REPORT OF THE ELEME CULTURE AND TRADITION COMMITTEE APPOINTED BY THE O-E’LA OBOR ELEME (THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF ELEME PEOPLE) ON MONDAY 2ND OCTOBER, 2017
On Monday 2nd October, 2017, O-E’la Obor Eleme, the apex social cultural organization of Eleme People worldwide, held a stakeholders’ meeting at the Eleme Civic Center, Ogale wherein the Eleme Culture and Tradition Committee was appointed.
Constitution of the Eleme Culture and Tradition Committee
The Committee was constituted as follows:
- High Chief Osaro M. Ollorwi – Chairman
- Rev. Canon Ransom G. O. Ngoke, JP – Secretary
- Chief Obarijima Osaronu – Member
- Chief Evang. Jonathan Lekwa – Member
- Rev. Samuel O. Nwafor – Member
- Mr Nwafor John – Member
- Chief Mrs Martha Egbe – Member
- Mr Sampson Onungwe Eppie – Member
- Evang. Obele Nwoke Samuel – Member
- Evang. Sunday Anasemi Obele – Member
- Chief Mrs Roseline E. Ngobe – Member
- Rev. Prof. Raphael Ngochindo – Member
Term of Reference
The terms of reference of the Committee include the following:
- To identify the causes of the neglect and abuse of Eleme culture and tradition and consequent social decay.
- To draw up modalities for social reorientation and cultural revival.
- To harmonise and streamline the functions, powers and jurisdictions of traditional leadership institutions in Eleme.
- To make recommendations in the light of its findings in order to turn Eleme around to take her place in the comity of culturally endowed ethnic nationalities.
Consequently, the Committee swung into action. The deliberation and consultation were elaborate and far reaching.
The Committee observes that culture is a society’s shared and socially transmitted ideas, values and perceptions, which are used to make sense of experience and generate behaviour and are reflected in that behaviour.
In view of the above, the Eleme Culture and Tradition Committee make the following findings.
- The Committee notes that the major causes of social decay in Eleme is the neglect of Eleme Culture and tradition.
- The Committee observes that Eleme Language, the medium through which Eleme Culture is to be upheld, preserved, communicated and transmitted from one generation to another is at the verge of extinction.
- The Committee detects that rapid industrialisation and modernization have painfully tore Eleme people from established cultural values.
- The Committee identifies that the loss of virtually all the good in our heritage, the rape of Eleme culture, and promotion of cultural dislocation in Eleme is responsible for the basterdization of our traditional institutions and the visible abuse of the process of selection, installation and dethronement of Traditional Rulers in Eleme.
- Finally, the Committee ascertains that Eleme traditional marriage process, sports, recreation activities, social cohesion and values that once sustain and promote love, unity and cooperation among Eleme people have come under persistent attacks by both our surrounding neighbours and stranger elements in our midst who are bent on making us to lose touch with our identity and indigenous Eleme system of thoughts and values.
Culture as a society’s shared and socially transmitted ideas, values and perceptions can be observed through language, ancestral origin, occupation, marriage, social classes, burials, music, nutrition, gender bias, and other factors. Because culture is shared and transmitted through learning and helps shape behaviours and beliefs, we make bold to recommend the following as way forward for E;leme:
1. Eleme Language
- The Eleme Local Government Council should through appropriate legislation put up a framework to encourage the development of Eleme Language; and make it compulsory for our children by firmly adopting it as a medium of instruction throughout the Pre-Primary, Primary and Junior Secondary Schools in Eleme.
- Parents should be encouraged to speak and teach their children Eleme Language.
- Eleme Local Government Council, O-E’la Obor Eleme, Corporate Organizations and Wealthy Individuals in Eleme to organize and/or sponsor debates, essay competitions in Eleme Language as well as donate trophies and prizes for competition in Eleme Traditional Sports.
- Eleme Language to be adopted and enforced as medium of communication in all gatherings of Eleme people such as meetings, marriage ceremonies, chieftaincy ceremonies, burials and so on. The Eleme Legislative Assembly should be encouraged to adopt Eleme Language as official language for transaction of business at the floor of the house.
- The Eleme Language Center should be encouraged and empowered financially to write and publish books in Eleme Language, train both teachers and learners of Eleme Language and develop the language in keeping with changing times.
- The Committee rejects the suggestion of adopting the Latin Alphabets for writing Eleme Language and recommends the continuous use of the Eleme Orthography which has been approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria and gazetted.
Sport is a strong unifying factor and builder of both the human mind and body. Eleme culture recognises the importance of sport and promotes several sports to unite the people, establish love and cooperation amongst the people. Eleme sports also test endurance and sustain healthy body. The Committee notes that there is urgent need to resuscitate the following dying traditional sports:
- Aken – This is an outdoor sport for men. The Committee recommends the introduction of female version and suggest the introduction of prizes to replace killing of goat and other rituals.
- Ngoro – This is an indoor sport for men.
- Ngo – This is both indoor and outdoor sport for men and women.
- Katanka – This is an outdoor sport for able bodied men. The Committee recommends the introduction of women version in terms of competition for prizes.
In addition to the above sporting activities, the Eleme culture recognises and promotes the following recreational events among others:
- Eloi – Stories and songs are instrumental in retaining languages and culture. Folktales and stories are usually told in the evening to entertain adults and children alike.
- Owu – Masks and masquerades are important elements of culture.
- Ogbo – Adults and Youths should be encouraged to form cultural groups (drama, dance, musical troupes, etc.) to entertain. They can also make a living by so doing.
- Ogbo Nja, etc.
4. Ogbo Nja
The Committee observes the lack of love, unity and cooperation among Eleme people and recommends the restoration of Ogbo Nja Festival to promote brotherly love, unity, cooperation and relationship among Eleme people. Ogbo Nja can be celebrated as part of Christmas or New Year activities on 25th and 26th December or as part of the Eleme Cultural Week Celebration in October.
The Committee notes that Eleme dance such as Eje Ekpete, Eje Piopiopioo, Eje Alikirija, Eje Agala, Ngelem, Tamkpe Eje, etc. teaches social patterns and values, and help people work, mature, praise, or criticise while celebrating festivals, funerals, competing, reciting history, proverbs and poetry.
6. Eleme Cultural Week
The Committee recommends Eleme Cultural Week to be held annually in the third week of October where communities and individuals can compete for various prizes in sports like Aken, Katanka, Ngoro, Ngo, O’ū Okãi, Ofe Mbo Eta ei among others. The Committee also recommends Debate and Essay Competitions in Eleme Language to be included in the weeklong competition. The Committee further recommend the creation of a body to be known as Eleme Kultural Organization (EKO) to champion the rebirth of all aspects of Eleme Culture.
7. Economic Empowerment/Wealth Transfer
The Committee notes that Eleme Culture has an established process of economic empowerment and wealth transfer known as Ndele which has hitherto transformed the lives of many families and recommends its revival as an attainment for social recognition and status conferment among our female folks. By this, no one can assume the title of Emere Owa overnight without being formally confer with it, after due process and especially meeting the minimum requirements.
8. Traditional Rulers
The Committee observes that one of the institutions that have been subjected to abuse in Eleme is the traditional institution. It is disheartening to point out that Traditional Rulers are selected, installed and dethroned frequently without regard to the custom and tradition of Eleme people. Worse still, those prohibited from taking chieftaincy titles do so with severe consequences for the people and land of Eleme.
- Offices of Oneh Nkiken Eleme and Oneh Nkporon Eleme
- Those to be selected and appointed into these offices must be vast in Eleme culture and tradition, literate with good background and must be members of Ogbo Nkporon Eleme in good standing.
- The Committee discovers that the reverend offices of Oneh Nkiken Eleme and Oneh Nkporon Eleme are non-existence or dormant and therefore recommends that these offices, which are vital for the effective functioning of Ogbo Nkporon Eleme be constituted and made functional by Ogbo Nkporon Eleme.
- The Committee also recommends the same arrangement for Nchia and Odido Districts of Eleme.
- Ebubu and Onne Clans should also consider having functional Oneh Nkiken Ebubu and Oneh Nkporon Ebubu as well as Oneh Nkiken Onne and Oneh Nkporon Onne.
9. Qualification for Selection and Installation of Traditional Ruler
The Committee recommends that the person to be selected and installed as Traditional Ruler must have the following qualifications:
- Must possess a minimum of WASC or its equivalent.
- Must demonstrate relevant knowledge of the custom and tradition of Eleme people.
- Must be a Member of Ogbo Nkporon of the Community, Clan, District or Eleme.
- Must not be somebody found guilty by Ogbo Nkporon for witchcraft.
- Must not be somebody who had been convicted for felony.
- Must not be somebody found guilty by competent court or Ogbo Nkporon for stealing or misappropriation of public fund and had been properly dethroned or expelled by the appropriate Council of Chiefs.
- Must not be someone who had been found guilty by Ogbo Nkporon for betrayal of the people of Eleme or any part thereof.
10.Dethronement of Traditional Ruler
The Committee finds that in all communities and clans of Eleme if the Traditional Ruler commits an offence, he is suspended from office and his function delegated to Oneh Nkiken (Land Priest and Traditional Prime Minister). The Traditional Ruler is then tried and if found guilty, a fine is imposed on him. He is expected to pay the fine within a time limit, normally three to four months. Once the fine is paid, the Traditional Ruler is reinstated; failure to comply leads to deposition.
The Committee notes that the following offences are viewed seriously in Eleme and can lead to deposition of a Traditional Ruler without suspension.
The Committee also observes that these crimes are heinous in nature and can warrant the dethronement of a Traditional Ruler where he has been found guilty by a court of law or Ogbo Nkporon on appeal.
The Committee discovers that the marriage tradition of Eleme people had been grossly abused and is in total disarray with foreign traditions and behaviours infiltrating every aspects of the system making it difficult for our boys and girls to marry as at when due; our boys inability to marry in Eleme and rising sexual immorality are also traceable to high cost of marriage.
The Committee condemns in strong terms an emerging practice of monetizing Ofe Mbo Eta ei and accompanying drinks and stresses that Ofe Mbo Eta ei is very significant in Eleme marriage culture as it symbolises the beginning of a life-long relationship between two families; the official union of a man and the woman; and importantly, breaking of covenant, a disconnection with the bride’s family and a connection with the husband’s family – her new home. Such goat is killed in the bride’s ancestral shrine to placate or pacify her ancestors and with the drink offer libations and prayers for freedom from problems, barrenness or mishap in her new home, especially in procreation and good fortune and therefore forbidden to be monetized.
The Committee concludes that the Eleme People recognises etaale ekpii oja 4 manilas, equivalent of N100.00k, a she-goat, one big tripod-stand pot of palm wine known as mmi oso ofooro , another one jar of palm wine called akpirikpa mmi nsi opee, a bottle of gin (kaikai) and a token of 1,340 manilas for first daughter and 1,200 manilas for others, equivalent of Thirty-Three Thousand Five Hundred Naira (N33,500.00k) and Thirty Thousand Naira (N30,000.00k) respectively, as pre-requisite for contracting marriage in Eleme.
The Committee therefore observes that the waste known as modern Oja Onu (mutual feeding which has been wrongly construed as “Buying of Mouth”), financial imposition on goat (no matter its size) and unnecessary fines associated with Ofe Mbo Eta ei as well as expensive bride price which are strange to Eleme be eliminated to make our marriage affordable and pocket-friendly.
The Committee recommends that Ogbo Nkporon Eleme, O-E’la Obor Eleme and Churches in Eleme work out modalities to regulate the cost of marriage in Eleme; delete wasteful activities like elaborate Oja Onu involving setting of canopies, sharing of wrappers to hundreds of people, bridal trains and dance, and cumbersome procedure that increase costs from the system.
Still on marriage, the Committee further recommends for consideration the possibility of Ochu Owa ceremony proceeding Ofe Mbo Eta ei in the evening of the same day to reduce expenses.
We, Members of the Eleme Culture and Tradition Committee wish to express our profound gratitude to the People of Eleme for finding us worthy to serve in the Eleme Culture and Tradition Committee and assure our willingness to be of further service for the peace and development of Eleme should we be called upon to serve again.
High Chief Osaro Ollorwi
Rev. Canon Ransom G. O. Ngoke, JP