As part of the task for Face Of Rhodies World Photo Contest Season 6 (My, culture, My Pride), contestants were asked to tell us about the culture they are representing in an expository essay writing. This task carries 2000 votes, and below is an unedited essay writing sent in by this contestant.
Have fun and get to know more about her culture.
Name: ABUSOMWAN, ODUWA PEACE
State Of Origin: Edo State
Name Of Culture Representing: Bini culture
The expanded form of the word Ogiso is Ogie-iso, which when translated in Edo means, king of the sky. The word Ogie means king, Iso means Sky or Heaven. Thus the Edo people believe that their kings come from the sky or more appropriately, from Heaven or from God. It is belief which explains why the Oba or king is the embodiment of the culture of the Edo people. The story of the people of the people cannot be written without reference to their king or Oba. Indeed, everything revolves round the Oba. For example, a matured man would be appropriately referred to as Okpioba(meaning Oba´s man)Conversely, a woman would be referred to as Okhuoba (meaning Oba´s woman).
The salutations or greetings of the Edo people have not excluded their Oba. Thus for “Good morning” Edo man or woman would say Oba Owie(meaning King of the Morning) “For good afternoon” they would say Oba Avan (King of the afternoon) and for “good evening” they would say Oba ota (meaning king of the Evening). The origin of the word Oba has been a subject of controversy.
The early kings in Benin were known as Ogisos. The successors were the Obas which began with Oba Eweka1. Some writers claim that the word Oba is a yoruba word which means King. Others insist that the word must have been derived from the Benin word O baa meaning “it is difficult hard or dificult or probably from an abbreviation of the original name of the first Ogiso Obagodo(Oba godo: Oba-King godo. high; thus High king). The long history of Edo people is reflected in their uniquely rich cultural heritage.
In Edo, the hair is the most important part of the look, is made into a high bun hairstyle known as Eto-Okuku, typically created with black gel. Coral beads are then sewn into the hair or extensions in to the form of a crown, called Okuku. The coral bead accessories accentuate the regal look. Beaded necklaces are called ivie-uru, hand beads – ivie-ebo, earrings – emi-ehorivie, and a poncho like cape/beaded top called ewu-ivie.
For the complete look, there are different fabrics of wrappers – some wear embellished George, some opt for velvet or lace of different colours – anything looks great with beads.
This attire is usually worn during a marriage ceremony or any of the cultural activities.
The Edo people are famous for their art works. From the earliest times of civilization, specialized professional guilds or societies were set up to promote the highest ideals in the various arts. These guilds were accorded royal patronage. To this day, some of these guilds, like those of wood carvers and bronze casters, are still operating at Igbesanmwan and Igun streets in Benin City.
Art, as a form of communication, has been greatly explored, especially for recording memorable events in the life of the various communities. Effigies of Obas, heroes and heroines were molded for posterity. Different media such as bronze, brass, mud (terracotta), ebony wood and ivory feature in these works of art. In the 13th century, Igueha introduced brass casting into Benin City. The indigenous artists in Benin have since evolved a peculiar house style in brass casting and created the largest brass industry in the African continent.
The Benin bronze works are the most favored and renowned art works of Edo State. Many of these artworks were looted by the British forces during the invasion of Benin Kingdom in 1897.
In recent years, the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba Erediauwa has spear-headed renewed efforts to repatriate these valuable art pieces from Europe. The Idia ivory mask, which was the official symbol of the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), is still lying captive in a British museum.
Edo State has produced some of the best crop of outstanding contemporary artists in Nigeria. Some of these renowned artists are Sir Victor Uwaifo (who is a multi media artist), Festus Idehen, Dr. Colette Omogbai-Onyeka, Tayo Aiyegbusi, Osagie Erese, Klem Emoda, Roseline Thomas-Osakwue, Cliff Oguigo, High Priest Osemwingie Ebohon, late Felix Idubor and late Professor Solomon Irein-Wangboje, who in their life times and even now, stand proud as some of the world’s best.
Formal art education is taught at the school of Art and Design, Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi and the Department of Fine and Applied Arts of the University of Benin.
Art galleries are mainly located in the state capital, Benin City, especially on the Airport and Mission Roads axis. The bigger and popular ones like Idubor Art Gallery on Sakponba Road, Victor Uwaifo Gallery along Ekenwan Road, Wangboje Creative Arts Centre on Owoseni Street and Ebohon Cultural Centre off Dumez Road all in Benin City attract tourists and art buffs all year round. Other arts and craft shops are found in the major towns of Edo State.
In the literary arts, the banner of Edo State has continued to be hoisted on the national and international fora. Dr. Festus Iyayi won the Commonwealth Prose Prize in 1989, while Funsho Aiyegina won the Poetry Prize of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) with his poetry collection “A Letter to Lydia and other Poems”.
Frank Aig-Imoukhuede, a former Federal Director of Culture, is the pathfinder in the virgin area of Pidgin English poetry. Odia Ofeimun, a past President of ANA, Harry Garuba, Mabel Segun and Helen Ovbiagele are authors of note in the poetry and prose genres.
In the performing arts, drama groups are mostly located in Benin City with the Edo Cultural Group, Uyi Edo Theatre Group, Earth Pot Cultural Group, Ova Theatre Group, Inneh Troupe, and Ebohon Cultural Troupe featuring prominently.
The State Arts Council has performing troupes that have represented the state at many national and international events. The Oba Akenzua II Cultural Centre, Benin City is the hub of cultural activities in the state, a fine architectural masterpiece with beautiful murals of Edo traditional motifs. The Centre is complemented by Urhokpota Hall which is close by on Ring Road. These two theatres have hosted performances, symposia and exhibitions.
Pottery, basket making, cane furniture, cloth-weaving, mat-making and gold-smiting trades thrive in Edo State with quality and standards comparing favorably with others anywhere in the world.
A craft shop, with wares such as carving, hand-woven clothes, ebony rings, bowls, ash-trays, flower pots and bronze objects, were opened by the state government in July 1968 in Benin City.
The art of basket-making is popular among the Esan ethnic stock. The ready availability of palm fronds has engendered the prevalence of practitioners in this trade in the five local government areas that are Esan-speaking. Their products, which are veritable works of art, include shopping baskets, waste paper baskets and farmer’s wicker baskets.
The Uneme-Nekhua and the South Uneme people in Akoko-Edo and Etsako West Local Government Areas are renowned for their dexterity and skills in traditional black smithing and ceremonial swords. Gold and silver smiths are found in all the major towns in the state. They specialize in the fabrication of ornamental adornments like trinkets, bracelets, bangles, chains and earrings favored by fashion-conscious men and women.
Somorika, Auchi, Igarra and Ubiaja take pre-eminence as major areas of traditional cloth-weaving. The colorful, artistic motifs of the Igarra people have won national and international acclaim.
Molded statues, statuettes and figurines of Olokun the goddess of the sea, is a major feature of the traditional worship in the core Bini council areas of Oredo, Orhionmwon, Uhunmwode, Egor, Ikpoba Okha, Ovia North East and Ovia South west.
Pottery making is largely done by the womenfolk who specialize in the production of the earthenware like cooking pots, bowls, mugs, water pots, pipes etc.
Ojah in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area is known nationally for its fine pottery. Other trailblazers in the art of traditional pottery are the people of Udo in Esan South East Local Government Area, Uhonmora in Owan West Local Government Area, Okpekpe and Imiegba in Etsako East Local Government Area.
Yam as pounded yam(ema) is used during worship of Gods such as Ogun or Olokun.
Cooked yam porridge,without any oil but spiced and with the sacrificed animal,is eaten at Ogun shrine. It is one of the most delicious foods on earth.
Whole or cut up yam is burnt and placed on Esu shrine.
To keep death away from a house,yam is cut up,cooked and then mashed with red palm oil and cowries and placed around the house.
Same with sacrifices to ‘elders of the night'(eniwaren ason). The yam dish is placed at junctions close by. This is called ‘izobo’.
The mashed yam earlier mentioned is called ‘obobo’.
No other food crop is so used. Corn/maize is sometimes substituted for yam at Esu shrine.
Twins in Biniland are forbidden from eating apes and monkeys.
Some Ogun worshippers do not eat snails.
Most traditional people do not eat any animal that died naturally in the house such as chicken or goat(Animal must be killed).Same with bush animal.
Some Bini families do not eat a variety of cocoyam.
Most Bini families do not eat dogs.
Frogs,cats and rats are forbidden to be eaten.
Some Bini families actually forbid dogs living in the home. No dog as pet. Dog is good enough as sacrifice to Ogun.
After a meal( not snack) a younger Bini male says to his older of both sexes,whether they provided the meal or not, whether they are related to the diner or not,the word ‘Kada’. This is now preferable to the fuller ‘Kada bu kpe’ .It is almost always said to only Binis (would not make sense to a non-Bini,anyway).
The female version of the male ‘kada’ is ‘erhe ghi gbue’.
‘Erhe ghi gbue’ translated means ‘may a stranger not overcome you’. The reason a Bini woman says this after a meal is unknown to poster. Even more mysterious is the male ‘kada’ in both origin and meaning. My guess is that it is one of the few very ancient Edo words that has survived till today.
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Your article is too long and has many unnecessary points. You were just supposed to focus on the culture and not the State. Your photography is on point.
VERY GOOD: 400