SHORT URHOBO STORIES
Short stories are very much part of Urhobo culture. They come in various ways. Formal story-telling sessions, usually involving both human and animal characters, constitute the famous osia [pl. esia] assemblies and are predominant ways of retailing legends and folk tales in Urhobo culture. Their favorite timing is in the evening, when elders tell stories that young boys and girls listen to attentively. It is also in these osia sessions that young Urhobo display their abilities to tell stories, learning to offer moral interpretations of their themes. Occasionally, professional story-tellers will entertain a whole community with tales and sagas involving mighty people and wily animals (tortoise, fox, monkey) as well as foolish ones (antelope, rabbits).
Family characters are well displayed in osia sessions, emphasizing family loyalty but also rivalries and mischief among co-wives. But these characters can also be far afield. Two favorites are King Ogiso (of the failed ruling dynasty in Benin) and his troublesome wife Inarhe. Urhobos left the lands of the Ogisos before the modern names of Benin and Edo were invented for the people who now live under the reigning royal dynasty of Obas who also feature in Urhobo tales. Aruaran [also called Oduaran in eastern Urhobo], the Benin prince with superhuman strength but with low wits, is a favorite. So also is Ômôtevwêrê, the innocent suffering Ijaw wife of a noble man whose virtue is usually rewarded at the end. Osia stories are punctuated with songs that have ritual resonance.
Apart from formal osia sessions, families tell stories. Young people tell stories among themselves. Grown-ups will from time to time tell stories among themselves for entertainment.
We invite readers of these pages, who have
Urhobo stories to share, to please help to develop our knowledge of
important fragment of Urhobo culture. In that way, we all will be
participating in a rich Urhobo culture of story-telling. Please write
to discuss the inclusion of your story, in English of some form, in
IN ITS NIGERIAN POPULARIZATION AS AMEBO