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The Rigidity of the Esan Egbe: A Rejoinder

The Rigidity of the Esan Egbe: A Rejoinder



Bernadette Amao

January, 2020.


Once again, i want to applaud you for taking the time to write this piece. Conversations like this must continue to enable us address issues within our Egbe system. You wrote about several issues i will like to touch on. Firstly, i humbly disagree with you that the Egbe is the victim here and those in diaspora are to blame for the rigidity found within our culture due to lack of interaction. One thing you are absolutely correct about though, is the lack of communication that exists, a most notable defect in our clan system. Why is that??? The Egbe wants to preside and dictate at the wedding of their child (whom they’ve never met) and expects a lack of resistance from that child? The fundamental piece missing here is that the Egbe never cared about that child since he/she was born. Yes, they care about preserving their culture and customs but not their people. Love, fatherly/motherly love is what will stop the alienation of our people from the clan. Where was the Egbe when that child lay hungry for days in diaspora? when they had a near death experience? As they hustled to pay tuition for school? Just because life is beginning to smile on them, that they finally found love and a partner, does not give the Egbe the right to make unnecessary demands. Egbe only seems to have a “collect” system, it has zero open door policies when one is in need, when one’s life is in jeopardy. It perceives those in diaspora as having “more” and therefore, they must pay their dues without realizing that their needs for belonging need to be catered for.
Most Esan people living in diaspora belong to one Esan association or the other. Some folks in this forum also do. Some of these associations genuinely care about their members. Love and unity prevail, and our Esan culture is preserved. The Egbe can learn a thing or two from that. For our culture to be truly pure, it has to be a give and take system. The Egbe must get to know its people, nurture them through prayers and have a welfare system of communication.
As one born and raised in diaspora, i love the riches of our culture but loathe how it’s practiced especially with regards to marriages and burial rites. Living amongst other cultures afforded me a deeper sense of appreciation of what we have within our culture. Our culture is beautiful, but lacks the “why”. Those who know me can certainly attest to the fact that i am always asking “why do we do this?” Customs and traditions handed down without the “why” creates resistance. As people become more educated, they will question why certain things are done as part of a culture, and “this is how we’ve always done it” is not an answer.
Though no culture is perfect, let us borrow a leaf from the igbos. Growing up in diaspora, all roads led to the east during the christmas season. Let us learn to commune with one other, not only in times of marriage rites or funeral rites, but at other times as well when tension is not so high. Let us even begin to identify and know ourselves within our clan first. Our village forums is a good way to start. Being a member of the forum is not enough, getting to know who your relatives are within the forum, though this may sound insignificant, is a great way to start. These simple relationships will begin to tear down those barriers and notions on both sides of the fence, and allow us to see what we truly are: brothers and sisters, belonging to one Egbe.

About Gabriel Iruobe

I have a background in Sociology from the University of Ibadan. Although, an industrial sociologist, my interest in rural societies have grown over the years. The sociological insight gained in my school days have had me define development in a fashion slightly different from an orthodox orientation. Studying or researching on rural life is quite easy for me since I spent my early life in a rural setting, viewing all the attractions often overlooked by the urban elites. If the rule of sustainable development is to be followed, no aspect of the world's cultural heritage is to be ignore or neglected. This is my obsession.

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