Ethnic Composition, Languages and Culture: The major ethnic groups in Delta State are Urhobo, lgbo, lzon, Isoko and Itsekiri. Many of the people claim a common ancestry; consequent ly, their cultures are similar. These similarities are manifested in their religious worship, music, dance, festivals, arts and crafts. The practice of Christianity, Islam and tradition al worship like lgbe and Ebura, flourishes in varying degrees among the people of Delta state.
Christianity, which has the largest followership, came through contact with
the Portuguese in the 15th century. With Christianity, came a number of complimentary
western institutions, the most impor tant of which was western education, hence
mis sionary schools sprang up in Delta State. Modem health care delivery establishments,
such as hospi tals and maternity centres, were also introduced.
Identical features of the mode of dressing com mon to the four tribes of Urhobo, Isoko, Itsekiri and lzon include a pair of wrapper on which you have a shirtlike attire, topped with a bowler hat. Coral beads or gold chain around the neck is comple mented with a walking stick.
Women, in addition to coral beads or gold chain, wear what is known as 'up and down' (called "Osiba Gba aniku" among the Urhobos). The music, which is in the form of singing and drumming, dictates the dance steps. These include: UluOmi Masquerade dance, such as Oda (Itsekiri) and Mmanwu (Ndokwa); Regatta, a canoe dance among the Itsekiri, and various social dances such as Itsekiri Omoko dance, lka moonlight dance, Urhobo dance of the maidens and lseleUku Egwu Oshusku. Others include, war and rituals dances.
The characteristic festivals of Delta state include OkereJuju (Itsekiri), Ikenga
and Ukunta (Aboh), lwuyi and Osoezi (Agbor) Aborebele Oge and Sogbein festivals
(lzon). These festivals mark the harvest seasons, appeals to gods for purification
of the town, commemoration of ancient expeditions or reminiscences of or tribute
to tribal heroes.
Arts and crafts in Delta State had their origin during the precolonial period, when they provided the main form of secondary produc tion in various parts of the state. The art includes carvings, handwoven cloths, table mats, ashtrays, flower pots, etc., while crafts include different types
of basketweaving from palm fronds and canes, pottery, blacksmithing, etc. Food
processing is a preserved traditional craft of the women. It includes among
others, distilling of gin from palm wine obtained from both the raffia and oil
palm tree, which are widespread in the riverine areas.
The crafts introduced during the British colonial period, or thereafter, are
modern crafts such as tailoring, shoemaking, watchrepairs, autorepairs et cetera.
These crafts are found mainly in urban centres. Population Size and Structure:
According to the 1952 Census, Delta State had a population of 883,651.
By the 1963 census, the population of the state had risen to 1,456,541. There was a further rise of the population of the state in 1991 to 2,570,181 persons, made up of 1,273,200 males and 1,296,973 females (Table 10.1) According to Onokerhoraye (1980), there is a considerable movement of population within the state. Between 1952 and 1963 for example, the growth rate of the former administrative divisions of Asaba, Aboh, Urhobo, Warri and Western ljaw were 3.24, 3.23, 4.48. 6.71 and 6.38 per cent respectively.
The variation in the rate of growth is largely explained by the pattern of
migration in the state. For example, out of the 271,215 people who migrat ed
from the southeastern part of the country, the former administrative divisions
of Urhobo, Warri and western ljaw received more immigrants accounting for 38.60,
15.64 and 36.16 per cent respectively, while Aboh and Asaba divisions accounted
for 5.75 and 3.82 per cent respectively.
The variations in inmigration suggest greater opportunities for employment in Urhobo, Warri and western ljaw divisions. On the other hand, of the 13,870 persons that migrated from the state in the same period, the Urhobo division accounted for 76.77 percentages, while other divisions recorded lower percentage. The high percentage of out migration from Urhobo division was due to the fact that most of the Urhobos and Isokos were migrant farmers.
Population Distribution and Density: Column 8 of Table 10.1 shows the
population den sity in Delta State. Generally, the average density of population
in the state is 149 persons per sq. km.The most densely populated local government
areas are Uvwie (1,311 per sq. km), Udu (541 per sq. km), Bomadi (541 per sq.
km), Warn South (415 per sq. km), Sapele (363 per sq. km), and lka South (300
per sq. km).
Areas with fairly high population density are Ethiope East (293 per sq. km), Isoko North (282 per sq. km), Oshimili south (275 per sq. km). The river ine areas of Warri North (17 per sq. km), Warri South West (27 per sq. km.), Ndokwa east (42 per sq, km) and Burutu (88 per sq. km), all in the swampy regions have very low population densities.
Patterns of Human Settlement and Urban Development: The examination of the pattern of human settlement is based on the 1952, 1963 and 1991 censuses. The contemporary settlement pattern of Delta State can be grouped into two main categories. The first are settlements that are less than 20,000 people, and the second, those of 20,000 people and above. The vast majority of the people of Delta State live in rural settlements.
The 1952 census showed that about 99.92 per cent of the 1,302 settlements identified
in the state were places with less than 20,000 people. The 1952 census also
showed that only one settlement, Sapele (33,639) could be classified as an urban
centre. In the 1963 census, 88.25 per cent of the settlements were rural with
a total population of 1,235,219 out of the 1,456,541 population of the State.
The urban centres increased to four during that period. In the 1991 census, about 252 settlements were identified as new settlements, bringing the total number of settlements in Delta State to 1,550. Of these settlements, 1,514 or 91 per cent are clas sified as rural settlements with a corresponding rural population of 1,711,526 or 69.2 per cent. The emergence of new settlements in Delta State from 1963 to 1991, may not be unconnected with the tempo of activities resulting from the oil exploration and exploitation in the state.
The nature of oil exploration and exploitation is that it leads to the creation
of squatter settlements for the workers of oil companies and oil services companies.
These squatter settlements have subse quently grown into bigger settlements.
There has been a steady increase in the rate of urbanisation in Delta State
in the recent past. For example, the number of towns with 20,000 and above rose
from one in 1952 to four in 1963.
There was a corresponding increase in the proportion of population living in urban centres from 33,638 in 1962 to 162,462 in 1963 representing 3.87 and 11.60 per cent of the population, respectively. The rising trend of urbanisation is not however felt in all parts of the state. Most of the urban population of the state in 1963 were concentrated in four major towns: Ozoro (20,692), Asaba (25,509), Warri (55,254) and Sapele (61,007). The growth rate of
these towns varies from 3.72 per cent per annum in the case of Asaba, to 9.84
per cent per annum in the case of Warn. The rapid growth of the urban population
is attributable to job opportunities in urban centres, especially the industrial
town of Warri, which is also the regional headquarters of the Niger Delta oil
fields. The 1991 census reveals a further increase in the urban centres in Delta
State from four in 1963 to sixteen urban centres.
The proportion of people living in the urban centres also increased from 162,462 in 1963, to 858,655 in 1991, representing thirty percent of the population of the state. Most of the large urban centres are located in the oilproducing southern part of the state in towns such as Warri (217,584), Effurun (123,610), Sapele (109,590) and Ughelli (54,206). Other large towns in the state are Asaba (49,725), Agbor (45,850), BojiBojiOwa (33,101) Oghara (30,962), Ogwashi Uku (29,050), Ozoro (28,460), Obiaruku (26,277), Oleh (23,199), Agbarho (23,061), Ovwian (22,188), Urnunede (21,611) and UtagbaOgbe (20,267).
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