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My visit to Edo State: The Heart Beat of the Nation  By Saviour Ekpe

My visit to Edo State: The Heart Beat of the Nation By Saviour Ekpe

Edo State, christened the Heart Beat of the Nation was created precisely in August 27, 1991  by the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida out of former Bendel state with capital in Benin City. Bounded on the north and the east by Kogi State, on the west by Ondo State and on the south by Delta State. The State is endowed with abundant natural resources. Among them are crude oil, natural gas, clay chalk, marbles and limestone.

Edo is a Volta–Niger language spoken primarily in the State. It was and remains the primary language of the Edo people of Igodomigodo. The Igodomigodo kingdom was renamed Edo by Oba Eweka, after which the Edos refer to themselves as Oviedo ‘child of Edo’. It is known by it multiplicity dialectical differences such as 1. Aduge is an Edo dialect spoken by the people of Kwara State, Oyi LGA. 2. Degema is an Edo dialect spoken by the people of Rivers State, Degema LGA. Dialects are Atala, Usokun (Kala Degema). 3. Engenni (Ngene, Egene) Rivers State, Ahoada LGA and Yenagoa LGA in Bayelsa State. Dialects are Ediro, Inedua, Ogua. 4. Epic (Epie-Atissa). Bayelsa State, Yenagoa LGA. 5. Isoko, Delta State, Isoko and Ndokwa LGAs. 6. Iyayu (Idoani), Ondo State. One quarter of Idoani town speak this dialect. The people are sometimes called “Idoani “. 7. Okpe, Delta State, Okpe LGA. Distinct from Okpe-Idesa-Oloma-Akuku which is Northwestern Edoid. 8. Okpe-Idesa-Oloma-Akuku, Edo State, Akoko-Edo LGA. Dialects are Okpe, Idesa, Oloma, Akuku. Oloma may be a separate language different from Okpe which is Southwestern Edoid. 9. Uhami (Ishua), Ondo State, Akoko South and Owo LGAs. 10. Ososo, Edo State, Akoko-Edo LGA. 11. Sasaru-Enwa Igwe (Sasaru). Edo State, Akoko-Edo LGA. 12. Urhobo. Delta State, Ethiope and Ughelli LGAs. Dialects are Agbarho, Isoko. 13. Uvbie (Evhro, Uvhria, Uvwie, Evrie, Effurun). Delta State, Ethiope LGA. Related to Urhobo. 14. Ukue-Ehuen (Ekpenmi, Ekpenmen, Epinmi) including Ehuen, Ukue, Ondo State, Akoko South LGA. Dialects are Ukue, Ehuen. Crozier and Blench 1992 treat Ukue and Ehuen as separate languages. 15. Uneme (Uleme, Ileme, Ineme). Edo State, Etsako, Agbazilo and Akoko-Edo LGAs. Ghotuo-Uneme-Yekhee. 16. Yekhee (Etsako, Etsakor, Afenmai, Iyekhee, Kukuruku). Edo State, Etsako, Agbako and Okpebho LGAs. Ghotuo-Uneme-Yekhee. Dialects are Auchi, Uzairue, South Ibie, Uwepa-Uwano (Weppa Wano), Avianwu (Fugar), Aviele, Ivhiadaobi. 17. Ikpeshi (Ikpeshe, Ekpeshe). Edo State, Etsako LGA. 18. Ghotuo (Otwa, Otuo). Edo State, Owan and Akoko-Edo LGAs. 19. Ivbie North-Okpela-Arhe. Edo State, Etsako and Akoko-Edo LGAs. Dialects are Ivbie North (Ibie North), Okpela (Okpella, Ukpella, Upella), Arhe (Atte, Ate). 20. Esan (Ishan, Isa, Esan, Anwain). Edo State, Agbazilo, Okpebho LGAs. Dialects are Ekpon, Igueben. Many dialects are apparently inherently intelligible. 21. Edo (Bini, Benin, Addo, Oviedo, Ovioba), Ovia, Oredo and Orhionmwon LGAs. 22. Emai-Iuleha-Ora (Kunibum, Ivbiosakon). Dialects are Ivhimion, Emai, Iuleha, Ora, Edo State. 23. Eruwa (Erohwa, Erakwa, Arokwa)]. Delta State, Isoko LGA. Related to Urhobo. Most speakers are bilingual in Central Isoko which is replacing Eruwa. Not intelligible with any Isoko dialect. 24. Okpamheri (Opameri). Edo State, Akoko-Edo LGA. Dialects are Okulosho (Okurosho), Western Okpamheri, Emhalhe (Emarle, Somorika, Semolika). Sub dialects of Okulosho are Ojirami (Eekunu), Dagbala (Dangbala), Oja (Oza), Makeke (Uuma), Oma. Sub dialects of Western Okpamheri are Ekpe, Bekuma, Lankpese (Lampese, Lankpeshi), Ibillo Imoga (Imorga, Uma), Eko (Ekon, Ekor), Ikaran-Oke (Ikeram-Oke), Ebunn-Oke, Ikaran-Ele (Ikeran-Ile), Ebunn-Ugbo, Ikpesa, Igbo-Ola-Sale (Ugboshi-Oke), Onumo (Onumu), Ogugu, Ogbe-Sale, Ogbe-Oke. Emhalhe may be a separate language.

Sorry for boring you with the itemization of these dialectical differences. Edo State government under the leadership of Mr. Godwin Obaseki should rise with a ‘holy anger’ being a pragmatic, articulate and dynamic administrator to set up Centre for the Revival of Edo Heritage (CREH) with strong passion of reviving these dialects that have gone to its extinction for the generation yet unborn to feel proud of their God-given heritage instead of the embrace of the foreign languages viz: English, French Japanese etc. The question is, which of the French or English man can speak Otuo language fluently and correctly? If the answer is none, then why are we boring ourselves and our children with too many foreign languages? Language pundits may be tempted to describe me as being myopic etc well, before you crucify me, I accept it but whatever is in your mind could be encouraged to develop in Nigeria, cast your minds back to China 20 years ago and China today.

Findings show that many of these “Edoid” dialects are dead or dying, especially all those in Ondo and parts of Edo North. Even the chief language in the group, Edo/Bini is under threat. In all these diversities, what interest me on arrival in Owan East local government area, particularly Igue-Sale, the ambience, topography and of course, general features of the place was adoring, inviting and accommodating in all its ramifications. Owan, meaning a place where good things flow is according to findings derived from Owan River in Edo State that empties in many tributaries. Its natural ambience gives rise to trees from both sides of roads to romance each other across the roads thereby giving natural shades to passersby and vehicles as well. The area is also blessed with granite which is yet to be tapped in a large scale; even their soil is mix with stones. What amazes me is that no one directly claims ownership of land. Findings show that anybody, visitor alike that desires to build his residence only indicates the location and the elders of the community inspect his or her building materials such as reasonable bags of cement etc while time frame would be given to such person to develop the plot or else, forfeit the plot of land.

They say that traveling is a part of education, this maxim is true in Igue-Sale because in this era of security challenge globally, there is no theft in that community as property are kept anywhere anyhow and are safe. Methinks that it was imperative and very instructive that Edo State governor even President of Nigeria to appoint an indigene of Igue-Sale to man the office of Security Adviser in view of their wealth of experience in security matters. Another amusing aspect is how polygamy is given legitimacy though not legalized. An Igue-Sale woman that is wife may choose to wear only one wrapper, stay hungry in order to save money and buy car for the husband during the husband’s birthday.

There is a local maxim which says that a child may think that his father’s farm is the largest until he visits another child’s father’s farm. This may be applicable in some senses until I visited Edo State to attend the burial of Pa Johnson Agbohorameh Ojenomoegho, late father to Pastor Lazarus Ojenomoegho Frisby in Igue-Sale, which was conducted by The Apostolic Gospel Church of Nigeria on 13th & 14th of January this year who died at the age of 74. Edo, una doo!

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