Great Benin Bronze


Designation of a common Edo Language in Edo state

Designation of a common Edo language to be taught in all schools in the state at communication proficiency level.

By Chief Oje Aisiku, PhD


"This can be a high school graduation requirement and for awarding state financial benefits (such as scholarships) in tertiary institutions.
Ill digress briefly to share with you all that Edo Okpamakhin USA, came into existence following a paper delivered by our eminent father, Chief Anthony Enahoro, at the 1997 Atlanta Convention of this great body, ENA. In pursuance of one of the charges in Chief Enahoros paper, Edo Okpamakhin made the development and teaching of a common Edo language, one of its cardinal ventures. I call on every one in this hall to come on board because a common Edo language is critical to our cultural preservation and educational excellence.
A not-too-well known fact about Edo state in the context of our common macro culture is that Edo is multi-dialectical not necessarily multi-lingual. I recognize that I might be delving into an area in which I have no expertise, but I make these observations knowing the intricate link between language and culture.
I say that Edo is multi-dialectical, because there is a difference between being bi-dialectical and being bi-lingual. According to Ricardo Garcia (in Banks, 2001) bilingualism is the ability to speak with distinctively different language systems while bidialectism is the ability to speak with different versions of the same language. Ora, Esan, and Esakon dialects, to a large extent, are versions of the same language system. They are not different languages but dialects of an Edo language. I challenge the language scholars among us, to identify or evolve that one Edo language which others will be versions (dialects) of.

Those who may not want to take this recommendation seriously should note that a common language acts as ethno-cultural and political unification agent, as well as a communication agent that fosters unity and understanding. The Igbos, Yorubas, and Hausa-Fulani, for example, have this common language advantage over us. The political emancipation of Edo People into a virile united force in the Nigerian geo-socio-political system is intricately dependent upon how seriously our government, our politicians, concerned groups, such as ENA, Edo Okpamakhin, Edo Professionals, etc. take up this recommendation for immediate implementation.

As noted earlier, I do not claim to be an expert in language, but I am one in Education; Curriculum Theory and Development, in particular. I know how to link culture,ethnicity, and language, appreciating the fact that:
Language is the medium through which ethnicity is transmitted and cultural identify is formed
Ethnicity and language intertwine: language is the medium and ethnicity is the message
Language serves as a mirror of ethnicity and culture, reflecting a persons values, beliefs, and attitudes
Culture impacts language, in particular, its vocabulary items in emergent dialects in significant ways
Fundamental goal of language acquisitions is communicative competence
The ideal goal of language acquisition is literacy
(Derived from Garcia in Banks, 2001)

In essence, through a common Edo language, we can have a stronger sense of identity and Edo cultural sensitivity this becomes an educational value statement translated into curriculum goals and content. This is how education serves as the tag that links culture, ethnicity, and language to achieve cultural excellence as the crown virtue of the educated man.

[A Keynote Speech presented at the 14th Annual Convention of Edo National Association in the Americas, Inc. Wyndham Hotel and Resorts, Elizabeth New Jersey
September 3, 2005]

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