The premier web site of Edo speaking people.

Nation of people who are mostly located in the Midwestern part of Nigeria, Western  Africa.




Professor David Awanbor


Keynote Address Delivered at the Edo Unity Conference held in BRITANNIA
AIRPORT HOTEL Manchester, UK (3-5th.October, 2003)


It is a rare honour and privilege for me to be invited to deliver a
address on an occasion such as this that parades a rich harvest of
intellectuals and achieved professionals. The recognition, coming as it
to some one who is several hours of jet flight away, is what strikes me
most impressive especially as the debate for a choice would necessarily
been heated.

I bring greetings from the good people of Benin land and also their
that your individual and collective mission to this place be a huge
May I crave your indulgence for a short rhetorical digression here to
intimate you that when I was called on the phone by one of the leaders
informing me about the topic of this seminar, I was immediately daunted
hearing that it was going to be about unity and all that, knowing that
we as
a people have been engaged in this kind of discourse severally for a
long period of time. Evidence abundantly available shows that the
results of
all these talks are directly equal to the efforts invested. However, I
consoled when I heard that the likes of Professor Iro Eweka whose
(creative), vigorously intellectual, near insatiable quest for truth and
liberal thinker would be here to share their thoughts on this nagging
which we, as a people have not been able to take for granted in our
desire for social and economic development. To some other ethnic groups,
example our kit and kin the Esan, a mere utterance of bo diaye creates
instant bond. Go to the ants thou sluggards, they say. Let me seize the
opportunity to express my delight to be in this gathering with Professor
Eweka, the philosopher, as our royal father Omo n Oba calls him. During
brief spell at the university of Benin, Faculty of Education, this man
many intellects---a doctor, a mathematician, an English Language major,
philosopher and a quintessence academic taught me and a few lucky others
be determined students (even as lecturers then), united and focused, as
pursued our individual academic goals towards truth and the verifiable.
have gone this extra and apparently divergent mile because it serves as
in vivo illustration of the key issues of this of theme of this forum
galvanizing for unity as means to, social and economic development of
Benin people.

The Concept of Unity Among a people

The idea of unity is as old as illustrated by the Biblical bond between
and Eve. Over time and place people are known to come together,
or in spirit, for a common purpose for which a value is shared. Such
can generally be forged around a social, political or economic goal for
common good of all, either individually or collectively. Thus unity is
perceived as a strand that runs through or bonds a people, a chain whose
is as strong as its weakest link. Unity in essence is many things:

Unity is not mere physical closeness, not even   symbolized

   by sharing the same bed. After all President De Gaul
   of France once said, the greatest distance between
   two individuals is not the physical distance, but the
   distance between two minds.

    Unity is spiritual convergence, a oneness that is
    beyond the ordinary sense perception but with a
    force that is at once real and perceptible.

    Unity is oneness of minds, a consensus ad idem to
    perform an obligation for one another, be it  social or
    economic or both or even more; and perhaps less
    defined is the next submission which is that,

    Unity is using different means at different place and
    time  by a people to achieve a common end; thus
    unity refers to a commonality of interest among a

We have tried to distill our notion of unity in the effort to present it
behaviourally measurable terms for the benefit of  its becoming a
capable of being manipulated in a scientific or quasi-scientific (if you
will) manner. One inherent advantage of this conceptualization is that,
where and when desirable, it can be captured, so to speak, refined and
re-directed to the desired common goal that we frequently talked about

Unity among the Benin People: Myth or Reality?

At the risk of sounding primitive even as Nigeria SAT-1 is in the orbit,
is helpful to assume this mtyhical perspective because izobo is still a
common feature at our major road junctions even at popularly busy areas
as the central business districts in Benin City, even when their
in warding off ominous events in life continue to defy scientific or
verifiable procedures. For long the bromide that was bandit around that
umaigba n Edo, which can be literally translated to mean the Edos never
reach a consensus, or by extension, a failure to become united to pursue
common cause. While there is a strong emotional resistance to this the
sub-current, egiaru is still thriving well in our daily lives as we
to cut the edge in morality even as we experience the fallout of the
and contumelious phenomenon of I get before others in our political,
social and economic relationships.

We as a people must be jolted from our slumber and embrace unity of
and the common agenda that what affects one affects all. Today, in
one of the strongest labour unions is the National Association for
University Staff Union (NASU) and their mobilization slogan is injury to
is injury to all. Permit me Mr. Chairman to submit that these divisive
clichs of umaigba n edo and egiaru should be obsolesced from our
vocabulary and daily lives as a people. I recall the oft said prayer of
Iyase of Benin  Kingdom and my good friend Chief Isekhure, the Isekhure
Benin Kingdom whom I expect to be present here that, tu ma gha a gba n
Edo , Ise. Furthermore Mr. Chairman, it is my contention and I humbly
submit that, the misfortunes of these apparent shibboleths by collective
resolve be banished from our lives and essence. This perhaps remains the
greatest challenge to this conference and I dare say it is appropriate,
opportune and timely.

Unity for Social and Economic Development

There is no gainsaying the fact that unity is a crucial factor in the
process of development of a people; for example, unity of purpose i.e.,
commonality of objective especially in the economic sector where
driven economic activities has become the paradigm for organizational
behaviours. Unity of purpose in any economic activity allows for greater
scope by encouraging several, if not divergent, interests to be
and hence the inherent advantages of flexibility and responsiveness to
economic as well as the social needs of a people. Consequently, growth
expansion become inevitable and hence the maximization of factors of
production to the mutual benefit of the organization and the community
large. It is also pertinent to mention that in addition to the
postulated above, sourcing for capital for the business will be less
cumbersome as  unity, which is understandably suffused with mutual trust,
will become the attraction to invest.

Unity is not only a necessity for economic development but also for
development. Just as unity is a driving force in the economic
and mobility of a people, so it is relevant to efforts at social
mobilization and political consciousness. The iron cast unity and
determination in the struggle by the Blacks in South Africa against the
obnoxious political arrangement called apartheid speaks volume of the
potential of unity in political consciousness raising and social
mobilization processes, whether subtle or confrontational.

It is the failure to engender the spirit of collective resolve or unity
has been the undoing of the Benin people in getting their fair share in
political dispensations over the years, even including the period of
military interregnum. Another glaring example of where the Benin people
suffered political injustice, and certainly injuries, is in the creation
Local Government Council Areas with the consequent delineation of
constituencies. The situation on ground is that in which the Benin
with  60% of the population and about 56% of the landmass of the State
only one senatorial district, the Edo-South, as against two for  Edo
and Central with only about 40% of the total population of the state.

In sub-conclusion, the words of a renowned International Development
Economist, Professor Milton Amenaghawon Iyoha will suffice and he says,
rest of us Benin People can also learn from the example of the pioneers
the Benin Forum to place the interests of the Benin People uber alles ,
is, above everything else and, he continues, let us imbibe the 
spirit and let us all, each man and each woman, be his brothers keeper.
us resolve that among the Benin People, what affects one, affects all.
us not, because we are comfortable, forget the plight and tribulations
our less fortunate brothers and sisters.


Mr. Chairman, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the privilege a
address of this type has is that it does not need to have the trappings
colorations of an academic paper hence am craving your indulgence to
conclude this way by simply saying, akugbe oretin, iwanegbe ore udemwen:
ore o gba ne owee, ore ona setin kpolo iku hin owa re; obo okpa setin mu
vbe eto.

Thank you.


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Last modified: December 20, 2008