Ibani Furo Awo
2003 Boro Day
Nigerian Elections 2003




2009 will be the 12th Boro Day/INAA Service Award Ceremony



Gerald Agbegha, PhD

An Address Presented to the Izon Community on INAA Boro Day
May 31, 2008

I am Dr. Gerald Agbegha, son of the late Chief Matthew Agbegha of Ayakoromo; Ozifariowei of Emgbilebiri Clan; a man who devoted his life to the service of Izon.   He was one of the founding fathers of Izon studies.  I am accompanied by my lovely daughter, Vivian Agbegha, who will play some simple Izon tunes on her violin in a moment.
I want to directly express my deepest gratitude to the members of the INAA for giving me a slice of time to make this speech and do a little performance.  Izon-otu a do!  INAA Ogbo mi a do! Yes, I am an Izon performer; I am an Izon lover; I am a cultural ambassador of Izon.  

I will start this talk by conducting a memory test; a test designed to show that our memories about things grow dim with the passage of time.   Mainly due to this reason, we, the Izons, cannot rely on oral tradition alone to enable us to transfer the cultural content of our life to future generations.  Vivian will now play some Izon tunes on her violin.  After she provides the melody, I will pause for a moment to see whether anyone of us still remember the lyrics for the tune.
 <<Vivian Plays Labo Labo tune>>
There are at least two sets of lyrics that went with this tune. In the first set of lyrics, it is apparently that some great misfortune befell this person and the individual is calling on the entire world to insult (weri) her because she believes she deserves the insult.

Labo labo bone Iweriyo.  E Labo.
Labo labo bone Iweriyo.  E e Labo o.
Abo, bone Iweriyo.  E Labo.
Abo, bone Iweriyo.  E Labo.

The Grade III and Grade II teachers were the elite of Izon society of those days.  Growing up we all aspired to be like them.  These lyrics are about a young lady who, though she cannot even recite her ABCs, has her eyes set on a teacher husband.  A symbolic way of stating her educational status is given has her inability to even understand what “Come Chop” means.

Komu sopu nagha ‘rauma, Tisa yeiki douminiye.
Komu sopu nagha ‘rauma,  Tisa yeiki douminiye.
Abo, Abobo eyeama! Tisa yeiki douminiye e.
Abo, Abobo eyeama! Tisa yeiki douminiye e.

<<Vivian plays trumpet section of Seri Binabo on violin>>

The youth at that time were fond of providing lyrics for the wind (trumpet) sections of highlife music.   Here is a popular one associated with the trumpet section of the Rex Lawson track “Seri Binabo”.  It gives us an idea of the changing times.  It used to be that your family, especially your father, had the final say in who you must marry.  This song is a protest song by some young woman.

Edau ‘Diyemu seiyei pri
Sei yei mi nana o
Sai deya youmumo
Edau dieyei nana o ya

My daddy betroths me to an ugly husband
I will not marry such an ugly husband
I will pack my belongings and leave
I will not marry the husband chosen by my father

In talking about negative campaigning; America has not seen anything near what used to happen in Nigeria. In the not too distant past in Nigeria, other than setting the opposition on fire, opposing party fanatics used to compose songs either to project their party as the best or to reduce the other party or its top members to rubble.   In some cases, the opposition was burnt to death by pouring gasoline on them and lighting them up.  This happened in the Western Nigeria.  

Now, Ozobolo was an Izon politician of old.  I think he was from Siama.  I have forgotten the name of the party; but the symbol of his party was the umbrella (asisa).  I believe he did not do well.  So, someone put it into a song.

<<Vivian plays Ozobolo on her violin>>

Ozobolo, eni asisa kain de yo
Ozobolo, eni asisa kain de yo
Osuo korobai ka terimiki tonmo
E!  Osuo korobai ka terimiki tonmo
Eni asisa kain de yo, Ozobolo

Ozobolo; your umbrella has been torn
You thought you were going to use it on a rainy day
Your umbrella has been torn; Ozobolo.

Awolowo was one of the great Nigerian politicians of his time.  He was a Yoruba and the leader of the Action Group Party.  Here is a song by the opposition.
<<Vivian plays “vote for Awolowo>>

The Niger Delta Congress (NDC) was a party formed by some Izons.  Their symbol was naturally the fish (endi).   This song calls on all those who want the good of Izon to vote for the fish.

Votu endi ki pri yo
Votu endi ki pri yo
Izon ebimi doumini kimise
Votu endi ki pri yo, Aye
Vote for the fish
Vote for the fish
Anyone who seeks the good of Izon
Vote for the fish, Aye.

Annnnnnnnnnnnn Izon!
Izon Kimie mi?
Tei paa a teimini?
Sei paa a seimini?
Numou paa a tunmini?

Please, repeat after me:
Izon is beautiful!
Izon is honesty!
Izon is fun!
Izon is peace!
Izon is strength!
Izon is truth!

There is a fire burning within me.  It has been burning within me, probably all my life.  It is burning within me like molten magma within the earth’s bowel looking for some fissure through which to escape.  This fire comes from pride in my Izon Land and the desire (yearning) to project that pride on the world stage.    I believe that many Izons in my generation share this fire as well.  I also hope those generations to come have the opportunity and the willingness to bear this fire of Izon pride.   Generations to come will not have this opportunity at all if we, the current custodians of Izon heritage and all it holds, the current okosuotu of Izon, do not intensify our efforts to study our Izon nation, Izon ways of living, its customs and beliefs and pass these on to them.    Our children, especially those in the Diaspora are trying to reach across a chasm to know more about Izon, but they are not getting the help they need.  The chasm is widening and someone must stem it.   The world also wants to know what Izon is like.  

I am sure that the reason we all are here is to find ways to tell the world that we are not militants as we have been branded by the oil companies, the Nigerian powers that be and the American Government.  We are just a peace-loving people, whose rights have been trampled on for so long and we are just struggling to be freed.  

We are the custodians of Izon, which means we should be concerned about its resources and how they are used.  We should also be concerned about preservation and dissemination of our cultural values and beliefs to outsiders and to future generations.  This point is stated very well by an Urhobo author in an article (Otite about 1998: 13) in honor of Mukoro Mowoe, one of the founding fathers of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU).  In delineating ways to move Urhobo forward into the 21st Century, he stated:

….our Urhobo identity and unity will continue to be elusive into the 21st century if we fail now to preserve and pass on the cultural content of our life to future generations.

So it is with Izon.  Our identity and unity can only be realized if we study the aspects of Izon culture and tradition and pass it onto our children-- both those in the Diaspora and those in generations to come.  Let us intensify efforts in this direction for we are the custodians of those endearing and enduring things about Izon.

This call to intensify Izon studies is made urgent by the fact that most of what we know about Izon has been passed to us by oral tradition, and the population of the bearers of this oral tradition is undergoing decimation at a very fast rate.   Even the segment of the population to which I belong is being decimated.  It is said that “The pen is mightier than the sword”.   The world knows that we can wield the sword; it is time to let the world know that we can also wield the pen.  We are bearers of the pen.  I would interpret the pen to include sound reasoning, eloquent articulation of positions, and all those tools that are used to communicate this sound reasoning about an issue, an object or a situation including the use of modern electronic media and international agencies.   When you use sound reasoning to state a case, articulate it eloquently to the world by putting “pen to paper”, your case will never be forgotten and it will travel to the furthest parts of the earth and will endure.   I claim that a lot more work needs to be done for Izon to take a more prominent place in world affairs.  I will now present a few directions of Izon studies and also a few things we can do to preserve and promote Izon culture for the world and our children to see and hopefully adopt.

a)    Izon Arts and Artifacts:
With a piece of art or artifact in one’s hands, one can capture the attention of people by telling them a story or the history associated with it and therefore a part of the history of a people.   No art or artifact is too little or too big; these must be found and studied.  Some of these things if not collected at this time, will not be seen again.   These objects include different fishing tools such as the fishing spear (agosugbeinye) and different kinds of baskets; masquerade arts and paraphernalia; wrestling paraphenelia etc.  Where are the bells and obuluku that were worn by great wrestling champions such as Ariri, Emotoghan, Biide, Obabiriowei, Kenibraowei and others?  Where is Obabiriowei’s kettle of water?  It is difficult to find replicas of some of these objects.  I know it is difficult here in America because I have been searching for bells for many years.  I have been performing wrestling dances for audiences for many years; thanks to King Ebizimor’s “Owei” tracks of wrestling music.  The only bells I could come up with were cowbells.   There are also Izon games such as apodo that require fairly complex rules and therefore require complex reasoning to play.  Does anyone remember this game?  What about the art and science of canoe making?

b)    Izon Performances
Izon has some of the most beautiful cultural performances in Nigeria and possibly beyond.  We have beautiful and exciting categories of dances that are the envy of other ethnic groups.  These dances and performances include masquerade, wrestling, abo, agene, ongu, kokoma (probably extinct), ekpede (probably extinct).  Probably the most beautiful and exciting one that requires and draws the attention of the whole community is the masquerade festival.   Putting together a masquerade festival requires a lot of people with different skills including constructing the head piece, the paraphernalia, well choreographed dancing steps, and a well-practiced orchestra.  It also requires athleticism for those who wear the masque.   Izon masquerade performance is so highly regarded not only by the Izons but also by our neighboring ethnic groups – the Urhobo and the Itsekiri.   These ethnic groups not only adopted the masquerade festival but also most of the songs they use are copied from Izon using Izon lyrics.  The masquerade festival is an original Izon contribution to the world.
    What about our wrestling tournaments?  These were held about every market day (Akenbai) in the dry season.  Not much work was done on this day.  People would come from the small villages and hamlets where they tap palm wine and distill it to obtain bekewuru (ogogoro, akpeteshi).  It is believed that on wrestling days even the things of the forest and the things of water take a break from their usual activities as suggested in this wrestling song:

Olotu koromo ye ye
Olotu koromo ye ye
Mebai nama akenbai yo
Endikpo akenbai yo

On this day, able-bodied men would process throughout the whole town (anda ogele) dancing to inspiring wrestling drumming.  The music produced would make even the not-so-able-bodied person feel like a champion; ready to take on an opponent.  The procession ends in the town square.  Contestants would perform and at the end a champion would be identified.  No blows were exchanged and there was no ill-will even if one lost.  Every body went home and waited for the next akenbai. 

c)    Izon Healing Systems
Izon also offers a very sound health system.   I am a beneficiary of herbal treatments to cure malaria.  I used to have bouts of malaria when I was in high school at Bomadi Grammar School.  I would go home and my cousin (who was like my uncle), Mieyefa, would go to the forest to pluck herbs to fill a pot.  The pot was brought to a boil and I was made to sit over it with a covering of thick blankets.   After about two days of inhaling and drinking this concoction, I was good to go back to school.  One of the treatment methods that is particular to Izon in the context of Nigeria, is massaging.  In Nigeria, the Izons are recognized as experts on this method of healing and have taken it to many big cities in Nigeria.  The Izons can also treat many orthopedic cases.  There was the case of an Izon student at the University of Benin - one of his legs was deformed.  It so happened that he was involved in a motorcycle accident and injured his good leg.   He spent quite sometime at Benin hospital, but the healing was not going well.  He then went to seek help in different places.  We even heard at a point that he was dead.  Miraculously he recovered completely at the hands of Izon healers and came back to school.
There are also herbs (used to be?) in the Izon forest that can cure male impotency or erectile dysfunction (ED) more effectively than Viagra or Cialis or levitra.   These western drugs provide only a temporary cure for a reported maximum period of 24 hours.  But I tell you, there have been Izon healers who found permanent cures for their patients.
d)    Life and times of prominent Izon Personalities  
We should study the lives and times of our people – those who have contributed to the betterment of the Izon.   There are many people who have been true leaders of Izon, people who contributed significantly to the betterment of the Izon in different spheres of life including culture, music, language, art, politics, education, dance, and sculpture.   From here on, I will now use the word leader in the more inclusive sense covering politicians who are well known and those other lesser known people who lead by example.  Detailed research should be done into these peoples’ lives and published for posterity.  It should be a scholarly investigation pointing out their contributions as well as where they fell short.  It should also look into areas of controversy.  
I now give you a list to extend as you please: Chief E. K. Clark, Gabriel Okara, J. P. Clark, Professor Alagoa, Chief T. O.Onduku, Chief Matthew Agbegha, Chief Atiye, Chief Naitiri, Rex Lawson, Robert Ebizimor, Isaac Adakar Boro, Echo Toikumo, etc.

Take for example King Robert Ebizimor.    We all enjoy his music but not many of us know his life history.  I personally would like to know more about Robert for he is a true son of Izon.  He lives Izon and with his music has made us all live Izon better.  The little I know about him is from my cousins at Gbekebor.  He used to visit different towns in Izon singing Osundu songs and Gbekebor was one of the towns where he performed.  There was a time I think I almost brushed shoulders with him at Warri Motor Park.  He was probably coming back from a gig and was offloading his (meager at that time) music instruments from the trunk of a taxi cab.  I would like to know more about him.  I think he struggled in obscurity for along time before he came to the limelight as suggested by one of his early songs:
Apkone eboye yeyeye yeyeye
        Apkone eboye yeyeye yeyeye
        Apkone eboye yeyeye yeyeye, Roberti ye
        Koro piinkpo sele epiri a ni
        Ebo duma tunye mo

If you have not heard this song of Robert; search for it and listen to it.  This song will tell you a little bit about Robert. 
The point is that we should not let the contributions of Izon sons and daughters go to waste.  We must appreciate their work by writing about them for the world, ourselves, and posterity.

e) Language
Language is the main tool for preserving culture.  Words are the keys to doors which when opened reveal so much about the culture of a people.  Take for example the word embigha-ere.  The literal translation refers to a woman who does not fish with a basket (akpere) or spear (agosugbeinye). Is it her wish not to fish with a basket or spear?  No.  The real meaning refers to a woman who is forbidden to fish with a basket or spear.  Why is she forbidden to do this?  It is because of an Izon custom at that time.  The word refers to (Agbegha 1996: 26):

A woman who gives birth to twins, triplets, quadruplets or quintuplets. So called because a woman who gives birth to twins, etc., is considered as defiled and is forbidden to touch the river or go fishing till she is purified by a subsequent conception.  If such a woman dies while in this state, the river is her grave.  The husband also shares her defilement; and he is therefore deprived of certain rights, such as entering the shrines in his village to partake of the meats and the drinks offered in sacrifice.  He, too, if not purified by her subsequent conception or conception of any of his wives and dies in this state, must be buried in the river. 

More details on the birth of twins is found in (Preboye 2005: 135)

Among Nigerian languages, Izon is probably the richest when it comes to use of pronouns.  This is because the language allows the use of feminine and masculine forms of pronouns.  In many Nigerian languages a sentence such as “she is coming” may well be referring to man.  The same sentence is used both for a man and a woman.  This is not the case with the Izon language.

Not many people have contributed more to Izon literacy than my father, Matthew Agbegha.  He was a true son of Izon.  He believed that honesty and truth must prevail.  He went all over Western Izon putting out fires wherever they occurred.  He was a man who worked for peace in Izon Land.  He was the leader of the Catholics in Izon.  Because of these attributes, he was hand-picked by Governor Ogbemudia in a gathering of Izon leader at Bomadi to be Chairman of the Western Izon Local Government Council.   This was done at the suggestion of Chief E. K. Clark.  He was one of the early scholars in Izon Studies.  He did all his scholarly work at Ayakoromo, where he was born.  The scholarly work he did was groundbreaking and is enough to have earned him doctorates; at least the honorary kind.  His formal education stopped at about standard three.  But, he was determined to educate himself.  From Ayakoromo, he took correspondence courses from London including courses in nursing and first aid.  He was always reading and had the Oxford dictionary by his side.  In an attempt to improve his skills in interpreting sermons, he also contributed to Izon literacy.  His first book Izon-English Vocabulary was published in 1961.  The second book Izon-English Dictionary was published in 1996, three years before his death.  Here are excerpts from the introduction to his second book:

My many years’ service in the Catholic Church as a catechist, whose duties consist mainly of teaching the catechism, interpreting sermons, and translating prayers and hymns into Izon language, gave me the knowledge to write a booklet entitled “Izon-English Vocabulary” in order to revive our vocabulary which is almost on the brink of decadence.  ….. It is an indisputable fact that our vocabulary is on the verge of decaying simply because we tend to speak English in our every day conversation rather than our mother-tongue whereby we are identified. ….
    I am gratefully indebted to all my friends … and finally Professor Kay Williamson for being instrumental to this new and lucid way of writing our language.

Most of his work was done in collaboration or under the guidance of Professor Kay Williamson.  Here are excerpts of her foreword to the book.
It gives me very great pleasure to introduce this dictionary by my friend of many years, Chief M. L. Agbegha. We have worked together at intervals for the best part of forty years, and I have always found him a most careful and methodical worker with an outstanding knowledge and deep love of the Izon language.
…. It is encouraging to see that there are some signs of hope on the horizon, in that speakers of Izon are beginning to realize that they must take the initiative and work positively to save and develop their language for posterity.  To them I would like to say what I have said on other occasions:
I strongly recommend this dictionary to all those who speak or wish to know about the Mein-dialect of Izon.  May it encourage others to write and publish more books on and in their own languages.

Recommendations for Izon Culture and Izon Nation

As I was thinking about Izon cultural preservation, I was encouraged by what I found in (Otite about 1998: 13).   Some of the ideas I am presenting here either conform or are modifications of ideas in that article.
  1. Parents and patrons should attempt to teach their children the Izon language.  I say “should attempt” because it is not an easy task, especially in the Diaspora, even if both parents speak the Izon language.  We should try to do this in the context of the way we live Izon in our family lives.
  2. We should try to create opportunities for learning Izon language and culture at events such as this event (INAA yearly event).  In cities or urban centers where we have a sizable Izon community, arrangements should be made for holding lessons and sessions in Izon language and culture. 
  3. We should live Izon for our children to see.  A classic example of this is the way the Izons lived in Lagos.  Preboye (2005) states this about how Izon was lived in Ajegunle: Izon took the spectacular traditional Ogele war dance and the kokoma dance to Lagos.  It started every Saturday afternoon with the Ogele dance through the streets and ends at the primary school premises at Ogbewanko Street, where a wrestling match took place.  Thereafter, in the evening, everyone assembled for the kokoma dance at Aromoh street.  The party went on till the early hours of Sunday morning.  This was a weekly ritual during the dry season.
  4. Every Izon, especially in the Diaspora, should build an Izon shrine in their homes.   The shrine may not be in a corner of the house, but in a symbolic way, it should be such that visitors to your home should know that you are an Izon just by looking around.
  5. Involve the youth, especially in the Diaspora.  Weni kimi eye ari kami.  Most of this age group have been to or can get access to places we have not and cannot get access to.   They have bright ideas that are most times not allowed to be heard. Give them a forum to ask questions about Izon and for them to give their opinions and suggest solutions for Izon problems.  We must empower them to articulate things concerning Izon.   I was on my way back from San Diego and I fell into conversion with a young lady of about 25 years who was sitting next to me on the plane.  She told me her ethnic group is the original Babylonians and their whole population is now less than a million world-wide.  They are a minority in Turkey.  She spoke passionately about her people and their struggle for survival.   She talked about all the things they try to do to preserve their culture and prevent their group from going into extinction.  Although she has not lived in Turkey, you can see that she has been empowered to talk about her people. 
  6. We in the Diaspora must take the initiative to preserve our culture; just as we are taking the initiative in resource control issues.  Tomu yerinboke wari nemi.  It seems to be the case that those who live their lives abroad value their home place more than those who are living in close proximity to home. 
  7. I call for an educational census.  The census should reveal the number of graduates, number of master’s holders, number of PhDs, professionals, and their disciplines.   The most important resource we can develop is of the human kind.  As we go through this struggle we should not lose sight of this.   On the basis of such a census, we can make a comparative study of where we stand in education with respect to say, out neighbors and what we can do to improve our educational status.
  8. Cultural centers should be established in urban areas consisting of libraries of Izon collection – books, journals, articles, artifacts, films etc.  There should be periodic demonstrations of ritual and artistic dances, and collection and documentation of folktales, riddles, proverbs, oral literature, poetry etc.
  9. A research unit on Izon culture should be established and occasional lectures on various aspects of Izon culture should be organized.
  10. A center for Izon Studies should be established and possibly attached to a sponsoring university, for example, Niger Delta University which is the only true Izon University at this time.  We must develop this university to the status of a premier university just as the University of Ibadan used to be for Nigeria and beyond.  The Niger Delta University should take on the responsibility of accommodating Izons from all parts of Izon.  The Izons in the other states have very little to say in the way those other institutions are run.   I do not believe those institutions are set up to offer fertile grounds on which Izon studies can thrive.
  11. An Izon National Day should be established and popularized for the celebration of Izon culture, Identity and achievements.  You can think of it as a celebration of our Izonness.  I suggest February 23rd as Izon National Day since this is reported as the day Isaac Adaka Boro and his compatriots started the liberation of Izon.   Such a holiday has been suggested by others.  (see Preboye 2005: 100-101)
  12. This is the era of public relations.  In everything we do, we should explore avenues for attracting the media so that Izon will be given the spotlight.  If I can single-handedly put a masquerade dance, live, on the 6pm evening news on Charlotte CBS affiliate, collectively we all can do much more.
  13. We should present the Izon Land as a cherished world resource that is being destroyed. We should make efforts to take our struggle to those world agencies and dignitaries who are either known to be sympathetic to environmental causes or who do documentaries on environments such as Travel Channel, National Geographic, Discovery channel, Al Gore, etc.
  14. Joining forces with other Nigerian language groups, we should try to solve some of our orthographical problems through electronic means.  It is very cumbersome to write Izon effectively using available word processors.   If Microsoft can produce software for a complex system of symbols like that from China and Japan, it should not be very difficult to produce software to write Izon and most other Nigerian languages.  It is all in the demand. If we ask them to produce it, they will find a way to do it.
I am calling on us to do Izon studies so that Izon beliefs and ways of life become objects of discourse in literary spheres.  Several outsiders have done Izon Studies.  But we must do Izon studies through our own lenses, and convince others to look at Izon through those lenses.

Izon is to be lived on a daily basis.  Wherever you are, try to live Izon.   I will be doing you a great disservice if I do not let you know about how I have lived Izon, and how I am still trying to live Izon everyday.   I am a custodian (self-appointed) and promoter of music in general and Izon music and dance in particular.   Although I grew up in what can be considered the foremost Catholic family in Izon, and therefore discouraged from participating in most of the Izon performances, I was a keen observer and lover of Izon performances.

I sniff out Izon music wherever I go.  I have obtained early recordings of well-known Izon artist such as I. K. Belemo, Robert Ebizimor and Echo Toikumo.  Some of these I acquired when I was doing my National Youth Service at Ijebu Ode in 1980.   I still have the tapes.  My collection of Izon music has been found to be useful on occasions like this when I am called upon to offer DJ services.  In this direction I want to give special thanks to Mr. Dennis Amaso and his family for their friendship over years and in being my music buddy.  I have collected quite a bit of music from him.

This collection of music has helped me tremendously in putting together Izon cultural performances in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Since 1995, I have performed Izon dances in schools around Charlotte (primary, secondary, university).  My main supporters were my youngest two daughters – Ebiere and Timi.  At the annual “World of Words” poetry festival at Johnson C. Smith University, our cultural dance performance was one of the attractions.  As part of the events of Black History month, in 1995, with the help of Dr. Dennis Ogirri, Director of Afro-America Studies at that time, an Eshan man, I put together a cultural show that captured the attention of many.   I trained my students who were African American ladies born here in America in Izon dance.  The festival included the masquerade dance and abo dance.    I got inspiration from my long time buddy and brother, Prof. Joe Ebiware whose masquerades we have been enjoying for many years.  Unbeknownst to most of you, I have had the privilege to carry some of these masquerades.  I carried masquerade for the first time here in America.  I made the masque Oguberi (Hammerhead Shark) for the performance.  Prof. Ebiware was not only my consultant, but he also provided me with many of the paraphernalia.  The show was a huge success.  A portion of it was carried live on the 6pm evening news of the CBS affiliate and few things were said about Izon.   Charlotte newspapers – the Observer and the Post also carried some photographs.  The point is that if a single person like me can put Izon in a little way on the Map, think of what we can do for Izon if  all of us collectively worked together and called major world media such as CNN, BET, ESPN, and the NY Times,

Izon is a living dynamic entity.  Izon must be lived.  There are many, such as our children in the Diaspora and urban centers, who want to live Izon, but they do not know how.  We need to bring Izon alive in them so that they live Izon to the fullest.

I conclude this talk with the following two stanzas to be sung using the melody of the NDC war song.  The first stanza calls on all Izons to live the Izon way and the second calls on all Izon to brag about Izon.

1. Izon yerinm’ atuduo
Izon yerinm’ atuduo
Izon ebimi doumini kimise
Izon yerinm’ atuduo. Aye.

2. Izon kon bala e
Izon kon bala e
Izon ebimi doumini kimise
Izon kon bala e, Aye.

This is my time.
This is your time.
This is our time.
What are we going to do for Izon in our time?


In putting this speech together, I received a lot of support and encouragement from Dr. Tanure Ojiade, distinguished professor of poetry and African Studies, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Dr. John Oyiborhoro, a well-known audiologist practicing in New York City, and Ms. Vivian Agbegha, a Ph.D. student at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.  Drs. Ojaide and Oyiborhoro pointed me to the tremendous work the Urhobos have and are doing concerning their culture.   Dr. Ojaide was also very helpful with the editing of the speech.  My daughter, Vivian Agbegha, not only performed songs on the violin as part of the speech, but also was the chief editor of the speech.  I am deeply indebted to you all.

Agbegha, M. L. 1996. Izon-English Dictionary based on the Mein dialect,
Riverside Communications, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Otite, O.  1998.  Fifty Years After Mukoro Mowoe, Mukoro Mowoe 50th Anniversary Lectures, Orhobo Historical Society website:

Preboye, I. C. 2005. The Core Delta – Iduwini Clan, Otounkuku “The lost Tribe”, Rural Development Nigeria Ltd, Preboyes World Bodija-End, Ibadan, Nigeria.

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