“Obo re uwevwe ephan oye eroro e vwo mue ode ke omo.” (The condition of the home determines which name is appropriate to bestow on a child.)
The Urhobo people are Urhobo-Edoid Kwa language-speaking people of larger Benue (Niger)-Congo language family located in the present Delta State of Nigeria. They occupy the southern portion of the Benin lowland and the floodplains and swamps of the petroleum-rich Niger delta. Many live in the Ughelli, Warri, Ethiope, Okpe and Sapele Local Government Areas. With a population of some two million people, the Urhobo people are the 5th largest ethnic group in Nigeria and constitute the largest single ethnic group in Delta State.
The Urhobos are noted for having their own unique style of speaking Nigerian Pidgin English. Since their language is very demonstrative that translates into their style of speaking English and Pidgin English. As a result of their unique language style, their names are also unique.
The Urhobo people consist of twenty-two autonomous republics or “Kingdoms” with a common ancestral origin. The Kingdoms are: Agbarha, Agbarha-Ame (Agbassa), Agbarho, Agbon, Arhavwarien, Avwraka, Eghwu, Ephron-oto, Evwreni, Idjerhe, Oghara, Ogor, Okere, Okparabe, Okpe, Olomu, Orogun, Udu, Ughelli, Ughievwen, Ughwerun, and Uvwie, The earliest political system in Urhoboland is a mixture of the kingship system and the rule by elders. Depending on the clan and the system of administration, the king or clan head is called the Ovie or Orodje or Osuivie, Okobaro, Okpako or Okpara-Uku and such title may be hereditary in some clans, His wife the queen is called Ovieya and his children ?m? Ovie (child of the king also known as prince and princes).
The Urhobos live very close to and sometimes on the surface of the Niger River. They have an annual fishing festival that includes masquerades, fishing, swimming contests, and dancing. There is also an annual, two-day, Ohworu festival in the southern part of the Urhobo area at which the Ohworhu water spirit and the Eravwe Oganga are displayed. Nowadays, these names are also given to children without royal heritage by their parents. A number of Urhobo sub-groups have other titles other than Ovie, for example, the Okpe called their traditional ruler Orogie and Olomu called theirs Ohworode and Okere-Urhobo theirs Orosuen.
Every Urhobo name given to a child has a meaning attached to it. The Urhobo believe that a child lives up to the likeness or meaning of the name that she or he bears. Urhobo parents are therefore very careful of the names that they give to their children.
For the most part, grandparents or close older relatives have the privilege of giving names to new-borns. This is usually an honor. However, unlike some of their ethnic neighbors, Urhobo people do not have any special
naming ceremonies that require performing certain rites. Apart from the parents and grandparents, traditionally Urhobo rarely allowed new-borns to be touched or sometimes seen directly by others until the age of three months. Mother and child are usually strong enough to have an outing at this age.
Urhobo parents do not “count” the number of their children. Parents are not permitted by Urhobo cultural practices to count their children. The number of fingers often represents a count of one’s children.
Many Urhobo names connotes spiritual or religious significance, a
challenge to self or others, celebration, appreciation of the gift of a child itself, honor, achievement, colour, weather, natural resources, philosophical, wealth and money, gender, the importance of people as an important resource, special days, especially if the individual was born on that specific day or place of origin
Urhobo names are sometimes sentences or even phrases. The ‘long forms’ may in fact be the ‘short forms’ of the actual long names. The ‘short forms’, therefore, are in some cases doubly short forms of the real names.
However, the actual meanings of the names are never in doubt. Most Urhobo names start with vowels in the initial position except where abbreviated.
Akpenvwoghene (Akpenvwe)- Praise God,
Anaborhi (Naborhi)- Be born with good destiny,
Edewor (Dewor)- Sacred day of worship in traditional
religion, Ejiroghene (Ejiro)- Praise God,
Ejokparoghene (Jokpa/Oghene)- Let’s trust in God,
Ejomafuvwe (Jomafuvwe/Jomafu)- Let peace reign in my life,
Enohor/Elohor (Nohor/Lohor)- Blessing,
Erhiaganoma (Erhi/Rhiaganoma)- Guardian spirit overpowers the body,
Erhimeyoma (Oyoma)- My guardian spirit (God) is good,
Erhinyoja (Rhinyoja/Onyoja)- Guardian spirit (God) meets our challenges
(hears our prayers),
Erhinyuse-(Use)- Guardian spirit (God) answers prayers,
Erhiroghene (Erhi/Oghene)-The spirit of God,
Eseoghene (Ese)- God’s gift,
Oghenebrume (Brume)-God decided in my favor,
Oghenechovwe (Chovwe/Oghene) -God aided me,
Oghenefejiro (Ofejiro/Oghene)- God is praiseworthy,
Oghenegaren (Garen/Oghene)- God is great,
Oghenekevwe (Kevwe/Oghene)- God gave me,
Oghenekohwo (Oghene/Kohwo)-God provides,
Ogheneme (Ome/Oghene)- My God,
Oghenemine (Mine/Mimi)- I look up to God,
Oghenenyore (Nyore/Oghene)- God answers prayers,
Oghenerukevwe (Rukevwe)- God did this for me,
Ogheneruno (Oruno/Runo)- God has so much (great),
Oghenetega (Tega/Oghene)- God is worship-worthy,
Oghenevwede (Oghenede/Oghene)- God owns the day,
Oghenevwogagan (Gaga/Oghene)- God provides all strength,
Oghenochuko (Ochuko/Oghene)- God provides my support,
Okeroghene (Okeoghene/Oghene)- God’s own time,
Omamerhi (Mamerhi/Oma)- Good guardian spirit,
Onovughakpor (Ono/Onovughe)- Who can predict what life can bring?,
Oyovwikemo (Kemo/Yovwike)- May our children be blessed
Achojah (Achojah)- Rise up to challenge,
Aruegodore (Egodo)- We have come (established) home,
Edojah (Dojah)- Day of challenge,
Efemini (Efe)-Let’s see how wealthy you can be,
Efetobo (Efe)- Wealth is achieved,
Efetobore (Tobore)- Wealth has now been achieved,
Etanomare (Tanomare/Nomare)- Freed from blame (despair),
Ighomuedafe (Igho/Dafe)- Money intoxicates the wealthy,
Miriodere (Miriode)- I now have a name,
Mitaire (Mitai)- I have achieved (reached) their match,
Mivwodere (Mivwode)- I now have a name,
Oboganriemu (Obogan)- Be strong to survive (eat),
Ogbamremu (Ogba)-The brave meets a lot of challenges,
Ojakorotu (Jakorotu/Orotu)- This is a group challenge,
Ojanomare (Janoma)- I have met the challenge,
Onajite (Ojite)- This is sufficient,
Onanojah (Onojah)-This is a challenge,
Onogaganmue (Ono/Ogagan)- Who is intoxicated with power?,
Onoharhese (Noharhese)-Who blames good deeds?,
Udumebraye (Udume/Dumebraye)- My presence gives them heartache (challenge).
Urhobo Okpo (week) is made up of four days which regulates market cycles, religious worship, marriages and other community life. The four day’s of the Urhobo week are: Edewo, Ediruo, Eduhre, Edebi. In Urhobo mythology, Edewo and Eduhre are sacred days to divinities, spirits and ancestors. Most market days are held on these days, ancestors are venerated on Edewo. Most traditional religious rituals are held on Eduhre.
The twelve months of the Urhobo calender year are equally significant.
Most of the annual festivals are held during the months of Asa, Eghwre, Orianre and Urhiori because these are the months of crop harvest and farming activities is at its lowest. Most farmers are free to partake in festivities. These are also periods to honour the spiritual forces that brought good harvest and the gods of the land. Religion controls life style in traditional communities in Urhoboland.