Oron language does not possess any affixes or verb forms to express passive actions; 'he is received' becomes 'they receive him'. Finally, it may be noted that the relative order of the simple Oron sentence is subject-verb-object (D. Simmons, 1956: Oron Verb Morphology).

History

The migration pattern of Oron people was similar to that of the Efik Eburutu people. In fact, Efik people regard the Oron people as part of the larger community of Calabar people because of their common Abyssinian and Bantu origins, culture, and tradition.

History has it that the Ukpabang people migrated away from conversion to Islam in the general area of Egypt, and under Abang leadership. Abang arrived the Cameroons and stayed in the Usahadit area. There, Abang begot Do, Do begot Doni, Doni begot Oro and Obolo. Owing to dispute over farmland, the group later moved to present day Nigeria. It is from the Abang that we derive the name Oro Ukpabang. That is why there is a prevalence of Cameroon names as Akan, Ekang, Abang, Etong, Osung, and Etang in Oron today. Among the Oronians, there is a saying that the farthest point in the world is Usahadit which is in the Cameroon. As you can see, the Oron ancestors might have been Jews who left Egypt like other Jews of their time. This is perhaps why it may be more than a mere coincidence that the only two nations on earth with places named “Oron” are Israel and Nigeria.

Some quarters also relate Oron and Efik people with Eket (Ekid) people because of very close dialect relationships, especially in the days of the Okpo Ekid. But today, many Oron people avoid such history, although they will accept the fact that they share the same ancestral history with the Ibono, who dwell among the Ekids. The relationship of the Oron with Eket is said to have gone sore when Eket under the regime of Brigadier General U.J. Esuene agreed to be a sub-group of the Ibibio Nation to gain political relevance and advantage. Brig. U.J. Esuene was also said to deny Oron people the opportunity to locate the Exxon Mobil first terminal in Mbo and Effiat

Oron people encountered Western education relatively early compared to their Southern Nigeria counterparts with the establishment of the Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar in 1895 and the Methodist Boys High School, Oron in 1905. These are the oldest schools in the history of Nigeria.

Culture and traditions

The Oron people have a unique culture and tradition. The Ekpe Society is used in Oron land as the traditional authority. One of the defining ancient cults in Oro culture is the “ekpe” cult. Our ancestors took the secret of this mystical cult with them as they left Usahadit on their final forced, migration to today’s southern Nigeria. Today, it is generally known and believed that “ekpe” cult originated from Usahadit. And among the ethnic groups that celebrate and practice this ancient cult are the Efik people, the Ekid people and the Oro people. The “ekpo” cult may have been copied from our Ibibios neighbors later in our history. But the “ekpe” cult is uniquely and indisputably Usahadit in origin. This is also why the rituals and symbolisms surrounding the “ekpe” cult are far more important to us than activities relating to the mere ceremonial “ekpo” cult. Other ruling secret societies include: the Ekpo, Abang, Edeme awan nkwho, Ekon, Afikegit, Konkoma, Mbok, Ababa, and Nnabo. All these cultural attributes, alongside the Oron people's hospitality, arts, food, and oil and gas minerals attract tourism and commerce.

The Oron people have a very colourful mode of traditional dressing with a piece of fabric called the Iyara (usually red in colour). The red Iyara is usually worn with a white tailored traditional shirt and wrap-around (wrapper) fabric common to people all over the South-Southern regions Nigeria. Sometimes this attire is combined with a rich native tie, usually a colourful silk fabric worn around the neck. These attires are also commonly worn by the Efik, Ibibios and Annang ethnic groups, except that the Annang and Ibibio people do not wear a red Iyara.

Political Economy

Since the creation of the Oron Union in 1925, Oron people are one of the most formidable and vocal groups in the Southern region of Nigeria. Oron is one of the three major political forces in Akwa Ibom State today.

Since the 1990s, Oron people have been trying to situate the Oron Union in a position to control its political and economic interests. In the past, the Oron Union put up such organizing structures as the Central Working Committee (CWC), Esumbuke Oron, and quite recently, the Oron Think-Tank initiative to address its political aspirations. Overall, Unions in Oron have achieved little success based on the political expectations of most Oron indigenes.

Oron is rich in natural resources including Oil and Gas. The area has high prospects for increased Oil exploration because it has been rated as having one of the highest natural gas deposits in sub-Saharan Africa.

References

  • Donald C. Simmons (1956). 'Oron Verb Morphology'. Africa: Journal of International African Institute. Edinburg University Press. [1]
  • Akwa Ibom State (Isong-ooo!): The unofficial site of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. [3]
  • Akwa Ibom State Government, Nigeria. [4]

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