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EVOLUTION OF EDOID LANGUAGES AND FUTURE CHALLENGES
By Uwagboe Ogieva
17 Febuary 2015
“Question: Why is it that Edo language is not spoken in many parts of Great Benin Territories today?”
Benin Empire Spoke Edo language. Edo language is same thing as Benin Language in diversity. The populaly known Benin Empire was Edoid Empire. Edo people were one in diversity and one in origin.
Edo got to Gold coast/ Dahomey (Ghana/Togo) by emigration of Edo people say the Ga people of Ghana, Fon of Togo, trade and exploration of settlements, with Edo language mixing with other migrations to a diference in phonetix and orhographic compositions later on given birth to other spoken languages. Edo language have expande over time in Lagos, Ekiti, Ondo, Delta, Kogi, Bayalsa to some part of eastern Nigeria to diferent variations as evidence in most areas 2015. The Centre root primary language basically spoken in southern part of Edo state survived because was held a sacrosant, preserved as the king's language. While Edo language to other parts of the Benin Kingdom territory could not stands the test of time after a long walk away. The palace language the mother language of all Edoid language survived. Edo people are not only related in language but in culture, tradition and religion that tells of their common Benin ancestry, Common names of children, Traditional ceremonies, like new yam festival,, masqurade drums etc, Religion and spirituality like Olokun, ogun, Aka, and the four market days calenda. Edo in the context of a common macro culture today is multi-dialectical not multi-lingual.
Some of these Edoid language, from the original Benin language you can find today mostly in southern Nigeria are Benin, Esan, Akoko Edo, Ibillo, Owan, Ora, Uhobe, Ifon, Ekas, Ika, Igbanke, Isoko, Urhobo, Itsekiris, Izon, Ijaw, Degema, Iga, Atala, Usokun, Ediro, Inedua, Ogua, Ivhimion, Emai, Luleha, Epie, Atissa, Eruwa, Erohwa, Kwale, Erakwa, Arokwa, Ekpon, Ghotuo, Ikpeshi, Ndokwa, Ivbie, Okpela, Arhue, Iyayu, Idoani, Okpamheri, Okpe, Ososo, Sasaru-Enwan, Uhami, Ukue-ehuen, Uneme, Uvbie, Yekhee, Auchi, Uzairue, Ibie, Uwepa-uwano(weppa wano), Avianwu(fugar), Aviele, Ivhiadaobi, Ogba, Diobu,Ilaje, Idoani, Idanre
Benin(Edo) language belongs to the most wide-spread of the five great language families of Africa. Variably known as Niger-Congo, Volta Niger or Congo-Kordofanian, it contains most of the languages of coastal West Africa as well as all the Bantu languages of eastern and southern Africa, including Swahili. It was and remains the primary language of the Edo people of Igodomigodo. Igodomigodo, idu before the European explorers in the west coast suffered her first emigration of her people, tradition, culture, religion and institutional monarchy during Ogiso Dynasty, with many prince and community heads living the land with their families'cause of rulership conflicts and politics tozo btw the people. The Igodomigodo kingdom was renamed Edo by Oba Ewuare. The Edo capital was Ubinu, known as Benin City to the Portuguese who first heard about it from the coastal people, who pronounced it this way. The Portuguese abbreviated “Ubinu” this to Benin because they could not properly pronounce Ubinu. "Benin" was used to identify igodomigodo or Edo kingdom in the sub region. Another reason they call Edo Kingdom, Benin was as a result of the pre-colonial practice of naming areas after major geographic landmarks in Africa and in this case the Bight of Benin, Gulf of Benin and Royame de Benin. When the Portuguese arrived in the Kingdom of Benin, they were stunned by what they found on the ground in terms of level of administrative sophistication, social engineering and military activities. They found a monarchy dating back many centuries, with complex structure of administrators and palace officials presiding over a kingdom that was expanding in all directions and a highly developed kingdom with unique and very sophisticated political, artistic, linguistic, economic, cultural and military traditions in the process of territorial conquests. They extended inter-trade relationship, culture, religion, education and diplomatic ties for more than a century. The Edoid people grew stronger and mightier as one people of great culture and civilization. The Benin moat was also expanded at this period. Many other news cities and villages like lagos were developed. The military fortification of Benin Kingdom became large. Growth of Science and technology also gave way for the beautiful and most artistic bronze of Benin that cut the envy of Britain when they first came to west coast. Many more people from the hitherland of Nigeria, like the original Yorubas from Dahomey, Igbos from the Aro chukwu axis eastern block of Nigeria, and other minority clans from the north began to emigrate to Benin kingdom for economic reasons. Some of these migrants with their languages mix up with Edo people that gave birth to some variations of many Edoid dialets of today in southern Nigeria.
The orthographic composition of Edoid dialects are taken from the Benin(Edo) alphabets [a b d e ẹ f g h I k l m n o ọ p r s t u v w y z] with some double consonants varing from one dialect to the other. Basically all the edoid dialect have same alphabet with the Benin-Edo language.
The lack of a structured and standardized language institution and documentation of the Edo language in early history of the great Benin Empire contributed to its multiplicity of dialects, though language variations wasn't a problem as chiefs and traditional leader including the king's subjects could communicate perfectly and the large variations today wasn't the reality of the passed.
This also lead to lots of today's mistaken identity and doubt of a common ancestral lineage of the Edoid race in the body politics of Nigeria. Brothers of same father or mother, now enemies or strangers. While this identity crisies not only peculiar to the Edoid race, it is true a fact that most descendants of enslaved Africans in America are still finding their ancestral root in West Africa. Again, factors like inter-marriages with other ethnic nationalities, travelling abroad, use of foreign language [English in the case of Nigeria as national language], political and economic reasons have also contributed to these great changes.
Understandably, most youth or children of the 21st century may find this history and linguist afiliations uninteresting as they cannot or do not understand the present day Benin-Edo language because their dailect (to them ) is totally difference from Edo. Many have eventually come to find or see the central Benin(Edo) City, people and language as distance or probably other nationality in his entity. Again politicians are now standing on that ground to gain momentum, on their political carrier and corrupt motives, enriching themselves and family living the mass to huge, unemployment, illiteracy, poverty and underdevelopment. Sad but true some scholars are also becoming indulge to fairy tales of distorted histories and statics to suit their egos and clans loyalty in the name of ethnic nations. A menace to an Edoid civilizations that have thrived for centuries and scores of years before Nigeria was born. That children, whose grand parents were once Edos or Benins that travelled oversea countries like Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Spain, Japan, China, Senegal, Cape Verde, etc now nationals of other nation does not mean that their ancestral lineage is false being Benin or Edo.
Looking at the post-colonial history of Nigeria on how the Edoid language became minimal and religated to the low statue she is today in the body politics of Nigeria, Alex Igbineweka explained that In 1950s, when the 'Redifussion' or house-to-house Radio speaker boxes were introduced into Nigeria by the then Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, the Federal Government of Nigeria was finding a way to disseminate the News broadcasts by duly translating it into the various indigenous Nigerian languages so as to get to the grass roots. Therefore, they decided to translate the hourly News bulletins into about nine different Nigerian languages, namely: Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, Efik, Kanuri, Fulfulde, Izon, Tiv respectively. This was very cumbersome as it took lots of minutes or hour to end the vernacular news broadcast and most other non language speakers were not interested listening to other languages no sooner theirs was translated.
Consequently, when the Military men came into power, they decided and spruned the number of languages down from nine to just three, namely: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages only and tagged it "WAZOBIA", meaning: "Wa" (come in Yoruba language; "Zo" (come) in the Hausa language; and, "Bia" which also meant (come) in Igbo language respectively. In other words, (come, come, come), i.e. it was a matter of everyone wanting to speak and be silence at the same time - how stupid! The name WAZOBIA was given by the late talented musician - Roy Chicago.And then Nigeria embarked on radio and television translation of news in what they called the three major languages, and sent all the other languages into the cooler, for them to groan and get lost, as if the country did not belong to them as well. This single action is what has led the country into its present doom of the "Federal Character syndrome", (you must come from any of those three major languages and ethnic groups) to be heard, recognized and given reasonable political appointment no matter your talent and accredited professionalism
The world is changing. All across is a revolution going on starting with the suppose first Black president of the United State of America, Barack Obama, elected into presidency in the midst of economic crises and Bush war. People and integrity in action all over Arab world, building their lives and future, from Tunisians to Egypt, Egypt to Libya and to other parts of the continent. These is obvious over the place, on digital satellites and local broadcasts. Youths, women and children rising up to challenges designing better life and future for their generation unborn. The Edoid race is not left out on the blowing wind of change as they must break new grounds and boundaries to emerge a better nation of Nigeria, an exemplary Nation of diversities on the African hemisphere. Yes, with recent uprising by most Nigerian scholars, politicians, organisations and foreign commentators for a sovereignty national conference to restructure current states of the Nigeria federation to ethnic state or regional autonomy, it is therefore crucial that the Edoid race come together to forge a common future and linguistic fusion, using their shared and common language(Edo), culture, tradition, custom, and historical values.
National self determination and actualizations is not new in world history, if that is the fear. European countries have always had this historic advantage. The Germans for example, have always been one people. one culture, one language, one religion, one history, under the same political system for more than a 1000 years. They were separated into two countries by the allies only in 1945 - after world war ll. The Chinese always have been one people. one language, one culture, same history for close to 7000 years. Those on the island of Taiwan - traditionally a part of china - "escaped" theirs during the Mao communist revolution, and have been since sustained artificially as a "separate nation" by American might. The Koreans have always been one people - one language, one culture, one history for some 2-4000 years - until they were forcibly split up, again by the Americans - after the so-called Korean war - and it is the Americans who are still artificially maintaining south Korea as a viable nation. Czechoslovakia, the former soviet union, and Yugoslavia on the other, splited along its line of ethnic division. The Spanish too, though proclaim as one country, do have their various nations, with their language, political structure and future nations developed within. Recently southern Sudan splited with northern Sudan for a new nation born. Pakistan and Bangladesh were splited, and they have both moved on. Eritrea was carved from Ethiopia along its line of ethnic-religious divide and they have both moved on. so while not in Nigeria?
However, Inspite of all attempt by pan African scholars, politicians, revolutionary groups and organisation to unite, organise and develop Africa states, people and resources against their common enemies and exploiters, Africa still remains one of the most disorganise, disunited and underdevelopment nations on planet earth. Reasons range from wrong territorial and geographical boundaries of the colonial administrators, impositions of foreign language and religion, miss-education, deculturalization and above all wrong and corrupt leadership. Developing Africa means organising Africa and organising African means learning from history to correcting or ameliorating the present designing the future. A re-awakening, enlightenment, re-culturalization, building common linguistic unifications and territorial regionalization. The Edoid race must understand that to organise and develop Africa they must unite to form the Edoid nation. One people, One language(Edo as a national language), shared culture, education, politics, economy, industrialization, science and technology. Unity is strength translated from an ancient Benin philosophy quote “Akugbe ér'óh étin”.
The common values, history, culture and linguist relations in dialects around the Edoid group of language, including the Esan or Ishan makes their strong connection and affirmation obvious. In fact, the words “Edoid language ” directly related to “Benin language”.
WHAT MUST BE DONE TO ENCOURAGE THE BENIN LANGUAGE
To discontinue the trend of more further duplicity and divide in Edoid race, Edo language should be encourage, thought and adopted by the Edoid Nation of Nigeria.
A bill should be passed by the federal and state house of Assembly on the Use of Edo language as the National Edoid Nation language.
This should be entrenched into the federal constitutional of Nigeria as the common and general future language of the South South geographical zone of Nigeria
Edo language should be use as one of the main language on media broadcasts in all communications media on the region.
Edo language should be included in primary and secondary school educational curriculum
More Books and Lecturers should be encourage, trained and employed.
Universities in Edo, Delta, Rivers, Kogi and Ondo should have a departments of Studies for research, development and use of the Edo- Edoid language.
CHALLENGES OF THE FUTURE IN A NEW REGIONAL STRUCTURE OF NIGERIA:
The Edoid race should seek their national vision from the cricket construct call Nigeria. Pursue a family unification extending as far north with Kogi, west with Ondo, Delta and River state. The Edoid race can form a viable Edoid nation where Edoid culture and language is use as national language along side English, under the same political system - if need be at least for the transition period with a general consencors from representatives of all mini-dialectical composition within its geographical zone. Edo or Edoid nation and people have suffered for too long in the body politics of Nigeria, and must no longer wish to continue the injustice and marginalization by WAZOBIA political / ruling elites. Denounce and minority statues because they are not minority but the largest Nation of Nigeria with diversities. Mobilize growth and develop across the region...Save the African children from further disintegration!
"They who have seen only a little vociferate about how much they have experienced, while they who have seen a great deal cannot even find the words to express what they have gone through" - EWUARE OGIDIGAN (The great) Oba of Benin 1440 AD - 1473 AD (A great Magician, Physician, Traveller and warrior; constructed Akpakpava street, created the Edaiken title, renamed the land Edo and the first Oba to come in contact with Europeans).
“Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without.” - William Sloane Coffin, Jr. quotes (American Activist and Clergyman, b.1924)
Long Live the Federal Republic of Edo
Long live the king!
Oba gha tor kpere Isee!
17 Febuary 2015
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