AJIMELE VILLAGE: NEW LIGHT
Ajimele village was founded sometime in the nineteenth century. Imele’s father was Mishope, a son of Teye. Like Edo of Obaghoro, Mishope also used Okoludo- house boat – in his business venture. Mishope came to Sapele area to trade. In those days what is now called Mechanic Village was Okulumele. Some people loyal to Ogiegba and therefore loyal to Sagay and Olomu inhabited the land. Olomu had defeated Ogiegba(part Okpe, part Isekiri – the strongest Urhobo ever to exist) and Ogiegba(Ikime 1969;Sagay undated) had rescued himself with Amukpe land. What is now Sapele , is occupied by people Olomu, through Sagay, forced Ogiegba to bring from different places – Esan, Ora, Ijebu, Badagri etc – to work for Olomu( Sagay undated, Ikime 1969, Honsbira and St.Ifa 2011;2013). That is to say Sapele was Olomu’s slave camp , and Amukpe , where he allowed Ogiegba to stay after being captured at Arhagba(Asagba)(Asagba 2005 online).
The people inhabiting Okulumele are pure Okpe natives, only subject to Olomu; it was only the Sapele people who are of unknown identity (WACA1943). Sapele is a small piece of land – from Market Road, down Hausa Road, ending at the terminus of Abrahall (now adulterated to Oghene Road) , down to the Water Front. Ajogodo(Ogodo Village and Imele Villages, including Ugbeyiyi – where Efejuku had stronghold are not part of Sapele). Sapele Town, not the fiction the so called Sapele-Okpe –Community people are claiming is only 510 acres of land. Ogun-Aja(Ikomi Town) is out of it; Ugbekoko and Aja-Ojigwo(in the reserves) are another ball game entirely. Arun-Owun is out and so is Ogorode Village. Imele’s grandmother was from this village – Okulumele. Remember, Olomu had captured the place before the Imele era. The headman from Orovie in Abraka married this woman from Okolumele. This woman gave birth to Imele’s mother – Metsaghan and one Edebi. Metsaghan (who later got married to Mishope) gave birth to Imele. Edebi gave birth to Ofuyatan, through another Isekiri man – Edo (at that time living on Olomu’s protection, escaping from Ijaw menace). Metsaghan gave birth to Imele. It was the same Metsaghan and Mishope who first settled in Metsaghan (now corrupted to Mosogar).
Imele was born at Ode-Isekiri the most important city in the Western Niger Delta from 1480-1900(Alagoa 1989; Kenny 2003; Ikime 1969). She was very beautiful, being a princess from the most renowned kingdom in the Niger Delta (Talbot 1927, Fage1969; Egharevba1948; Roth 1903; Kingsley Mary 1898). During the period of Nana and Dore she came to Warri Township. Imele grew up as a very pretty lady, both Dore and Nana wooed her, and she declined them both. She later left Warri to Sapele area. She vowed that nobody will see her nakedness, except a white man. At Sapele she met one George Brownridge who came on the platform of UAC. The headquarters of the UAC was at Trafalgar Square, London. At what is now MacIver she met George Brownridge, the Manager of Miller Brothers. Maciver is the present ATP area of Sapele. Imele gave birth to a child known as George Brownride Jnr. Imele was living with Brownridge at MacIver.
When it was time for Brownridge to leave Imele begged to be given custody of the child. Brownridge had many slaves which Imele brought to him from the Sapele stock (both male and female) working for him. Brownridge told her to look for a better place to stay. Imele decided to stay in a land she had put some slaves to be working for her previously.
Imele collected some Brownridge’s slaves together with her own. She went with the slaves to a place she has been using for farming and fishing. This place she named Ajimele. One recalcitrant Imele’s slave Okokuyor was seen fishing for himself without Imele’s permission. When the slave saw them, he tried to run, because he knew what fate would befall him. Imele commanded her slaves and they caught him. The man pleaded that he should not be killed. He said Imele should have settled with other Isekiri people – Amatorisero, Ojigwo, Megbaino etc – in the other section of the town. Imele told him “I want where I will live freely with my children”. Imele released him and he was freed from death and from slavery. The slaves came the next day and they continued brushing the place. It was after this she told Brownridge that she had got a place. Brownridge came the following day. He was surprised to see that Imele chose the bush she was fishing in. But Imele told him that she wanted a place that would be free for her and her children. She brushed up to present St.Itas and Malachy. She planted rubber trees and palm wine trees. Brownridge came to stay with her for some time before he went to England. After Brownridge left, she married Clarke, another white man brought to UAC, and gave birth to a child, of which Reuben Clark is a grandson to.
RELATIONSHIP WITH OGODO
The man Ogodo was a son of the man Okubor. Okubor was among the slaves who led a revolt in Ode-Isekiri in 1852. Other notable slaves (Oloroguns or Olorukos) in the 1852 escapade was Ugbodudun(who later settled in Aja-Ugbodudun(midway between Oghara and Koko, under Teye’s leadership), Okorodosu, Ebrimoni, Amakatse etc.(Moore 1936, Sagay undated, Honsbira and St.Ifa2011;2013 According to the field work done with some members of Ajimele, the man was not originally Ogodo. He was called James. A wolf carried him away as a baby, they chased the wolf, and the baby now fell into the gutter. Gutter is called Ogodo – hence the name. Okubor was buried by the waterside in Ekuobodo.(WACA1943).
As time went on, Imele went to Ekuobodo to bring Ogodo. When he brought Ogodo, he handed him over to Okokoyor, who was her freed slave. Imele was made a tax collector.she rejected it and gave the position to her brother Natiku. She commanded Okokuyor to ensure Ogodo learns how to read. When Imele collected the taxes, she passed them on to Ogodo, who gave the moneys to Paramount Chief Dore Numa. Ogodo seem not to have been an honest tax collector. He made some enormous money and became rich. He was not as rich as Imele; but rich according to Okpe standard that were described as unsophisticated (WACA1943). Imele was also made a warrant chief, but she handed it to her brother called Natiku, because women were not chiefs at that time.
Marriage time! No Isekiri woman agreed to marry the son of a native doctor, himself a native doctor. Imele made negotiations and he married a daughter of Ebbah, who was related to Ogiegba, in the protection of Olomu. This Ogiegba’s relative gave birth to Itotoh. Ebbah’s daughter’s elder brother came to live with them. He was said to be a boma boy. They drove him away, he then ran to Asabodi (now Malachy Junction) to stay. He was still making trouble there and was driven. He came to Igbokan (FGS). Imele said she doesn’t want him there. Thence she went to Ugbeyiyi. At Ugbeyiyi, she met Efejuku(Megbaino). Ebbah was allowed to stay on the land with them.
Most of Efejuku’s children ran out of Ugbeyiyi after a fight with one another that injured one of the Efejuku’s legs. Only one of the offspring of Efejuku(a reprobate – for being a native doctor was left behind). When this child died, the Ebbah family rose up. Ebbah could not have founded a town called Ugbo-Eyiyi (Ugbeyiyi or cam wood town). As this article hits the net, the name will soon be changed to a funny sounding Okpe name trust “Sapele Okpe Community”.
In those days, when Ogodo people die, Imele people will represent their family at Ekuobodo and Efurokpe. Pa Wonder Ogodo(the last born of Ogodo, who died in 2012) was very visible in such outings. This practice was stopped some 20 years ago before 2015. Ozalla people normally came as the father’s side. When Ogodo had money, he became an associate of one Esiso from Effurun with one eye, he was shady character, his eye was blinded due to stealing. Charles from Amukpe was also their associate, he had one leg, he also faced his predicament by being a thief. He was popularly called AliBaba and the 40 thieves. These were the notorious people who told Ogodo to be cutting the tax of Imele, that Imele ordered Ogodo to be giving to Dore Numa – sad story! During the tax riot of 1927, Ogodo with his senior son, Itotoh(one moved by palanquin) ran to Imele to stay. This was how Ajogodo was finally founded. It was founded as an escape route shelter from tax collectors, due to Imele’s generosity.