UNITY: A MEANS TO A BETTER TOMORROW
A KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY
PROF. IRO EWEKA,
(PROFESSOR EMERITUS O.U.BRISTOL)
AT THE SECOND ANNUAL UNITY CONFERENCE OF
SPORT HOTEL, VERONELLO, LE GARDA, VERONA, ITALY.
12-14 NOVEMBER 2004
OBA GHATOR OKPERE!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a keynote address, not an instructional
manual. Its aim is to lay before you the THEME of this conference and
highlight the key issues covered by the theme. My boss Drs Stephen
Ogbonmwan and Osamwonyi Igori who gave me the assignment have assured me
you will have ample time to freely and openly discuss the issues
presented, so as to reach a consensus. Therefore I will limit my
presentation to a short time to allow for a full range of interaction
and audience participation. It is from such interaction and
participation that we can find the answers for which we search, because
first the answer is in the question; and second the question is the
No single individual has all the questions or knows all the answers. The
theme of this conference is EDO UNITY: A MEANS TO A BETTER FUTURE. That
no doubt will raise questions in your minds, individually and in those
questions, according to the first of the above two paradoxes, lie your
individual answers. The Unity we seek however is encapsulated in he Edo
Global Organization�s principles and policies which hopefully we shall
carefully examine at this conference and ratify once and for all, for
Edo Global Organization can no longer remain a talking shop but must
stand out as a dynamic and action orientated institution that carries in
it�s core the better future for Edo everywhere.
The Organization offers a purpose around which we can all freely and
willingly rally. That purpose is therefore unifying forces which will
enable all sections of our diverse communities to speak at it were with
a single voice.
Two main issues arise here. Firstly, there is the unifying force of the
Organization�s purpose; secondly, there is the Unity of that purpose
itself. Taken together, the Global nature of the Organization becomes
One might wish to know what the Edo Global Organization really stands
for. Let me tell you. In a presentation at the meeting of the Council of
Presidents of the Edo Nation Association in the Americas in Dallas,
Texas in April 2003, Dr Stephen Ogbonmwan clearly articulated what the
Edo Global Organization really stands for.
I paraphrase Dr Ogbonmwan� S statement at this point. He said that the
�Edo Global Organization stands for the ability to pull the same string,
work together for a common purpose and achieve desirable results. Edo
Unity therefore means working together for a common purpose which has
been consciously conceived and having a common desire to achieve that
purpose because its value is recognised by all those involved.
Continuing, Dr Ogbonmwan said, Edo Unity means speaking with one voice
in dealings within the (Edo) State and more importantly with the Federal
It means aligning and re-aligning with Government at the Centre for the
benefit of our people;
it means pursuing a common goal for the benefit of Edo people; it means
realising that though we are many and varied but we constitute a part of
a single whole, which is Edo Kingdom;
It means that those at the helm of affairs are using the available
resources for Edo people without damaging the Edo economy by taking the
peoples� money abroad;
it means that the Edo in the Diaspora take active part in the issues
that concern Edo State and contribute their widow�s mite to the
self-help development of Edo State;
It means constructive criticism and the avoidance of smear campaigns;
It means disagreeing in harmony without drawing each other�s blood;
It means all things good for Edo people wherever they may be;
It means facing our worst fears and turning our failures unto successes;
It means re-orientating ourselves, our thought processes towards honour
for achievements rather than praise and respect for ill-gotten wealth;
And, finally, it means celebrating our achievements and cultural
However far and wide one may search, it will be difficult to find any
definition cleverer and more comprehensive than Dr Ogbonmwan� S
definition of Edo Unity which I have attempted to paraphrase here. And
it is that definition we are here to examine and ratify.
By definition Edo Global Organization is the umbrella charity
institution beneath which all Edo groups operate. It is global in two
main ways namely, it contains all the individual Edo groups everywhere
on earth; and its activities cover every conceivable aspect of Edo life
at home and in Diaspora. It is the main and principal initiator of
policies which all the diverse constituent groups should implement. Yet
it does not aim at usurping the existing powers of the separate
fragments nor rob them of their individuality and uniqueness. Its
strength inheres in its embodiment of purpose which unites us all...
That purpose concisely is to ensure and guarantee the future prosperity
of Edo Land regardless of the failures and shortcomings of any elected
The Edo Global Organization is non political although some of its
constituent members may carry out political activities on its behalf and
with its full support. Any activity, political, economic, social, or
cultural which may be directed towards the overall progress and
development of Edo Land falls within the remit of our Global
Organization. But let me emphasise one important and crucial point,
namely; the Edo Global Organization is NOT a terrorist group by any
definition whatsoever. It is not even a pressure group per se. It is
purely a self help Charitable Organization, promoting the improvement of
The Edo in Diaspora must be seen here as a catalyst in the fulfilment of
our purpose. In our post-exilic state of consciousness, we have all
imbibed the lifestyles of the various environments that have hosted us.
Without that, we would never have fitted into our new homes away from
our home-land. Edo Land is at least potentially the better for this
situation because of the enormous richness which it provides in terms of
training, expertise, and wisdom in all its forms, shades, and contours.
This huge wealth in human resources is at the disposal of Edo Global
Organization and it is ready and waiting to be harnessed in the
fulfilment of our unifying purpose.
And as a part of the details which you will eventually discuss, I quote
here another of Dr Ogbonmwan� S statements. He writes that Edos in
Diaspora must willingly make the necessary sacrifice to educate,
initiate, facilitate, and improve processes that will not only sustain
Edo culture and Tradition in the 21st century but also be
beneficial economically to all and sundry in Edo Land.
In this and other important respects, it seems vital to emphasise the
value of the Edo Woman as an equal contributor to all our aspirations.
Throughout Edo History, the woman has been highly respected, even
venerated as a mother, and as wife; Okhuo e ro bi Oba; as we say in one
of our proverbs. The examples of Idia, Iden, Emotan, and Eyewo only
scratch the surface without exhausting the numerical range of Edo
womanhood which used to be valued for courage, resourcefulness,
industry, and ingenuity. The Edo woman was the protected but concealed
pillar that propped up every Edo man from the Oba to the meanest
Sadly in recent years, she has been relegated to the role of object
dependency, seen but not heard, and treated only as a sex object by men
who concede nothing else to her but �Bottom Power�.
In doing so, we have neglected a full half of our natural endowments in
human resources. A great deal of price has been paid for this shameful
negligence. The Edo woman was never inclined, naturally or consciously
to prostitution until the Edo man introduced and coerced her into it
through the invention of what is euphemistically called bottom power. It
was then and only then that she discovered that the man�s object
weakness�, his voracious and uncontrollable appetite for sex�� was in
fact her own strength. It was then she realised that she could obtain
whatever she desired in a male-dominated world simply by offering her
body in exchange.
She found that she possessed a formidable bargaining power against those
who have persistently and remorselessly marginalized and debased her.
She took full advantage of her �Power.� Her new-found sexual orientation
was, of course, justified by the impact of the imported culture which
taught her to affirm that her body was hers to do whatever she might
wish to do with it.
Today, there is a well-earned back lash resulting from the situation
into which the men have unwittingly forced the women. That backlash
manifests itself in the total and large-scale denunciation and rejection
of Edo man by the Edo woman. However, it is to be hoped that part of the
purpose offered by the Edo Global Organization is to accord to the Edo
woman her rightful place in the future development of Edo Land. This is
what is meant by harnessing all of our human resources in the
development of Edo Land. And it is reasonable to expect that, given the
purpose already outlined, the Edo Global Organization and its
constituent members will unite the Edo men and women in a single effort
to work for our better future.
Meanwhile, I would like to raise another important issue which seems
relevant. The world is rapidly becoming well and truly a �Global
Village.� We like everyone else live in this village. We have as much
right within it as offers. And we must play our full role in it,
politically, economically, socially and culturally. And we can-and must-
do so without surrendering our birthright, our national and cultural
integrity and our natural identity. The impact of imported culture has
inflicted severe, almost irreparable damage on our customs and
traditions. That damage has extended to almost total loss of our natural
tongue; the inability to formulate our own thought; the loss of the
power to even feed ourselves; the huge lack of creativity; our abject
immaturity arising from an �acquired slavish mentality�; and our
shameful ignorance of our own heritage.
We have acquired the knack on believing that everything foreign is
better than and superior to anything that is native and natural to us.
But the level of sophistication at which we aim is-and will remain-
elusive while we wallow in ignorance of the realities that underlie the
imported cultures and practices.
Some damage-limitation seems, however to be available through the Unity
of Purpose set out by the Edo Global Organization. And when we blame our
backwardness on what we are told to recognise as �Poverty,� we must be
able to distinguish between absolute poverty and
relative poverty. Edo State-and Nigeria as a whole- suffers only
from relative not absolute poverty. In other words, Edo State is poor
only in comparison with the achievements of other nations, especially
those in the West. In absolute terms, on the other hand, we are a rich
nation, given our enormous natural resources and potentials. It is these
that the Edo Global Organization and its constituent members are setting
out to help it develop.
Asked whether the actualisation of Unity among the Edo is impossible,
the answer must be NO. It may be difficult but it is not impossible. And
the difficulty arises, partly at least, from prevailing inability to
trust and be trusted. In a situation in which mutual mistrust prevails,
Unity and co-operation would be difficult to secure.
What is true in this respect seems also true in Edo State far way from
the Diaspora where the impact of the globalisation of the world into a
single �village� is daily fact. The fragmentation of effort in the
Diaspora reflects a similar, if not a larger, fragmentation of effort in
In both cases it boils down to spiritual immaturity which imposes the
infantile omnipotence tendencies that intensify the desire for un-earned
fame, wealth, egotism and hubris. In the majority of cases, those who
aspire to lead do not even clearly understand the implications of
In many cases, everyone aspires to be labelled �Chairman� or
�President� or �General Secretary� even without realizing that such
positions carries weighty responsibilities and accountability. But
experience demonstrates that without a well-grounded, solidly founded
esprit de corps, there can be no Noblesse Oblige. Without
such NOBILITY of character or attitude, all that may remain is
uncontrolled selfishness, ruthless greed, reckless arrogance, mindless
egotism and dangerous situation Ethic-all fuelled by psychopathic
hero-worship and all of which tend to negate(by denial) the �Collective
Unconscious� and produce status anxiety and ontological insecurity. The
practical outcome of all that is �CORRUPTION� for which our country like
many others is world-famous.
No one can pretend that the work of the Edo Global Organization and its
constituent members will be easy. But it is work that must be done if
our future is to improve. And the success of all the effort that goes
into the doing will depend on the Unity of purpose which holds us
together. Hence, logically all of the numerous Edo Associations should
accept the purpose set out by the Edo Global Organization and rally
round it, regardless of personal or group ambitions. It needs to be
constantly remembered that the Edo Global Organization is a means to an
end in itself. The ultimate end-and the END that matters-is the
development of Edo Land.
Although I have said it is you who will ask your own questions and offer
your own answers in line with the rubric of this address, I will
highlight some of the immediate issues.
Firstly, the structure in place is the Edo Global Organization.
Secondly, however, how do we energize that structure in order to carry
on the process of using the means to achieve the end?
Thirdly, how can we sustain the process itself? Fourthly, how are we to
make this process manifestly visible and comprehensible in-situ to our
people in Edo Land?
These issues and many more constitute the essence of this conference.
Finally Ladies and Gentlemen, in my Manchester presentation in October
2003, I cited a passage from the �ODYSSEY�, which has since been
repeated in some internet entries. Because of its relevance to this
key-note address, that passage will bear repetition. Addressing his
fellow-travellers before embarking on another hazardous voyage, Odysseus
Come my friends,
�Its not too late to seek a new word�.
Tho� much is taken, much abides and tho�
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are.
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.
To me Odysseus in that passage personifies the Edo Global Organization.
The Edo Global Organization is reminding us that �What we are; we are�.
And we are Edo. But perhaps more pertinent is that we are �ONE EQUAL
TEMPER OF HEROIC HEARTS�
That is the bottom line. We are several hearts that beat as one.
Oba Ghato, Okpere!!!
VERONA, ITALY, NOVEMBER 2004.