A LITERARY STUDY OF ODOVAN, AN URHOBO ART FORM

BY OKORO, AGHOGHO. A. G2004/MA/EST/297

AN M.A THESIS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH STUDIES, FACULTY OF HUMANITIES, UNIVERSITY OF PORT HARCOURT, PORT HARCOURT

SUBMITTED TO THE SCHOOL OF GRADUATE STUDIES IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE AWARD OF THE MASTER OF ARTS (M.A.) DEGREE IN ENGLISH.

DECEMBER, 2006 CERTIFICATION UNIVERSITY OF PORT HARCOURT

SCHOOL OF GRADUATE STUDIES A LITERARY STUDY OF ODOVAN, AN URHOBO ART FORM OKORO, AGHOGHO. A. G2004/MA/EST/297 DECLARATIONS THE BOARD OF EXAMINERS DECLARE AS FOLLOWS: THAT THIS IS THE ORIGINAL WORK OF THE CANDIDATE. THAT THE THESIS IS ACCEPTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE AWARD OF THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN ENGLISH

DR. NKEM OKOH Supervisor

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DR. CHINYELO OJUKWU Head of Department

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External Examiner

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Chairman, Board Of Examiners --------------------Signature DEDICATION This work is dedicated to Awhotu John Okoro of blessed memory
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-------Date

(18 July, 1985-9 January, 2006).

Otus, That was the name by which you were popularly known And, Leaving your footprints in the sands of time Was your dream Your ambition Your promise It is no wonder that you are missed. Though you are gone Your dream, your ambition and your promise Still linger.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Gratitude not expressed is ingratitude. Therefore, here is saying “THANK YOU” to all those who have in one way or another contributed to the
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completion of this work. All thanks to GOD for His love and mercies and for His protection throughout this course. Many thanks also go to my thesis Supervisor, Dr. Nkem Okoh, whose ideas, criticisms and corrections contributed to the successful completion of this work. My lecturers are not left out. To Professors Charles Nnolim, Chidi Maduka, Chidi Ikonne and Doctors Onyemaechi Udumukwu, Edmund Bamiro and Dennis Ekpo, I say thank you. Gratitude is also hereby expressed to my family - immediate and extended for their prayers and support. Special thanks go to my parents Chief and Mrs. P.E.A. Okoro (KSM) for their unending support and encouragement. To dad, I say a big ‘thank you’ for your contributions. You are a reservoir of knowledge on the Urhobo people. Your continuous provision of odovan texts for study made this work a lot easier. To my brothers and sisters, you all are highly appreciated. T. J and V. K. thanks for the days and nights you babysat. Tony, Ikus, U. J, Kevwe and Yenky, thanks for being there. Aunty C, you are indeed a rare gem. I appreciate you a lot. To Mrs. Oyegun and the entire Oyegun family, words alone cannot express how grateful I am. Your home was always a welcome haven. Thanks for everything. Emma Ngwoke, I can’t stop saying thank you for all your help and academic advice. Same goes for all my course mates especially Sandra, Ijeoma, Chidinmma, and Okon.

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To my informants, here is saying ‘thank you’. Without your information, this work may not have seen the light of day. ’Ghogho Obakaenurhe, it’s ‘a thank you’. Mrs. Okaruefe, thanks for your words of encouragement. Special thanks to my baby– Une Frances Okuneh. You brought joy into our lives when it was most needed. I love you. Finally, to my husband, Patrick Arierhie Okuneh, the love of my life, I simply could not have done it without you. Your support, the sleepless nights you shared to make this work a reality, the babysitting you had to do, the suggestions you made, the typing, the criticisms, are all highly appreciated. I shall love you for life.

ABSTRACT

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This piece of research attempts to illustrate the literary qualities found in ODOVAN, a form of oral literature of the Urhobo people. The work is carried out in five chapters. Chapter One provides some background information on the geography and origin of the Urhobo people. In addition, the classification of the forms of Urhobo oral literature is discussed. In Chapter Two, the content, context, performer / performance and the occasion of use of odovan are treated while Chapter Three discusses the social relevance and functions / uses of odovan. Chapter Four covers the literary significance of odovan by examining its use of such devices as metaphor, simile, humour, repetition and irony. In addition the use of sound devices such as alliteration, consonance and assonance are also examined. Chapter Five, the conclusion, summarizes the whole work, and emphasizes the importance of odovan in particular, and the need for our oral literature in general, to be studied.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Pages Title Page
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Certification Dedication Acknowledgements Abstract CHAPTER ONE 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Aim of Study 1.3 Research Methodology 1.4 Problems of Translation 1.5 Scope of Study 1.6 Dialect 1.7 The Urhobo Background: Geography and Origins 1.8 Classification of Urhobo Oral Literature 1.8.1 The Prose Genre 1.8.2 The Poetic Genre 1.8.3 The Dramatic Genre 1.9 The Place of odovan in Urhobo Oral Literature CHAPTER TWO 2.2 2.2 2.3 Content of odovan Context of odovan The Performer / performance of odovan
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ii iii iv-v vi

1-4 4 5 5-6 7 7 8-11 11-16 17-22 22-24 24-29 29-31

32 32-33 33-34

2.4

Occasion of use of odovan

34-35

CHAPTER THREE 3.1 3.2 3.3 Function and Uses of odovan Odovan: Its Social Relevance Functions of odovan 36 36-40 40-44

CHAPTER FOUR 4. I 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Literary Significance of odovan The Use of Metaphor in odovan The Use of Simile in odovan The Use of Humour in odovan The Use of Repetition in odovan The Use of Sound Devices in odovan The Use of Irony in odovan 45 45-50 50-56 56-58 59-61 61-64 64-66

CHAPTER FIVE Conclusion Appendix Informants Works Cited 67-70 71-78 79-83 84-86

CHAPTER ONE

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1.1

INTRODUCTION
The Urhobo people boast a rich source of oral traditions. Their values are

reflected in the names they bear, their songs, and proverbs to mention a few. According to Bruce Onobrakpeya, these values are “the results of careful observations of nature and the understanding of both physical and spiritual aspects of man … that become codes (or canons), which guide the behaviour and reasoning and are profusely used during speeches. In fact the beauty and strength of Urhobo oratory lies in their effective use (388). Among the Urhobo as is the case with most cultures in Nigeria, naming is very important. On this V.C Uchendu comments as follows: “receiving a name is an important event in a child’s life, for he is socially accepted as soon as he is given a name” (qtd in Nwachukwu-Agbada 82). Thus an Urhobo name such as Omonoro meaning that ‘a child is more precious than gold’ shows how much value the Urhobo give to child bearing and children in general. In the Urhobo culture, every adult, particularly the male, has a self – given name known as odovan. This odovan is used mainly during social gatherings and at occasions and is carried out in a call - and - response format. As such, before a gathering is addressed or a formal presentation of drinks and kola-nuts and money is made to visitors as is the custom of the Urhobo in any formal gathering, the odovan of every adult present must be called. On hearing the name, the bearer makes a brief remark explaining the deeper meaning of the odovan. What then is odovan? Two words: ‘nickname’, on the one hand, and
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‘alias’ on the other, are the most suitable equivalents in English for the Urhobo word odovan. As mentioned above, they are used at social gatherings. As such, they are very important among the Urhobo and play various functions as will be illustrated in the work. Therefore are aliases peculiar to the Urhobo alone? In the words of Nwachukwu-Agbada, Among the Igbo people in the Anambra State of Nigeria, aliases often bridge the gap between people of different social and economic strata. Aliases that are derived from proverbs, usually involving a call and response, allow humor and geniality and confer on users recognition and worth. (Nwachukwu-Agbada 81) The above assertion sums up the position of aliases in the socio - cultural life of the people of Anambra State of Nigeria. Taking a cue from NwachukwuAgbada’s statement above, odovan among the Urhobo of Delta State of Nigeria, like aliases among the Anambra, often act as “gap-bridgers” between people but in this case people of the same age grade in the society. As Nwachukwu-Agbada remarks, an alias is “usually acceptable to the person being addressed because more often than not he or she has chosen it” (81). This statement again tallies with the above statement that an odovan is chosen and self-given. In other words, it is acceptable to the bearer. It therefore should not be confused with nicknames that are often imposed by others and may or may not be acceptable to the bearer.
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The practice of odovan dates as far back as those days when villages and tribes fought inter-tribal wars to conquer and possibly take over leadership of the defeated. While some tried to attack and conquer, the village to be conquered fought to defend her territories from attackers. It was in the midst of all these that men of great strength and bravery earned such titles, from their admirers and followers. Note that it was not only in cases of war that the odovan tradition came to be derived. But that seems to be the origin. However, when someone does something outstanding in whatever sphere of life, people, especially admirers, may start referring to him by a particular name. If it is a name that the individual likes, he may decide to continue with it or otherwise choose one for himself. One who is a great singer for instance may be called oghuoghuile, meaning “great singer”, to acknowledge his singing prowess. From then onwards, it may stick to the individual and in no time become his odovan. An odovan such as Adakaza denotes great strength. When an outsider hears it, what immediately comes to mind is that that person is from a family of warriors, or is himself a warrior. This illustration goes to show that odovan actually originated as a means of recognizing people with great achievements. To this end, a son may decide to take the odovan of his late father when he comes of age. In contemporary times though, an
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adult male who has come of age is free to take one for himself because at social gatherings, the odovan becomes very handy. Having looked at the background of odovan, the question now is why must it be studied?

1.2 Aim of Study

The field of Urhobo oral literature in general retains numerous forms which have received little or no scholarly attention. An example is the literary phenomenon known as odovan. This work therefore sets out to study this genre with a bid to demonstrating its validity as a literary form and identifying those literary qualities inherent in it.

1.3

Research Methodology The odovan texts that are used for analysis were collected in the field through oral interviews which were tape recorded, and written by long hand on certain occasions. While most of the texts were collected from individuals at any given opportunity, others were at more formal gatherings such as traditional marriage ceremonies and funerals. Various individuals cutting across different ages were interviewed in the field. These interviews were also carried out at different times of the day and

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night. The aim of such an exercise was to ascertain whether or not odovan accepts all ages, selects sex, or time of day. Problems were encountered during fieldwork. Even though some of the individuals interviewed at first put up some resistance because of the misconceptions they had about the aim of the study, a detailed explanation made it possible for such barriers to be broken. With such barriers broken and doubts cleared, it became a smooth sail from then on, with drinks and kola nuts to accompany the process of interviews.

1.4

Problems of Translation Life after field work, however, was another matter altogether. After having successfully collected data for analysis, translating the data collected from the source language, Urhobo, into the target language, English was one big hurdle. This experience re – echoes Okoh’s comment that “translation, by its nature is a highly elusive and irksome exercise” (Preface 192). The problems of translation encountered were numerous, and as Okoh again rightly points out, it was “a well-nigh superhuman feat to transpose successfully the rhythms, idioms, nuances, lexical or syntactic structures” (Preface 193) of the Urhobo language into English language. Translating the collected odovan texts was indeed a herculean task. This was because certain Urhobo words, phrases and sounds could not be
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accorded their proper equivalents in English without running the risk of losing their meanings completely. In addition, the performer’s actions, the addressee’s response and the audience reaction on certain occasions could not be properly represented. This experience was similar to that suffered by Bronislaw Malinowski whom during his study of Trobriand oral narratives lost much matter in the reduction of the oral text to print and for him, the subsequent analysis of the material got divorced from the context that gave it life in the first place. For this researcher however, to avoid loosing meaningful material, the closest possible word or phrase that could stand as an equivalent and still retain the meaning as much as possible was used. In cases where there was no equivalent the word or phrase was presented in the source language as it is. Other than this little hiccup, fieldwork was interesting and the experience was worth the while.

1.5

Scope of Study This work is limited to odovan, that is, aliases among the Urhobo. A total of twelve villages cutting across six local Government areas are visited. The total number odovan texts collected for the study is a hundred and eleven.

1.6

Dialect
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The Agbarho and Udu dialects are used in the translation of the collected odovan texts. In most Urhobo literatures – religious, intellectual or otherwise, the central Urhobo dialect which is the Agbarho dialect is used. To apply only this dialect to this work would have created more difficulties for this researcher. This is because some of the contributors to this work are people of Udu origin. Thus, their contributions are presented in the dialect with which their contributions were made to avoid loss of relevant matter. The odovan texts that are presented in the central Urhobo dialect are the ones collected from individuals of other local Government areas different from Udu. The reason for this is to avoid the presentation of the collected texts in many dialects, and as relevant material could still be retained, this central dialect is used.

1.7

The Urhobo Background: Geography And Origins The Urhobo people are an Edoid group found in Delta State of Nigeria. They are spread over nine Local Government Areas and constitute the largest of the five ethnic groups that occupy the Delta Region. The Urhobo occupy a contiguous territory bounded by latitudes 5º15' and 6ºNorth and longitudes 5º40' and 6º 25'East. Positioned among the tributaries of the famous River Niger, their territories consist of evergreen
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forests with many oil palm trees, covered by a network of streams and rivers. They have the Isoko (South East) the Itsekiri (West), the Bini (North) the Ijo (South) and the Kwale (North East) as neighbours. History has it that the Urhobo belong to the category of peoples whose origins are not adequately known. However, based on oral tradition the origin of the Urhobo is traceable to migrations. Otite provides four traditions of origin which are discussed below. The first of these traditions is Autochthony. According to Otite, there is the belief among the Urhobo that they are the original dwellers of their lands and territory. Thus, they believe that they have been there from time immemorial. In other words, they did not migrate from any where. Otite posits that “there are no archeological findings to back up this claim, yet it recurs among Urhobo respondents and should not be brushed aside” (25). Secondly, there are stories of migration from an original Edo territory with suggestions based on two major migrations during the two dynasties in Bini history – the Ogiso and Eweka dynasties. Among these stories are claims that the Urhobo were not Bini people who turned out to be Urhobo on reaching their territories. Instead, they assert that they were already Urhobo before they left Bini (Otite 25). The reasons for their leaving were due to cruelty, deprivation, insecurity and tyranny to
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mention a few. Apparently they were less powerful and they left their Edo abode in search of more peaceful territories with good economic bounty. Other versions claim that descendants of the royal family set out, or were sent to rule over some defined Urhobo peoples usually after a fight. This was done with or without the consent of the ruling Oba. Again stories of political elite that comprised deserters or warriors fleeing for freedom and independence from the obnoxious rule and decisions of an Oba exist. According to this version, such warriors set up ruling cliques over organized Urhobo groups (Otite 27). Stories that the Urhobo people originated from Ife, Sudan and Egypt are also in existence. To this end, Arawore suggests that: The Urhobo for the first time came from Egypt, left some of their people on the shore of lake Chad, halted for a time at Ile-Ife had a permanent abode at Benin and finally were driven to the swamp of the Niger Delta. (in Otite 28)

A different suggestion by Egharevba is that “the first wave of Urhobo emigrants left under the leadership of a man called Uhobo, who is regarded as the eponymous leader of present day Urhobo” (qtd in Otite 26). The term Urhobo refers both to the people and their language as is the case with most ethnic groups in Nigeria. Like other ethnic groups found in Nigeria, the Urhobo have such practices as birth, death, marriage
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ceremonies, and festivals to mention a few. They are united not only by ties of ethnicity and culture, but also by salient geographic features of the territory they occupy as their homeland. Urhobo land is a deltaic plain, generally less than 30 meters above mean sea level, with no prominent hills rising above the general land surface (Aweto and Igben 11). The climate of the Delta Region is characterized by uniform temperatures. Thus, all parts of Urhobo land have an average annual temperature of about 270C with no marked seasonal or monthly variations. The year is divided into two seasons – the dry and rainy as in other parts of the country. Urhobo people engage in a wide range of economic activities including farming, fishing and hunting, tapping of rubber, mining, trading and manufacturing. The major industries are concentrated in three major towns, namely Warri, Sapele and Ughelli which form the centre of commerce.

1.8

Classification of Urhobo Oral Literature Since literature is generally defined by dictionaries as “a piece of

work that is written”, the concept of a literature that is oral seems a contradiction in terms. According to Udosen, literature is a “collection of writings on any given subject or field of endeavour” (qtd in Kiabara 198). Going by the above definition, it means that every discipline on the
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surface of the earth has its own literature. Furthermore, it means that anything that is not written does not qualify as literature. This definition makes no provision for societies that still thrive on speech acts and performance rather than printed material. Especially since literature whether oral or written is a phenomenon that “instructs us enormously, provides us with knowledge regarding the wider world, the physical, psychological, religious, and cultural canvas of man”? (Okoh 2-3). While some scholars hold that “oral literature” as a concept is non existent and that “thinking of oral tradition or a heritage of oral performance, genres and styles as “oral literature” is rather like thinking of horses as automobiles without wheels (Ong 12), others, make room for the concept by stating that the concept “is an unfamiliar one to most people brought up in cultures which, like those of contemporary Europe, lay stress on the idea of literacy and written tradition” (Finnegan 1). She further shows a better understanding of the concept with the following words: There is a strong indigenous tradition of both written and, in some areas, unwritten literature in Africa. The oral literature in particular possesses vastly more aesthetic, social and personal

significance than would be gathered from most general publications on Africa (26-27)
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Again Ong’s disdain for the concept of oral literature is further perceived in the statement below: …scholarship in the past has generated such monstrous concepts as “oral literature”. This strictly preposterous term remains in circulation today even among scholars now more and more acutely aware how embarrassingly it reveals inability to represent to our own minds a heritage of verbally organized materials except as some variant of writing, even when they have nothing to do with writing at all. (11) Okoh, arguing in favour of oral literature, points out that it has the capability of contributing significantly to national development, if properly operated or tapped” (“National Development” 35). In addition, he writes: The vehicle of oral literature can be appropriately pressed into service for the education of our people, particularly as a means of redirecting and refocusing the prevalent values in the society. In all, then, it is argued that oral literature constitutes a crucial tool for advancement and enlightenment, and should be accorded its due place in our drive towards genuine freedom, self-reliance, overall respectability, and
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national

development

(“National Development”35).

What then is oral literature? Being a relatively new field of study, copious definitions of the term have not been proffered. But we shall attempt to define the concept. Simply put, oral literature or a literature that is oral refers to aspects of literature that have been handed down by word of mouth from one generation to another. In the words of Akporobaro: Oral literature… refers to the heritage of imaginative verbal creations, stories, folk beliefs and songs of pre-literate societies which have been evolved and passed on through the spoken word from one generation to another. (32)

In the above definition, Akporobaro makes mention of pre-literate societies. This does not mean that oral literature is no longer produced or practiced in present day societies, but that it was predominantly a phenomenon carried out by societies when the print medium had not come into existence. With the introduction of print however oral literature has been accorded some permanence. Another definition offered by the same author is that oral literature is the “totality of verbal expressive forms and beliefs evolved in tribal societies for social entertainment and for the ordering of society and passed on orally from one generation to another” (33).
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Still on the definition of oral literature, Chukwuma comments that: it is “oral, of anonymous creation and is communally owned and communally transmitted” (8). From the above definitions, one thing is clear - that oral literature is literature that is transmitted by the spoken word. Thus language plays an important role in oral literature as it does in written literature. Okoh comments on this: Language is used to express the entire cultural equipment of a people and literature constitutes an integral part of such cultural baggage. Language can be described as the essence of literature, the means through which literature is realized. Thus, literature nurtures the the language (179). Form the above it goes beyond doubt that the phenomenon called literature uses language as its medium of transmission and expression. Oral literature retains as much literariness as written literature, and as Okoh declares, “oral forms (tales, tongue twisters, myths, riddles, proverbs, anecdotes and oral songs, for example) exhibit overwhelming evidence of such literary traits. Thus we confront the entire question of literariness or what constitutes, amounts to, or makes for literariness” (Preface 23). language of a people and conversely, is itself preserved and perpetuated by

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Oral literature is concerned with creativity, imaginativeness and excellence of form. Forms found in Urhobo fall under three broad categories - poetry, prose and drama. The prose genre comprises such literary forms as jokes, myths, legends and tales that constitute the freephrase form and others like the proverb and the riddle make up the fixed – phrase form; while the poetic genre comprises birth songs, funeral songs, work and war songs, to mention a few. The dramatic genre, on the other hand, has forms such as masquerade displays, dance, festival and ritual as its components. While the prose genre is spoken, the poetic genre is sung and the dramatic genre acted or dramatized. Below is a diagrammatic representation showing the taxonomy of Urhobo oral literature.

1.8.1 The Prose Genre Beginning with the prose genre, eta means the spoken word. It is the most suitable word to describe or represent the prose genre because it encompasses all spoken words. Eta has under it proverbs, tales, riddles and tongue twisters. Proverbs in Urhobo are known as Ise. They are used in almost all life situations by the Urhobo people as is the case with most cultures in
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Africa. In support of this claim, Nketia, commenting on the proverb in Ghana writes as follows: The value of the proverb to us does not lie only in what it reveals of the thoughts of the past. For the poet today or, indeed, for the speaker who is some sort of an artist in the use of words, the proverb is a model of compressed or forceful language. In addition to drawing on it for its words of wisdom, therefore, he takes interest in its verbal techniques – its selection of words, its use of comparison as a method of statement, and so on. It is no wonder therefore that the use of proverbs has continued to be a living tradition in Ghana. (qtd in Akporobaro 78) Proverbs have a striking figurative quality that sets them apart from other forms of oral literature. As Finnegan rightly observes, “in many African activities, a feeling for language for imagery and for the expression of abstract ideas through compressed and allusive phraseology comes out particularly clearly in proverbs (390). Urhobo proverbs are usually expressed in short sentences. That is not to say that they cannot be expressed in long sentences as well. They are characterized by such literary devices as irony, simile, metaphor, allusion, wit, imagery and hyperbole usually. In addition the language is also compressed and highly figurative.

Another form of oral literature is udo, the riddle. It is usually performed in a question and answer form. Unlike the proverb that falls
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mainly in the adult domain, the riddle is usually employed by children. According to Okoh, … riddles are generally associated with children… as a form of oral literature, riddles are designed to sharpen the wits of children, raise and sensitize them to various phenomena in their society, or teach them something of their society’s conception of the world around, even the universe (136) In other words, riddles do not only entertain, they also teach and help in moulding children. Riddle posing is usually in a performer and audience format. The performer poses the question and the audience guesses at the answer. The session is usually an interesting one of childish banter and noise making. Riddles touch on virtually all aspects of life. They are generally associated with entertainment, unlike the proverb that features in serious discourse. Eta echahen erevwe (words that twist the tongue) is the most suitable for describing the tongue twister. While in the field, this

researcher posed the question of what the Urhobo equivalent for tonguetwister is. Only a few people could come up with the reply “eta echahen erevwe” which means “words that twist the tongue”. “Echahen” here connotes the twisting or meandering of the tongue.

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Tongue twisters are mainly for entertainment. Among the Urhobo, they are used to test the proficiency of an individual in the language. “They remain tools for sharpening wit… the poser’s objective is clear, to see whether the respondent can cope comfortably with the concatenations of ideophonic or alliterative sounds” (Okoh, Preface 140). Urhobo tongue twisters, like tongue twisters in other cultures, are cited in a rapid manner with words arranged to have a play on syllables. An example is: Urhobo: omiovwo mue omo mie omiovwo. Translation: new mother carried a child from new mother. This example of the tongue-twister is supposed to be repeated rapidly by a respondent when asked to recite it. In an attempt to repeat it as many times as possible in the shortest possible time, a respondent may almost bite his or her tongue. However speed and accuracy form the very heart of rendering a tongue twister and failure to successfully recite when asked to may lead to taunting from other participants. Like proverbs, tongue twisters have a striking figurative quality and in their form and style, they resemble the riddle. Urgency is a distinctive quality attached to tongue twisters. Though fun and entertainment are the main features of tongue twisters, they are also employed in some serious situations and cut across all ages. Tongue
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twisters have no particular time of performance. Literary devices such as assonance, alliteration, irony, allusion and humuor are inherent in them. Examples are given below: Urhobo: kwa kpe ekrokpe kwa kpe ekrokpe ekrokpe ben we kwa ra English: park to ekrokpe park to ekropke, you are tired of parking to ekrokpe In the above example, we notice a cluster of consonants that make rapid or quick pronunciation as is the case with tongue twisters difficult. Thus is an example of alliteration. An example showing assonance is given below: Urhobo: omiovwo mue omo mie omiovwo English: a new mother carried a child from a new mother. In the above, the presence of vowels is very evident. It therefore makes for assonance. Another example is: Urhobo: avwubuara mie ubuara English: he used ubuara to get ubuara In the example: Urhobo: onoge na gro’ogbigbi gro English: the palm tree grows any how Palm tree is here used to allude to human beings. What this tongue twister talks about is the need for people to be sensible and to behave
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with caution instead of behaving anyhow. People should not in pidgin English context, “grow leave sense”.

Ikun in Urhobo generally means story. This broad term stands for all verbal compositions whether true or imagined that recount history or any other form of narration. There are different types of stories in Urhobo. Some have only animals as characters in them. These characters are depicted as full-fledged characters with voices inhabiting an organized society. Some animals represent particular character traits, and this recurs in the story or tale. The tortoise for instance is known for cunning and mischief, while the goat stands for foolishness and the elephant for strength. In human tales, human characters convey the message within the composition. The tales are usually didactic. To this end various human vices and virtues are presented. Human tales sometimes move from the human to spiritual realm. Audience participation usually makes the telling more enjoyable. Myths (Osia) and legends (Ikun Ihwo foron) are used most times to tell about the heroic deeds of people usually unknown to the audience. Myths are specially based on the origin of villages, and towns while legends revolve around acts of bravery. The presence or use of literary devices depends solely on the performer or narrator.
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1.8.2 The Poetic Genre Ule is the general name for songs in Urhobo. Just as the poetry of most cultures is captured in songs and rendered in various forms, so also is the poetry of the Urhobo people. These songs derive their names from the context in which they are rendered. Okoh comments on this. For members of several traditional African communities, virtually every occasion necessitates singing and for the composers, provides suitable material for the composition of new songs. Because songs permeate every aspect of African life and culture, they commonly derive their names from the different occasions on which they are performed, or from which they derive (Preface 141). In her Oral Poetry, Finnegan notes that: “one of the qualities of literature is that it is in some way ‘set apart’ from common speech or writing. This applies, above all, to poetry where style and structure are a signal to the audience of the type of communication intended” (189). In the same vein, Obuke notes that “oral poetry as an art makes use of imagery (metaphor, similes, analogues, anecdotes, parables and full length stories), repetition and wit” (qtd in Nwosu 79).
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The above statements imply that works of art are highly connotative and so require careful reading and understanding. This also applies to poetry which makes use of specialized and figurative language for its expression and communication. Poetry in general makes use of repetition. To this end, Perrine comments thus: An essential element in all music is repetition … all art consists of giving structure to two elements: repetition and variation. All things we enjoy greatly and lastingly have two elements. The composer of the music therefore repeats certain musical tones; he repeats them in certain combinations or chords and he repeats them in certain patterns or melodies (716-17).

Various types of songs that make up Urhobo oral literature range from play songs to work songs, birth songs to funeral songs, praise songs to war songs and title-taking songs. In the rendition of these songs, there is usually a leader who raises the song before others join in.

1.8.3 The Dramatic Genre

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The dramatic genre as a form of oral literature has generated a lot of controversy from scholars. While scholars such as Chukwuma, Okoh and Akporobaro maintain that the dramatic art exists in the traditional African society, others like Finnegan, Echeruo and Kalu Uka are of the opinion that the dramatic art in the real sense of the word does not exist in African traditional life. According to Akporobaro, these doubts have arisen because of the way the concept of drama is applied in Western literary tradition (61). Drama, as defined by M.H. Abrams, is the literary form designated for the theatre, of which actors take the roles of characters, perform the indicated action and utter the written dialogue (Glossary 45). In his Poetics, Aristotle analyses the essence of drama to consist in the notion of imitation. “By this he means an imitation of historical or imagined event or experience through action or through words” (qtd in Akporobaro 62). From Aristotle’s point of view, therefore, theatre is to be separated from real life, from drama which seeks to portray real life through real incidents. In other words, “drama should entail the use of characters who imitate the action of historical or imagined characters. In addition, dialogue should play an important part, but in a stage specifically designed for the purpose of performance or enactment (Akporobaro 62). This notion seems myopic as it makes room for only performances that
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are restricted to the theatre and a stage specifically designed for the purpose of performance. It is typically a Western concept. For Finnegan what “obtains in Africa are certain dramatic and quasi-dramatic phenomena, not a developed form as is the case with Western Europe and Asia” (Oral Literature 500). In other words Africa has no drama. Ossie Enekwe however has a different view. According to him,

The ritual festivals in Africa represent full and authenticated drama that should be recognized as such; that they are communal dramas which differ from secular, individuated modern drama with its precise separation of its stage from the auditorium, of actors from the audience and stage time from the duration of the experience enacted on stage (qtd in Okoh Preface 146).

From this scholar’s point of view our traditional festivals make up our drama in Africa. He receives support from Emmanuel Obiechina who wonders why the Greek notion of drama should be used as a standard for drama in the first place. He writes:

Is there any particular reason, except that of meeting the specifically practical pressures of the present age, why an enactment should last only two or three hours instead of six
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months?...is a broad communal canvas not more suitable for painting more inclusive social and emotional action than the mere mouse-tongue called the modern stage? (qtd in Okoh Preface 146). Again, for this scholar, our traditional festivals and rituals make up drama in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. Therefore they should be accepted as such because, they “provide a rich and varied context for dramatic and theatrical performance.…Songs, dance, movement, mime, masks, poetry and spectacle are the key ingredients of African festival drama as the case in most rural or traditional societies in all parts of the world” (Akporobaro 436). African festivals therefore are forms of African drama. The dramatic genre in Urhobo is known as eha or lgbe and consists of dance, festival and masquerade displays. There are different types of dance in Urhobo oral literature. These dance performances are carried out mainly at festivals, feasts and rituals by masquerade dancers. Thus a festival is incomplete when there are no masquerade displays. Although dialogue is usually absent, drums and songs make up for this absence and the dramatization is understood. The songs are usually repeated and accompanied by clappers. These are flat, long wooden instruments with handles specially constructed for the purpose of clapping by musical

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groups. When hit against each other, they sound like hand claps. They provide rhythm and add beauty to the performance. On specific occasions, songs are exclusively composed to suit specific dramatic performances. Such especially composed songs are memorized in the event of the performance at festivals. The choreographic movements of the masquerades and all who are part of the composition are rehearsed and memorized for uniformity. The song texts and costumes are synchronized to suit a public performance. This is usually conducted in the manner of an opera where opposed sides do all they can to “out-dance” the other. The objective is mainly entertainment. Of all such dances, the Udje is one that still thrives in contemporary times, among the Urhobo. Udje is a festival dance song performed in the form of an opera. It has participating communities and groups ranged in permanent rivalry pairs of opposition, a phenomenon known as omesuo, where each group is expected “to sing its rival to a fall” on the “battle ground,” by attaining a level of theatrical intensity capable of keeping the audience enthralled. To achieve this, verbal (the song) and non-verbal elements such as osevbe (ostentatious costume), owota-ona (dexterity of footwork), and a masterly management of the entire performance are combined (Darah 505). To quote Okoh,
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Drama

includes

masquerade, several

festival, other

ritual of

performances,

even

kinds

ceremonies and occasions in which we witness enormous dramatic manifestations, whether actors and imitators, plot, mime, masks, costume, music and dance. Thus a ritual, festival or masquerade occasion in Africa yields not just elements of drama, but features drama in its very essence (Preface 148). To conclude, it is note - worthy that the poetic genre does not exist as an entity separate from song. Greenway points this out in the following words: “Poetry does not exist as an entity separate from song and in rhythmically oriented societies like most Africa singing, drumming, dancing, clapping and instrument playing are combined into one

homogenous art form. (Literature Among 37) Again, Okoh supports this claim by asserting that poetry is sung. In the same vein, the dramatic genre can not be seen as an entity divorced from the poetic. This is because; festivals and masquerade displays are dramatized. A phenomenon made possible because of the accompaniment of music, song and/or instrument playing- three characteristics that propel dance.
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1.9

The Place of Odovan in Urhobo Oral Literature In an attempt to find a suitable place for odovan in Urhobo oral literature, drawing inference from Okoh’s demonstration of name– coining, a newly illustrated form of oral literature in Enuani, is necessary. Neither name– coining nor odovan appears in the previous categorization of Enuani or Urhobo oral literature forms. In other words, the forms of oral literature that exist in various cultures are inexhaustible. In the performance of name–coining a speaker identified as the interlocutor and an addressor are involved in the discourse. The speaker, that is the interlocutor begins a statement and is interrupted , by the ‘addressor’, who coins a name or description that is – couched in a carefully crafted word - an adjective, a noun turned adjective, or any other form of descriptive phrase” (“Naming” 468). What makes the exchange interesting is the ability of the addressor to exploit the meaning and sound of an existing word or descriptive tag, not in coining a new one. This makes the comment of the addressor embellish the interlocutor’s remark with imagery and therefore makes for some aesthetic value. Name–coining is not a known form of verbal exchange among the Urhobo. Making reference to it in this work therefore is simply to make a
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statement that as new forms are discovered daily in various cultures, so also has odovan here been seen to qualify as a form of oral literature because of its literary qualities. We shall therefore locate its position in the taxonomy of Urhobo oral literature. Before locating the place of odovan in Urhobo oral literature a somewhat scholarly definition of the term is necessary. In an article “The Urhobo Worldview” by Bruce Onobrakpeya odovan is defined as “a self given name of the Urhobo adult, particularly for the male, used mainly during social gatherings” (387). These edovan are chosen due to the bearer’s perception of life or as a result of certain circumstances he may have been through. Having looked at the background of odovan, the question still remains: where can it be possibly situated? Like name–coining, odovan has an addressor and an addressee. But unlike name–coining the method of performance is different. In odovan the bearer tells the philosophical meaning of the name when called. From this point of view, they resemble the proverb because the language is figurative, and they have deeper meanings other than their surface meanings. Thus they are derived from proverbs. As Nwachukwu-Agbada states, “proverbs are the common property of a community. Every full-fledged member of a society has

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access to them and they are preserved by their being passed from one generation to another” (87). More often than not, any proverb can fit into the odovan format and vice versa. But to serve the function of an odovan, the proverb must be “thought-provoking, uncommon, expandable, and replete with layers of meaning. Such a proverb must command auditory attention and have a call-response structure that both caller and answerer can recognize” (Nwachukwu-Agbada 87). From the above premise, we can therefore conclude that since edovan are proverbial in nature, and are derived from proverbs, it can be established that like proverbs, they belong to the prose genre of Urhobo oral literature.

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CHAPTER TWO
2.1 Content of Odovan By content, we mean the intrinsic make–up of the oral literary form known as odovan. Odovan employs such literary devices as simile, metaphor, irony, humour, repetition, and sound devices such as assonance, consonance and alliteration in an attempt to convey the message inherent in it. Other social issues that make the content of odovan thus making it relevant include respect for elders, truthfulness, greed, wickedness, pride, cheating, cooperation and unity. These constitute social ideas, which are given literary interpretation. Nwoga states that “… ideas are the product of social practice, usually reflecting the struggles to resolve the internal contradictions of society” (79).

2.2 Context of Odovan Odovan, unlike other prose narratives such as the tale, myth and legend, which are known for specific contexts of performance, has no specific context where of performance. It can be performed or enacted anywhere depending on the performers involved. In Urhobo, odovan is performed in the market place, on the street, at home and any other context that may demand its performance. It is also performed at more serious formal gatherings such as traditional marriage
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ceremonies and traditional burial ceremonies. Occasionally they are used at wedding receptions. The context of performance of odovan usually has nothing to do with the type of odovan enacted. The odovan that is used by its bearer on the street is the same one used by the same bearer at a traditional marriage ceremony or anywhere else.

2.3

The Performer /Performance of Odovan Odovan can be performed by anybody, depending on the context. At more formal gatherings, for instance, a traditional marriage ceremony, a spokesman known as Otota is usually appointed to do the

performance. The person appointed could be a family member or a professional otota hired for a specific purpose at the marriage ceremony. Most times it is restricted to the male folk. The performer calls out the odovan and its bearer responds. Audience reaction depends solely on the ingenuity of the performer, and the particular odovan that is cited. If the odovan that is cited is funny, the audience is bound to react differently from when it is not. At less formal or informal gatherings however the performance of odovan is left for, and to those involved. Two friends who meet along the street could “hail” each other in their respective odovan and exchange pleasantries before going their separate ways. The performance of
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odovan therefore is tied to the addressor, the addressee and the context. In other words, the addressor can become the addressee and vice versa. Performance is therefore in a call and response format.

2.4

Occasion of use of Odovan Unlike other free – phrase forms of oral literature, odovan has no particular occasion of performance. It is enacted spontaneously, depending on the context. In this regard, the occasion of use depends on the social circumstance. As stated above, odovan is performed at both formal and informal social gatherings. In their culture and tradition, the Urhobo people always have the presentation and acceptance of kola-nuts and drinks especially at formal gatherings. Before addressing a gathering therefore, an appointed spokesman is mandated to call the odovan of every adult present. On hearing the name, the bearer makes a brief remark as an explanation to the deeper or philosophical meaning behind the name. As mentioned earlier, odovan is an alias. Therefore it can be used at any occasion. From a simple gathering of friends who meet on the street or anywhere else, to more serious gatherings such as marriage or funeral ceremonies. The aliases are mainly self–given or coined when a man or an adult comes of age. Most times, the odovan taken by an individual tells something about the individual’s perception of life. Some
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others are taken, owing to certain circumstances the bearer may have been through in life.

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CHAPTER THREE
3.1 Functions and Uses of odovan: Among the Urhobo, odovan plays a very important role in every social gathering. As such it is relevant in the Urhobo society and performs certain functions. These all important roles that is, the social relevance and the functions odovan performs among the Urhobo shall be discussed in this chapter.

3.2

Odovan: Its Social Relevance In discussing the social relevance of odovan let us begin by pointing out that African orature is important “for the important reason that it is the incontestable reservoir of the values, sensibilities, aesthetics and achievements of traditional African thought and imagination outside the plastic arts” (Chinweizu et al 2). The above statement receives support from Chukwuma when in her Igbo Oral Literature she writes Oral literature is a record keeping device and a means of preserving useful relevant information. Emphasis here is on the theme, the matter of oral literature, viewed in relation to the overall function of art in an oral society”. (52)

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She adds: What is commemorated in oral literature must be of significance and relevance to the society for it is only by relating to the audience that the verse stands a chance of survival through regular recital (53).

With respect to odovan the above assertions in one way or the other ring true. Odovan as a form of oral literature is a record keeping device as well as a useful pointer for preserving information. Not only that, they also are relevant to the Urhobo and their world view. Odovan, as earlier stated, is an alias picked up by an individual after proper contemplation. Most of them are taken up by individuals as a result of what the individual who takes it may have seen in life or the various circumstances he may have gone through and still survived. For instance an odovan like: Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee: Omophran re vwerhe idjede o nyo ota ro’oto. bird that sleeps on the road hears the talk of the ground.

Certain circumstances in which the bearer believes he has enemies may warrant the assumption of such an odovan. Therefore, he has to be very careful. Again the odovan:
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Urhobo:

Addressor: Addressee:

Ebe erue omo, o choro omo aroo what you do to a child is never forgotten by the child

English:

Addressor: Addressee:

could be taken if the bearer feels that people he may have relied on in the past to grant him help denied him such and turned their backs on him when he most needed them. In certain cases, the odovan that an individual bears tells something about the character, beliefs or perceptions of the individual in the Urhobo society. The bearer of the odovan: Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee: Oko ve’ emu ememerha o bie Canoe carrying goods It moves slowly

is most likely to be taken by one who assumes gentility as his watch word. Therefore from his disposition, we know without being told that he is a gentle person. From the above illustrations, it proves beyond doubt, that the significance and relevance of odovan is seen in the fact that it provides information of great value on the perception and philosophy of life of the Urhobo people. The assumption of an odovan identifies the male folk
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who have come of age. Secondly, it re-enacts the superiority of the male folk. What this means is that the use of odovan is mostly a male activity. It is associated with the men–folk. That is not to say that women do not have or take up odovan. They do. But most times, they are identified either by the odovan of their fathers or that of their husbands. In a general gathering or any social event however, women are referred to simply as ‘Elizabeth’ pronounced as Enizabeti. Occasionally, women who have these aliases are given opportunities to use their odovan. But when in the presence of their husbands, they automatically are addressed by the odovan of their men. A third relevance of odovan is that it breaks barriers between and among strangers, and encourages familiarity between friends. In addition to the above mentioned significant roles of odovan, its enactment provides creative avenues for adults because edovan act as teaching and learning devices. They sometimes create fun and enjoyment as well as provide oral evidence for reconstructing Urhobo history. Odovan and its performance are relevant in the Urhobo society because through them information, feelings and life experiences are transmitted. This happens in the sense that they play various functions in the Urhobo society.

3.3

Functions of odovan
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Odovan can function as a tool for caution. An example is:

Urhobo:

Addressor: Addressee:

Abore Isibo Iyovwivwe opharoo the hand with pepper is not good for the face

English:

Addressor: Addressee:

Definitely, if a hand that has pepper touches the face, it is bound to cause discomfort. The moral learned here is that people should be careful. Secondly, it drives home a message that anyone who seeks justice should himself be free of guilt. In her study of “Social functions of Ngwa tales”, Ukaegbu identifies social functions in the following words: Verbal jokes are social-culturally bound … designed to stress prudence, honesty, justice, hardwork, endurance, kindness, valour etc to teach some moral lessons and correct certain ills of the society. They could also be to entertain as well as educate the society on the cultural and other aspects of human life… also one of the avenues of attacking and criticizing the society. (267)

Without doubt we agree with Ukaegbu and maintain that odovan boasts all the social functions mentioned above. For instance an odovan such as the one below functions as a tool for honesty: Urhobo: Addressor:
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ono r’ue emuna

Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee:

mevwe’ who did this deed? it is I / me.

This odovan preaches truthfulness and honesty. It is a question asked to know who is responsible for a particular deed and the reply mevwe owns up to the deed being talked about. The bulk of the social functions of odovan lies in the correction of misdeeds and in advising people in the society. To this end the age being displayed has a great deal to do with the ills that are being corrected. As Maduka asserts; “a good work of art reflects (or refracts, as some critics prefer to say) the spirit of the age in which it is produced. Literary value is more or less determined by degree of correspondence between the world of illusion depicted in the text and that of social reality. Realism is therefore perceived as an indispensable attribute of the text (187). In this regard, we want to believe that the reflection of the society through the medium of odovan can draw from the knowledge of the past so as to correct the present and therefore prepare a future for the society. Age here refers to the historical attributes of the society, and as Wellek and Warren comment, The artist conveys truth and, necessarily historical and social truths. Works of art furnish ‘documents’ because they are monuments’. A harmony between
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genius and age is postulated. ‘Representativeness’, ‘social truth’ is by definition both a result and cause of artistic value…Literature is really not a reflection of the social process, but the essence, the abridgement and summary of all history. (95)

What Wellek and Warren are concerned with here is ‘social truth’ and ‘representativeness’. Odovan reflects these social truths in various ways. For instance if someone has been dealt deadly blows by friends and is always unlucky when it has to do with friends, the one may take up the odovan Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee: Idavwarhan Ogba Igho Oke rue orhavan Mosquito larvae does not pay before being a member of the shrine. By this odovan the bearer is advocating that friendship should have no boundaries. In other words, just like the mosquito larva that does not pay fees before it belongs anywhere, friendship should be something that should not require certain criteria such as say wealth or affluence before you can be friends with anyone. In other words friendship should not be selective. Another odovan with the same theme is Urhobo: Addressor:
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Ugbohian re nune ovo

Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee:

ode k’eghinren the friendship of just today tomorrow is enmity.

This odovan not only advocates a social truth, it also preaches value for friendship. That friendship should be something enduring. One thing abhorred in the Urhobo society as any where else is disrespect. Therefore, an odovan such as omo r’owhorhe obo fo with the response Ove edafe gbe rie emu (the child that washes his hand clean / dines with the rich) is a philosophical truth that hinges on good behaviour and respect. To conclude, it would be necessary to echo the duo, Wellek and Warren who assert that “the relationship between literature and society is usually discussed with the phrase, derived from De Bonald, that “literature is an expression of society…” (95). To this end, the mixture of literary processes with social ones cements the relationship between odovan and the society. Therefore, the social functions of odovan hinge on the … “correspondence between…social and literary phenomena” (Clark 7). Serious issues that are part and parcel of the society have life and voice breathed into them through odovan and its performance.

l

CHAPTER FOUR 4.1 Literary Significance of Odovan As earlier mentioned, odovan belongs to the prose genre of Urhobo oral literature. They are proverbial in nature, are derived mainly from proverbs and act like proverbs in terms of their figurative mode of expression. As an art form therefore, there are many features associated with odovan that we can now say constitute its literariness, bearing in mind that literature refers to all compositions that “tell us a story, represents, mirrors or dramatizes actual life situations, advocates ideas, and expresses emotions (Okoh Preface 3). In the composition of odovan, therefore, many literary devices such as metaphor, simile, irony, humour, allusion and repetition are inherent. All these combine to give odovan its aesthetic value. They shall be illustrated below.

4.2

The Use of Metaphor in odovan This literary device happens to be the most commonly employed in odovan. Bearing in mind that odovan is an alias or a nickname; most people who take up these names always compare themselves with, or to an object, a plant or an animal. In choosing the odovan therefore, the bearer sends a message across. For instance the odovan:
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1.

Urbobo:

Addressor: Ekegban! Addressee: Ogboro iterhu

English:

Addressor: Rust! Addressee: it destroys iron.

In this context, the bearer of the odovan ‘ekegban’ compares himself to rust. According to its bearer, this odovan was chosen due to circumstances of his existence. For the bearer, like ‘rust’, he shall destroy anyone who tries to destroy him. In other words, “no matter how hard my enemies try, they can never get me” is the message being passed on to one’s interlocutors or auditors. Metaphor thrives on implied comparison. Therefore, the

metaphorical implication in this odovan lies in the analogy that the bearer makes between himself and rust. There is actually no relationship between rust and human beings. In this context however, a line of comparison is being drawn between the destructive nature of rust when it makes contact with iron, and the bearer’s ability to figuratively destroy any obstacle in his way. Ekegban connotes strength.

2.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Erharen! Addressee: O torhe emu hua Osaa

English:

Addressor: fire! Addressee: It burns and pays no debt.
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Again, like the one before this, the bearer of the odovan such as ‘erharen’ compares himself with fire that burns without looking back. The message here is that any one who tries to get in the way of the bearers progress should be ready to bear the consequences. Like ‘ekegban’, ‘erharen’ also connotes strength. 3. Urhobo: Addressor: Iwhiri Addressee: Ebieche Gbee English: Addressor: Smoke! Addressee: you cannot shut a door against it. This odovan and its response is not only a statement of fact, it also is a philosophical truth. Smoke is a phenomenon that cannot be trapped in a container or behind a door. Thus, the bearer of this odovan calls himself ‘smoke’. Just as smoke cannot be prevented from seeping through, he cannot be stopped from his destiny. The philosophical meaning of this odovan therefore is the claim by the bearer that no matter how hard the world tries, he cannot be stopped from being what or who he is destined to be. In the odovan: 4. Urhobo: Addressor: Ughwerin, Addressee: olerhe emu vwerha English: Addressor: Ughwerin
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Addressee: makes soup tasty The bearer sees himself as the one who makes difficult situations more acceptable and easy to manage. Just as Ughwerin makes soup tasty and delicious, so also does he make difficult situations “sweet”. Therefore he sees himself as a mediator. Ughwerin in other words connotes a negotiator in this odovan. To better appreciate this odovan it is worth mentioning that Ughwerin is a type of salt used by the Urhobo in the preparation of their traditional delicacy known as Oghwoevwrior any other meal that requires it. The preparation of Oghwoevwri” without Ughwerin is like fetching sand with a basket. Without ughwerin, Oghwoevwri is incomplete. Another odovan that functions like the one above is illustrated as follows:

5.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Uwon re erin Addressee: o maran usin

English:

Addressor: the flesh of fish Addressee: makes starch fall.

Starch is a popular delicacy of the Urhobo people eaten with particular types of soup. Therefore, when good fish is used to prepare soup, one tends to eat more. In this regard, the man who calls himself ‘uwon re’erin’ sees himself as that integral part of a particular situation. He is the missing piece of the puzzle. By this odovan the bearer says that with
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him as part of, say, an organization, things are done at their appointed time and in their right manner.

6.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Omo re eni’ Addressee: Obre udu re oroo

English:

Addressor: child of an elephant Addressee: is not afraid of growing big.

The bearer of this odovan compares himself to a baby elephant that cannot be stopped from growing. Just as the elephant is not afraid of growing big, so also is he unafraid of attaining great heights. The message being conveyed here is that those who are born great are not afraid of achieving greatness. This odovan tells some thing about the character of the bearer. He believes himself to be unstoppable.

7.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Ogoro boban Addressee: O brenu r’udii The young palm tree does not complain that it does not produce drink.

English:

Addressor: Addressee:

As stated above, the choice of an odovan usually revolves around circumstances that the bearer may have found himself at a point in his
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life. An odovan such as this one is proverbial in nature. In it, the addressee likens himself to a young palm tree that is just sprouting. The message here is like the popular phrase que sera sera. In other words, what ever will be will be, as no one can really tell the future.

8.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Erakon ro dje eni Addressee: Oma royen o laha

English:

Addressor: the dog that pursues an elephant Addressee: wastes his time

The bearer of the odovan likens himself to the elephant being pursued by a dog. Note that the use of “elephant” and “dog” in the odovan connote the rich and the poor respectively. Therefore the poor man (eranko) who decides to rub shoulders with the wealthy man (eni) who has all the affluence only wastes his time.

4.3

The Use of Simile in Odovan Simile is a direct comparison between two unrelated things indicating a likeness or similarity between some attribute found in both things. The comparison in this case is usually made using “as” or ‘like’ as an indication of the similarity. Various forms of Urhobo oral literature have simile inherent in them as is common with oral literature of other cultures. Edovan with simile inherent in them shall be illustrated below:
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1.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Addressee:

Aje kere urhedi Avwo chobiee A woman is like a bunch of Palm nut

English:

Addressor:

Addressee:

it cannot be wrapped in the loin-cloth.

Here an analogy is drawn between a woman and the thorny or spiky nature of a bunch of palm nut. What is inferred from this is that a woman, like the palm nut bunch, should not be put close to the body. Thus a woman is not to be trusted because she will prick your body like the bunch of palm, if drawn close to the body. In other words, she cannot keep a secret.

2.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Addressee:

Akpo kere eki oro cho phrun ko kpo life is like a market he who has finished selling goes home

English:

Addressor: Addressee:

In this odovan, life is compared to a market place where people from different backgrounds come to. While some are there to sell goods, others are there to buy and at the end of the day everyone goes home. This
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odovan is a philosophical fact of life because the market here connotes life or the world where we all shall leave some day, after our time on earth expires. Going home after the day’s sales connotes death. This odovan and the next one share certain features in common.

3.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Addressee:

Akpo kere iboro Ebete ovo orhen ebete ovo ubi

English:

Addressor: Addressee:

life is like a ball One side is the native chalk, the other side, charcoal.

In this odovan orhen (native white chalk) and ubi (charcoal) are connotatively used to represent white and black as they apply to live situations. In other words life is full of ups and downs, good and bad, darkness and light. The analogy drawn here is between the “roundness” of the ball as compared with the roundness of the earth. Just as one side of the ball is black and the other white, so also is the world full of good and evil, ups as well as downs.

4.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Addressee:

Odafe kere olalo Oke yerhie kalo A wealthy man is like stone,

English:

Addressor:
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Addressee:

when day breaks he is ground.

In actual life, the demands made on a rich man by family and friends are numerous and unending. This is what the bearer of this odovan conveys by this odovan. The bearer compares himself to the grinding platform that the grinding stone grinds on. Thus he is ground connotatively, by the demands made on him by relations who are associated with him.

5.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Akpo kere ologhramen Addressee: okpoto kp’ehiophin

English:

Addressor: Life is like a wave Addressee: it goes up and down

Life, like the wave of the sea is never stable. As the waves of the sea go up and down, so also is life full of ups and downs.

6.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Efe kere ekri Addressee: Amre oba royee

English:

Addressor: wealth is like a bottomless pit Addressee: its end is not seen.

This odovan compares wealth to a bottomless pit. Just as one cannot see the end of a bottomless pit, so also can the end of wealth not be seen.
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7.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Aje kere urhie Addressee: Arien evun royee

English:

Addressor: A woman is like a river Addressee: you cannot know her stomach (mind).

In this odovan, a woman’s belly that is, her mind, is compared to a river. As the depth of the river and what it holds cannot be told from outside or by merely looking at it, so also can a woman’s thoughts not be known unless she voices them. An analogy is therefore drawn between the depth of a river and the mind of a woman.

8.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Oke kere okere Addressee: O herhe ohwoo

English:

Addressor: Time is like a tide Addressee: It waits for no one

Again in this odovan the bearer compares himself to time which like a tide waits for no one.

9.

Urhobo:

Addressor:

Ota obrabra kere uterhu

Addressee: Ogboroo English: Addressor:
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a bad word is like steel

Addressee:

it does not get spoilt.

This odovan tells a great deal about its bearer. It is obvious that its bearer is a down-to-earth person, who says things the way they are, without mincing his words. Thus, when he says something bad about a situation, his bad word can be compared to steel that does not get destroyed. From another point of view this odovan can be seen as something terrible said about a person, which will never be forgotten. 10. Urhobo: Addressor: Ughwu kere eshane Addressee: Oye ete ovuovo Oye gboo English: Addressor: Death is like a perfume Addressee: It smells everywhere. What this odovan brings immediately to mind is the fact that the bearer probably has had his share of bereavements. As such, he compares the phenomenon called death with a perfume. Just as death visits everyone, so also the fragrance of a perfume when sprayed is perceived by everyone who is around. The perfume’s fragrance smells not only in one place as death visits not only a particular family, but everyone. A point worthy of note in the illustrated examples using simile is that the odovan texts used to illustrate the use of simile do not have one word names as is the case with metaphors illustrated above. Most of the
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examples with simile inherent in them are expressed in short phrases unlike ekegban, iwhiri and erharen when we dealt with metaphorical odovan texts. This is because as stated above simile compares two things that are unrelated using “as” or “like” as its mode of comparison thus, indicating a likeness or similarity between some attribute found in both things. 4.4 The Use of Humour in Odovan Humour is a literary quality in art which amuses and thus provokes laughter. It is a literary device, common with odovan. This is portrayed in the following examples.

1.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Esi no bru ghava Addressee: Ugheroye vwerh’ohwo

English:

Addressor: The pig that is dancing Addressee: The sight must be interesting to watch.

The humour in this odovan lies in the fact that ugava ebruo in Urhobo has to do with the rigorous ups and downs, forward and back-ward movements of the shoulders and the chest cavity as well as the waist area. In fact the whole torso is at work in a tedious dance style. If we picture in our minds’ eye, a pig on all fours, trying to imitate this dance which is
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strictly a human affair, indeed it will be a sight to behold. Again the reply ughe roye ovwe rhe ‘ohwo meaning “the sight must be interesting to watch” provokes laughter.

2.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Oghwa ikebe Addressee: O ben ovworoo /e se ohwo hoo

English:

Addressor: The load of the buttocks Addressee: Is not tiring for the owner/no one is called to carry it.

This odovan evokes laughter when an addressor calls out to the addressee. Most times, it draws attention to the bearer when heard, because the idea of the buttocks being heavy or otherwise for the bearer, especially a man, sounds funny. 3. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee: Nene whe evwere amre ohwo dje oma kuoo. Mother broke an evwere No one dared scold her.

The humour in this odovan lies in the fact that the mother who would usually scold or punish a child who breaks an evwere, is the one who has broken the evwere and no one dares scold her.

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4.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Addressee:

oghi o chi baiboro o che ku rhierie A thief that steals a bible shall repent.

English:

Addressor: Addressee:

This odovan provokes laughter when heard because the mere thought of a thief stealing a bible beats the imagination. And if per chance he does steal one and takes a look at the content he just might repent. 5. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee: Edo r’ ikribekpe dje ohwo eranvwe evaa. The noise of flies does not prevent the

slaughtering of a cow The humour in this odovan is appreciated when we picture an abattoir and see in our minds eye, the activities of flies swarming around the meat. In spite of the activities and noise of the flies around the meat, a butcher does not desist from butchering the animal.

4.5

The Use of Repetition in Odovan Repetition is traditionally known as the act of repeating words or sentences in a work of art. It derives from orality and is applied consciously or unconsciously in literature. In odovan, repetition largely constitutes performance.
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Odovan makes use of repetition when it employs metaphor as its tool of operation. For instance the odovan: 1. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee: The repetition of jovwo is used for emphasis. jovwo jovwo oria oshoo stop stop does not mean I am lazy.

In the Odovan: 2. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee: Hun hun hun, ota wen ven re hun hun hun your words have been

exposed. hun; hun, hun again is repeated to lay emphasis on the intention of the bearer. It is used here as a descriptive device as regards actions of gossips. 3. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee:
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out gbidi gbidi ubodje ovuovo ria esirii crowd ‘gbidi’ ‘gbidi’ raffia is not found alone

‘Gbidi’ ‘gbidi’ in this odovan is repeated. It is used by the bearer to represent a crowd and the need for people to stand together. In other words unity is strength.

4.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Addressee:

kesu kesu kesu, e sio o vwree kesu kesu kesu they pull/drag it does not cut

English:

Addressor: Addressee:

According to the bearer of this odovan, kesu kesu kesu represents the action of pulling a “rope” which is here used figuratively. For the bearer, no matter how long or hard they pull, the rope will neither be cut nor will its end be seen. In other words people of the world will never succeed in putting him down. The use of kesu kesu kesu is an example of repetition and a sound device.

4.6

The Use of Sound Devices in Odovan. Sound devices largely constitute odovan texts. They usually

embellish the performance of odovan, and are used connotatively. Examples are given below. In the odovan:
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1.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Addressee:

otu gbidi gbidi Ubodje ovuovo ria esirii crowd ‘gbidi’ ‘gbidi’ raffia is not found alone

English:

Addressor: Addressee:

gbidi gbidi is not only repeated, it also represents a heavy sound. It is used in this odovan to represent a crowd or a multitude. This is an example of alliteration. This odovan has a social function because it concerns the need for cooperation. It preaches the need for people to be united.

In another odovan such as 2. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee: Okrika, ohiare mre ohiare djee okrika a man does not see his fellow man and then take to his heels. Okrika here is sound device connoting strength. It has no equivalent in English, but an understanding of the second part of the odovan ohiare mre ohiare djee sends a message across. Okrika here is an example of consonance.

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A third example is 3. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: Okpoghitu emu che she phron rhe.

Okpoghitu in this odovan means or stands for trouble makers, hence the translation: English: Addressor: Addressee Troublemakers be ready to bear the consequences of your actions. The cluster of vowels and consonants in this example sounds heavy. Its representation of trouble makers is therefore apt. The odovan: 4. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee: Atamukara ohwe omo hwe oraa Atamukara does not beat a child as well as his wounds. Atamukara here represents tobacco, (a healing agent among traditional Urhobo), that stings when used and thus inflicts pain when applied on an open wound. With the use of atamukara, a feeling of pain appears before our eyes. Thus it connotes pain, and is an example of consonance.
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5.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Addressee:

Kpua, o va phia kpua it has no effect

English:

Addressor: Addressee:

kpua in this odovan is used to represent an explosive sound. What the odovan means therefore is that no matter how hard people try to put the bearer down, their explosives will never have effect on him. Again this is an example of consonance. Ominiomini is another used in the odovan: 6. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: Addressee: Ominiomini emu ri bun miovwen ree. No matter how bad there must be a good thing in every bad situation. Omunomini here represents the phrase ‘no matter how bad’. In its pronunciation, ominiomini has a meandering feel to it that aptly represents bad or terrible situations. In addition it is an example of assonance.

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4.7

The Use of Irony in Odovan Irony is one of the tools which odovan uses to communicate ideas. In the following examples irony as a literary device is inherent. 1. Urhobo: Addressor: Esi no bru ghava Addressee: Ugheroye vwerh’ohwo English: Addressor: The pig that is dancing Addressee: The sight must be interesting to watch.

In the above example, a pig cannot dance. So expecting to see a beautiful dance performance carried out by a pig is ironic.

2.

Urhobo:

Addressor: Oghwa ikebe Addressee: O ben ovworoo /e se ohwo hoo

English:

Addressor: The load of the buttocks Addressee: Is not tiring for the owner/no one is called to carry it.

Concerning the above example, neither are the buttocks of an individual too heavy for him to carry, nor is anyone called upon to assist in carrying ones buttocks. 3. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee:
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oghi o chi baiboro o che ku rhierie

English:

Addressor: Addressee:

A thief that steals a bible shall repent.

A thief who goes to steal will definitely avoid a bible when he sees one at the place where he has gone to rob or steal. As such, a thief is not expected to steal a bible. This odovan is therefore ironic. 4. Urhobo: Addressor: Addressee: English: Addressor: enemy Addressee: frown. The bearer of this odovan sees himself as one whom people are jealous of because of his achievements. Now people who see him as an enemy pretend to scorn him while in actual fact they admire him. The response “o ja ye jai mie inu” brings out the irony in this odovan. ‘Mie inu’ is the squeezing of the mouth and face to show disdain or disgust towards someone while ‘o ja ye’ means ‘they like it’ (that is whatever it is the people see). So when we picture in our minds that facial expression of dislike with the fact that they actually like the bearers dressing or achievements, the irony becomes clear. We have seen that odovan is not only a part of the culture and tradition of the Urhobo people, it is also an art form. Not only does it share features with
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osevwe re ovwreghre o ja ye jai mie inu the outfit/dressing of an

they like it/admire it yet they

other forms of literature such as prose, it remains a full - fledged form of oral literature. As we have shown, odovan makes prominent use of such literary devices as irony, simile, and metaphor to mention a few.

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CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSION This study has focused on odovan, a hitherto unknown form of Urhobo oral literature. The work started by providing some information on odovan as well as a brief history of the Urhobo people. It was concluded that the origin of the Urhobo people is controversial because the Urhobo are not known to have a valid suggestion as regards their history. However, they are known to be an Edoid group. Still in Chapter One, the various forms of Urhobo oral literatures was discussed. Thus the conclusion that, like the oral literature of various cultures in Africa, Urhobo oral literature boasts three genres - prose, poetry and drama, was reached. A careful appraisal was carried out after which the position of odovan in Urhobo oral literature was discussed. Odovan we concluded belongs to the prose genre of oral literature because of its proverbial nature and the form in which it is enacted. Chapter Two considered the content, context, as well as the performance of odovan, in addition to its occasions of use. Here, the intrinsic make - up of odovan as well as certain social issues that make part of its content were mentioned. Chapter Three discussed the functions and social relevance of odovan. It was ascertained that odovan can function as a corrective tool, a tool for caution, as well as a tool for advocating unity, to mention a few.
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In addition, certain uses of odovan were discussed and the conclusion that it is an important tool for breaking barriers among the Urhobo, drawn. This discussion gradually led us into Chapter Four where, an elaborate discussion of the literary significance of odovan and literary devices inherent in odovan texts was attempted. In our discussion, we illustrated the presence of such literary devices as simile, metaphor, repetition, humour, and irony in the collected odovan texts. Such sound devices as consonance, assonance and alliteration were also found in odovan texts and were also discussed at reasonable lengths. These, no doubt, went a long way to show that odovan is a literary phenomenon. Odovan is, and will always remain a veritable part of Urhobo oral literature. Its importance among the Urhobo cannot be over emphasized. This is because the content of odovan discusses certain social issues which uncover the past, deal with the present and even predict the future. In odovan, such social issues as greed, truthfulness, respect, pride, laziness, justice, assistance and many more are constantly repeated. Therefore, a further study of this form of oral literature as well as other forms is encouraged. This can only be made possible if the study of oral literature is encouraged and not swept under the carpet. As mentioned earlier in the work, oral literature is and can be used as a tool for national development. Therefore its study is important. Many
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a time, scholars have from various perspectives sounded and re-sounded their clanging cymbals in their bid to make a case for the necessity of oral literature in national development. Omotosho, speaking from a comparative perspective, but in favor of oral literature states that: “the future of Africa belongs to literature written in African languages” (qtd in Maduka 200). Maduka agrees with this statement even though he speaks from another point of view. According to him, “psycholinguistically, it is very difficult for any speech community to use a foreign language as the communicative tool for its search for group cohesiveness” (200). What these scholars are concerned about is the relationship between indigenous languages and literature. Therefore as long as literature exists either in oral or written form, it makes a necessary tool for national development. Again as Okoh points out, “African writers borrow extensively from their oral literature, whether in terms of content or technique” (Preface 237). Among the Urhobo, odovan plays a crucial role in the issue of development. This it does by the way it brings to the fore, social issues discussed earlier. From this perspective we could also say that odovan plays this role at the dais of national development. Therefore without odovan at the cultural level which is more or less its primary position, it cannot function at the secondary level that is nationally. Any where the
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Urhobo man finds himself, the practice of odovan prevails before anything else. Odovan therefore is a very useful tool for developing the nation via the culture because a people without a culture are considered dead. Great milestones can be achieved through the use and practice of odovan. Therefore its continuous use and practice should be encouraged since it can be applied in almost, if not all aspects or contexts of life.

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APPENDIX A collection of some selected odovan texts. ODOVAN 1. Igodigo Igodigo 2. 3. 4. 5 6 7. 8. 9 10. 11 12. Omo r’ eni The child of an elephant Idjede r’ arupleni The “road” of an airplane Omo ro du’ orho The child who is pompous Awhare emophran In a gathering of birds Umu kiri re ehweya Ewheya I’ udje The dance of the women Idiovworho Which community Ekegban Rust Adagba (agbada) Adagba Omo r’ abo ive A child with two parents Ota r’ avwe agboro It is what you tell agboro The drum of the womenfolk RESPONSE ehiovwin r’ ame oye wene amwa it is on top of water that it changes its clothes obrudu r’ orhoo is not afraid of growth agbo urhen rhurhoo u cannot fall a tree across it Oyen oma dja is the one that amre okpakoroyee you do not know the eldest ewuo hworoo is not sounded without a purpose yen obo rayen temu means they have achieved something ofovwin chaa no trouble/ no war Ogboro iterhu destroys iron ekue ewun ofa rhurhoo no other clothing can be worn to cover it o la homaa does not suffer oye agboro vue ohwo that agboro tells you.
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13. 14 15. 16 17. 18.

Ora re igho A sore that requires money Owha re ikebe The load of the buttocks Oyarhe Broomstick Ota re ose orovwen Oko v’ emu Agbadagri Agbadagri The words of a father-in-lawA boat conveying food stuffs -

oben esuvwn takes time oben orovworoo / ese ohwo vwoo is not heavy for its owner O je karan odafe could be of lack to the wealthy O bra k’eyana is not pleasing to women ememerha o bie rows gently Ohiare gren yin ko kere egbe if a man is not tall, he should be stocky ekpo umen e ki broo is passed in haste O rien r’ n’ akpo been does not know how difficult the life is Eku kills it for nothing erivwin ne jovwo death says leave him O yen ria ophovwan is the one with witchcraft Omorhien ohiare kparen edjere akoo it is not a small man that can remove the teeth of a crocodile
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19. 20.

Edjo re ovweghren The judgment of an enemy Omo ro vwo ochuko A child that has support -

21. 22. 23. 24.

O ro hwe ewhuvwhe He that kills a baby bat Akpo n’ ehwe World says kill him O roke kpe epha Adakaza Adakaza

He who first consults the oracle -

25. 26. 27

Ubi r’ uloho Omote na yophirhon The girl is too beautiful Era mre uvo na The ones seen at daytime

-

O whre ituu survives at all cost re ho te uwovwin tavwen take her home first e yen je h’ era ason has among them witches and wizards O ben ekron cannot be held in a bag me woho im on the ground oye okan vweren that is where the sun bird sleeps O Io hiaan cannot hide aje phehunonoho a woman cannot pee in a bottle O lerhe emu vwerhan makes soup sweet emuogbahaa you do not hold it carelessly A fuo mree is not easily found O choro Omo aroo is not forgotten by the child does not kill the child Ota oyen oghwolo

The young of an enhwe tree

28. 29 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36..

Ebo r’ iroro Wisdom Ogbo Python Izagede Upstairs, O ro gb’ agogo Oghiyayagha Scatter, scatter Ughwerin Ughwerin Urhenvihwen A tree that has thorns Uken r’ umoko Egg of a parrot Ebe eru omo What you do to a child

He who ties a bell to his waist -

Uwovwin re ji iko, / omo 38. Aje o cheria anurhoro

ohwe ikoo / omoo lxxix

The errand that one sends a child-

A woman who sits at the door mouth - is looking for trouble

39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45.

Omo phran awwo ruemu A bird of value Ozighi r’ edoke Amwa Oka A cloth of value Urhen egadabor A tree with branches Ota ovo cheko Aje noye kpo vw’uvo Aje vevum A pregnant woman -

-

Odan kele otoo

does not fly close to the ground Oben egbee Godo godo oyen amren is easily noticed o she te otoo. does not fall to the ground completely O yen acha ta na that is what we will say now ukpo wen ree going is not her intention O dja han eban ren orhere does not hide her nakedness from a midwife ose r’edjo je dje Ori fieghe, ovwree dangles, it does not cut o jaye jai mie inu they like it yet they keep frowning O yen ni be ohwo is whom I will call a person O gha ovwerhee does no forbid lovemaking A nyawvon je otan you cut it down it sprouts Ohwo ovuouo sioo is not drawn / pulled by one person
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To make trouble for just one day - is not difficult to do

One word is left to be said -

A wife says she is going during the day -

46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51 52.

Okrugo ro gbale edjo Ivwrite re egbo Testes of ram Osevwe ovweghre The outfit of an enemy O ro sevwe ohwo Orhenen ro ghegha An ardent of a deity Ogo r’ eware The bush of eware Oko re edi The oil making canoe

When a snake embraces a deity – the chief priest also runs

He that calls me a person -

53. 54

Omo ro harhen eghweya Ekekehihiovwin The back of my head

Osi oni royen phroon does not exempt his mother O te ayen rien abo ho is enough for them to point at Ohiare mren ohiare djee a man does not run from his fellow man. iruimwemwu ruoo has no place for a sinner ebrenu vwoo here are no lamentations Eban avwo chow you use nakedness osho avow hwan is passed by in fear Uwhe kuoo is always admired Oriaria omi kuvwien ije erupts in ecstasy once in a while Emuo yonren aboo cannot be held in hand o yen ria emu royen sows the fruit of his labour Oma royen o laha suffers himself – – – -

The child that insults the women folk -

55.

Okrika Okrika

56. 57. 58. 59. 60 61.

Oko ro kp’ odjughu A canoe that is heaven bound Egodo r’ Oghene In God’s compound Eki r; emo To shop for children Egodo r’ogba The compound of a warrior Ododo Beautiful flower Urhen re imoko vwerhen The tree that houses parrots

62. 63 64.

Ode ro cha Tomorrow Oroshegbo He who has laboured Erakon ro dje eni The dog that pursues an elephant

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65

Ichihin re eni The foot print of an elephant

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O yen izo ya d’ ame is source of water for the antelope O se hwe esi cannot kill the pig Avwo aje reen Is not given a wife vue omote we tell your daughter Ebi eche gbee cannot be held behind a door O se vre o re ebo is more potent than the charm of a native doctor. O ve edafe gbe riemu dines with the rich O va phia no effect Me harhon wee Im not abusing anyone O ja riaa is not suitable for eating Opharo r’ aje ki wholowholo the wife is happy mi sien debolo I reject the devil Eken whe vwe ukpe yenaa is not the year that it dies

66. 67. 68. 69. 70.

O ro hian herhe esi He that lays an ambush for the pig Omo re isikuru A school child Ogo vwe bra rhon My in-law is too bad Ivwirhi Smoke Ilehweri r’ igho The charm of money

71 72 73. 74 75. 76. 77.

Omorohworhabofo Kpua Kpua Unumiemie Sweet mouth Uhiovwrn r’ okpeyin The head of yam Ivwioni r’ aye rhe The siblings of the wife are here Tisio Tisio (sneeze) Ukpe ra gbo eken The year that eken is planted

The child that washes his hands clean -

78. 79. 80 81. 82.

Eravwen ve ughoron An animal with horns Ugboko ologbo The back of a cat O re ukpe she ke He whom the year favours Ata ko rienvwen What you told a friend in secret Ato ogban turi

-

O rua emwaa does not enter into a cave o she te otoo does not touch the ground Oyen ria owhere is the farmer. ota we rue orerere has gone into town Eje ota ovuovo was an exchange of words.

Whether thirty words or two hundred words - the fact remains that there 83. 84. Obo hworhe obo One hand washing the other Sona sona This or that 85. A vwe unu vien eki expect s reply 86. 87. Oro mre ukoko gbeje He who picks a pipe on the road Esi no bru gava The pig that is dancing88. 89. Ugbohian re ihwo erha The friendship of three people Abo re isibo Hand with pepper
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-

O yen obo vwo fua makes hands clean Evu ghe oro chon ohwoo you do not know which one protects you. Amae de rho hwoo

When you send a message to the market place by word of mouth – do not Ocha oma re igho egbawoo should be ready to spend Ughe roye ovwerha ohwo must make a beautiful sight to watch Ovo uphioh one is always different Iyovwe opharoo is not good for the face

90. 91. 92. 93.

O ro vie He that is crying O ro kre He that is short kesu kesu kesu Kesu kesu kesu osevwe re owvreghre The dressing of an enemy

-

Oje mre ore still sees Oje mre ore still sees e sio o vwree you pull and it does not cut o ja ye jai mie inu they like it yet they frown

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INFORMANTS Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Occupation: Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection: Occasions of use: Patrick Okoro 59 years Egini Businessman Odovan Thursday May 25th 2006 Dictation Traditional Age group meeting.

Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Occupation: Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection:

Mr. Emanuel Bikogha 40 years Usieffrun Businessman Odovan Saturday May 27th 2006 Tape recording

Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Designation:

Paul Onobraekpeyan 43 years Otor Udu Medical Doctor
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Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection:

Odovan Tuesday May 30th 2006 Note taking

Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Designation: Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection:

Traditional Marriage Ceremony nil Otor Udu nil Odovan Saturday June 3rd 2006 Tape recording

Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Designation: Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection:

Johnson Upaka 57 years Otor Edo Civil Servant Odovan Wednesday, June 7th 2006 note taking

Name of informant: Age:

Victor Odogboro 40
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Town/Village: Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection:

Ekpan Odovan Sunday July 23rd 2006 Dictation

Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Designation: Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection:

Anthony Okuneh 36 years Okpara Employee Odovan Sunday September 3rd 2006 Note taking

Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Designation: Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection:

John Leleji 45 years Amukpe, Sapele Teacher Odovan Tuesday July 18th 2006 Note taking

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Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Designation: Item of collection:

Pa Thomas Agoreyo 84 Okpara

background information on the origin of odovan / odovan texts

Date of collection: Form of collection:

Sunday, Sept 25 2005 tape recording

Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Designation: Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection:

Helen Ilelji 57 Oleri

odovan Saturday, October 1st 2005 note taking

Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Designation: Item of collection:

Victoria kpawor 80 Ujevwu

information on odovan origin / odovan texts
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Date of collection: Form of collection: Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Designation: Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection:

Saturday march 4th 2006 tape recording traditional burial ceremony

Abgarha otor

odovan Friday, October 28, 2005 tape recording

Name of informant: Age: Town/Village: Item of collection: Date of collection: Form of collection:

in laws greeting

Ughelli odovan Sunday, February, 12th 2006 note taking and tape recording

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WORKS CITED
Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981. Akporobaro, F.B.O. Introduction to African Oral Literature. Ikeja: Princeton Publishing Co.,2004 Aweto, Albert Orodena and Jomata Lucky Igben. “Geography Of Urhobo Land.” The Urhobo People. Ibadan: Ed Onigu Otite. 2nd Edition. Shaneson Ltd., 2003. 11 – 19 Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie, and Ihechukwu Madubuike. Toward the Decolonization of African Literature. Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishing Co. Ltd., 1980. Chukwuma, Helen. Igbo Oral Literature; Theory And Tradition. Abak; Belpot (Nig) Co.,1994. Clark, Priscilla P. “The Comparative Method: Sociology And The Study Of Literature.” Yearbook of Comparative And General Literature. No.23 (1974). Darah, G.G. “Dramatic Presentation In Udje Dance Presentation of The Urhobo.” Drama and Theatre In Nigeria: A Critical Source Book. Ed. Yemi Ogunbiyi. Great Britain: Pitman Press, 1981. Finnegan, Ruth. Oral Literature In Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970. … Oral Poetry: Its Nature, Significance And Social Context. London: Cambridge University Press, 1979. Greenway, John. Literature Among The Primitives. Hatboro Pennsylvania: Folklore Associates, 1964.
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Maduka, Chidi T. “Retrieving the Pearls Of the Past: Towards Sociology Of the Igbo Novel.” Language and Culture: A Festschrift for Okon Essien. Ed Ndimele, Ozo-Mekuri. Aba: National Institute for Nigerian Languages, 2004. 187 – 204. Malinowski, Bronislaw. Myth in Primitive Psychology. New York: Norton Publishing, 1926. Nwachukwu-Agbada J.O.J. Aliases Among the Anambra-Igbo: The Proverbial Dimension Names 39.2 (i991). 81- 94. Nwosu, Maria C. “Orlu Funeral Songs: A Study Of Imagery and Allusion”. Thesis. University Of Port Harcourt, 1991. Okoh, Nkem. Preface To Oral Literature. Port Harcourt: Lamison Publishers, 2002. … “Oral Literature and National Development: Marrying Theory and Practice.” Working Papers: Journal of English Studies. 2nd Ed. (2003): 32-65. … “Name–Coining: A Commenting Technique”. Woman In the Academy: A Festschrift For Professor Helen Chukwuma. Eds Seiyifa Koroye and Noel C. Anyadike. Port Harcourt: Pearl Publishers, 2004. 468 – 479. Okoro, Aghogho A. Tongue Twisters in Urhobo: Form, Function and Uses. Seminar Paper. University of Port Harcourt, 2004. Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy. London: Methuen and Co.Ltd. 1982. Onobrakpeya, Bruce. “The Urhobo Worldview”. The Urhobo People. Ed. Onigu Otite. 2nd Edition, Ibadan: Shaneson Ltd., 2003. 377- 391. Otite, Onigu. “A Peep Into The History Of The Urhobo”. The Urhobo People. 2nd Edition, Ibadan: Shaneson Ltd., 2003.
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