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GREETINGS IN ESANLAND

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The Esan people had forms of salutations to suit the morning or evening and according to sex. Juniors always greeted their senior’s first . It was a mockery for an elder to greet erring junior first. Usually the women except the aged greeted the men first.

The all hour greeting for men was KHARA which translated ¬†literarily was meaningless. The nearest translation is “Be a thief’. From a ..prolonged research I found that though the Binis have a similar salutation for the Oba - “Ghara Omo”, they have no translation for the GHARA. I am ¬†inclined to think that it was a corrupt form of the Yoruba ‘RORAO!’(Becareful). To a strange Esan ear this might have sounded as RARA O. Which is not too far from KHARA O? This is certainly more understandable than a junior, however manner less, seeing his senior during the day advising him to please be a thief when as a matter of fact practically every Esan greeting is a form of blessing or praise. Khara could he used by a man any time of the day or night. But in places Iike Ekpoma, Irrua, Ughegun. Opoji etc it was the salutation of choice by men after the evening meal akin to the Bini KADA.

MORNING SALUTATION
(a) MEN: Morning salutation differed according to Esan Districts; men from Ekpoma, Opoji, Irma, Ewu, Ugbegun, Ubiaja, Ewohimi and Ebelle greeted with AESAN. This was from LA ESAN meaning “Hail Esan”! Some people said that the word came from Benin salutation for and by the members of the Ezomo LAUESAN. Some others said the salutation followed one Ezomo who did all he could to have a male child; he finally married an Esan woman who bore him a male child. In jubilation the entire Ezomo family decided to start greeting him with Laijesan - a blessing to Esan. Actually he came to have this specific salutation because he was the intermediary for many of the Esan Enijie, particularly those of Ewohimi District, thus he was more closely connected with Esan Enijie than most chiefs in Benin hence his salutation of Laijesan which was “may it please you, king of Esan.
Men in Ugboha, Emu etc say Ranea or Aanea which was derived from the sentence UKHA SE EA which literally means “You will reach Three”. Every Esan man prays to be quite old before he dies. In Esan old men were known by their dreaded Okpo. The very old ones could not walk or stand without this Okpo, thus it appeared as if they had three legs. So by praying for one that he will reach the age when he will need a THIRD leg one was giving him the best blessings possible.

(b) WOMEN: Morning salutation for women varied a great deal throughout Esan depending also upon the derivation of the woman’s family. Most of the greetings were brought down by the early immigrants from our City of origin, Benin where depending upon the family they greeted with Lagite, Latese, Layen, Lavbe, Lani, Lavbatue, Lahe, Lagiesan, Lavbieze, Lamogun, Lagbede, Laloke, Laho, Loani, Lagiewan, Laso etc. As the different people in one town could possibly hail from different parts of Benin, it is not surprising to see women from different quarters in an Esan village giving different morning salutations. The common one was DO EIJIE in Ekpoma, Irrua, Ewu and Uromi. Lamogun or Labhojie jn Ugboha and Ubiaja areas. Laijesan in Fwohimi, LA-HO OMOGUN OR LA-HO OBHIOJJE meaning may it please you, Oba or Prince. These royalty salutations were used for and by those who descended from the Royal Family of Benin. Ebelle and Emu women greeted with LA-BO or ‘please doctor’ which shows that such families descended from native doctors. Uromi women apropos to the kind heart of Uromi people. With DIJIE, U WELE and go further with EBURE KO UHONMON WELE? (Greetings, did you sleep well?” and adding, “bid your pillow have a rest?”).

Obviously a man who had a bad nightmarish night would be the man whose pillow would have suffered the greatest tossing and squeezing.
Many women use DOEJIE as a common all hour salutation even though the correct time was morning. Some, particularly amongst the older ones, greeted with just AIJE missing out this common Esan salutation of “DO”

AFTERNOON SALUTATIONS
To elders and acquaintances men greeted with KHARA while both sexes to other people gave the common greeting of DO-O! or merely OBOKHIAN (welcome) if the person was returning from anywhere- farm, market or from a walk. When a man was a stranger or a visitor to a compound an “O” was added to the common male greeting - KHARA O! If the person being greeted was an adult male, the visitor could say KHARA ABA.

EVENING SALUTATIONS
After evening meal it was incumbent for all subordinates hike children and women to salute. Boys stamped one foot on the ground and told their father KHARA without the O The evening greeting for females varied a great deal. Girls said in Ugboha and Ubiaja DEKELE, all other females said Agbon Omon Ware (you will be blessed with children). In Igueben it is Airani, Riabo in Ewohimi the women in the evening. In Ebelle, after evening meal, women saluted with Usiomon Khi Si (May you be fruitful) while in Emu it was Ikhikhughe-e which really is Uukhighe-e (May death not kill you!). Though in most of Esan ‘A’ Boys greeted as aboye - Khara, in Ughoha males, after evening meal say Omnkhahho (May the children live).

Sometimes these greetings were varied a question might replace the common and usual greetings as, We wele? (Did you sleep). Since a junior should greet a senior first, an affectionate senior could help out an earring junior with this type of question. This was very common with parents and his greeting

ENDING SENTENCES
This was another act of respect practiced in Esan. It consisted of repeating the end or helping to end sentences. Usually the speaker was a person the listener very much respected or was very shy before him. It is a trait of very timid and nervous people, always anxious to please.

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