The people and their language

Bookmark and Share

Discussing Owan of today without the mention of the people (the indigenes) with their medium of communication is grossly incomplete. Their way of life customs and traditions, also matter. In fact the immediate understanding of owan is practically the people with their characteristic-nature stature appearance including skin colour, shape of head. type of eyes and limbs, and also dialect with speech style. Culture with emphasis on customs, traditions and beliefs, art and occupation. way of life and social organizations. These details however, need not be treated here, set this within the Springboard of Custom and Traditions in Onwan (East and West) by this writer.

In spite of the fact that people in Owan of today include the Yorubas, the Ibos, the Urbobos, Hausas and Ebiras, it is essentially the indigenes that are for mention in this piece. The non-indigenes have ethnographic characteristics as listed above which make them distinct ethnic groups. Writing about the defunct lvbiosakon’ which included Owan, Bradbury said “These are distinguishable from to their Edo speaking neighbours by common traditions of origin, dialect and other cultural and social characteristics as well as a feeling of unity

As shall be seen presently and in greater details, Ora/Owan people hail from the ancestry of an Edo prince by name Okpame. He had a son in Odorlerle while in banishment, whom he named Oraekpen. (Erhen-ekpen as said at the time in Edo language). The settlement which Oraekpen’s sons put together became Ora, not an Edo community outside Edo. It is these settlements which sooner than later developed a distinct dialect, way of life and other traits peculiar to them, and made them an ethnic group of their own.

Owan people, in passing, are not dark skinned; their skin colour is more of can than dark-brown We, like most other people, are brainwashed to accept that we are black humans, hence in Ora language we refer to ourselves as Agbon no binrlin. Since further details as regards the people’s racial particulars belong outside history, it is enough to say that Ora people are naturally well formed; no unusualness, very few if really any albinos and very few heights above or below the average of 5ft to 6ft.

As for the people’s dialect turned language after careful study, it derives from, and so is greatly similar to that of Edo. In fact, Edo Language was the language spoken by the migrants under Okpame and was spoken in Odorlerle well beyond the sixteenth century “The dialect, in the broad sense had the Negroid as its parent-stock to a much narrower sense and more recently. it was considered as a branch of the Edoid”(Dr Agbeyisi. 1982).

The stages of its development since the beginning of the seventeenth century has little to do with our purpose here. We may safely conclude that “as the people moved father and father away from Edo in time and space, without permanently losing relationship with Edo, their medium of communication got more and more different in root and derivation. There was no formal directive to so modify, Edo Language, but gradually, imperfections and some corruptions’ were unavoidable and accommodated. new ‘coinages’ were introduced, the familiar became the loan0 words etc’. (Orhewere, 1988).

The root of Edo language struck rather firmly but the derivation distinguished itself and developed into the form and style that clearly became Ora. Being a natural phenomenon Ora language in turn and in later year became the parent stock from which other neghbouring communities derived very long lists of words

Within two and a half centuries, Ora language had become so firmly established that it became available for all needs.

¡. in communicating greetings and prayers, results and abuses, idioms, parables and proverbs, and of course various forms of social—cum vocal interaction; myths and legends, folklores and stones, riddles and idioms, parables and proverbs.

¡¡ in both prose and poetry especially as spoken and sung al various occasions e.g. at peace and battle times, at periods of joy and sorrow, of fear and anxiety, of love, of hatred, etc.

¡ii in indirect form, say code form or can’t for incantation or communication with spirits or gods and at periods of pouring libation, doing divination, or during mystical investigation and ominous interpretation;

¡v. in babies’ muttering as they learn to speak.

In Owan of today, deliberate efforts are being made to develop literacy begun within the first quarter of the twentieth century. In order that the Iabours of our fathers. Pa. I. 0. Akinluyi (1912), Ven. I. Aig. lmouhkuede (1923) and Chief M.D.  Banmah (1925) do not be in vain, there are writers today who had under taken various works in Ora language. Although there are areas yet to deserve unanimous acceptance and use, it is heartening that generally Ora now has a simple and transmissible orthography, a definite and clear alphabet and other necessary principles of writing, easy to use. Their use by this writer in materials for schools and churches has made Ora language legible for over half a century now This claim, however, does not rule out necessary improvements as the spoken form develops or changes acceptably

For now, following a close study of letters essential for word formation in Ora language, this writer identifies and recommends the following as Ora alphabet.

¡. Simple plain Ora Vowels (V)a e é i o o u.

¡¡. Nasalized Vowels (Nv) an en in on un as Ora is a greatly nasalized language.

¡¡¡. Consonants (C), b d f g h j k l m n p r s t v w y z, and

¡v. Digraphs (D) (not double but two consonants) gb gh kh kp nw ny rl ch vb

Within Ora orthography, identified significant alphabet for Ora language is thus thirty-nine this set conforms to Kay Williamson’s relay (Practical Orthography in Nigeria, p. 9) viz “Bamgbose says that a good orthography should have only one symbol for each significant sound”.

From the above, an old style straight set of Ora alphabet for recitation or reading is readily a b d e e f g gb h I j k l m n o o p r s t u v  w y z. Ora has no consonant /c/ in isolation but used with /h/ to form  ch, other combinations or digraphs /gw/, /kw/. and /rh/ are removed; nw and ny are distinguished from consonants /w/ and /y/ while /ri/ as the trill is introduced in view of the great frequency of it ni Ora words, many of which are glottal.

This writer feels strongly that Owan and Ewan are only conventionally accepted instead of the appropriate Onwan and Enwan. or lyon and Eyen in place of the more appropriate Inyon (i.ny-on) and Enyen (e-ny-en) - 3 letter words. It is a mere joining the bandwagon to stick to ero (eye) oro (hole). orere (out), erere (today), oruru (cotton, thread) instead of the more appropriate (spelling-wise) erlo, orlo. orlerle, erlerle. orlurlu respectively.

Agreed. Foreigners find it dííficult to pronounce the digraph that is not enough reason for Ora go accept the foreign speech-style and forgo her own. The speech-style of some Nigerians effortlessly permits pronouncing university and very very as unifasity and ferry, ferry or London and Lagos as Nondon and Nagos. This is not enough reason for the correct words by sound and spelling to be accepted in their erroneous adaptation, by the owners of the language.

In conclusion concerning the alphabet. the following sentence (structured by this writer) includes the 39 representations of the distinct sounds in Ora Language Enwan ki re. Adolo nuhunkin bi Itepu n’ogbete bi Ojeifo davbo Ihan kie. nain bi Adoga bi Aiche da on ame vho Ubezi o kpese kh’i nain vin iorlo yughegughe eso i men wee”.