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Published On: Sat, Nov 3rd, 2018

Tribute: Efedudu And Miracle Of Igbe Religion In Urhoboland

Uku Sunday Efedudu


By Young Erhiurhoro
LAGOS NOVEMBER 3RD (URHOBOTODAY)-“Oh death, where is your sting? Oh death, where is your power?”- Proverbs of Solomon.
Death according to some religious beliefs and myths, especially to the mystical religious groups e.g Amorc, Eckankar, Scientology etc (that is, the science and religion of the mind), is like a man who embarks on a very distant journey to a faraway land. He would spend so many years there and he would definitely return to his original abode one day but it may be in a new form and in a new shape. This is the true meaning of reincarnation, evolution and regeneration. To this school of thought, man never dies but lives from one cosmic plane to another in the same or different being or body.

However, to the Christians and Moslems, man dies but once. To this group, once man embarks on his journey, he never returns in any form or shape to his fellow creatures in this earth again. According to their religious belief, death is the end of the journey of man in this earthly plane. The next step of regeneration according to this group is resurrection and judgment by the Almighty God.
However, whichever way between the two religious beliefs and thoughts, the subject of our discussion today, the late Uku Sunday Efedudu had embarked on a long journey over a decade ago now and yet, he had not returned. Well, let us still have the hope that, he shall return one day. Even to his Igbe members, they already believe that their late Ose, is continually alive, this time not only in their hearts but very much present with them in their holy services and important occasions such as this memorial service.
Without mincing words, the late Uku Sunday Efedudu, a devoted Igbe worshipper, an ardent disciple of Prophet Ubiesha Etarakpo and founder of Igbe Orhe Ofuafo Oghene Healing Home Inc., situated in his home town of Unenurhie in Evwreni Kingdom, Ughelli North LGA of Delta state, Nigeria was like that proverbial elephant, described by the three blind men. They described it from different angles with which they knew or touched the elephant. To the first blind man who touched its tusk, the elephant was such a long animal. To the second blind man who touched its ear, the elephant was such a wide animal while the last blind man that touched its smooth body, the elephant was such a big and huge animal. These three blind men described the elephant from different perspectives. Probably, from the way they knew it. This is exactly the picture of our subject of discussion. I just want to describe the late Uku Sunday Efedudu from the perspective I knew him.
To me, the late Uku Sunday Efedudu was a father to the fatherless, a home to the homeless, a saviour to the oppressed, a light to those in darkness, a counselor to the depressed, a hope to the destitutes, a bridge to those at the opposite side of the sea, a comforter to those in pains and penuries, a quintessential leader among equals, a peacemaker of war ravaged communities, a lover of the hated, a builder of the broken hearted, a social crusader per excellence, a unified force of Unenurhie community, a man of many wives, many children, many foster children and many and many, world without end… Indeed, what else can I say about this great legend of Urhobo culture and advocate of Igbe religion of the great Urhobo people? He was truly an original and ancient breed of Urhobo man like those in the 17th and 18th centuries. An original Urhobo man that fitted into the likes of late Mukoro Mowoe, T. E. A. Salubi, D. G. Uloho and other great Urhobo men of blessed memories. Late Uku Sunday Efedudu was not the Urhobo man of this modern and present age. He lived a worthy life devoid of major black spots, a life full of fine legacies which is worthy of emulation by his children, his Igbe members and his Unenurhie people.
According to the biography presented by his eldest son, Uku Simon Imoni Efedudu during his burial in 2006, late Uku Sunday Efedudu was born in 1914 and died in 2005. He was paternally of the great Imonioghare family of Unenurhie community and his mother, Otiti was from both Patani in Ijaw land and Unenurhie community. The late Uku Sunday Efedudu was not chanced to acquire the formal education but he was well versed and educated in Urhobo cultural values and religious beliefs. In the same biography, the man was born on a Sunday. That was why he was named Sunday to symbolised that special day and he was also a baptized member of the CMS Church in the community. He grew up like every other children in his time and he was actively involved in childhood activities and age grade plays and meetings in his neighborhood. He grew up to a man and he got married to his first wife, Mrs. Uwemete Efedudu who was also from Unenurhie community. He was a farmer and a hunter like every one of his age at that time when the two vocations were in vogue in the community. It was said that, late Uku Sunday Efedudu was a very industrious and hard working farmer that was able to deforest a virgin thick forest with only a cutlass and axe where he later planted rubber trees. He was also an experienced palm nut collector through the climbing ropes (efi). Indeed, he was a well to do man in his time. The types we referred to today as wealthy and rich men in our modern society.
What then actually transformed the life of this great Unenurhie man? The life of late Uku Sunday Efedudu was turned around when he was infested with a strange sickness in the 1950s a sickness that defied all medical and herbal treatments.
According to his first son, the father who was hale and healthy suddenly fell into a strange sickness one beautiful day. He was taken to all known herbalists and medicine men, they could not proffer solution or cure to the sickness. At a time, he was even accused of committing heinous crimes by his own people. And according to his people, the ancestral fathers attacked him with the sickness so that he could confess his hidden sins. This made many of his kinsmen to distanced him because strange sicknesses in those days in both Urhobo and Isoko lands, and even in many African communities, were linked to bad behaviour and criminal acts by the victim. In short, he was abandoned to his fate. Day after day, his health detoriate and his condition grew worse. There was no hope than to die the next few days.
This was when the healing power of the Orhe Ofuafo (holy chalk) of the Igbe Ubiesha Etarakpo of Uhwokori (Kokori) was told to him by a close family member. Like the saying in Urhobo land “When a man has not died, he should not be deprived of treatment.” The encouragement of this saying made his immediate family to carry him to Uhwokori with a bicycle. He was immediately received by the Uku in charge and he was initiated into the Igbe religion. He was made to confess all his sins according to the precepts and doctrines of the religion. However, after some few days, his family began to noticed some improvement in his health. Within some few months, Efedudu bounced back to good health with the application of only the holy chalk (Orhe Ofuafo) and holy water (Ame Orise). He became hale and healthy again.
From that moment, he became a devoted member of the religion. He served and worshipped in the worship hall (Ogwa) of Ubiesha under the leadership of Uku Supreme Ibodje Ubiesha for many years. He rose from the very first position of Igbe Eghele (male devotee) to the rank of Olori and finally to the highest rank of Uku, which is equivalent of a bishop of a diocese in the orthodox church setting. He was ordained Uku in 1975 by Uku Supreme Ibodje Ubiesha. Later in the year 2001, he was issued a certificate of registration/incorporation by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Abuja with the name, Igbe Orhe Ofuafo Oghene Healing Home Inc.
In his 91 year sojourn on earth here, the late Uku Sunday Efedudu used the power of the holy chalk to do many miracles and saved so many souls from death and sicknesses. In the 70s and 80s, he had his Igbe branch in almost every community in then Bendel state. The fame and the healing power of the holy chalk even spread to parts of Benin province and parts of Yoruba lands. Because of space and time factor, I just want to site few wondrous and miraculous works the late Uku Sunday Efedudu used the holy chalk to do in the lives of people and the society. First, in the 70s, when the East/West road was awarded to Dumez Construction Company, they had a big challenge when they wanted to build the Patani bridge. Whenever steel pipes were drilled into the water, the following morning they would be removed by unknown powers. They now discovered that, it was a powerful marine deity that was responsible for the removal of the pipes. Having discovered this, they need solution. The Chief Engineer and his team were led to the Igbe of late Uku Sunday Efedudu at Unenurhie community were these white men were initiated into the religion and were made to vow before Orise (God). Just by sprinkling the powdered holy chalk and the holy water into the Patani river, that strong marine spirit was forced to quit. This made Dumez to safely construct the Patani bridge without hiccups. This team of white men became ardent members of the religion for many years until they left Nigeria. As a child, I witnessed number of times they came with their families during the celebration of the Igbe annual festivals or conventions to participate in all the activities.
Secondly, my mother, late Mrs. Comfort Atori, nee Oserada was an Uwheru indigene. She was an epileptic for many years. The sickness led to the breaking of her first marriage with my father, also an Uwheru man. My mother’s eldest sister, late Mrs. Emueki Omiaye who knew Uku Sunday years ago took my mother there in 1983 for treatment. It was there my mother received her healing and also got married to one Mr. Harrison Atori, an Unenurhie man who was also treated of a mental sickness that attacked him while in Lagos. It was just a coincidence! The marriage produced the only younger brother I have today. This man was the man that took care of me after my father abandoned my mother and I as a result of the epileptic sickness. Today, I naturalized as an indigene of Unenurhie community because of the love this man and the late Uku Sunday Efedudu had on me from childhood. The man took me as his biological child without disparity unlike what so many people do to step-children in today’s world. He also gave me education and good home training in his little capacity. These are few of the good works the late Uku Sunday Efedudu done while alive.

Young Erhiurhoro; Kjc is a reporter and a member of the Urhobo Historical Society.

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