A Common Edo Language
The homogenous nature of Edo State is a reality. That a common or central language exsit among the people is still a mirage and this is a challenge before Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who recently re-emphasised the need for an Edo Language to be evolved, taught and transmitted in public schools in the State for the sole aim of promoting the rich culture of the people.
Bearing in mind that language is a powerful and very potent tool for preserving and propagating culture, the overriding need to evolve an Edo language cannot be over-emphasised.
BESIDES unifying and bringing the people closer, an Edo language, which of necessity, will be an amalgam of Benin, Esan and Afenmai (comprising Akoko Edo, Etsako and Owan) languages, because these are the major ethnic groups in the state, will fortify the culture, socio-economic and political bonds of the people, who are largely related. For, Edo people are not only related, they have a monolithic cultural background.
HOWEVER, some pundits suggest that one stock or the main stock be selected as the centrally spoken language just like exsit among the Igbo and Yoruba including the Ijaw.
OTHER suggestions equally note that the process of fashioning an Edo Language from all intents and purposes, will not be tedious and cumbersome. If anything, the syllabus will take advantage of the similarities and cure the inherent dissimilarities in the pronunciation and identification of objects and materials as well as syntax. Language teachers and translators, who are experts in English Language, the current Lingua Franca, would be engaged, thus creating a viable source of employment.
AGAIN, the process of forming an Edo Language will be a sort of empowerment to the people. The Edo nation, as it is currently constituted has a rich history. The inter-group relations of the Esan, Afenmai and Benin people from pre-colonial to present day, when reconstructed will reveal much of the historiography of each of these ethnic groupings and by extension, help substantially to under study the people, their language, history, evolution, challenges and other related demographic issues hitherto unknown in the life of these people.
HOWEVER, The NIGERIAN OBSERVER is quick here to sound a note of caution on the issue of a common Edo language. The idea, as noble and laudable as it is, should not be politicized, so that the benefits derivable therefrom, will not suffer from selfish and inordinate posturing of some groups, organizations or traditional institution. The reason for this is that like Chief Anthony Enahoro, foremost nationalist and the Adolor of Uromi, once noted, while facilitating a Pan-Edo people´s congress in Europe, Edo people have all the potentials to evolve a common language, which he suggested should be called EDO OKPAMAIKHIN( meaning, Edos are one people).
EVEN the Comrade Governor´s recent concern and reasons which have their root in the history of Edo people equally took cognizance of the fact that the non-existent nature of an Edo Language, detracts from the one-ness of the people, which is more real than is perceived by other ethnic groups in Nigeria. The ancestral lineage of all Edo people have their root in the Oduduwa and Ekalederan mythology, and the visible traditional and ancestral Head of the Edo nation, His Royal Majesty (HRM) Omo N´Oba N´Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, has a lot to offer in the direction of a common Edo Language.
The Institute for Benin Studies, the various Departments of Languages in the Higher Institutions of Learning and the traditional rulers and their interpreters will equally be handy in the projects, no doubt.
FROM available records, the variation in Benin-Esan Language for instance is only 40% while the similarities remain in the neighbourhood of 50 – 65% depending of course on the background of the Esan or Benin man in question, his level of interaction with the other ethnic group being considered and the overall world outlook and orientation. In the case of Afenmai, the situation is equally not too different as the language can be understood by both the Benin and Esan given the same aforementioned circumstance.
IT is the belief of The NIGERIAN OBSERVER, that whilst a common Edo Language is desirable, the necessary homework and syllabus must be designed and put in place to make it teachable, and communicable while not necessarily making same a Lingua Franca in Edo State. The prospects are bright no doubt, but the issue should be disentangled from the realm of politics. The component ethnic groups and other languages will have to, first and foremost, be made compulsory in public schools, and thereafter the study of an amalgam of the three major languages spoken could follow. This way, the process will become easier, more realistic and very appreciable.
HAPPY NEW YEAR MY PEOPLE