Friday, 4 November 2016
I remembered at a point in time, there were lots of threads that hit the front-page about Nigeria’s major ethnic groups and their dialects. I remember that of Edo, Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. However, it ended there. Other ethnic groups were not listed and that trend died. However, it is important to know things like this. For one, speakers and learners of the language can know and learn these things. Other Nigerians and the world at large can understand the internal intricacies of these languages and how they work. Hence, I have decided to revamp this tradition with Nigeria’s minority and less known ethnic groups. I am going to be covering most groups and will appreciate speakers of the language to help make the work easier by opening threads and adding facts, correcting errors and what we have in already opened threads. The Urhobo People as a cultural unit has already been treated by me sometime ago in this thread. However, to recap important points about the Urhobo people as whole, let me start by saying the Urhobo people are a group of people that effectively constitute Nigeria’s 5th Largest Ethnic Nationality (Countered by the Ibibios though). They inhabit Delta South(Parts) and Delta Central(Totally). They speak an Edoid language that shares similarities with Afemai and Esan. The Urhobo people are similar and largely deemed as same by some people with the neighbouring Isoko people of Delta South. Urhobo people share common boundaries with the Itsekiris, Ijaws, Isokos, Edos and Ndokwa (Igboid) Ethnic Nationalities. They effectively dominate current Delta State politics due to their large numbers (estimated at 3million). Urhobo people occupy the following local government areas: 1. Okpe 2. Sapele 3. Uvwie 4. Udu 5. Ughelli North 6. Ughelli South 7. Ethiope East 8. Ethiope West 9. Warri South (Shared with Itsekiri) 10. Patani (Shared with Ijaws) 11. Burutu (Shared with Ijaws) 12. Sagbama (in Bayelsa State and shared with Ijaws and Isokos) Urhobos also have large settlements in Ore, Owo and Okitipupa in Ondo State, Ajegunle and other places in Lagos State, Oro in Kwara State, as well as other clusters across Nigeria. Now to our main discourse: Urhobo has never been an homogenous linguistic entity. Since time immemorial, Urhobo has been colored by variation that occur on various levels. These variations manifest in the various Urhobo clans and kingdoms. A specific dialect of Urhobo has even broken off and become an individual ethnic nationality (Isoko). Another dialect is prospecting at this option (Okpe). The main reason for this break-off is that these dialects see themselves as individual groups as much as Ikwerre see themselves as being different from Igbo. Some of the “major dialects” of Urhobo are: 1. Isoko(Also has sub-dialects such as Erhowa, Enwhe and Iyede) 2. Central Urhobo (Agbarho-Ughelli Dialect) 3. Okpe 4. Ughievwien 5. Uvwie 6. Agbon 7. Avwraka (Abraka) 8. Udu 9. Ofoni 10. Orogun 11. Agbarha These Dialects accounts for the main branches of Urhobo(Clans). Although there are other Urhobo clans such as Ogor, Olomu, Agbarha-Ame, etc but the linguistic features of these clans are either similar to one of the those mentioned above or not too obvious to become a dialect of its own. Most of these clans use central urhobo. The dialects listed are sometimes not mutually intelligible except for Central Urhobo which is the lingua franca of Urhobo People. These various dialectal groups also have peculiar cultural traits. We will briefly examine these groups one by one. 1. Isoko The Isoko Dialect of Urhobo is so broad and large that it is effectively a language of its own. Isoko is a proto-Edoid language and hence it is closer to how Urhobo once was when the people said goodbye to their Benin progenitors. Isoko has its own sub-dialects such as Iyede, Erhowa, Enwhe, Olomoro, Oleh, etc. The main dialectal difference between Urhobo and Isoko include; Use of Degwo instead of Migwo for greeting, repetition of utterances and words.i.e. “Yanzobone Yanzobone (Come here, Come here)”, different names for various objects, etc. My Isoko people here can help out with more. 2. Central Urhobo (Agbarho-Dialect) The Agbarho/Ughelli dialect of Urhobo is deemed to be the purest, fluent and undiluted form of Urhobo language. It is understandable by all Urhobo people and has widespread acceptance. It is spoken mainly in Ughelli and Agbarho, a suburb of Warri and Ughelli, both in Ughelli North LGA. This is the version of Urhobo taught at Secondary Schools, College of Education and Delta State University. 3. Okpe The Okpe Dialect has the largest number of speakers in Urhobo land. They stay in Okpe and Sapele Local Government Areas. They are all ruled over by the Orodje of Okpe, a historical and semi-hereditary traditional kingship and a first class King in Nigeria. The Okpe dialect is considered deep and hard by other Urhobo speakers. In fact, the Okpe dialect is believed by many to be closer to Edo than it is to Urhobo. The average Urhobo man will have a field day understanding Okpe. The differences between Okpe and Central Urhobo is so large that one wonders why it is classed together as Urhobo when it obviously has more connection to Isoko than Urhobo. However, they are culturally the same with Urhobo. Dialectal differences cut across greeting.i.e. Deewho instead of Megwo, names of objects and animals, meaning of common words, etc. My Okpe people, please help me out here with some differences. 4. Ughievwien When I was growing up, we had two neighbours that were Ughievwien (Ujevwen) people. I remember that my mother always had a field day analysing how funny they spoke. The Ughievwien people occupy Ughelli South LGA. Their major town is Otu-Jeremi with other towns and villages such as Egbo, Effurun-otor, Olomu, etc. These people are simple minded and live in mainly riverine areas. Their language is seen as “impure” and unintelligible by most Urhobo speakers. Their version of Urhobo involves a lot of tongue twisting and tongue rolling. They speak as if they sing. Their words are pronounced differently most times and the stress/tonation is slightly different from Central Urhobo. Ujevwen People, please help me out here with more examples. 5. Uvwie Uvwie Dialect is spoken by the people that occupy Uvwie LGA in such towns as Effurun, Enerhen, Ugbomro, etc. Their Urhobo is mildly understandable by the average Urhobo speaker. Theirs is an amalgam of Okpe, Agbon and Udu. In their cultural system, the Otota (Spokesman and Prime Minister) found in other Urhobo clans, is replaced with the Unuevworho with similar but slightly different functions. Uvwie people greet differently, some words and their stress placement are also different from central Urhobo. Uvwie people, you know the drill. Its your turn. 6. Agbon Agbon is spoken by the people of Ethiope East LGA. It is the second largest Urhobo kingdom. The main Agbon divisions include; Okpara, Kokori, Eku, Igun and Ovu-Oviorie. Of these divisions, Okpara is the largest while Kokori speaks a more proto-Agbon, or harder, version. Agbon Urhobo is extremely close to Central Urhobo. Differences are barely noticed. The main differences constitute the physical nuances of Agbon speakers. Other differences include pronunciation of certain words and their usage. Agbon speakers are understood across board. Their main difference is that the dialect is deep. It is the main dialect used in Urhobo proverbs, idioms and metaphysical expositions. If you want to learn Urhobo, dont start with Agbon. Agbon speakers can say more on this. 7. Avwraka (Abraka) The Avwraka dialect of Urhobo is spoken by people who occupy the northern parts of Ethiope East LGA. Their main divisions are; Oruarivie-Abraka and Umiagwa-Abraka, each with its own king. Divisions include; Ekrejeta, Ojeta, Oria, Erho, Ajanomi, Urhuagbesa, Otorho, Urhuoka, Umeghe, etc. Avwraka Dialect is seen as slightly “impure” by most speakers. Their dialect is a simplified version of Urhobo, perhaps too simplistic. The dialect lacks depth and its not as linguistically rich as most dialects. There are also cases of borrowings and adaptations in Avwraka dialect. Maybe the people from Abraka can do more justice to this. 8. Udu This dialect is largely elusive. It is mostly similar to that spoken in Ughievwien and also resembles Uvwie. I’d call it a secondary/mixed dialect of both Ujevwen and Uvwie. However, it is different in its own rights. I haven’t met most of its native speakers so my personal knowledge of this dialect is somewhat limited to what others have said. However, it is also “impure” and has a lot of phonological differences with central Urhobo. Udu people occupy Udu LGA, a suburb of Warri. Major towns are Otor-Udu, Aladja, etc. Udu people please help me out. 9. Ofoni The Ofoni dialect of Urhobo is an offshoot of the Ughelli dialect and it is spoken by Ijoid Tarakiri people in Odurubu and Oduophiri in Patani LGA of Delta State and Ofoni in Sagbama LGA of Bayelsa State. These people have lived alongside the Ijaws for so long that it leaves much to marvel that they have not been acculturated by now. They live far off land and one must fly a speed boat to reach these places on time. As expected, their version of Urhobo has been colorated by Ijaw with so much borrowings, transliterations, adaptations, jugglery, etc etc. I call on the Ofoni people to bail me out here. 10. Orogun The Orogun Dialect of Urhobo is one of the most unique ones. It is spoken by the Orogun people who occupy Ughelli North LGA. They are close neighbours to the Ndokwa People of Abbi and Amai as well as the Isoko people of Iyede and Owhelogbo. They are mainly bilinguals. Most of the Orogun people can speak/understand Ndokwa(Igboid) and Urhobo. Most also add Isoko to their arsenal. Orogun itself is a kingdom with a King and it has several quarters. Orogun-Urhobo sounds like Ughelli/Agbarho Urhobo, just like the close Agbarha neighbours, but the influence of Ndokwa has penetrated the language. Words are different, syntax becomes juggled, pronunciations take a funny turn, most speakers code-mix and code-switch between Urhobo and Ndokwa and some cant even separate which from which. Only Orogun people can fully explain how unique their dialect is. 11. Agbarha The Agbarha dialect of Urhobo is spoken, in its various forms, by people in Agbarha and Okere in Warri South LGA, Idjerhe, Mosogar and Oghara in Ethiope West LGA and the aboriginal and eponymous people of Agbarha in Ughelli North LGA. The earlier mentioned groups (Agbarha/Okere Warri, Idjerhe, Mosogar, Oghara) were all migrants from Agbarha-Otor. The Agbarha dialect is similar to central Urhobo spoken in Ughelli/Agbarho. It is not impure per se but it is slightly different and not perceivably shallow. Only experienced speakers of Urhobo can pick out its dialectal differences. Agbarha People, you know the drill. Whew! It’s time for me to rest now. Like I said earlier, this dialectal list is not prescriptive but descriptive. IT mainly shows the various forms that the Urhobo language has taken in its development. Aboriginal speakers of the various dialects should contribute meaningfully to this thread by showing us some of the unique features of their dialects. I am not an expert nor do I claim to be but I love language documentation and plan to do what I have done here with other groups such as Ijaw, Itsekiri, Ibibio, Ogoni, Ebira, Igala, Nupe, etc. Let us harmonise ourselves here and eschew tribalism. We are one! Urhobo Ovuo’vo! Mathias Orhero
Former governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori will become a free man in December, after spending half of his jail term in prisons in the United Kingdom. Ibori was jailed for money laundering offences by Southwark Crown court in 2012. But it was not clear whether he will immediately return home because legal proceedings concerning the confiscation of his assets worth tens of millions of dollars, were unresolved. They were supposed to have been resolved years ago, but have ground to a halt due to the allegations of police corruption and the prospect of Ibori taking his case to the Court of Appeal. A London court was told on Friday that Ibori would appeal against his conviction on the grounds that British police and lawyers involved in his case were themselves corrupt. Ibori, who as governor of oil-producing Delta State from 1999 to 2007 became one of Nigeria’s richest and most powerful men, is serving a 13-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering. While in office, Ibori acquired luxury properties in Britain, the United States, South Africa and Nigeria. He is the most senior Nigerian politician to have been held to account for the corruption that has blighted Africa’s most populous nation. His jailing in Britain, where he had laundered millions of pounds and sent his children to an expensive private school, was hailed as a high point in the international fight against graft and an important signal to other corrupt politicians. But his lawyer Ivan Krolick told Southwark Crown Court on Friday that Ibori was “95 percent certain” to challenge his conviction in the Court of Appeal based on documents that have only recently been disclosed to the defence by the prosecution. At the same hearing, Stephen Kamlish, a lawyer for Ibori associate and convicted money launderer Bhadresh Gohil, said the documents showed there had been widespread police corruption followed by a cover-up that was still going on now. The main allegation is that a police officer involved in the Ibori probe took payments for information in 2007 from a firm of private detectives working on Ibori’s behalf. At the time, Ibori had not been arrested and was still in Nigeria, but knew that British police were investigating his finances. Kamlish said prosecution lawyers had known there was evidence of police corruption but had failed to disclose it to defence lawyers. Krolick told Reuters on the sidelines of Friday’s court hearing that Ibori did not know about the payments at the time. The police have said that the allegation was thoroughly investigated and that no one was arrested or charged, and no misconduct identified. The officer against whom the allegations have been made is still in active service. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), after a lengthy internal investigation, said in September it was confident that the convictions of Ibori and Gohil remained valid. The CPS has said it found “material to support the assertion that a police officer received payment in return for information”. It did not use the word “evidence”, suggesting it did not consider the material in question amounted to proof. But the CPS conceded in September that the material should have been disclosed to the defence, and handed over thousands of documents to defence lawyers. Those were the documents that Kamlish and Krolick were referring to in court on Friday. Gohil has already filed an appeal against his conviction. Krolick said Ibori was likely to do so once his legal team had finished going through all the newly disclosed documents. As is normal under British procedures, Ibori is due to be released in December after serving half his sentence, taking into account pre-trial detention. Gohil, a British former lawyer, has already been released after serving half of a 10-year term for his role in laundering Ibori’s millions. Reuters
Gunmen on Thursday kidnapped the Administrative Secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Ekiti State, Muslim Omoleke. It was gathered that Omoleke was kidnapped at Iwaraja, a town near Ilesa in Osun State, at about 4pm. The Punch reported that he was abducted and driven away into the forest of Ijesaland, along with his driver and his child. “They later released his child and the driver along with the vehicle and took him away. We have not heard anything since then,” the source added. When contacted, the spokesperson of INEC in Ekiti, Alhaji Taiwo Gbadegesin, confirmed the incident and said security agencies in Ondo, Osun and Ekiti states had been contacted. Gbadegesin said Omoleke had gone on visits to Ondo and Osun States. He added that the abductors had not contacted the family and the commission. Punch
There was panic among officials of Delta State government as Delta state Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa was alleged to have slumped on World Teachers Day celebration last week. The incident which has been shrouded in mysterious have reportedly prevented the governor from appearing in any state function since the incident. Sources disclosed that the alleged fall is unconnected with a strange ailment the governor has been battling ever since he was in the senate. Okowa’s deputy, Deacon Kingsley Otuaro have been delegated to represent the governor in all state functions since the incident which was kept him from the press. An impeccable Government House source who did not want to be named confirmed the report, saying it happened last week before the World Teachers Day ceremony. The governor was billed to attend the ceremony at the Cenotaph but allegedly slumped at his office before he could appear at the ceremony, our source said. The often reliable source further disclosed that immediately the governor fell, his close aide whisked him away and later informed the deputy to represent the governor at the event. “I can tell you categorically that since that Wednesday, last week till today, the governor has not attended any public function. “If you watch well, in all the public functions, it is the deputy that is representing him. “Even today Monday, the Legal Year event that was held in Asaba, it was the deputy that represented him. “Some persons who came for courtesy visit in government house, could not see the governor, it was the deputy governor who also represented him. “Though, we can’t tell why he slumped and the illness he is suffering from. “Before becoming the state governor, he has been battling with unknown health challenges. “Even when he was in the senate, he was with this unknown ailment but some persons close to him said what he is suffering from could not be far from some blood related illness.” our source disclosed. Effort to contact the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah proved abortive as his mobile phone was switched off as at press time. The Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Okowa, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, who expressed some level of shock on how journalists got the information, swiftly debunked the story but could not speak further on it.