I am beginning to think that there is something self destructive in the make up of the average Urhobo youth that makes them prone to always denigrade their own.
Trending now on social media is the Urhobo Progress Union President General address at the world press conference held today at Uvwiamuge, Agbarho to kick start/announce the programme of activities lined-up for UPU@90 celebrations. Instead of dwelling on the positives of the speech, Urhobo social media upstarts have gone to the public space to denigrade the speech. Their grouse: The UPU President-General delivered his speech in English! They forget that this was a world press conference. The PG was not speaking to the Urhobo nation but to the world! Is such a speech not more effective when delivered directly in English to the world to which the events were being announced? Do they even know that in translation, meaning is lost most of the times? Since I was young, now that I am old, I have never seen nor hear the leadership of Arewa Consultative Forum, Afenifere and Ohaneze Ndigbo addressed a world press conference in their native tongues. Each time they have had reasons to address the nation and the world, they spoke the national Lingua Franca – English.
Most times, one is compelled to ask the question, over and over again “who did this to us?” Why Urhobo garri no dey sweet Urhobo self? One of such “lover” of the Urhobo language commented with magisterial air on a Facebook post thus: “if national president of a Noble nation like Urhobo cannot speak his dialects in such a unique occasion, that is a national embarrassment. And then we should be wise in future decisions.” I wonder why this same commentator and his likes have not before now, objected to the fact that the advertised programme of activities for the UPU@90 celebrations are written in English. I wonder too how many of these loud mouths would have been able to read and understand a word therein if the programmes were written in Urhobo language.
When recently the newly crowned Olu of Warri, with the aid of a teleprompter nonetheless, delivered an impressive world class coronation speech in English, it was Urhobo youths who were first, over themselves, all over social media to hail the speech.That ceremony was to all intents and purposes a traditional ceremony. Afomase spoke in English, you hailed him. Your PG addresses the world in English in a non traditional ceremony, you denigrade the speech. “You well?” “Them do you?”
Urhobo have many adages when it come to promoting or protecting your own in public that seem to have been totally lost on the present youth. Let me loosely render some of them here in pidgin English. “Na the name you give your cloth na em another person go call am. If you call your cloth secondhand cloth, na so the stranger go call am” “Na person chin he take dey fold cloth wey dey inside house” When you constantly deprecate yourselves in public, why do you complain when others look down on you?
This is not however, to encourage docility. Constructive criticism is good and can serve as a wake up call from lethargy for the leader(s) But criticism for criticism sake is “pull-downism.” We must distinguish between these. More worrisome is the fact that most of these criticism are made out of sheer ignorance. The Urhobo social media space is filled with too much acerbic bile and toxicity. The remote nature and permissiveness of social media space has not helped matters. Hurling insults on your elders or typing gibberish on social media because you have access to data and a phone – to borrow one of your meaningless slangs – is not WOKE. If it were to be the in the days when insults were physically replied or settled in the village square, a lot of persons will be walking about with bloodied mouths and swollen lips