Monday, 13 September 2021

"MY RELATION DIED"

 


The caption might have provoked several thoughts in you. Perhaps wondering who died, where the death occur and the cause of death, etc. Don’t panic! The issue under discussion here is not about who died but how we, the people of Eleme take care of our relations while living and how we cater for them when they died; i.e. how we provide for their lifeless body; corpse or dead body.

The phrase, “My Relation Died” is common in Eleme today not because of the negative impact of pollution necessitated by the activities of oil and gas exploration and exploitation companies but by the way and manner we provide for ourselves. Do we value the person or his corpse? Do we do everything humanly possible to give our relations comfortable/acceptable standard of living, just as we do when he died, to give him a befitting burial?

The Eleme man is proud to announce the dead of his relation and to broadcast the type of burial arrangements put in place for him to show how wealthy he is but never bother under the condition in which the man lived and died. However, when the person was living nobody helped him; he was like someone without relations. He was jobless, helpless and hopeless throughout his lifetime but have relations occupying managerial positions in various organisations; he lived a poor man with a dilapidated building that must be renovated and painted to make it look nice and lay him in state in the house that he never enjoyed while living. A well-furnished bed was provided for his corpse, his corpse is dressed nicely and a female relation sits closely to dry away flies. Worst still, the parcel/piece of land(s) he refused to sell and use the proceeds to rehabilitate the dilapidated house or build a new one and live comfortably with perhaps family, hoping that things will change for better will be sold at giveaway price just to raise money for his burial. What honour for the corpse.

His relations, paternal and maternal, (egbá nsĩ bãrã egbá nnwɛ) that neither helped him nor care for him during his lifetime now surfaces from all nook and craning of Eleme to put things in order to give him a befitting burial. They will end up singing his praise. After all, don’t talk bad of the dead!

During the burial of this man who probably was killed by severe frustration, hunger and lack of care, his rich relations will gather to provide enough food and drinks for the whole community and celebrate his death for at least seven days unending. What a people we have turned out to be. How did we get here? Elemes hitherto were their brother’s keeper, showing genuine love and hospitality. Help is given even without asking. Elemeness was uppermost in the mind of the Eleme Man.

What is Elemeness? Elemeness is the Eleme man concern for the good and welfare of fellow Eleme man. It involves brotherly love. It is Eleme man doing everything humanly possible to put smiles on the face of fellow Eleme man. Yesterday, building of house was through communal efforts, food was an element of hospitality. Owe nja was common; that is, invitation to eat food was a practice across Eleme. The rich helps the poor get rich. Friend encourage friend to take yam title. Ndele is a standard that all women aspire to reach in their lifetime. It is a title of fame and honour. Ndele is a requirement for the conferment of the prestigious title of Emere Owa. The people of Eleme rejoice together and mourn together. They share their feelings, hopes, and fears together. They keep each other’s back.

All these uniting factors have been eroded by the flood of distrust, disunity, hatred, individualism and greed. These factors have alienated us from our roots, culture and tradition; and alter our value system for the worse.

The fear that helping your relation get gainfully employed will jeopardize you at your place of work does not hold water. Again, the fear that extending golden opportunity to your relation will provide him avenue to gossip you or reveal your personal or family secrets are all fallacy. A tree can never make a forest.

Let us learn from the Ibos who have a universally acclaimed special way of empowering youths; or the Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba who understand how to plant their people here and there; or the Ogonis who know how build communities wherever they find themselves. In fact, once an Ogoni man enters a place and finds it good, he builds a community by planting his people all around there. Why can’t Eleme man help Eleme man instead of waiting for the day to say, “My Relation Died”

Saturday, 7 August 2021

Importance of Childhood Life Celebration in Eleme Culture

 

Importance of Childhood Life Celebration in Eleme Culture

Introduction

Celebration is a special enjoyable event that people organize because something pleasant has happened or because it is someone's birthday or anniversary. The celebration of something is praise and appreciation which is given to it. In Eleme culture, all of a child’s milestones and major accomplishments are celebrated and this gives the child a sense of achievement, and offers a widow for rewarding the child for a job well done. The life of the Eleme child is eventful. The Eleme culture have a process to carefully recognise each of the events, identify it, appreciate it, celebrate it and award it from cradle to grave. The people of Eleme celebrates birth, naming, sitting, crawling, talking, teething, dedication, walking, hunting, socialisation, graduation, marriage, coronation, conferment, promotion, anniversary, death, among others.  

The people of Eleme also celebrate and shower gifts on their family member and friend who join association (ogbo) and unveil/launch their group (chusɛ ogbo), song and dance, clothe, masquerade, and so on. This is captured in the adage, “Ɔnɛ Osila aka nyɛ nje rēɛ je Èkpété. Someone without mother’s first daughter will not dance Èkpété. Èkpété is a special musical presentation and energetic dance that brings people together from far and near. The style is exciting waist and footwork danced bear footed. It attracts presentation of different types of gifts to the celebrants (who are members of the group) by family members and friends.   The reason for this proverb is that if you have no relations no matter how good your dance steps are no one will be at the town square, venue of the celebration, to present you gift.   

In fact, since the beginning of time, the people of Eleme have given high priority towards the commemoration of special events in the life of the child. Every major events and achievements in the life of the Eleme Child is celebrated and is culturally designed to appreciate and reward the child. Each event or achievement offers the Eleme Child an opportunity to be treated to showers of gifts for accomplishing something challenging in life and it enables the adult family and friends to share in the joy of that accomplishment.

Special events like childbirth, naming, teething, walking and so on do lead up to/with great gusto. The Eleme culture and tradition developed its own unique ways of honouring special occasions in the life of the child from the beginning of time. These are direct products of our cultural background, history, and even religious beliefs. Few among these celebrations are discussed below:

1.     Childbirth Celebration

In Eleme culture the birth of a child is greeted with jubilation. Childbirth is considered the most important event in family life. Experienced traditional midwives are responsible for delivering babies. They help to deliver the baby. After delivery, the birth of the baby is celebrated. Family members, friends, well-wishers, men, women, boys and girls from far and near join in the ceremony that followed the birth of a baby, and the child’s father was expected to give a feast for all members of the clan in recognition of the powers of womanhood. This celebration is known as Birth Celebration (Agba Emásã). It entails drinking, singing and dancing. Some family have also added music and foods to solidify the birth celebration. Powder is also shared and rubbed freely by all. The women usually grace the day with the following song and dancing:

Seɛ onwi nje, amɛ ɛka nɛɛ (chɛrɛ) poida onwi?

This, when interpreted into English Language means:

If the child is not there, who will give (rub) child’s powder? 

Rubbing of the child’s powder is the climax of the childbirth celebration. This is usually extended to outside the immediate compound to include neighbourhoods.

2.     Naming Ceremony

Eleme tradition vests the responsibility of naming a child on the father. Where the father is deceased, his next-of-kin takes over the responsibility. Eleme father don’t just get up one morning to name his child. He contemplates for months, trying on different names to see which one will suit the child’s purpose, bundle and dreams. This is because the Eleme father knows that in traditional Eleme culture names have real meaning and power. Eleme names are not mere tags to distinguished one person from another or labels to define, classify, or compare persons or things but an expression of the nature of what the entity represents or stands for. They tell the family stories and exhibit the hopes and expectations of the parents concerning their children’s future. Every child in Eleme has at least a native and a Christian name.

 

Because it is generally believed that names are like spirits which would like to live out their meanings, parents do a thorough search before giving names to their children. Naming ceremonies are performed with the same meticulous care, generally by the father. Symbolic of the hopes, expectations and prayers of the parents for the new baby, drink (mmi), food (nja), water (mmu), palm oil (nnɔɔ Eleme), salt (nlό) each have a place and special meaning in the world-view of the people of Eleme. For instance, drink (mmi) represents celebration, and the prayer of the parents is that their baby’s life will be celebrated in the world and beyond. Drinks are usually served, singing and dancing rends the atmosphere as people from far and near are invited to participate in the naming ceremony. Some families are known to have brought life band to entertain guests; others use deejays (DJs) while others hire the services of local singers to grace the occasion. 

3.     Teething Ceremony

It is a time honoured tradition in Eleme culture to throw a party for your little ones as soon as they cut their first tooth. When the baby shows his first teeth, his parents, relations and well-wishers will gather around the baby as he sits in front well dressed to celebrate the milestone. Each person will struggle to see the baby’s teeth, enticing the child with gifts of all sorts so that he will smile for his teeth to be seen and admired. Hence, it is generally known in Eleme that “You cannot see the teeth of a child with an empty hand”. Baby will be encouraged to walk in front of someone who wants to see his teeth while holding baby’s hands. As the baby is cheered to laugh and expose his teeth there will be loud ovation and offer of lots of encouragement and praise.  

4.     Walking Ceremony

Walking is a major developmental leap for babies, and parents are often anxious about when it will happen. Every baby learns to walk at his own pace.  When the parents watch and see that the child has make few steps unaided, it is assumed that the child has walked and fit to be celebrated.  The parents will procure three or more heads of coconut, depending on the number of children invited, two big rackets of Awala and four or more sticks of dried Obĩi (Mudskipper). The coconut will be shelled and cut into small pieces. The Awala and Obĩi are cut into small pieces and mixed with the pieces of coconut. These will all be put into a basket. By this time the whole children in the neighbourhoods, as many as is possible, are assembled with the celebrant.

The elder of that compound who has been briefed beforehand will carry the basket with both hands and addressing the toddler who is standing in front of him, recites the following:

Èbé era nninini  chãa  ochɛyo tãmarũ.Ka chãrĩ wɛ oju obãrãrũ okuũ

Chã sigwã ɔka, chã sigwã echii. Ebo akɔrɔrũ ɔmɛ.

 

This, when interpreted into English Language means:

 

“As from today you should walk steadfastly. Do not walk and relapse to creeping again.

Walk to the farm; walk to the market. Enjoy a long life.”

 

After this recitation, the elder will then turn towards all the children who are now standing expectedly and tell then to widen the circle and prepare to pick the contents of the basket. He will raise the basket up and down a number of times saying:

Ɔnɛ Ebu, abu chue!

(“Who struggles to pick, pick and take!”)

And the children will respond, “Aaye!” (Yesoo!)

 

After ensuring that the children attention has been obtained the elder finally throws out all the content high up so that when they fall, each child will struggle to pick as much of the contents as he can. The agile ones gather so much of the fish and coconut while the weaker ones pick whatever may be left on the floor. This ceremony is known as Obuenu O'o Onwi.

5.     First Market Ceremony

The first day that a child walks unaided to the village market unaided is celebrated. This ceremony is figuratively called, Oke Enu O'o Onwi. The Eleme culture acknowledges the significant of this milestone achievement of the child and celebrates it. 

When the child walks to the market unaided his mother makes him to sit at a comfortable in the market while she buys something for the child to eat. She buys a big fish like dried barracuda, catfish, snapper, or Tasty-Shynose and other ingredients which she hides.

At home, the fish will be brought out and showed to the child as his Prize for walking unaided to the market and back. The fish will be used to cook Loloo Mbalo and the entire head of the fish will be given to the child. Family and friends are given pieces of the fish and the Loloo Mbalo as they eat and drink to the child’s achievement.          

6.     Hunting Celebration

The Eleme child is taught the use of bow and arrow and latter catapult and animal traps.  He begins by shooting lizards and fixed targets like oranges and pawpaw fruits. He is taught fishing by his friends. When the male child kills his first bird or animal, it is cooked and cut into small pieces which are distributed to family and friends, distance relations and people far and near. They are informed that this is the bird or animal, he has killed. His parents will give him one piece of nice cloth each; while other persons will give him gifts of clothes, money and so on. The day is usually marked with singing and drinking to celebrate the attainment of the milestone.

7.     Food Celebration (Ogbo Nja)

The people of Eleme don’t just eat food for eating sake. Food must be of the right quality and quantity; it must result in a stable and adequate nutrition for proper growth and development. The Eleme culture has developed a system known as Ogbo Nja to build oneness among the Eleme people and promote proper feeding and ensure communality. Ogbo Nja is food carnival.  Most Eleme festivals revolved around foods because they are fulfilled farmers and they use food to build bridges of relationship, cement brotherliness, encourage socialisation, enhance cooperation and enhance communality among others.  Other prominent food celebrations in Eleme include but not limited to Agba Esaa Otɛbɛ Enu and,Okor Esaa..

When a child grows to the age of seven (7) years and beyond, he is encouraged to participate in the Ogbo Nja ceremony in which small groups of children from within and outside ones immediate community are brought together as friends that have to cooperate with one another as they grow up.

Ogbo Nja is one of the most popular festivals celebrated across Eleme. Although people of all ages, sex, social status, or religious inclination do participate; the festival is met for children and new brides. It is celebrated annually on Ͻkͻͻ between 13 and 17 July, depending on the position of the Moon. The feast is celebrated in two phases. Phase one is called Ͻkͻͻ Obibai Etoo and is celebrated by female.

 

The second phase which is marked by male the next day is known as Mma Agba Okundo.

In Eleme, yams, cocoyam and other foods items are reserved after planting for the Ogbo Nja festival. It is believed that only very good farmers can reserve the quantity and quality of yams, cocoyam, etc. that is required for Ogbo Nja at the time of the year. The fish used for preparing Ogbo Nja meal are those valued by people of Eleme for major entertainments and they include: Obui (Catfish), Nda (Tasty-Shynose), Njijoi (Snapper), Omεε (Barracuda), Ekoko (Stingray), among others.

 

Ogbo Nja is specifically dedicated to children and new brides. It is celebrated with friends in pair. Children arrange for their friends to visit them to participate in the annual celebration. New brides also seek for their partners to take active part in the occasion.

 

The occasion provides an avenue for clearing the house of old yams and cocoyam in anticipation of new ones. It also affords parents and in-laws opportunity to present gifts to children and new brides in appreciation of their assistance during planting and weeding. To be counted as good children and be presented with varieties of gifts and words of blessings, children exercise maximum obedience and discipline in anticipation Ogbo Nja festival.

 

In the morning of day one occasion, children usually wake as early as 4.30am to clear the compounds and town square in readiness for the celebration. The children will also fetch water into all available pots and containers. The atmosphere is usually charged as evidence of Ogbo Nja festive period.

 

Parents will assemble their children and present them with gifts of clothes and wrapper. Gifts will also be sent to children of extended relations and friends to commemorate the year’s Ogbo Nja.

 

The recipients of these new clothes would wear them and go visiting friends and relations to display their gifts across Eleme. As the children move from compound to compound and from community to community filled with happiness, they receive words of encouragement and praise for being obedient and hardworking; and promising them of greater gifts next year. The new brides are also presented with new dresses and wrappers by their husbands, father-in-law and mother-in-law, etc.

 

That evening the women will gather at the town square dressed in their best and newest attires to make a feast, singing and dancing to Egbe Mba music till night falls. By 6p.m. or thereabout, the women will return to their various houses to dish out food to their visiting guests and family members. The food for this day is cocoyam.

 

The celebration is designed in such a way that children move from compound to compound and from community to community, eating and rejoicing. At the end of the day, they will return home with wrapped fish as proof of participation in Ogbo Nja feast of that day. The new brides will also do the same.

 

The day two celebration starts with the same preparation. It is the men’s turn to present gifts to children and others who were loyal, obedient and hardworking during the year according to his assessments. The food for the second day celebration is yam, which will be cooked and eaten pounded and/or sliced. The women will continue their music, singing and dancing at the town square. Later in the evening, the men will gather at the town square to eat together in groups, thereby bringing the Ogbo Nja festival of that year to an end

 

These and many other childhood ceremonies which are celebrated on an individual or community basis reinforce and promote sense of community, love, joy, reverence, success, unity and brotherhood. It gives the child a sense of achievement and it is a great way of rewarding the child for a job well done. Besides, it is important that you celebrate your child’s milestones and accomplishments. Significantly too, because most of these celebrations involve almost all the children, their parents and other adult family members and friends in the community they are not just celebrated for the fun of celebrating but to:

1.     Cultivate/inculcate a Sense of Community

They offer opportune times to bond with our families and friends and well-wishers and a chance to connect with those we love and care about on a deeper and more profound level.

2.     Promote a sense of achievement and encourage exploit

These celebrations spur our children to greater achievements and propel them to make positive exploits; to accomplish those milestones worthy of celebration and praise. Then criminality and all forms of anti-social behaviours were frowned at and industry was cherished.

3.     Instil a sense of meaning and significance to our lives as a people

The unique practices that highlight important milestones such as childbirth, naming, walking etc. all serve an important purpose. Participating in the customary rites (rubbing of powder, singing, dancing, drinking or children struggling among themselves to get pieces of coconut and fish during Oken Enu O'o Onwi) connects us to the significance of the role that such occasion plays within the grand scheme of our lives. It instils a sense of appreciation for the gift of life.

4.     Create lasting fond memories 

The human mind tends to recall memories that carry a high emotional charge to them. When we commemorate a special occasion in the life of our baby, we are essentially placing a mental bookmark on the child’s experience, thereby making it easier to remember it in the future. The photos, videos and other forms of memorabilia from those occasions serve as triggers that children can use to re-live those pleasant experiences and achievements in the future.

5.     Add fun and excitement to our lives

These Celebrations can be incredibly fun and provides children and their parents with the perfect opportunity to engage in the joys of life such dance, song, food, play and laughter.

6.     Enables children take their place in the circle of life.

They are not only ushered into the world but celebrated at every point of achievement. Besides, when we take the time to celebrate these events that were cherish and celebrated by our ancestors in the yesteryears we are essentially connecting with our humanity and the commonality that we share with all those who have been long gone before us.

The modern Eleme family’s carefree life of excluding themselves from participating in gatherings that pay homage to the important milestones in their children’s life is robbing Eleme  younger generation sense of achievement, community, love, peace, cooperation and fun that comes with these celebrations.

Monday, 1 March 2021

NAME OF ANIMALS IN ELEME LANGUAGE

 NAME OF ANIMALS IN ELEME LANGUAGE

High Chief Osaro Ollorwi

This booklet contains two hundred and ten (210) names of animals, birds, foods, soups, fishes, fruits and other basic things in Eleme Language to aid both beginners and learners in reading and writing the language especially now that the language is at the verge of extinction.    


ENGLISH ELEME

Goat Mbo (He-Goat – Kpĩ Mbo, 

She-Goat  Okumba Mbo) 

Ram/Sheep Nnarãmbo

Duck Ɔkɔfɛɛji

Animal/Meat Nna (Generic)

Antelope Mgbãm 

Boar (Wild) Nji

Cow Alao

Bull Eduduu Alao

Horse Anyinya/Enyinya 

Donkey Anyinya Ètὸ/Enyinya Ètὸ

Rat Afii

Squirrel Ojai

Monkey Ofini

Elephant Nni

Leopard/Tiger Mpɛɛ

Moon Drake Nchoro

Impala Ɔgbɛgbɛ

Waterbuck/ Oloo


Deer Ɔtɔbɔ

Wolf Ɔkàsí 

Lion Nna'oro

Rabbit Awe

Porcupine Abina

Grass cutter Obibi

Fox Ajija

Dog Mgbao

Pig Oporopo

Bat Ekpɔ

Cat Ekooɛmɛrɛ

Tortoise Ekara'o

Turtle Ojubia

Viper/Adder Abũ

Cobra/Asp Nnarã Nkolo

Bird Enɔ (Generic) 

Fowl Ɔkɔ (Male – Duduu Ɔkɔ, 

Female - U'uu Ɔkɔ)

Chick   Onwi-nyɔɔ

Bush Fowl Mkpãrã

Sparrow Ogela Akára

Woodpecker Ekikoroeboete

Band Plover Ngelema

Vulture Ɔdɛlɛ

Eagle Ago

Pigeon Èkeekuu

Dove Njuru

Ravel Ekwɔɔɔ

Owl Egbugbuu

Parrot Okolofio

Hawk Nkwikwa

Black Kite Mkpɔɔ

Swallow Mgbamgbakara

Cricket Apĩná  

Insect Ekĩkã 

Ant Nyɔrɔ 

Housefly Nchi

Black Ant O'ĩ

Beetle Ekpã

Termite Ɛjɔbɔ

Locust Egurube

Maggot Ɛlɛ

Bee Nja'o

Bed Bug Mbibia

Lice Èchu

Cricket Apĩna

Butterfly Kpakpagogoo

Scorpion Ɔbɔrɔtɔ

Chameleon Ɔnɔni

Worm Ochumbere

Cockroach Epɔ

Fish Njira 

Kingfish Nkelu

Periwinkle Ochuchuu

Crayfish Esɔrɔ

Tilapia Ԑkpao

Trout Èboekpiná

Whelk Agongoro

Manatee Emei

Barracuda Ɔmɛɛ

Carp Ǹjiraejin

Catfish Obui

Mudskipper Ɔ̀bii

Crab Ɔkɔrɔ

Drum (Crooker) Nworo

Oyster Mba

Sardine Obachi

Shark Ekokoabura

Shynose Nda

Snapper Njijoi

Skate Ekoko

Mosquito Nfife

Centipede Gbãgbãrãrã

Millipede Ɔchuchũa

Spider Njijina

Wall Gecko Ɛnwɛtoo

Crocodile Nchaari/Ncharoo

Frog Ɔkálá

 Toad Ɔbɔɔwa

Boa/Python Ɔjɔ

Lizard Abura

Snake Nnarã

Snail Akpɛ

Electric Fish Egwii

Food Nja 

Cassava Ojaku (Ojakpo)

Yam Esaa

Tree Leaves Yam Ochu

Cocoyam Etoo

Beans Nchichámá

Potato Mgbɛɛ

Plantain Ɔbinɔɔ Eleme

Banana Ɔbinɔɔfa

Ɔbinɔɔ Ɛnɛnɛ (used to 

sweetening things)

Corn/Barley Akukuri

Pawpaw Ɔyáa(Ɔyayáa)

Soup Mbalo (Generic)

Grinded Pumpkin Soup Mbalo Okwoi Nsogu

Sliced Pumpkin Soup Mbalo Osĩì Nsogu

Pepper Soup Lolombalo

Cowpea Soup Mbalo Adɛmkpɔɔ (Popularly 

known as Native Soup)

Bitter leaf Soup Mbalo Oligbo

White Soup I'oro Mbalo

Oha(?) Soup Mbalo Ogon ('Ɔgćn)

Scent Leave Nlorobonɛ 

Pot Etepɔti/Àbã

Charcoal Ebibi

Egg Oki

Oil Nnɔɔ

Palm oil Nnɔɔ Eleme 

Honey Nnɔɔ Nja'o

Mushroom Elu 

Monkey Sugarcane Òkporόjiji 

Onions Ayo

Pepper Okofee

Salt Nlo

Pear Mbɛɛ

Guava Ńgofà 

Avocado Mbɛɛɔfɛɛji

Pineapple Ajo-ɔfaa

Groundnut Asukere

Kola Nut Egbi

Sugar Nlofa

Biscuit Nkĩkã

Bread Ɛbɛrɛɛdi

Bread Fruit Njaɔfa

Wine (Drink) Mmi 

Hot Mmi Ɔkɔri/Mmi Ɔfa

Palm wine Mmi Eleme

Tree Ètè 

Leaf Nsãkɔ/Nsãètè/Nsãe'o bãrã 

nnarã nnarã.

Bush/Grass E'o

Darkness Mmuji

Dust Oburuu

Ocean Ɛhɛrɛ

Cave Ejùjù

Rock/Stone Nnyadɛ/Okpoongo

Kiss Fifɛnɛ

X-ray Okpol-Ɛka

Stool Èkpèté

Rake Ekũrũ

Broom Nsisari

Ship Ɔwaaroo

Book Nsã  

Light/Fire Nsã

Aladdin Lamp Nsãetili 

Lamp Nsãɔfa

Umbrella Nsãètoo

Indian Bamboo Achàrà

Ɔkãni Firewood

Cap Èbétè

Sugarcane Mmimao

Mango Ofi

Coconut Ifa

Orange Oloojã

Apple Ndalo 

Bottle Olilo 

Water Mmu

Water pot Ɛkãrã Mmu

Pond Mmu Ɛbãrã

Palm Fruit Ajo

Ɔfaa Mpo Aeroplane

Xylophon Obaaogolo 

Bicycle/Iron/Rod Ekwerere

Rope Ojiji

Spade Ɛchwa

Nail Echuru (Eturu)

Jar Achũma

Needle Agiga

Cloud Okũa Mmuji

Moon Ɔ'ɛ

Sun Mgbe

Star Èsuri Njira

Sea Mmu Nlo

River Mmu Ɔdɔɔ

Lake Èkèrè Ɔkɛ

Brook Egbaigbai Ajii Mmu

Stream Mmu Ɔcha-ɔcha

Matchet Ɔgɛ

Sword Ajaata

Kitchen Knife Ngũgũá

Mortal Mbuu  

Pestle Èchũ

Thorn Èsũ

Camwood Odo

Seal Ɔdɛɛrũ

Crime Èbũ

Basket Okũ

Fan Ɛpɛɛlɛ 

Telephone Tɛlɛfuu

Teacher Ɔnɛ Otoɛ

Tailor Ɔnɛ Okɛ Enu

Doctor Ɔnɛ Okpaa Mbiɛ/Dɔkita

Judge Ɔnɛ Ofu Ɛbiɛ

Eleme Language must never die. Help the young ones to save Eleme Language from extinction. Teach your children, wards and neighbours to speak, read and write Eleme Language.  


High Chief Osaro Ollorwi

Website: www.ollorwi.com.ng

E-mail: ollorwiosaro@gmail.com

Tel.: +234 8036694027

Thursday, 4 February 2021

ANIMAL AFFINITY (NKŪ) IN ELEME

 ANIMAL AFFINITY (NKŨ) IN ELEME

High Chief Ollorwi Osaro

Animal affinity (ware-beast) known in Eleme as Nkũ is the practice of establishing like-mindedness with a particular chosen animal through magical arts. The animals that were popularly attractive to the people for whom affinity is established include Mkpɛɛ (Leopard/Tiger), Lion (Nna'oro), Boar (Nji), Ɔjɔ (Python) rarely, etc. 

The Nkũ Cult was typical of the Leopard (Ekpe) Society which originated among the Efik and spread throughout West Africa to as far as Brazil and so on. The different being that in Eleme Nkũ Cult was not limited to the Leopard as individual adopts wild and carnivorous animal of his own choice. Those who seek and enter into affinity with these wild beasts always act and behave like their ware-beasts.  

Purpose of Ware-Beasts

The Nkũ cult in Eleme was used for the following purposes:

To protect oneself

To threaten an opponent to submission

To Destroy perceived or real enemies’ farms

To waylay and kill victims (especially travellers) at random. 

Area of Nkũ Activities and Pattern of Operations

The Nkũ Cult was active in almost all the communities of Eleme but residual at Onne its stronghold. Those who belong to the Mkpɛɛ (Leopard) group prefer to dress in leopard skins during operations to waylay travelers with shark-claw like weapons in the form of leopards’ claws and teeth. Their victims flesh would be cut from their bodies and distributed to members of the society. They believed that the ritual cannibalism would strengthen members of the society. 

These were the exclusive groups of people who were believed to possession by the spirits of carnivorous animals such as leopard/tiger, lion and boar, who carried out ritual killings while in a state of possession.

Unlike the Ekpe society of the Efik that was all men affairs the Mkpɛɛ society in Eleme has both male and female members. Women in Onne and across Eleme joined the ware-beasts cult to protect themselves and love ones, impact terror and fear in their enemies and destroy their crops. In other words, outside protection of oneself the Nkũ cult evolved a dangerous pattern such as targeting animals of enemies in broad daylight and their crops. 

As the members of the Nkũ cult continue to abuse their powers by attacking innocent people unnecessarily, killing maiming and destroying properties and farms, the Paramount Ruler of Onne Chief Osarowate Olungwe Obibia (1873 – 1958) ordered that the practice be stopped by commissioning a very powerful deity known as Nsãe'o, whose priestess (Osilaechu Ngooma) was also a member of the Nna'oro (Lion) Society to deflate their powers. Not minding whether her priestess’s interest and that of the group she belong will be affected or not the deity has the final say. Killing and destruction of properties must stop and peace and tranquility must return to Onne in particular and Eleme in general. 

Role of Osilaechu Ngooma in Abolishing Nkũ Cults in Eleme

Who was Osilaechu? Osilaechu Ngooma was the priestess of Nsãe'o deity. She was born in Ogoloma Onne to Chu Ngooma, a famous medicine man from the deformed Ajoor community of Eleme. When Ajoor was sacked by Akaraolu Siaro of Alode, Chu Ngooma escaped to Ogoloma Onne where he continued practicing the mystical art for which he is well known. He specialized in the cure of diseases like leprosy, epilepsy, madness, elephantiasis and so on.  During war was known to have send thousands of bees on attack and was always victorious. He is known for the use of common materials like water (mmu), leaves (Nsãe'o), alligator pepper (okikɛɛ̃), etc. to effect great cures and performance of unimaginable things. 

Birth and Marriage of Osilaechu

It was during his exile in Onne that Osilaechu was born and she got married to Chu Kolor also of Ogoloma, Onne. When her father died, she inherited her father’s arts and surpassed him.  However, she divorced Chu Kolor and got married to Olaka Ollorma of Ejamah Ebubu as his third wives. But despite the fact that Olaka was wealthy, she brought him all the way to her father’s house at Onne and there they lived together, abandoning his wives and children at Ejamah. 

Osilaechu marriage with Olaka Ollorma lasted for a while and Olaka realized that he was under a great spell and returned to join his family at Ejamah after a fruitless encounter with great mystic woman. Not quite long she remarried for the third time to Richard Ollor of Ogoloma, Onne and they moved their residence to the foreshore at Elee. 

Osilaechu and Nkũ Cult

Osilaechu had for her ware-beast (Nkũ) the lion and it could be seen frequently around her house. She sends this beast on errand at will and can transform into the animal within the blink of the eyes. 

Osilaechu did many astonishing things and she believed that merely punishing somebody through mystical powers was not an offence. What she was opposed to was killing a human being. In 1959 she inflicted her husband with hernia for denying her conjugal rights. It took the intervention of her husband’s relations and elders for her to withdraw the spell after performing the necessary sacrifice and within two days the mountain of hernia disappeared. 


Osilaechu and Nsãe'o Shrin

So many people were deceived by the simplicity of her Nsãe'o shrine – a small pot that was always filled with water, one sugarcane, oyster, crab and periwinkle shells. With water from that pot she brought about instant cures, banished evil spirits, ends court cases and other disputes, won competitions in favour of persons who sought her help. With that same water she caused invisibility for as long as desirable for a particular engagement. She also provided security cover to those who sought her services. For many years she protected Chief Osarowate by ordering a lion to guard him wherever he went until his dead in 1958.      


Unwholesome Practice of Nkũ Cult

During this time Onne people were maintaining several ware-beasts (Nkũ) that is, Leopards/Tigers, Lions, Boars, etc. A leopard can suddenly emerge even at daytime and carry away a goat belonging to any person they wanted to punish. This power was largely abused and many innocent people were being harassed, the peace of the communities threatened and living was becoming more violent and intolerable.   

Abolition of Nkũ Cults in Eleme

This unwholesome practice forced Chief Osarowate to appeal to Osilaechu to come to the aid of Onne in particular and Eleme in general by abolishing the menace of leopard cult and other ware-beasts cults that have been terrorizing the people and scare the ware-beasts away from all the communities. The necessary materials were procured and sacrifice was made to Nsãe'o deity with an instruction that all ware-beasts be chased away from the communities. It took the Nsãe'o Deity only five local weekdays to accomplished the task. 

That was the end of the Nkũ Cults in Onne and Eleme till today.  Since then people can no more send wild beasts to destroy crops (or animals) in their enemies’ farms, waylay, attack and terrify travellers or kill people just for the fun of it. But, the nickname Mkpɛɛ, Nnaoro' etc. are still common place.

High Chief Ollorwi Osaro

www.ollorwi.com.ng

ollorwiosaro@gmail.com

+2348036694027

NAMING IN ELEME CULTURE

 NAMING IN ELEME CULTURE

High Chief Ollorwi Osaro

Introduction

Name refers to a word or set of words by which a person or thing is known, addressed, or referred to. It distinguishes one person from another. The Eleme culture attached great importance to the words used to describe children. It places great premium on the name, who gives the baby name, the circumstances in which the baby derived the name and the witnesses at the naming ceremony. Each of this stage and persons present is significant to the legitimacy of the child especially in those days when babies were named after oracle consultation or as soon as the baby is born and wiped clean with sand (hence the expression, “Onwi Nsisã Eleme”), if previous consultations has been made.


Eleme have a system of folk believe that explains how everything in the world came into existence. It explains what functions the heavenly and earthly bodies have and offers guidance on how to behave towards the Almighty God the smaller gods, spirits, and one’s ancestors. The people of Eleme believe the world is peopled by invisible and visible forces: by the living, the dead, and those yet to be born. Reincarnation is seen as a bridge between the living and the dead. This belief is reinforced and plays out in everything around the people ranging from marriage to conception, to child birth, child naming, to child upbringing and training; movement through adulthood to death. 


From time immemorial to about 1800 the source of a child’s name in Eleme was the oracle. As soon as the baby was born and wiped clean with sand, an old woman in that compound takes the baby to an oracle for determination of the name. Fathers didn’t just name their children as they wished. It was for the ancestors to decide. It is the priest that carries the baby, put his ear to the baby’s mouth, listens attentively then smiles as he announced the name that the child wants to answer. Such names usually relates to a living or dead member of the family, a close relation or friend. 


By the mid-18th century, Aro business families have invaded Eleme with the help of their god Chukwu Abiam and their military prowess. The Aros formed a strong trading network and greatly influenced Eleme. The presence of the Aros and later Nkwere gradually reduced and finally dismantled the practise of an old woman in the compound consulting an oracle with the new born baby on behalf of the child’s father for a probable name. 


However, the responsibility of consulting the oracle when a child was born shifted to the father until 1898 when the British came in to Eleme and entered into treaty with the people of Eleme. By 1900 the practice of consulting the oracle for a child’s name has been totally discarded due mainly to the advent of Christianity, Western civilization, and globalization. 

 

In the present day Eleme, the father exercises exclusive right of naming his child without reference to any oracle. However, the traditional pattern of naming children after parents, brothers, sisters, friends and deities is still prevalent. The Eleme father pays attention to the family before naming a child. He considers the family tradition and history when choosing a name. Some family have long standing tradition for naming their children. Such customs are often derived from their profession or religion or office. As explained below, a family of hunters could name their child “Yorgba” to show their respect to the divinity who gave them tools for hunting and protects them against wide animals. 

Child Naming

Eleme tradition vests the responsibility of naming a child on the father. Where the father is deceased, his next-of-kin takes over the responsibility. Eleme father don’t just get up one morning to name his child. He contemplates for months, trying on different names to see which one will suit the child’s purpose, bundle and dreams. This is because the Eleme father knows that in traditional Eleme culture names have real meaning and power. Eleme names are not mere tags to distinguished one person from another or labels to define, classify, or compare persons or things but an expression of the nature of what the entity represents or stands for. They tell the family stories and exhibit the hopes and expectations of the parents concerning their children’s future. Every child in Eleme has at least a native and a Christian name. 

Naming Ceremony

Because it is generally believed that names are like spirits which would like to live out their meanings, parents do a thorough search before giving names to their children. Naming ceremonies are performed with the same meticulous care, generally by the father. Symbolic of the hopes, expectations and prayers of the parents for the new baby, drink (mmi), food (nja), water (mmu), palm oil (nnɔɔ Eleme), salt (nlό) each have a place and special meaning in the world-view of the people of Eleme. For instance, drink (mmi) represents celebration, and the prayer of the parents is that their baby’s life will be celebrated in the world and beyond. 


After the ritual, the child is named and members of the extended family eat, drink, rejoice, and have the honour of also giving a name to the child. The gift of a name to the child comes with gifts of money and clothing. In many cases, the relative will subsequently call the child the name they give to him or her, so a new baby may therefore have more than a dozen names excluding pet names that may be given now and then by relations, friends, etc. 

Child Name Bearing (Okora Onwi)

The namesake system in Eleme doesn’t begin and end with a child being named after another person. The person for whom the child is named must accept certain responsibilities. It is a great honour in Eleme for a baby to be named after you. It shows that you have been adjudged mature and responsible. It signifies a rebirth and renewal of one’s existence. 

In other words, namesake refers to a person that has the same name as another. It means one who is named after another or for whom another is named. In Eleme Culture a name is not just a label on a person. It is a whole "self". It is like throwing off an old self and forging a new one. Hence, such joyous exclamation as, “Mma tere m̀ásã̀ ɔbãtɔ̃e!” (I am born again the second time) in response to the news of having a child being named after you.

A day is usually set aside for the person that a child is named after to formally visit the child’s parents and their relatives to receive his namesake in his hands and officially accept his namesake (Kora Onwi). 

Okora  Onwi is not done in secret. It is a ceremony that brings the two families, their relatives, friends and well-wishers together to wine and welcome the new namesake (gὸό).  The person that the child is being named after is customarily expected to present to his namesake clothes, toiletries, a big dried fish (ete ǹjira), four tubers of yam, a bottle of palm oil, a sachet of salt, pepper and other ingredients, wrappers for the mother, and assorted drinks among others. And the two families will drink and celebrate the Child’s Name Bearing signifying the completion of an emergence of a namesake. 

However, the responsibility of the person that the child is being named after extends beyond the name bearing ceremony and presentation of gifts to the mother and child. He supports the parents in the upbringing of his/her namesake; he ensures that the child is properly provided for; he visits the child (Gὸό or “Dèé) from time to time during infancy to see how he/she is doing; and invites to his house from time to time during adolescent (and even adulthood) to advice and counsel him, etc. It is a thing of shame and disappointment to see one’s namesake tattered, uncared for and misbehaving in society. Beside your direct namesake anyone who bears your name is seen as your namesake (Gὸό or “Dèé). This bond and commitment beyond one’s immediate family helps in the past to produce discipline children and well groomed characters in Eleme. The namesake (gὸό) system unites two families and further enlarges the Eleme extended family structure. 

Sources of Name

The following are some of the sources of names for children in Eleme:

Events or Occurrences 

Events that occurred prior to or during the period that the child was born is prime consideration when naming a child in Eleme. That is, festival and occurrences forms the basis of child’s name in Eleme. Examples of such names include: 

Obeta (Let War End). This name is giving to child born during a period of war.

Mmujieto (Tears). A child born during the death or burial of his father or a very important close relation of the father may be called Mmujieto.

Kate (Run). Means that the child was born during a state of emergency that necessitated the parents running from their home.

Obe (War). Means the child was born during war.

Agba (Festival). Means that the child was born in a period when the parents were involved in a major memorable festival or celebration.

Place of the Child’s Birth. 

The traditional Eleme culture pays great importance to the place a child is born and can constitutes a major ingredient for child naming. Examples include:

Oluka, Laleoka, Yeeka (Born in the Farm). Oluka means a male child born in the farm while Laleoka and Yeeka refer to a female child born in the farm.

Echii (Market). Means a child born in the market. 

Period of the Child’s Birth 

Obo Means that the child (male or female) was born during or after the father has performed the Obo Yam Title Ceremony. 

Katinya Means that the child (female) was born when her parents escaped from their home. Other examples include those recorded under events.  

Office/Function/Family Profession or Tradition

The office or function held by the father at the time of the child’s birth also determines the name. 

Emere (Chief). A traditional ruler may name his child Emere.

Nkporon (Spokesman). This name reflects the father’s love for his office as community spokesman. 

Mkpaa (Music). A father gives this name to his son to commemorate his skill as a drummer.  

Ogolo, Ekoro, Ogela, or Ekere (Local Xylophone, Talking Drum, Iron Gong, or Wooden Gong). A man skill in playing any of these instruments may name his son or daughter to confirm his love for the instrument he plays so well. 

Okpao (Cradle). A man whose function in the service of a deity is to carry its ritualistic cradle may likely name his child “Okpao.”

Eson (Song). A man who is a well-known singer and composer may name his son or daughter Eson as reflection of his love for his singing profession or hobby. 

Aken (Wrestle). A renowned wrestler may so name his son.   

Nkani (Expertise). A man who is proficiency in carpentry, carving or any form of woodworks may name his son or daughter Nkani to serve as a reminder of his special talents.

Awala (kind of fish also known as Esuri), Omimor (Palm-frond), Okpao (Cradle), Ejila (Cupbearer), etc. These are Eleme names that a father gives to his son or daughter to actually reflect his pride in his duty as well as gratitude to the deity he serve.     


A father may name his child to reflect his thinking, feelings or experiences at the material time. Parental hopes and expectations about the child’s future also influence the child’s name. Worthy of mention is the influence of the advent Christianity and education which brought about Christian and western names that are prevalent in Eleme today.  

Veneration to Deity 

Another source of names in Eleme is a father’s relationship to a deity which makes him believe that the child was given to him by that particular deity. Examples of such names include Ndorwa, Yorgba, Onura, Bajor, Okolaa, Kaliko, Tako, Nchoo, Owiri, Nnanii, and so on.  

Arochukwu and Nkwere Influence

The presence and influence of people from Arochukwu and Nkwere was noticed in about 1850 in Eleme. The Aros were known in Eleme as “Enwinwi Echuu”. They introduced slave trade and their oracle known as Long Juju into Eleme. Their influence perverted every aspects of Eleme life. According to Chief O. O. Ngofa (2006) “Practically every major undertaking in Eleme such as establishment of new compound, installation into traditional offices, divination, decisions on suspected criminals, land dispute and mystical protection were routinely referred to the Long Juju for determination”.


On the other hand, the Nkweres were merely “blacksmiths and they made matchets, knives, spears, guns and different metal designs used as weapons for wars and ornaments for juju shrines decorations and women beautification.”   

These Aro and Nkwere settlers also influenced children naming in Eleme. The origin of some names in Eleme can be traced to the Aro and Nkwere settlers who lived in several parts of Eleme; and for period virtually administered those areas. The arrival of the British to Eleme in 1898 wiped away the influence of these Aro and Nkwere settlers. But before then they left behind such names as Chu, Amadi, Nwafor, Nwakaji, Nwaji, Nwoke, Nnaji, Dibia, Dimkpa, Okpabi, Okori, Aforji, Oluji, Mgbafor, Nwosu, Oti, All these names are being used in various parts of Eleme today.

Preordained Name (Abee Re 'A Obari)

Apart from these specific names some children come with other predestined names. For example, the first son is generally called Osaro, Daa or Etenwi while the first daughter is similarly called Osila. The second son is Ollor while the second daughter is called Onua and so on. These names are natural and in accordance with birth positions. Twins in Eleme are generally called Ejima irrespective of sex or who comes first.

Day of Birth

A child born on Ɔbɔ (Obon – Eleme Weekday), the traditional resting day of the people of Eleme is named Ɔbɔ (Obon). Also a child believed to be reincarnating repeatedly and dying in infancy may be called Ogborun or Osioju (You Go and Come) in his or her surviving period. 

Veneration to God 

The influence of Christianity in Eleme culture was responsible for the eight day naming ceremony instead of on the hitherto day of birth or whenever the father returns from wherever he has been to. Today a tradition has emerged in Eleme whereby names are given to children to venerate the Almighty God thus discouraging people from ancestral worship and to separate them from the service of spirits and idols called Oku Ejin and deities, gods and juju collectively known as Oku Ejor.  Such names include Obarineh (God Gives), Ododobari (Command of God), Amɛbeobari (Who Is God), Eleraobari (Praise God), Ntomaobari (God Is My Stay), Obaridomuru (God Is with Me) and so on.  

Pet Names (Ɔlɛ Abee) 

The people of Eleme cherish pet names. Pet names are names used instead of the child’s name to show fondness, affection, flattering or to suggest what the child’s family background is or to express one’s hope for the child. Examples are Ɛgbɛrɛ Ɔnɛ/Ɔwa (Great Man/Woman), Onwijimanfia (Child is Better than Beauty), Ekeeda (Smart and Intelligent Boy), Odubiri (Fatty), Nyimechi (Good Market), Gὸό or “Dèé” (Namesake), Obele (Right Hand), Bendo (He’s a Male), Buma (Pamper), Ngor (Wealth), Ɛmɛrɛ (Chief/Riches), Atɛ (Father), Nká (Mother), Ekooatɛ (Father’s Friend), Mgbɛɛwa (Female Potato – A pretty baby girl with thin yellowish and smooth skin), È'èrà (Light), Èjirà (Faith, Believe), Èpãrãrãonwi (Smart Boy/Girl), Maa (Laugh, Great Grandchild), Mbɛɛ (Gain/Profit/Benefit – of Marriage), Awiakele (Younger Brother),  Nɛi (Give Us), Obui (Gossip/Taunt), Odo (Husband), Owa (Wife), M'i'oronɛ (Whitey), Ɔfɛɛji (Yellow(ish)), Ofĩma (Joy/Joyce), Tãmpioorũ (Hope For/On), Amarã (Clever), Mkpɛɛ Tiger/Leopard), Nna'oro (Lion), etc. Most of these pet names have graduated to real names with which new born babies are named these days in Eleme.

Namesake in Eleme Culture

Namesake refers to a name 

Conclusion

Let it be pointed out here that the process of namesake that is prevalent in Eleme has extended all the names discussed herein, firstly to both sexes. Secondly, these names have been repeatedly replicated from generation to generation to the extent that some fathers don’t even know the origin of the name they give to their child.  In other words, most bearers of these names are todays disconnected from the history behind the name or have no direct link with the origin of the names but as earlier pointed out, names is spirit and bearers knowingly or unknowingly are spiritually influenced and manipulated to live out their names. 


Again, pursue of wealth and drive to “gain the whole world” has made many Eleme parents to pay little or no attention to events, place, day, period and circumstances of birth of their children. Therefor children are left at the mercy of forces higher than them; powers they know nothing about. Because whether you have a direct bearing to your name or you are a mere namesake to someone the truth is that the name you bear can bring you successes or failures.


Yes, these days, most of those bearing native names are mere beneficiaries of the long established Eleme tradition of naming children after dead or living parents, brothers, sisters, friends, deities, idols, jujus, etc. known as “Gὸό” (Namesake) or “Dèé” (Also Namesake). The practise of namesake as said earlier is still seriously in practice when naming a new born baby in Eleme. Have you checked out your native Eleme name? Can you say for sure that your native Eleme name has bearing to the events or circumstances of your birth, the place of your birth, the period of your birth, office/function held by your father at the time of your birth or it is a product of NAMESAKE? If your name is a product of namesake and it is veneration to a god, deity, idol, juju, or any such forces of darkness, my brother, my sister, consider severing yourself from the influences and manipulations of such powers by changing your name.  


Although the influence of Christianity is actually strong in Eleme child naming, number of persons considering dropping their Christian name for pure Eleme names are increasing by the day.    


 High Chief Ollorwi Osaro

www.ollorwi.com.ng

ollorwiosaro@gmail.com

+2348036694027