Urhobo Bridge's Presentation at the Urhobo Unity Summit 2009:
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A Contribution from URHOBO BRIDGE:
At the 30/31 July 2009 Unity Summit, PTI Warri. Delta State.
ADVOCACY FOR UNITY AMONG URHOBO PEOPLE:
Dear Honourable Dignitaries and Participants,
Your Excellencies, Ivies, Oloroguns,
Chiefs, Professors, Doctors, All Professionals, Ladies and Gentlemen…
are pleased to be given the honour and opportunity to present our contribution at this very important August occasion. We
shall not waste too much of your time with long introduction.
average Urhobo person talks about the importance of unity among one another. Unity is sought between two friends, within a
family, among the people of a village or town and between one community, state or even nation and another. It is used in many
Urhobo expressions, idioms and adages; like: “Ẹguọnọ me yovwi”, “Ekwumagbe”, “Urhobo
Ọvuọvo”, “Ohwohwo vwoma ch’ohwo irosu vwọ vitaso”, etc. Yet, what we always see is quite the opposite – Disunity or “state of disunion”. It is
therefore, imperative for us to now look critically into “Disunity” first before we talk about Unity.
Characteristics of Disunity:
occurs whenever there is any situation that brings about separation or parting or sunder between two people or discord among
the people of a community or a nation.
Factors causing disunity:
There are a lot of factors that cause disunity.
Some of them are:
Selfishness or Egocentricity: An
average Urhobo person is selfish or egocentric. This is the act of believing only in self. The propensity to satisfy self
at the expense of others. Being self-centred. In the process of trying to satisfy self only, the individual begins to become
greedy by accumulating more and more to him/herself alone. E.g. some Urhobo elites in position of influence tend to turn away
from other Urhobos when Urhobo language is spoken around them in the office or when they are needed to help an Urhobo person
to succeed, they don’t bother to help because they are thinking this person is going to take their seat or is going
to get better and their influence will diminish. This trait is very devastating.
Jealousy or Rivalry: This is deeply rooted in our polygamous family
setting where a man marries two or more wives. In most cases, the wives engage in unhealthy competition among themselves with
one trying to outclass the other. This could lead to hatred of one wife against the other. It could lead one wife wishing
the other evil or even death especially when one is getting more prosperous than the other. The poorer one would start to
despise the other by making derogatory statements like; “what does she think she is ?” or “what kind of
rubbish wealth she thinks she has?” and so forth. This behaviour or attitude is then passed down to their children (male
or female) that sometimes one wife and her children could form a “union” against the other wife and her children.
And for generations this unhealthy co-existence remains. Something has to be done to abate this trend.
This phenomenon is directly linked to the “Avwebọ” (amebọ) and “Avwiorọvwe”
that husbands create within the family. In other words, it is the husbands that caused the rivalry and jealousy. (There is
a lot written about this by Professor Peter Ekeh for those who want to read further about the topic)
Avarice or Covetousness: The product of selfishness and greed is avarice.
This is where someone is so self-centred that he/she continues to acquire material wealth to him/herself without minding any
other person. They can sell or even kill the other person in the process of acquiring what they want.
4. Hatred, Malice and Bitterness: The result
of greed, jealousy and rivalry is hatred. The person who is greedy is hated by the people around because s/he never helps
anyone. And over time, this hatred leads to bitterness that is deeply rooted in the heart of the people against the person.
And the real product that is lacking among the people is love for one another. Genuine affection is not there so people can
keep malice of the other in mind for as long as possible.
Miscommunication: Since there is no genuine affection between the people,
the line of communication is also not thorough. This creates communication gap which in turn creates misunderstanding of each
other and later leading to suspicion.
Distrust or Suspicion: With
the issue of rivalry in the family, people begin to suspect the actions (or inaction) of the other person. When this becomes
someone’s attitude, they exhibit it beyond the family to the community.
Nepotism and Tribalism: Resulting from the self-centredness within
the rivals in the family, pockets of “unions” or “cliques” begin to develop and this grows into where
people now identify with one another with undue patronage to one another just because they are relations. The common Urhobo
adage, “Uwevwi a g’obọ vwiyọ” is purely an act of nepotism and not UNITY as people think. The
attributes of nepotic attitude on a larger scale is tribalism. It could also be the root of racism at international scale.
Separatism: This is the result of nepotism. As people get into grouping
based on who they are related to, others soon see it as a form of fraternity to relate closely with one’s relations
and less with those we are not related to. Such advocates always see line of demarcation between one person and another because
of their family background. These separatists easily see why some group of people should not belong to a union and soon create
a division among the people. There are many separatists among the Urhobo people.
9. “Unforgiveness” and Retaliation:
Most Urhobo people have the heart of keeping any hurt or wrong done to them by someone in the past and they will never let
go. They will keep the hurt with them looking for a day to retaliate or revenge. Usually, the revenge could be more hurtful
and devastating. And since the other person(s) equally has/have the heart to keep things, they will record this event in their
heart till such a time that they will revenge against the people who hurt them together with their children, etc. It is a
vicious cycle that has no end. Sometimes that was the beginning of wars between communities and nations.
Where it does not result into physical war, it could be a social or psychological war between the groups concerned.
That is why we often hear that in a town, one part is against the other part to the point that they must never cross each
other or else heads will roll. Or in one street one compound is ostracised that whenever they are doing something, people
from other parts of the street must not partake with them.
Conservatism and Intolerance: Following on from the problem
of unforgiveness and retaliation is intolerance. This is rooted in the tendency for an average Urhobo person to be very conservative.
People’s beliefs from generation to generation remain as what dictate their behaviour towards another person. This is
related to the phrase: “naware rhe”. So what our forefathers did in the time past must remain to be done exactly
so today without change. Any person causing a deviation or introducing a change (for better) is not tolerated and must be
stopped or ostracised.
11. Pride and Arrogance: An average Urhobo person is naturally proud. There is positive pride
which is being proud to be what and who you are. So it is good to be proud to be an Urhobo. But negative pride which people
detest is arrogance. This is where a person considers him/herself to be above and better than every other person and looks
down on the others. This attitude is very unsociable and it produces disunity.
12. Ignorance and Inferiority Complex: This is a very subtle canker in the life of most people.
They are ignorant and have inferiority complex or lack of self-confidence but they pretend to know everything. Worse still
is the fact that when someone tells them about their problem, they bask in their pride/arrogance to say that they don’t
have any problem. This category of people is those who don’t know that
they don’t know but they think that they know. There are many Urhobos in this category and they are very difficult to
Gossiping and Backstabbing: Some Urhobo people are cowards. They will not say anything in the presence of someone they
are in disagreement with. But they will go behind the person to say all sorts of things about the person. On the other hand,
they will say “good” things to the person and behind the person they will say nasty things about him/her. That
is backstabbing and it is very dangerous.
This is the bane of our present day society. People preach “Unity” but they are actually practising “Disunity”.
So what shall we do?
The Road to Unity:
All the points highlighted above are not peculiar to the Urhobo people. A closer look at the other communities
in the country will reveal some of these problems. But why then is it a big problem among the Urhobo community? Is it possible
to surmount all these problems and achieve a lasting solution? The answer is a resounding YES.
What is required is CHANGE.
A change of our attitudes and behaviours is what is required. A re-direction of our values and practices. For example,
the issue of polygamy is gradually reducing among the present generation of Urhobos and monogamy greatly embraced by many.
That is a change from what used to be in the past. But the influence of the products of jealousy, greed, nepotism, avarice
and intolerance that most people inherited from their polygamous extended families are still with the people. That will take
time and re-education to change.
of the People:
It is ironical to say that most Urhobos are educated: what some people call “book education” but yet
they lack the social or behavioural education required for gelling together as a people. This is why the people need re-education.
So it is not a matter of their literacy or “education” but a matter of making the people to be aware of themselves,
know who they are and why they do what they do. This understanding is what brings self-confidence, assertiveness, empathy
and love for one another. The product of that is tolerance and general acceptance of one another.
What we Need to Do:
For this re-education to happen and produce any positive result, we need to do the following things:
(a) We need to conduct a comprehensive Attitude Survey among
all the Urhobos according to communities or State or whatever form of categorisation to identify our individual personalities
and characteristics. There are useful tools used by Psychologists to conduct such survey. People need to see in empirical
terms their own personalities and characteristics for them to embrace any form of change recommended for them to undertake
(b) More and more seminars/workshops/conferences should be organised
at local, state and national level to address the outcome of the Attitude Survey. This will be where people will learn to
change their ways of behaviour having identified their individual characteristics. As a pre-cursor to this, Urhobo
Bridge is organising “URHOBO AWARENESS DAY” in London
on the 31 August 2009.
The theme of the event is:
As A People:
Challenges, Prospects and Solutions:
Dialogue with the Audience”
(c) Once in a year, there should be a Unity Summit like
the one presently holding to discuss issues that will further enhance unity among Urhobos.
(d) The outcome of each summit should be published in a communiqué
for the use of the Urhobo people worldwide and same communicated to Urhobo communities worldwide just like any nation publishes
a White Paper after an enquiry or findings.
again, thank you very much for listening/reading and for your time.
wish you all happy deliberations.
bless you all.
Live Nigeria !
Live Urhobo !!
Live UPU !!!