Urhobo Bridge UK
“Funnel of Ideas for a Better Urhobo”
House, Peckham Park Road, London. SE15 6TN. UK
Tel/Fax: 020 7635 0202.
Mob: 0784 667 9399
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . Web:
Urhobo Bridge Forum – http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/urhopatnet
Urhobo Bridge Superstore: http://www.ei42.com/urhobobridge
WELCOME SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF
URHOBO BRIDGE, SHADRACK
During the URHOBO AWARENESS DAY 2009
At Queens Hotel, Crystal Palace, London.
WELCOME TO URHOBO AWARENESS DAY:
My Dear Honourable Dignitaries and
Participants, you are all welcome.
Your Excellency Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism Delta State of Nigeria, Barrister Richard
Mofe Damijo; President of Urhobo Historical Society, Professor Peter Ekeh; Your Excellency former Governor of Benue State
and Kano State Nigeria, Olorogun General Dominic Oneya (Rtd); Chairman of this occasion, Dr. Ovuefe Efeotor; Chairman of the
Organising Committee, Dr Igho Ighorodje; the MC, Mr Benson Eduvie; All our Guest Speakers; Your Excellencies, Oloroguns, Chiefs,
Presidents and Representatives of various Unions, Clubs and Associations; Professors, Doctors, All Professionals; All invited
Special Guests; All Youth Clubs and Associations; All Guests, Friends and Well wishers, Ladies and Gentlemen…
I am very pleased and delighted to welcome you all to this August occasion.
INTRODUCTION OF URHOBO BRIDGE:
Urhobo Bridge was
formed in 2007 by a group of Urhobos living here in London UK. This was in response to our perception of the problems hindering the advancement of
the Urhobos. Our motto is ‘a funnel of ideas for a better Urhobo.’
As our name is, we aim to “Bridge” or link Urhobo persons and groups with
each other to bring about proper unity among the Urhobos. We aim to “Bridge” or link the past with the present
and future generations of Urhobos by way of visiting history to learn from what happened in the past. Working in collaboration
and co-operation with the elders, “Ekpako” the women folk “Ẹghweya”, the elites “Ighene” and extrapolation of activities to the
younger generations “Ituemo”. We aim to be able to work with families and young people on various issues including
entrepreneurship and mentoring for the overall development of Urhobo people in the UK and
the Diaspora. Our approach to achieving togetherness is holistic.
Our “Bridging” ideology is NOT that of a merger whereby each component loses
its identity, but that of partnership or collaboration with one another; linking one to the other for good communication and
interaction. Gap in communication leads to misunderstanding and schisms.
WHAT TODAY IS NOT FOR:
Today is NOT our launching day. That day is coming in the near future; (probably next
year). Therefore, I shall not devote too much time on talking about Urhobo Bridge today. Also, this event is not “purely” a party in the sense of it as we shall see from the activities
lined up for the evening. Equally, it is not “purely” an academic event but it is an educative event that will
inspire and challenge every one of us here tonight and provide us with food for thought. Therefore, I wish to appeal to you
not to focus your attention on the entertainments we are able to present/provide but please focus your attention on the quality
of interactive deliberations and discussions that we shall have tonight.
WHY URHOBO AWARENESS DAY ?
As I mentioned earlier, we in Urhobo Bridge perceived that there are certain fundamental issues that hinder our progress and development
despite all our struggles and aspirations for success. We perceived that the actualisation of these aspirations will only
happen if we go down to the root cause of our problems and solve the problems from there up.
1. We perceived that Urhobo which is the fifth largest tribe in Nigeria
is not known. Whenever we introduce ourselves to a non-Nigerian that we are Urhobo from Nigeria, the first question they ask is, are you Yoruba?
And when you continue to emphasise that you are Urhobo, they still go on to ask, are you Ibo ? It may be frustrating and embarrassing
to continue to explain that you are an Urhobo. So there is need to let the public know about and be aware of Urhobo as a People.
2. In addition to this, we perceived that the present generation of Urhobos, especially our children born here in the UK (or elsewhere outside Urhoboland) cannot speak the Urhobo language. We see this as a challenge.
3. We need to work with our non-Urhobo neighbours
to maintain good relationship at all times.
4. Urhobos as a people are very versatile, resourceful,
enterprising, hardworking and loving. Yet one major problem hinders our emancipation
and progress. This problem is very huge a problem indeed. This is the problem of disunity among us.
Every 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. 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.
This topic of “Disunity” is what we wrote about as our presentation/contribution to the just concluded
Urhobo Unity Summit in PTI Warri, Delta State, Nigeria. We have copies of that presentation available for those who want to have it.
5. Fraternity or Nationality? We Urhobos as a people should agree to the form of co-existence that is best for us. With fraternity, we
see every Urhobo person as a brother or sister to the other. That in essence confirms the saying, “Urhobo Ọvuọvo” or “Emọ ejobi emọ r’Igbinae”.
But we must make efforts to ensure it works in practical sense whereby discrimination against one person and the other who
is not from our town must be eradicated. On the other hand, we can adopt nationality co-existence. With that, we need to see
Urhobo as a nation and our symbol of loyalty and allegiance.
These 5 points and others were the factors that prompted us to think of having an Urhobo Awareness Day whereby
we can sit together to discuss these issues and come up with practical solutions for further action.
It is my hope that we shall have successful
deliberations this evening and come up with a communiqué or a working paper that we can use for further actions. And with
the cream and calibre of people gathered together here tonight, I believe that our expectations will be satisfactorily met
and we shall go home with practical solutions to some of these problems.
CHANGE: The Road to Unity and Progress:
A change of our attitudes and behaviours is what is required. A re-direction of our values and practices from
what they are now to something different. 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 them. 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:
We need to conduct a comprehensive Attitude Survey
among all the Urhobos according to communities 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.
More and more seminars/workshops/conferences like this “URHOBO AWARENESS DAY” should be organised
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.
The outcome of each seminar/workshop/conference
should be published in a communiqué for the use of the Urhobo community.
Concerted efforts should be made to ensure that
Urhobo language is taught/spoken to our children (or younger generation) to avoid the extinction of the Urhobo language.
I do not wish to pre-empt the outcome of discussions we shall have here tonight. Therefore, I wish to stop
here and hand over to the Chairman of this occasion.
Once again, thank you very much for listening/reading, for your time and support.
God bless you all.
Long Live Nigeria ! Long Live UK !!
Long Live Urhobo !!!
Long Live UPU !!!! Long Live Urhobo Bridge !!!!!