{Benin City, Nigeria Local Time}
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Naming The Child In Edo Land

By S.O.U Igde Last Update (July 9, 2020)

A child is the strongest cement to bind a man and a woman together as husband and wife, so the Edo custom holds As if to support their belief they say, Omo ro ‘wa That means the child is the home The child is to the Edo therefore, the first purpose of marriage That places a great duty on them t take utmost care of their children and to bring them up to be responsible citizens No surprise therefore, that much of the names they give to their Sons and daughters celebrate the child.

To the Edo, the pomp and colour of a child-naming event reflect a deep commitment to the child. The names they give are lessons in philosophy and their vision of life. To them therefore, the saying: “What’s in a name?” mocks what ought to be important and dear.

The Edo does not treat a child’s name as if it is just a label. Rather than names of objects and places therefore, they give names that are brief statements about and prayers to the world, the home and the environment. Sometimes they give names that mark the time, the event or the season in which the children were born.

In Edo land, Izomo is carried out in the evening of the seventh day of the newborn. Between the sixth and the seventh day, the grandparents of the baby, or its father if he has no surviving parent; consult

¡ha to find out if the child is a reincarnation of a late close member of either families. The Edo does that to try to counter whatever curse may have come on the child from an earlier life.

At the start of the Izomo early in the evening of the seventh day, the mother sits with the child on her laps in n’ore , to welcome visitors to the ceremony with the Song:

Iguohi                           Great is my fate!

Oghogho ma gha mien,    May joy be ours to find.

Wa ghogho ni ‘men ghi ‘men bie e   Rejoice with me I have a baby.

Oghogho ma gha mien.  May joy be ours to find.

This song is a call that all present join her in her joy for the safe delivery of the newborn. And a prayer, that gladness should always be the potion for all. Whether standing or sitting they all join her and sing lustily:

siwo ‘siwo siwo ‘stiiiiiiwooooo Siwo siwo siwo, siiiiiiiwooooo (3 ce)

vbo khin? onyemwen no (twice)  what’s it? It’s gladness (2ce)

I we vbo khin ‘ onyemwen no.  i say what’s it? It’s gladness

Onvernwen Omo. onvernwen no  The joy of a child: its gladness

Onyemwen igho, onyemwen no The joy of money: it’s gladness

Onyem w ‘ekia, onye m wen no The joy of a male body  it ‘s gladness

Onyemw ‘ulie, onvemwen no   The joy of a female body: it’s gladness

Onyernwe ukhueghe, onve,nwen no The joy of health, it’s gladness

Vbokhin? onyemwen no  What’s it? It’s gladness.

Siwo siwo  siwo  Siiiiiwooooooo  Siwo siwo siwo siiiiiwooooo o

Sevbi yedin man, Pour oil on palm-nuts. mash

Orokhoro   Super easy

This latter song is a call for the start of the main event. From that point on, the Okaegbee presides, assisted by a female master of ceremony. He calls for and the following items are placed in front of him.

20 kola nuts,

One keg of palm wine (about four litres),

One very big tuber of yam,

One dried antelope hind leg,

One cup of water from a river

Some quantity of honey,

Iki  Ewi (Dried Ewi fish)

Coconut sliced in many pieces

Ehien Edo (alligator pepper), and

Table salt.

The father of the newborn tells all present why they are gathered in his house He asks all to join him in celebrating the happy event. Then, they break into another song —

Iy’  Omomon de vb ‘odu  wowa o    Come. Newborn‘s mother

!y’  Omomon o,  O Newborn’s  mother

Ugha  bi ‘ona ne urherhe bi ‘ovbe he   Have another one soon

Iyomomon O Newborn‘s mother.

Osa Ighi khu ‘iwu omwan o   God is jealous of no one.

The baby’s mother comes forward. She sits with the baby on her laps. There is a sense in which this is a festival& of songs and the guests now join in singing:

Wa  gho mo o omo  ni  hiehie o  Behold a newborn like the ihiehie
Ihiehie yeghe yeghe s ‘obo mu eghe. Ihiehie tendrils climb a stake.

The event continues with the master of ceremonies asking the following questions of the mother of the newborn.

Q. Vbua bie  (What did you have as a baby?)

A. Ozikpalo (A Lizard)

And all the guests would laugh and yell eeeeeeeeh and ask — Avhe bi omo tiere Ozikpalo ra (Can one have a baby and name ¡t a lizard?)

The master of ceremonies asks the same question five more times and the mother of the newborn gives such answers as osonrnwukpon (rag), otiku (rubbish dump), usubun edin (palm bunch without the nuts), ugu (vulture) ant! asaka (black soldier ant) for each. And the guests laugh and yell eeeeeeeh before they ask the same rhetorical question for each answer that she gives.
Questioned the seventh time however, she answers, “a baby boy or baby girl” as the case may be And the guests applaud, shouting - Ma gho gho nuen, oguedia o This means literally, may she live to be with you.

The paternal grandfather of the baby then gives it a name. This name is that by which the child will be known. If the paternal grandfather were absent, the father of the baby will announce the name he sent. If he were deceased, the father will name his baby. Other members of the family then take their turns to name it. After that, all the guests Sing:

Omorowa  gu, erha dia.             Omorowa. live long with your dad

Ize gha dese e ¡ werie oo ee      Ize roll not. If it falls right

Ornorowa, gii iyue dia,              Omorowe l live long with your mother

¡ze gha dese e i werie oo ee      Ize rolls not if it falls right

As stated somewhere else, the baby’s parents ask someone that talks well to chew ehien Edo He or she will touch tongues with the baby and a bit of it will get into the baby’s mouth All present pray that it does not suffer speech defect ever The mother then puts a bit of honey in its mouth with the prayer that its life be as sweet as honey Every one of the guests also tastes of the honey

The Okaegbee then prays that the child would live, grow and become a blessing and a thing of pride to its parents and the family. He then breaks a kola nut and cuts each piece into smaller pieces. All present have a share of it. Guests also take pieces of coconut slices as they sing the popular: Song:

Vba ghi ru vbe din ran, o etc.

The mother of the newborn is then asked to dink some of the palm wine as the guest’s sing :

Iy Omomon ghi do na ovberele —  Baby’s Mum’ll drink this. ovberele

Da yo ‘ho nu da y ‘owe ovherele — Drink for your hands and feet. ovberele

Da y ‘uhunmwun no ghe  vaa ovberele — Drink and you ‘ll never fall ill. ovberele

Day‘ekhoe no ghe khien ruen ovberele — Drink and your colon’ll never ache ovberele

The master of ceremonies asks her to cut a yam tuber in two while she sings;

Oronmwen odo rnwen man mwen —    Marriage to my spouse has been great

Ughanmwan ¡ ghi ya so iyan y ‘akhe — Axe is what cuts the yams for our pot

The master of ceremonies then cuts the two halves of the yam in many smaller pieces. She shares the pieces among the guests with the plea that it is either eaten or planted. II the guest is to eat it, it should be cooked not roasted, and she would further plead. The antelope leg is also cut into small pieces and shared out.

The ceremony will end with more drinking and singing of the now familiar songs:

1.Onyennven ovbi mwen se rnwen

2.Vba ghi ru vbe din ran.

3 Iy ‘omomon de vbo d ‘uwow a

4.Wa ghe omon.

(Samuel Idighi Udinyiwe Igbe is the Iyase of Benin.He retired from the police force in 1978 as Commission of Police.)

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