Prof Aziza and others score Dr Ovie Ughwanogho Annual Urhobo Challenge high

Yesterday, UPYA team had a rare privilege of being hosted by the prestigious Urhobo Studies Association, (the body that formulated the Urhobo Curriculum) headed by Prof. Mrs Rose Aziza with other prominent personalities such as Professor Sunny Awefeada (Vice Chairman), Moses Darah (Secretary), Dr Carole Okenrentie (Treasurer), Dr Kevwe Abamwa (Financial Secretary), Dr Matthew Agbogun (Welfare Secretary), Lucky Ejobee (Assistant Secretary), and many more as members.

It was no doubt a remarkable and memorable encounter as issues of strategic importance to the future of Urhobo Nation were captured.

First was the growing lamentation trailing the existentialism of our language in the face of prevalent circumstances such as non inclusion of it in our basic and secondary educational system, parents not attaching priority attention to it in their children upbringing.

In UPYA’s report, stemming from its observation during the maiden edition of the Dr Ovie Ughwanogho Annual Urhobo Challenge, it was revealed that over 75% of both public and private schools in Urhobo land do not offer the language as a subjects which is a sharp contrast to the prevalent situation in some part of the country. According to Marcus Ekure, UPYA President, this spells a very big doom to the future of Urhobo if nothing is done about this ugly trend.

Going further, Prof Aziza lamented that a research they carried out recently also revealed there is no Nursery or Kindergarten school that teaches Urhobo language to our children. To make things worse, the parents scarcely speak the language for their children either making it more scary. It is potentially damaging and shockingly alarming that today, you find young boys and girls born and raised in Urhobo land by Urhobo parents but cant speak the language and do not see it as anything. The truth is that the attitude of many of our young ones towards the language today leaves no impression other than they do not feel proud of the language. At this point, a participant in the audience, added that she has had several negative encounters with her son in this regard as he always responds, “who Urhobo help” whenever she tells him to speak the language.

Aziza made another shocking contribution, when she said even in the BA Linguistics/Urhobo in Department of Languages and Linguistics of the University, the experience is the same as majority of students in that department see it as last option, that is when they have exhausted all options before settling down for the Urhobo Linguistics. Most shockingly, she said, non Urhobos who found themselves in the Urhobo linguistics by accident, end up doing better in the language than majority of the Urhobos there.

For us , we considered these observations so scary in the light of inaction bearing in mind UNESCO prediction that Urhobo language would go into extinction by 2030. This calls for urgent attention and action.

Going forward on way forward, the DR UGHWANOGHO ANNUAL URHOBO CHALLENGE was adjudged as one of the best thing that has happened to Urhobo language in this regard. Until our children find strong reasons to learn, speak, until there is a reasonable cost implication for not understanding and speaking the language, our lamentation would remain. This is part of what, the Urhobo Challenge is set to achieve. On that note, the sponsor of the program was heavily applauded.

After this much, we collectively resolved as follows:

(1) To put in more pressure in our struggle for implementation of the just approved Urhobo curriculum and would not rest until teachers are deployed to various schools across Urhobo Land. In this regard, UPYA has already submitted a list of 100 graduates from the Urhobo linguistics unit of DELSU to the office of the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education.

(2) To press towards possibility of having the language being taught in majority of Nursery or cradle schools. Though, a major challenge here as experienced before according to Aziza, would be that many Urhobo parents may even withdraw their kids from such schools.

(3) Parents should take it as a major priority to speak the language to their children. It doesn’t stop them from speaking good English. Many ou ypu

(4) That all effort should be geared and coordinated towards ensuring quality and educative Urhobo movies are produced and promoted at all levels by all and sundry. Many of our children prefer watching other tribe’ movies to theirs. This is not a sort of discrimination but efforts should also be made at learning yours.

(5) It was also agreed that Urhobo language tutor apps should be developed and promoted to encourage the language development including the use of YouTube to promoting our rich cultural heritage.

(6) It was also recommended that like the Dr Ovie Ughwanogho Annual Urhobo Challenge, other challenges should created to encourage the language development. It could be in the area of cooking competition, it could be dance competition and others .

(7) It was also suggested that the mobile empowerment train should be structured in a way that Urhobo language can be used in the rural areas for effective communication especially for Catering department and Production instead of English language.

The high point of the meeting was an official formality of the role of USA in the Dr Ovie Ughwanogho Annual Urhobo Challenge. It has been the Organisation in charge of questions and answers for all stages of the challenge over time but hasn’t been made formal until now.

Finally, we shared lights on possible other issues of high sensitivity as well as areas of partnerships to both organisations. We also discussed the need to encourage our youths to study courses of strategic importance to both their future and that of Urhobo Nation.

Among those present on the part of UPYA were Marcus Ekure, Tobi Dafe, Gladys Ataraire and Ovies Richard Ogegere.



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