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An Urhobo mask
The Urhobos are people of southern Nigeriamarker, near the northwestern Niger River delta. The Urhobo is the major ethnic group in Delta Statemarker; the Delta State is one of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeriamarker. They speak Urhobo, a language in Niger-Congo group. The Isoko and Urhobo are related in language and culture, leading to the missionaries erroneously labelling both peoples as Sobo. This name was strongly rejected by both tribes. The Urhobo nation is made up of twenty sub-groups, including Okpe the largest of all Urhobo sub-groups? (disputable). The Urhobos are noted for having their own unique style of speaking Nigerian Pidgin English. Since their language is very demonstrative that translates into their style of speaking English and Pidgin English. As a result of their unique language style, their names are also unique. An example of a unique Urhobo name would be the name Onaodowan, belonging to the Onaodowan family from Warri.


A bulk of the Urhobo people reside in the south western state of Delta in Nigeria also referred to as the Niger Deltamarker. Many live in the Ughellimarker local government region and in Warrimarker and Ethiope,and in Okpe and Sapele Local Government Areas. Their language is also called Urhobo which is a sub-group of the edo language which is also spoken by the Bini people (Benin-city).


The Urhobos live very close to and sometimes on the surface of the Niger river. As such, most of their histories, mythologies, and philosophies are water-related. They have an annual fishing festival that includes masquerades, fishing, swimming contests, and dancing. There is also an annual, two-day, Ohworu festival in the southern part of the Urhobo area at which the Ohworhu water spirit and the Eravwe Oganga are displayed. The king in an Urhobo village is called the Ovie. His wife the queen is called Ovieya and his children Ọmọ Ovie (child of the king). Often nowadays, these names are also given to children without royal heritage by their parents. A number of Urhobo sub-groups have other titles other than Ovie, for example, the Okpe called their traditional ruler Orogie and Olomu called theirs Ohworode and Okere-Urhobo theirs Orosuen.


As with most tribes in Nigeria, a certain food is considered to belong to or originate from a particular tribe as in pounded yam and egusi soup from the Igbos, Eba and Ogbono soup (sometimes referred to as Ogbolo soup by people of Esan or Etsakor descent). For the Urhobos there are two foods considered Urhobo in nature. They are: Ukhodo (a yam and unripe plantain dish sometimes cooked with lemon grass and potash) and Starch (actual name of this staple is not often used) and Ogwho soup (palm oil soup). The starch is made from cassava plant. It is heated and stirred into a thick mound with oil palm added to give the starch its unique orange-yellow colour. The Ogwho soup is composed of smoked or dried fish, unique spices, potash and oil palm juice. Other palm nut oil soups include amiedi pr banga, which is also eaten with starch and or garri.


There are approximately 450,000 Urhobo people[156125]. Some sources put the number at approximately 1.5 million[156126].


Epha divination, similar to the Yoruba Ifa and practiced by many West African ethnic groups, is practiced with strings of cowries. Urhobos also practice Christianity, with many belonging to Catholic and new evangelical denominations. There are 1,261 ejo (deities), including the one-handed, one-legged mirror-holding whirlwind-god Aziza.

Notable Urhobo People

  • Blessing Okagbare, Olympic bronze medalist.
  • Michael Ibru
  • Urhobo Writers
  • Ben Okri
  • Tanure Ojaide
  • Onigu Otite
  • William Oyaide
  • Obaro Ikime
  • Samuel Erivwo
  • A. Aweto
  • G. G. Darah
  • Amos Utuama
  • Maj-Gen (rtd.) R.M. Dumuje
  • Goodie Ibru
  • David Ejoor
  • Patrick Aziza
  • Gamaliel Onosode
  • Bruce Onobrakpeya
  • Micheal Y. Nabofa
  • Felix Ibru
  • Alex Ibru
  • Cecilia Ibru
  • Moses Edewor
  • Fred Brume
  • Evelyn Oputu
  • Grace Ekpiwhri
  • James Ibori
  • Great Ogboru
  • J. L. Igben
  • Joseph Agbamu
  • Mudiaga Odje
  • Andrew Orugbo
  • O. Owhovoriole
  • David Dafinone
  • Benjamin Okumagba
  • David Edevbie
  • Richard Damijo
  • Oscar Ibru
  • Albert Okumagbe
  • Bernard Okumagbe
  • Ogaga Onowighose

Further reading

  • Tanure Ojaide. Poetry, Performance, and Art: Udje Dance Songs of the Urhobo People. Carolina Academic Press, 2003. ISBN 089089230X.


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