PART I 

                                                          BASIC FRAMEWORK


                                                              Toyin Adepoju

“A gha s do, do rree”: When One Arrives in Benin, Benin is Distant” ,  a saying brought to my attention by the scholar of Benin culture, Joseph Nevadomsky, from the do founders of Benin, the famous Nigerian city, brings into focus relationships between space, time and cognition.

In just one line, this expression sums up a fundamental preoccupation of the human quest for knowledge across the centuries. It evokes the dislocation between appearance and reality  and the need to bridge this gap through understanding. To a significant degree, the quest for knowledge is driven by the notion that there is more to existence than appears to be so on the surface, than is obvious to immediate perception. This gap between the apparent and the real is suggested by the saying that even when one has arrived in the city of Benin, Benin remains distant.

What more challenging drive to exploration can be conceived than the bafflement of finding that the location, the city one has travelled to reach, remains distant even after one has arrived at it? Your physical self is present, your mind and senses are fully alert to your surroundings, but you realise that the place is still beyond your reach.

Of course, every location within which human social life takes place cannot be encompassed purely by physical presence in that place or by corporeal perception of the place alone. Every habitat, every organisation of social life, creates a network of meanings that are distinctive to that place as well as sharing, to some degree, in a universal semiotic universe. This shared body of possibilities of meaning constitutes the human race understood in terms of the configuration of its ways of understanding the cosmos.

 In relation to this body of understanding as it shapes the relationship between the spatial and the social worlds, is the knowledge of the affiliation between space and the people who use it, a knowledge developed across time by groups of people as well as by individuals, an awareness  demonstrated  both explicitly and implicitly.

Truly, one may arrive in Benin or any other city, settlement or corporate structure, particularly for the first time, and that place would remain distant. It would be as one spends time understanding such a place that Benin, for example, as physical construct, and Benin as cognitive possibility, move closer to merging. ''Agha bu' Edo, Edo (ghi) bu ovban'' : "As one journeys into Benin, Benin journeys to meet you", my development of a contrastive but complementary concept in relation to “A gha s do, do rree”: When One Arrives in Benin, Benin is Distant,”translated into Bini by Alex Osifo, evokes this process of conjunction between physical presence in a complex physical and social location as Benin, and increasing cognitive penetration into the significance of the physical and social complexity of the city.





On 28 April 2011 19:26, GUOSA-LANGUAGE. TV a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://guosa-language.tv/">guosa-language.tv@live.com> wrote:
  [Attachment(s) from GUOSA-LANGUAGE. TV included below]

Toyin my friend,

Your questions are somewhat in legions and sometimes wonder where to start your answers or which way to go about it to drive the matter down to your full understanding.  I like it, although, but the fact that time on earth may not be enough to answer all of it.  Even a man's life time is not long enough to discover all the interesting and uninteresting facets of it...so are the Edo indigenous groups of Nigeria including you the ponderer. You will always discover something you have never noticed before so long you have your breadth of life.  May be, you could simply go back and package all your questions in a blog, that way, whosoever have the research time can always pull up your case file and answer as much as possible at any given time.

Quickly, the story of "A GHA SE EDO, EDO RREE" is grammatically incorrect.  Brother B. Asemota and few others have commented on it in time past and I should expect the caption is correctly posted henceforth to read:


Simply broken down as follows:

EDO.....(EDO/BENIN CITY).  In this sentence the word "Edo" referred to Benin City in particular, and then on a broader translation - it referred to the entire Edo Kingdom or the Benin Kingdom because an Edo man is an Edo man irrespective of the local government area of Edo State.  Therefore, it takes a while to read, get to know and understand the echelon of Edo people all over the Edo State depending on what angle you are looking at life.
YE....(YET or STILL) but not YET AND STILL

Quickly on the last definition: "RE" meaning "far", some pool of Edo scholars used the so called new Edo alphabets and bastardized it into "RREE".  If you defined "RE" as "RREE", you might as well go about changing names like "Oregbe" that is an abbreviation of "O re egbe omwan hia" meaning "it inhere in all human beings" into "ORREEGBE".  Other names like  "Omo o re Ogbe" (OMOROGBE) into OMORROGBE, "OMOREGIE" into "OMORREEGIE" and so on.  Does that make any sense to anyone bearing those names?  There is a biblical statement that says..."Speak where the Bible Speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent" period, meaning we should speak where our original EDO LANGUAGE ALPHABETS SPEAKS AND BE SILENT WHERE IT IS SILENT.  Like the English and any major world languages - you do not wake up over night and start tongue-twisting the alphabets formation all around unless you are evolving another GUOSA LANGUAGE; in which case you have to consult me for consultation. 

I shall revisit any of your questions from time to time as time permits me to do so.

Guosa Language Evolutionist
A Nigerian and ECOWAS Common Indigenous Future Lingua Franca
Support the Train-the-Trainers Program today and lay a united foundation for the future.

From: toyin.adepoju@googlemail.com

  Thank you very much Osayamwen.

I find your response a very good early morning present since it was practically the first thing I saw when I started work this morning.
Can I stretch you a little more by asking the following?
Why do you think Edo is the centre of the universe? Why are you convinced that arriving there will convince one that it is ? 
'to find out whether it has to do with the city or what have you, you have to pay proper attention to the sign of the times'

I'm also puzzled about this tendency to equate Edo and the city built by the Edos, the city now known as Benin. Is that conventional in the language? Must those statements refer to the city rather than to the Edo as a people or are they combining both into one referent?
On the idea of Edo being present and yet distant, I wish I could understand this comment of yours better:
" it is one's feelings and mysticism of Edo, all rolled into one.  The statement is also very context dependent."

thank you very much.


On 27 April 2011 19:39, linpri saya a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://us.mc393.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=linpri95@yahoo.com">linpri95@yahoo.com> wrote:


Let me take a shot at this.
“A gha s
 do, do rree”: “When One Arrives in Benin, Benin is Distant"
“A gha s do, do ye rree”: “When One Arrives in Benin, Benin is still far"

The english translation is only a conversion / literary translation. 
The statement itself has an implied meaning.  In my opinion, it is one's feelings and mysticsm of Edo, all rolled into one.  The statement is also very context dependent.

 ‘Edo ore Isi Agbon’ (Edo is the Centre of the Universe)?

This may be a little easier.  In my opinion, it symbolizes the very height of Edo pride and patrotism.  To find out whether it has to do with the city or what have you, you have to pay proper attention to the sign of the times. But the truth is that I really believe that Edo is the center of the universe and trust me, you will feel it when you get there.

Have I confused enough?  That's why I am out of here.

Pride Osayamwen
Concerned Citizen



Would anyone want to express an opinion on the meaning of this expression: “A gha s do, do rree”: “When One Arrives in Benin, Benin is Distant”?

Alex Igbineweka and Peter Avan have made some striking contributions to understanding the meaning of the expression. 

The more opinions expressed on its meaning, the better the possibilities of understanding the scope of meaning it can demonstrate.

One sentence like this one can provoke a universe of meaning.

The contributions made so far on the grammar of the expression, on its correct representation in speech or writing, help us appreciate various positions on this. Opinions on the meaning of the expression will prove vital to unearthing its possibilities of meaning.

In advancing and examining such opinions, we contribute to the development of African philosophies. Much of these philosophies are expressed in proverbs like this one. The contemporary challenge is to explore the temporally limited, the local, the  universal and timeless significance of these proverbs.

All expressions are based on understanding reached at a particular point in time and space. What factors within that spatio-temporal framework contributed to that expression? What is the significance of the expression within that context? Does the expression have value beyond that context? Is it relevant now? Is it relevant in other places beyond the place where it was developed?  Can it be relevant for the future, and if so, in particular places or in the world as a whole? What factors influence its relevance? Factors within the expression and the various contexts to which it may be applied?

These are some of the questions provoked by  such expressions, particularly those from the past and those created in relation to a particular geographical location, like Benin.

“A gha s do, do rree”: “When One Arrives in Benin, Benin is Distant", for example, implies an underlying, unstated body of ideas about the nature of 'Edo',  which may be translated here as  'Benin',  because of the role of Benin as a spatial centre for Edo people. 

The intention of the proverb may be seen as complicated by the fact that 'Edo'  refers to the 'Edo' people, to a social identity and social formation. The saying,“A gha s do, do rree”, however, interprets this social identity in terms of a spatial location by describing it as a place or point at which one can arrive.

Why does the proverb do this? 

How valid is it to interpret 'Edo' in this expression as indicating the city of the Edo people, the city now known as 'Benin'?  What was the name of the city when this expression was developed? Does the expression necessarily conflate, bring together, both the Edo people and their city? Was there any time the city was called 'Edo'? Has it been a convention in the language of the Edo people to conflate,  'Edo' as an ethnic identity and social formation and 'Edo' understood as the city of the Edos, and therefore, as representative of the Edo people?

Similar challenges are provoked by the expression ‘Edo ore Isi Agbon’ (Edo is the Centre of the Universe)? Does 'Edo' in this context refer to the ethnic group or to its city or to both? In describing 'Edo' as the centre of the universe, what does this centrality refer to? Does it refer to the values and achievements of the Edos or ideas relating to their city or the conflation of both?  Could it suggest a cosmographic idea, as Tony Erha indicates in his essay  "A Traflgar Square in Benin City"? If it suggests such an idea, how is the idea expressed in terms of the structure of the city? What opinions are held by those informed on this subject? What ideas may be deduced about this meaning from the structure of the city in relation to Bini/Edo cosmology? Is this conception relevant beyond a focus on Benin understood as a particular location in space built by and representative of the civilisation of a particular group of people? Can the expression have a universal significance which may or may not be directly related to Benin or to the Edos?

Interestingly 'Edo is the Centre of the Universe', may refer, not to the Edos of Nigeria and their city now known as Benin, but to Tokyo in Japan, which used to be known as  Edo, as indicated by this essay 'Tokyo is the Centre of the Universe'.

 Asian thought has also used extensively a similar format in a form known as the sutra, pithy expressions the meanings of which are expounded by commentators. The difference between the Asian and the African examples is that the Asians have a much longer tradition of writing so the development of their ideas can be easily followed.



Thanks a whole lot, Chief Alex Igbineweka for your efforts and prompt response. The rh, mw, gb. kh. gh etc are all part and parcel of what make the Edo language what it is today especially for those of us who grew up with Mr. Eguaveon 'Ebe Edos' Just as it is difficult to study the French or the Spanish langauages and nothing can be done about them [for those of us who are non natives to the above mentioned languages], so should the Edo language be to the non Binis. This is what knowledge is and it does not come easily. If one is interested in learning the Edo language there should be an efort to that end. As a Nigerian, I cannot remember in the Nigerian history where the Hausa, Yoruba or the Ibo langauges have ever been modified. Why is it always the Edos that are willing to make sacrificies no other tribes are ready to make? Is our language the most difficult in Nigeria? We are Binis and speak the Edo language handed over to us by our forefathers. Dr. J. k. Aggrey once said and I quote: "I am proud of my color, who so ever is not proud of his color is not fit to live" Fortunately, my middle name, Egberamwen has two double syllables 'gb and mw', and how do you think I will feel to see them changed to something else in my life time? This is a question beyound comprehension! Thanks for your time.


-----Original Message-----

From: GUOSA-LANGUAGE. TV <guosa-language.tv@live.com>

Brother Tdudu,

Thank you so much for your beautiful message.  I am just wondering how, cumbersome to for young beginners in Edo language learning the laborious rh, kh, gb, mw, vb as part of an existing straight forward alphabetical arrangement, not to talk of a non-Edo person.  These double syllable consonants are already individuals and part of the whole body of Edo language alphabets.   In the Guosa language they are called "ilowe Naijeriya" meaning Nigerian special alphabets and I expect Edo linguist to come up with a special name in the Edo language definition - this is how languages the world over should grow and not by creating problems to make names like you rightly stated below. I should like to name the double consonants gh, kh, rh, mw etc as "urhue Edo" meaning "Edo voice" and thus remove them from the group of alphabets.  Its so painful that the word "research and documentary" is not in our lifestyles as of now but "pounded yam, egusi soup, goat meat and the best car and houses to show for our wealth.  By now we should be talking of making a solo efforts to Dr. R.N. Agheyisi's English`Edo Dictionary but who cares among the powers that be? - so unfortunate and lamentable.

Yes you are right in the Edo language I wrote below:
Osa no fangbe u wa hia meaning God blesses you all and not the other way round and please forgive my get away quick writing..lol.  If you look at the bottom of my note I said: 

"Oops....my Guosa stew is burning up on the stove...talk to you later".

The Guosa stew is cooked now, ready for zapping and I am inviting you - "lare na do rie evbare...meaning come and let's eat food.


To: guosa-language.tv@live.com; Edo-nation@yahoogroups.com

Dear Alex Igbineweka,
I thank you very much for your good insight to the way you expressed yourself about how the Edo language was spoken and written in those days when we were all growing up in Benin City. From the look of things it seems we are both of the same generation, I mean the Eguavoen generation of the Ebe Edos. He really was the man, through his knoweledge of all the sequences of the Ebe Edos: vols: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 that he wrote, that gave me the knoweledge of how to read, write and understand the Edo language. You almost brought tears out of my eyes when I read your piece below as it concerned our generation. You've done so well in your documention and I am very proud to call you a real Edo Linguist.
There is nothing bad in anyone trying to make a name for him or herself in this morden day and age, but it should not be at the expense of what we all love and cherish.Why do we really need now at this point of time to change our Edo language.? I think the focus should be on creating a language like the one you are presently trying your hands on  that looks, feel, and and more importantly sounds like the Edo language and not trying to undo what true Edolites have spent ceturies in the making. Believe me when I say a little addition or subtraction from the Edo language as to the way we always had it would make our language become redundant. I for one would love to see everyone who is on this road to back off and try making a name in something else. I hope I have not offended anyone and I will be very pleased to hear more comments on this topic and especially to let me know where I may have gone wrong.
On a special note:
GUOSA:  Abasi a kunzie yin
EDO:  Osalobua deba u wa hia
ENGLISH: God blesses you all

Should Osalobua deba u wa hia be translated as God blesses you all  or God be with you all? Is God bless you all and God be with you all the same thing? {Osa no fangbe u wa hia and Osa no deba u wa hia} I am curious to know because I am one who has been trying to indulge in some kind of Benin {Edo] writings. Thanks

 April 2011 23:02, GUOSA-LANGUAGE. TV <guosa-language.tv@live.com> wrote:

    Brother Toyin Adepoju,


    Ok, a while ago you told me that the Oba has no right to change or approve a name of his kingdom, right?  But who now approved the Alphabetical sequence you posted below? ha-ha-ha!  ...you cracked up my ribs...I love you for your continued spirits in this topic, most importantly...our communication if free of abusive languages.  So long we keep it a brotherly, family and sisterly discussions I will pitch my tent with you....lol.

    Yes the Oba (King) can approve the name of the Kingdom just so as the President are allowed by the Senate to ok the name of a country.

    However, in languages and linguistics, its slightly a different issue because,  like you earlier stated, the masses and some other factors such as the importance of linguistic change to the unity and communication of the people takes precedence before the laws or decrees are promulgated.  The laws are only made to help the educational/training aspect of the language once a language or linguistic words are found to be relevance to the need of the people and not the other way round.  This is why the Afrikaans did not survive so well in South Africa; and, of course the so-called WAZOBIA (WA - YORUBA, ZO-HAUSA and BIA - Igbo), in other words..."COME, COME, COME" language juntas died a natural death because the tripod language group were so greedy and self-centered by the exclusion of the teaming minority languages and identical groups.  It was a simple mathematical calculation of about 3 different Nigerian language groups versus 397 in a country of about 400 different languages, dialects and culture.  Therefore, who is the majority in this simple arithmetic? The minority of course.

    Coming to the so-called new Edo alphabets, what a wasteful experiment to tag letters  "gb  gh  kh    kp  mw rh   rr" as part of Edo language alphabets?  What happened to "ss" "aa" "dd" "uu" "vv" "ww" "zz" and the rest?  What crime have these other neglected alphabets committed? I want the authors of the new alphabets to explain to me.     The scientists who evolved A B D E E F G I H K L M N O O P R S T U V W Y Z have done so well having examined the necessity vis-a-vis the faster learning methods free of ambiguity and obscurity that the made the alphabets mono-syllable as much as possible.  Other double-syllable alphabets such as gh, kh, rh, etc were no doubt excluded in our vehicle of communication and these are under the diphthong African generic language/alphabetical usage because they are already in the ALPHABETICAL ORDER AND EMBEDDED INTO THE SYSTEM FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME. Why making a short story unnecessarily long and weary journey?

    Oops....my Guosa stew is burning up on the stove...talk to you later



    ---------- Forwarded message ------------------------------------------------------------------
    From: Nevadomsky, Joseph <jnevadomsky@exchange.fullerton.edu>

    Please note that the approved Edo alphabet is as follows:
    a    b    d    e    e(dot)    f    g    gb    gh    h    i    k    kh    kp    l    m    mw    n    o
    o(dot)    p    r    rh    rr    s    t    u    v    vb    w    y    z


 Uruese kakabor. Vbe no wa tie, erior nor (as you said it, so it is). Why are we arguing over spilled mild? If there are corrections to be made on the errors of convenience by the British, lets make it and stop bickering over nothing. Cheers and peace.
Alen Ighedosa

    On 25 April 2011 17:06, toyin adepoju <toyin.adepoju@googlemail.com> wrote:


        I never wrote that 'Benin City' is a translation of  'Edo N'Oba ye'. The person who made that translation is Iyi-Eweka as you will see for yourself if you have been follwing the argument and if you read my posts  and his. The question is why did he translate 'Edo N'Oba ye' as 'Benin city', even though he clearly described his grand ethnic pedigree? The answer to that lies at the root of the anger over issues of linguistic development which are being treated as issues of ethnic affirmation. Perhaps so, but only up to a  point. I have never claimed or pretended  to speak Bini language nor claim to know much about Bini history.  I try to be  careful to delimit what I know from what I dont know, and what I speculate about from what I know.
I stated that the Wikipedia article on Benin describes 'Benin' as coined  by the Portuguese, not the British. If you want to argue it is a British coinage you have to conclusively disprove the Wikipedia article. You might find scholarship on the history helpful in that regard. I now see where I gave the impression that I am arguing 'Edo' was coined by the Portuguese. I meant to state that 'Benin' was coined by them. This is a point I examined at some length in my response to   Iyi-Eweka. I forgot  to include a sentence before the one on the Portuguese in the 3rd paragraph  to distinguish it from the argument about the name ' Benin' alluded to in the first paragraph.



        On 24 April 2011 23:04, Victor Aimiuwu <vaimiuwu@yahoo.com> wrote:

            Please, learn how to spell my name correctly. The premises of your statements are all wrong. Benin City is not a translation of Edo N'Oba ye. Your misunderstanding of the latter shows that you neither speak the language nor know the history. Also the British coining of Benin City has nothing to do with the Benin  Expedition of 1897; rather they are notorious for anglocizing indigenous names across the globe: Italy for Italia, Prague for Praha, Peking for Beijing, Benin for Ibinu, and so on. Similarly, the origin of the word Edo has nothing to do with the Portuguese! It was the name of one of the servants of Okhamwen Ogiefa. Edo was reputed to have saved the life of Oba Ewuare when he was fighting to claim his throne. After Ewuare the Great successfully ascended the throne, he immotarlized Edo by naming the capital after him. Oba Ewuare ascended the throne about 1440 AD. Alphonso de A'veiro, the Portuguese explorer, did not visit Benin City until 1492, fifty two years later! The Portuguese, therefore, could not have "created" the word Edo as erroneously claimed by you below.
            From: toyin adepoju <toyin.adepoju@googlemail.com>

            Thanks Amiuwu.

            I will reflect on your contribution and that of Eweka. Even if I continue in my practice, it reflects my understasding but I hope to exapnd that understading. You did not mention  that the term 'Edo' is also used for the Edoid group of languages. The Wikipedia article on Benin states that the name was created by the Portuguese. If that is true, it would mean that people of Benin accepted that name without force as would have been with the occupying English, since as far as I know, the Portuguese did  not occupy Benin. I wonder how that came about and the implications of that for questions of cultural contact, cultural change, and ethnic identity.



            On 23 April 2011 17:47, Victor Aimiuwu <vaimiuwu@yahoo.com> wrote:
                Very well said, Ovbio Oba. There is Edo, the people (Ovbie Edo); then there is Edo, the language (Unu no ze Edo); there is also Edo , the political entity or Empire (Ote Edo); and finally, there is Edo, the capital of the Empire (Edo N' Oba ye) which Britain nicknamed Benin City. When I travel from my home in Evbuarhue, Orhionmwon I would tell my family that I am going to Edo, (not Benin City!). We always know the context under which the word, Edo, is used. We should NEVER allow other people to define us as they wish! Rather, they should learn to understand what we mean when we speak. Edo, the midwestern state of Nigeria is the newest addition to the vocabulary or homonym. Happy Easter to All.

From: Nevadomsky, Joseph a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://us.mc393.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=jnevadomsky@exchange.fullerton.edu">jnevadomsky@exchange.fullerton.edu>
Sent: Saturday, April 23, 2011 6:27 AM



I follow Agheyisi's dictionary, published in 1986. She states: "The orthography employed in the writing of Edo in this dictionary is generally consistent with the system recommended for Edo in 1974 by the Ad HOc Mid-West Language Committee, and approved by the Bendel State Ministry of Education. The only modification to that system adopted here is the is the re-introduction of mw for the labio-dental approximent, in conformity wikth the current practice in the writing of Edo by the Edos" (1986:xii). Of course some conventions die hard. For example, technically it shoulld be spelled Oba Ovonrranmwen, but most still spell it Oba Ovonranmwen.

In this system the consonants include r as in re=to eat; rh as in rhie=to take; and rr as in rre=to arrive.

 To the best of my knowledge this orthographic system has not been superceded, though untrained and home-grown linguists continue to toy around with both the orthography and the grammar.  For example, S.B. Omorogie constructed a grammar that followed the Latin system of conjugation totally out of keeping with Edo. He pulled this off for a while because he has a doctorate; however the doctorate is in  Education and not in Linguistics. He also makes claims to be an historian. Similarly, CenSCER at Uniben named its in house journal AMAN or "Mark" and when I wrote an article pointing out that it was ama and not aman (there is a residual or silent nasalization because of the ama environment, I was denied my professorship at Uniben). You can find the article cited in my CV; Google in my name and find my blog site. 

As for Ogieriakhi, whom I knew from my teaching days with Professor Babalola at SAAS (School of African and Asian Studies), Unilag, he did not like the orthographic written imposition of kh in his name, and rewrote the orthography to ensure that x  replaced the kh sound merely for stylistic reasons, and so it became willy-nilly Ogieriaxi. To the Edo, that x looked and sounded like a hissing ss sound so he subsequently changed his name to Ogie. 


By the way, the details of the Ad-Hoc Mid-West Language Committee are found in a publication of the Ministry of Education, Benin; entitled Report of the Seminar on  Edo Orthography (1974)


I must say I am not myself a trained professional linguist, and centainly not an Edo linguist, but I know those who are.  I hope the above is of some help to you.



                Domo. The Edo language and English language are different as well as the content of their alphabets. I cannot explain the reason for  the decision of linguist to include the digraph among our Edo alphabet. From what i heard from one Edo linguist, our diagraph represent sound just like the mono-graph which is not the same in English language. This is not my field and i am sorry that i have limitations in such matters. I only tried to draw attention to the fact that the digraph "rh" and "rr"  were not created by new Ph. d seeking scholars as Chief Azekazedo insinuated. Salutations.

On Sat, Apr 23, 2011 at 7:44 PM, Osamede Edosomwan <osamedeedosomwan@yahoo.com> wrote:

    Uyilawa no ren ebe,
    I am curious. Are we making a distinction between Edo phonemes and Edo alphabets here or are we substituting consonant digraph phonemes for alphabets. Here is the reason why I am asking this question. There are 26 alphabets in the English language while there are at the same time 43 phonemes in the English language. While the 26 alphabets remain constant as stand alone phonemes the remaining 17 of the 43 English language phonemes are mostly vowel digraphs or diphthongs. In our own case are we classifying our consonant digraph phonemes as stand alone alphabets as opposed to the phonemes that they really are?
    Osamede Uwensuyi-Edosomwan

    From: uyilawa usuanlele <uyilausu@gmail.com>
    Domo Epa,
                    I have been reluctant to contibute to this thread because l dont want anything to do with Mr Toyin Adepoju's unending disrespect of Benin people and their institutions, yet he continuously seeks to profit from them for the advancement of his academic career. But i am forced to respond for the benefit of our children who are reading your responses.
                  Edo alphabet is more than what you listed below which are just only the mono-graph letters. Like you rightly pointed out, these were what were contained in Ebe Edo 1 &
    II and were taught at the most elementary level infant and standards I & II. But as you progressed you start to come accross other letters which are usually the digraph letters - vowels namely an, en, in, on, and un as well as the consonants gb, gh, kh, kp, mw, rh, rr and vb. This gives us 37 letters that makes the Benin alphabet. It is not scholars who are trying to get Ph.d that added these letters. Check your own surname, one of the digraphs -gb- is there.  As for other issues, thanks for acknowledging my modest contributions, but i am sorry i cannot assist Toyin.




Dear all,


When I was growing up, we were taught the old school Ebe Edo I, Ebe Edo 2 etc. and, of course the Edo language alphabets was originated handed down from the Roman characters or alphabets.  In it, the Edo language alphabets were made up as follows:


We never heard or learned anything like "rr"  "hh" "rhh" etc. according to the latter days scholars and we need to know urgently before we get lost in linguistic cross roads if this is part of linguistic growth of the Edo language. 


For sure we heard occasional influences of the letter "h" pairing up in some words and names such as "Erha" meaning father, "Ekharha" meaning umbrella, "Ekhoe" meaning "mind" and so on but not so proliferated and omnipresence almost in every Edo language word as it is right now and if care is not taken, you may end up with the letter "h" ambiguity, problems and bastardization of the original Edo language values and meaning.  I personally did not see, hear or comprehend the presence and importance of letter "h" in a word like "Omoregbe" and if you said so, you might as well change "Omoregie" into “Omorhegie” etc.  If this trend is allowed to continue....every word spoken and written in Edo language shall be of no use without importation of "h" consonant and sound.  You have Egharevba and not Egharhevba, Osaro and not Osarho, Osarhiemen and not Osariemen, Iriabe and not Irhiabe or Irrhiabe. 

I think the confusing issue, the way I see it is that some scholars woke up over night and began to tongue twist the Edo language by over imposing and the injection of strange vowels and consonants using the Queen's English linguistic jingoism to qualify for a PhD thesis.  They are still coming with more stuffs because their syringes and needles haven’t gone blunt yet, so be prepared.  Some years back a good friend and a brother came up with the word “Ogieriaxi” for “Ogieriakhi” and he almost got away with it because of his English language academic background rather than the Edo language tools. 


Let us speak where the alphabets speaks and be silent where it is silent.  We have to decide which way to go with the two different alphabetical sequences - the old, the new or both the old and the new simultaneously.  In that way speakers, listeners and writers should be able to define their goals, methodology of the spoken and written translations and of course the ability to communicate fluently enough without blabbings of the Edo language.

There is nothing in the world that I cannot write and translate using the old school alphabetical arrangement above and that's all I need.  More characters or letters lead to ambiguity, wasteful and costly repetition of oneself and a whole other social inconsistency.


Years ago I began to evolve and Edo language indigenous alphabets but got stuck midway due lack of research assistance.  Its only there and then we can meaningfully represent spoken sound in written signs in the Edo language, arts, culture, science and civilization.




Me and you are yet to meet further at the territorial boundary between Benin City and Bini City...laugh it out!  However, let me quickly correct my typographical error contained in my earlier parables as follows:


I meant to write as follows:


An old man lying in the bed sees farther than a young man who was standing up by the side of the old man's bed.

GUOSA:  Abasi a kunzie yin
EDO:  Osalobua deba u wa hia
ENGLISH: God blesses you all

The Azekazedu of Edo Land; and,
Guosa Language Evolutionist
A Nigerian and West African Common Indigenous Future Lingua Franca



I thank Alex Igbinewka, Peter Avan and Joseph Nevadomsky  for their critical contributions. I see that their contributions and my responses inspired by those contributions, as well as Nevadomsky's response to them, if added to the expanded version of the essay which I am working on, gives more concrete information to the essay and adss more than 500 words to it. Of course, all contributors would be credited by their full names and references to where they made those contributions.

Here are the passages I have prepared using these contributions. Alex Osifo, who is also quoted,  made his comments on  Facebook. Footnotes indicating sources will be added later. Any suggestions for improvement are welcome  :

"Alex Igbineweka sums this up in relation to Benin:

Your physical presence in Edo lands and territories does not mean that you know anything about the indigenous political, sociological and cultural identity of the Edo people to beat your chest about. An old may lying in bed sees farther than a young man standing on his feet by the side of the old man's bed. When you arrive Edo...you are yet to read and digest the Edo people's philosophies, attributes, pride, goodness, proverbs, cultural values, arrogance, mind set, friendliness, buildings, tolerance, dislikes, idiomatic expressions, warfare, science, engineering etc.

He limits his interpretation of the saying to Benin city and specifies particular aspects of Benin civilization, while I expand the concept as having a universal significance that applies to all social locations, before focusing on Benin.

His  concentration  on Benin is certainly vital since the saying refers to Benin specifically, but the saying is also relevant to London, Tokyo, Lagos, New York, Sao Paulo, Sydney, or even to the villages in Nigeria’s Niger Delta . This relevance is demonstrated at various levels of similarity and difference between these places in terms of indices consisting of  shared and distinctive  characteristics, such as levels of urbanisation and cultural formations, among other factors.

It is relevant to start with the application of the saying to Benin, its primary referent, and move on to indicate its universal significance. It is also useful, as I do here, to demonstrate its universal significance before moving to its more specific local meaning, the method  used in  this essay.

Peter Avan develops the issue of cognitive scope further in the context of Benin civilisation:

Our ancestors devised a very complex system for our society because they understood how complex and diverse human society has evolved over time.

An analyst would require many lifetimes to get to the bottom of just even a small  aspect of so complex a historical legacy, not to talk of the WHOLE.

This statement may be related to the paradoxical distance between Benin as material form and Benin as cultural construct and embodiment of a civilization.

Joseph Nevadomsky anchors these conceptions in his describing the saying on the  paradoxical proximity and distance of Benin as expressing “both the knowledge needed to comprehend Edo culture, and also the difficulty of obtaining such knowledge both because it is esoteric and because there is an aura of secrecy around much of it”.  This interpretation is reinforced by Alex Osifo, who interprets the saying as alluding to

 the mystery or the mystical awe that pervades Benin [relating to the] transcendence and immanence of divinity, which somewhat intertwines with the monarchy because of its unquestionable influence as spiritual head of the Benins, and points to its uniqueness. As we also say; "Edo (ne) Ugborhirhi." Ugborhirhi conveys chill, awe, mystery …. The foregoing "Ugborhirhi" captures the implication of "Edo (ye) rhe". {Edo (is) still distant even when in Benin}.

Responding to the second saying on Benin journeying to meet you as you move deeper into it, he states

Turning to the three creative co-referents: {Agha se Edo, Edo ghi se omwan} "Benin arrives with you", or "to meet you", or "comes closer...." (I won't bet on it, but the name "Edosomwan", conjures a strong colloquy of "Benin arrives with you"="Edo [ghi] s[e] omwan").

This reminds me of the immanence and transcendental "Osa ne Udazi". ("Udazi" is rather epithetical than attributive), but the coordinate part of the clause in each three expressions suggests a compelling immanence and transcendentalism of the "Udazi" epithet.

In another context, but relevant to  Peter Avan’summation on the cognitive challenges relating to grasping the depth and breath of Edo civilisation, “An analyst would require many lifetimes to get to the bottom of just even a small  aspect of so complex a historical legacy, not to talk of the WHOLE”, Aristotle is described as making a similar summation in relation to metaphysics in describing the impossibility of conceptually unifying all of being, hard as he tried to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the cosmos as far as his exploratory instruments could carry him.

Challenging as it to plumb the depth of profound civilizations or of existence as a whole, one can approximate such knowledge and use such approximations as a vantage point in further exploration. One method of approximation is cosmological symbols, which suggests the totality of being, as in  the combination of visual sparseness and evocative power of the Benin Olokun symbol igha ede, discussed below. Another means  of approximation  is  through language, such as the paradoxical expression on the nearness and distance of Benin which can be described as evoking all possible problems of epistemology, the study of the methods, justification and valuation of means of arriving at knowledge and of the nature of knowledge".



On 22 April 2011 11:47, GUOSA-LANGUAGE. TV a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://guosa-language.tv/">guosa-language.tv@live.com> wrote:

Beloved Dr. Asemota,

Please forgive my over sight of the poorly written prhase "A GHA SE EDO, EDO YE RE".  I had wanted to start my response to Brother Toyin with the wrong grammatical presentation of the statement but got carried away.  Personally, I did not and will never submit to the tongue rolling written version of the Edo language; that is the "double and or triple "r" consonant, whereas we adopt only one "r" in everyday Edo language common/advance words vocabularies .  The Indians are remarkable for the multiple use of "r" sounds in their figure of speech.  For instance, an Indian-born and raised English language speaker could be heard pronouncing "keyrrrrhh" instead of "key".  Edo language speakers do not pronounce "keyrrr" for "key" or "o rree 'gbe" instead of "o re 'gbe" meaning its too far.  There are lots of other similar spoken and written grammatical crucifixion of the Edo language by the latter day scholars who injected thorns, thistles and some strange consonants and vowels into the Edo language. There is hardly anything you can say or write that makes any sense to them but what they erroneously conceived to be correct; and who are thou to advise them? I remember once upon a time, myself and my very most beloved brother Hilary Evbayiro almost went to the moon for some brotherly mock fighting on about the use of consonant "h".  To date, almost every modern Edo language writers believed that without the use of "h" an Edo language is incomplete.  Thanks for the correction of what I over sighted.

We have a long way to go yet we have the journey hasn't started.


From: Nevadomsky, Joseph a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://us.mc393.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=jnevadomsky@exchange.fullerton.edu">jnevadomsky@exchange.fullerton.edu
Date: 21 April 2011 23:00

Dear Toyin: Both are correct: "A gha se Edo, Edo rree" = "When you reach Benin, Benin is distant." The other: "A  gha se Edo, Edo ye rree" = "When you reach Benin, Benin is still distant." The meanings and implications of the expressions remain the same.
It is a well-known expression, deeper in its extended meanings,  but similar to the American expressions "A stitch in time saves nine" or "A penny saved is a penny earned." I think most Edo know it.  It expresses both the knowledge needed to comprehend Edo culture, and also the difficulty of obtaining such knowledge both because it is esoteric and because there is an aura of secrecy around much of it




Chief Azekazudo Igbineweka,
Domo sir.  Please correct me if I am wrong, the first thing I noticed which even you have failed to point out is what I see as an error in the title “AGHA SẸ ẸDO, ẸDO RREE”  Isn't this a colloquialism? Should the proper form of edo grammar not have been “AGHA SẸ ẸDO, ẸDO YE RREE”?  You were right in pointing Mr. toyin Adepoju to some authoritative sources in Edo language.  However, we should also not fail to point out when a proper form of our grammar has been corrupted for expediency.  This will not be permitted in other languages especially when the writer is presenting a scholarly work.  Thank you for your response.
B. Asemota.


Thanks Alex.

" You are no doubt fishing in some deep waters capable of walloping up the fisherman, his fishing nets and the fish…lol"

May we fish in deep waters.

It is vital to learn directly from those indigenous to a culture. It is also vital to learn from those who have learnt from those sources. In that way, one moves closer towards maximum exposure to knowledge.
Both sources have their strengths and limitations but are ideally correlated.
As for learning from those figures you mention, I will take advantage of them and others I am fortunate to work with.  I aspire to be  always ready to learn in a spirit of mutually respectful dialogue where everyone brings what they have  to the table and we all share.
I will get the Edo-English Dictionary by Rebecca Nevadomsky and try to get in touch with her. I did not even know about her earlier.

I am pleased to respond to criticism of my work because knowledge grows through criticism.  Its when the criticism  is specific you can ascertain if the criticism is applicable to the work or not.
As for the validity of my work on Benin philosophy and spirituality, I am making progress through reading, through reflecting on my own research in Benin and interactions with others in cyberspace. I intend to add further interactions with people in Benin. The ideal thing is to do further research in Benin. I will consider myself fortunate if I am able to do so. If I was as aware when I was in Benin as I am now of its value now that I have left there, I would have devoted much more effort than I did to studying the spirituality and art. But that is history.
One needs to be balanced in assessing the value of scholarship  on a culture  by non-natives of a culture. These days, many, if not most non-native scholars, particularly the professionals,  are necessarily much better informed about their specializations in those cultures than  members of that native culture who have not devoted the same quality of attention to the subject.

Even when the native is a practitioner  in the same discipline or aspect of a discipline, that does not necessarily imply the reflective and organizational training of a scholar, which brings other skills to bear on the subject which the native practitioner  might not have cultivated, and even if they did, it might not be at the same level of reflexivity, a critically self conscious mode, and over an  equally high  period of time.
Osemwegie Ebohon, for example, is in a class of his own but is he not making a mistake, in  not publishing openly, at least as of the last I knew?  Perhaps that can be rectified by his students publishing, like the students of Jesus, Buddha  and Socrates published their words.

Can you imagine what it would be like to read the candid biography of  Ebohon, a man who once invited reporters and anybody who cared to come, to attend a world meeting of witches in Benin, to be held in the spirit world? The entrance to his house and gallery is shaped by trees that communicate a unique atmosphere, suggesting that they were cultivated for and sustained in terms of their ability  to embody unique forms of energy.

How did he get this knowledge? He once told me that some trees are witches.  my experience  with Iroko trees in Benin seems to confirms this idea.  I was convinced that one tree was aware of itself, that it had a self conscious mind, a tree that radiated an invisible aura some feet beyond itself and the scope of which I could sense clearly.I tried to communicate with mentally with another  Iroko tree.My interest in this tree led one day  leading to a growing sense of seeming to enter into the environment of the tree while reflecting on it in my study/shrine/sanctum  near Owina while the tree was miles away in a wood at Ugbowioko, at which point I broke the connection in the name of caution. The  tree  seemed to have caused to grow in my mind in response to my efforts to communicate with it a monstrous thought that made me henceforth  avoid looking at it anytime I passed that place.  Among  other wonderful experiences I have had particularly with trees in Benin, these make me wonder if a person operating on his own like me can operate at that level, than what kind of world does a person like Ebohon live in?

Nothing can replace all kinds of people all over the world, reading your words and appropriating them as they like. But then, there are different ways of disseminating knowledge. Ebohon once mentioned to me  the value of the Western occult concept of the Akashic Records as an astral  storehouse of knowledge and blood as a transmitter of information within racial groups.
Nevadomsky has built an academic career on the study of Benin spirituality, spending long periods in Benin. I would be surprised if any Benin person who has not devoted that level of effort will be as informed as himself on the subjects he has worked on.
 I would not expect even Benin scholars in a  field of Benin civilisation to be as informed as non Benin scholars in another field of Benin culture. Would a Benin historian on Benin  be as informed as Nevadomsky on Benin spirituality, or as informed  as Charles Gore on the intersection of Benin spirituality and art or grounded like  Norma Rosen on Olokun art and practice?These are the specialisations of these people to which they have dedicated their lives, doing extensive research in Benin, at times living there for years.

At the same time, though, a specialist in Edo linguistics or a fluent native speaker could be often better informed on that subject than a specialist, native or non native, in another aspect of Benin civilization.
When I  finished my BA at Uniben, I resolved not to study abroad beceause my exposure to Benin spirituality had convinced me that there is knowledge to be gained from such study that is not in any publication. That was a very wise move, wiser than even I knew. As it is, the limitation of appreciation of that move meant that even though I made remarkable knowledge, I ought to have spent more time on it. Since 2001,  I began to pursue such interests with greater vigor.

I needed to have learnt Benin and engage with the  adepts of the Classical spiritualities. I was   most fortunate, however, to be introduced by Mr Abolo formerly of ITV and Chief Ohonbamo, to Joseph Ohomina, a Benin Ifa babalawo. That is  one of the most important relationships of my life. He taught me weekly in English for about a year, in various locations in Benin, at no cost to me, even for his transport, even one kobo.On going home from one of our teaching sessions one day, he even fell partly into a hole in Ring Road but it was nothing to him. His ideas are fundamental to almost all my work. I am convinced that even though we talk only briefly on the phone, there is a universe of understanding I can mine from his ideas by meditating on them and perhaps using them in ritual.
I have also had the privilege of dialogue with the Isekhure of Benin who received me affably in his house when I visited when passing one day. I have also spent some time with Osemwegie Ebohon but I have not given as much time to these men as I ought to have done.

I also have amazing experiences from my relationship with sacred groves and trees in Benin. I have mentioned this once on these fora but will do so later in part 2 of the essay and elaborate on it in others, such as an essay that correlates Benin philosophy of nature in relation to urban planning with classical Yoruba epistemology and metaphysics-theory of knowledge and nature of being.


On 21 April 2011 18:54, GUOSA-LANGUAGE. TV <guosa-language.tv@live.com> wrote:

    I see that you are seriously in the quest for knowledge of the Edo languages and cultures; and, your presentation in this cyberspace has been void and free of profane words, like most writers do on the webs.  I really like you for that and for that reason I shall continue to read your messages.  I also appreciate your strong emotion for Brother Nevadomsky and in fact, his wife - Dr. Rebecca wrote the most current valid Edo-English Dictionary.  I would rather prefer you seek explanation from the original native speaker of any language and culture before putting lots of weights upon a particular subject matter from a "borrower" most especially, when you have the native speakers all around you. Or you may soon find yourself swimming in a pool of embarrassment leading to discouragement, disappointment and a sense of failures.

    I know that Dr. Rebecca and her husband Nevadomsky are one and the same but I suggest you focus and obtain your research materials from Dr. Rebecca (the Edo Language born linguist); and, of course other Edo language gurus like High Chief Ebohon, Uyilawa Usuanlele,  Prince (Dr.) Ade Iyi-Eweka, The Iyase of Benin Chief Sam Igbe, Chief Nosakhare Isekhure, Tina Iyare lots more so as to avoid public contradictions in your future Edological (Edo languages and cultural) voyages.  I also believe this is what Chief Peter and other readers are trying to inform you about.


    Even in among the Edo language born speakers and writers – there are inestimable numbers of those who did not know anything about spoken and the written Edo languages and cultures. You are no doubt fishing in some deep waters capable of walloping up the fisherman, his fishing nets and the fish…lol Please keep the knowledge growing but watch your source of research materials or you may appear like the biblical saying of the blind leading the blind.


    Guosa Educational, Scientific & Cultural Inst., Inc.



    From: toyin.adepoju@googlemail.com

    Dear Peter,

    I am puzzled about the correction you see Alex as making. I have asked him to indicate in what way his exposition of the Bini saying  contradicts mine, which I dont see his as   doing. I would also be pleased to know your own views. Knowledge grows from sharing. If not for Nevadomsky, the US scholar who introduced the Bini saying to me in the first place, I would not have known about it.

    You describe me as  being eager to jump on bandwagons. That is puzzling since I see my positions as often individualistic. Are you referring to my developing the Bini expression having seen it in Nevadomsky's work? Nevadomsky was quoting my own work in introducing this expression, and I am in turn quoting him, an example of the circulation and increase of knowledge through sharing. As scholars its our responsibility to examine carefully the significance of the ideas we encounter and that is what he did and which I am also doing in analyzing the implications of the expression.

    Jumping on a bandwagon, on the other hand, has to do with involvement in group activity without significant understanding or personalized engagement.

    I also  understand myself as  a pioneer in the exploration of the universal significance of Bini philosophies of space, as represented by my work on Olokun symbolism,  my essays and prose poems on the saying on Edo as the centre of the universe, as well as the essay on spatial cosmology Nevadomsky quoted in presenting the saying on the paradoxical nearness and distance of Benin. All these are presented on my blog Great Benin, on my Scribd and Facebook accounts, and will come out sooner or later in book form, beginning with the book  Benin Olokun Symbolism at the Nexus of Time and Space, which should be out between this month and next month.

    Of course, I would be happy for you to explain the bandwagon idea of yours better so I can  look at it carefully.

    You have put this very well. Can I quote you?:

    "Our Ancestors devised a very complex system for our society because they understood how complex and diverse human society has evolved over time.
    An analyst would require many lifetimes to get to the bottom of, just even a small, aspect of so complex a historical legacy, not to talk of the WHOLE".

    I have first hand experience of this immensity of knowledge, through exposure to an aspect of it. I am considering using your statement in relation to discussing that as well as elaborating on the paradoxical distance between Benin as material form and Benin as cultural construct and embodiment of a civilization which Alex describes so well.

    In another context, Aristotle is described as making a similar summation in describing the impossibility of conceptually unifying all of being, hard as he tried to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the cosmos as far as his exploratory instruments could carry him.

    Challenging as it to plumb the depth of profound civilizations or of existence as a whole, one can approximate such knowledge and use such approximations as a vantage point in further exploration. One method of approximation is cosmological symbols, which suggests the totality of being, as in  the combination of visual sparseness and evocative power of the Bini Olokun symbol igha ede, which is the centre of my current  work on Benin Olokun symbolism. Another means  of approximation  is  through language, such as the paradoxical expression on the nearness and distance of Benin which can be described as evoking all possible problems of epistemology, the study of the methods, justification and valuation of means of arriving at knowledge and of the nature of knowledge.


    On 21 April 2011 11:41, peter avan <peteavan@hotmail.com> wrote:

        Thank you, Alex,
        hoping Toyin will take your very polite  correction to heart. I feel he is sometimes to much in a hurry to jump on a bandwagon. Our Ancestors devised a very complex system for our society because they understood how complex and diverse human society has evolved over time.
        An analyst would require many lifetimes to get to the bottom of, just even a small, aspect of so complex a historical legacy, not to talk of the WHOLE.
        From: GUOSA-LANGUAGE. TV
        Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2011 7:37 AM
        Brother Toyin,

        I like your continued spirit in the Edo-logy (Edology); please grant me exclusive rights and privileges to evoke some new Edo-Ebo  (Edo-English) vocabularies because in the Guosa Language factory...words are rolling (according to Longinus Chukwuike, Guardian Newspapers).

        I think you spent too much time invoking the white man's linguistic "abrakadabra" or terminological inconsistency and inexactitude  in your write up below.  The parable or phrase you took up as your text was more explained in practical format than the metaphoric idiomatic origination, i.e. "a gha se Edo, Edo ye re"  Let me assist your interpretation that your physical presence in Edo lands and territories did not mean that you knew anything about the indigenous political, sociological and cultural identity of the Edo people to beat your chest about.  An old may laying in the bed sees farther than a young man standing on his feet by side of the old man's bed.  When you arrive Edo...you are yet to read and digest the Edo people's philosophies, attributes, pride, goodness, proverbs, cultural values, arrogance, mind set, friendliness, buildings, tolerance, dislikes, idiomatic expressions, war fare, science, engineering etc. etc. etc.

        Thank you for your strong belief and relentless efforts to study the Edoism. (Edo people's tradition and cultures).

        Guosa language Evolutionist and Researcher
        A Nigerian and ECOWAS Common Indigenous Future Lingua Franca