URHOBO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
October 1999 to October 2000
PROSPECTS AND PROBLEMS
For the Next Year November 2000 to November 2001
I. INAUGURATION AND AUTHORITY
Urhobo Historical Society was given its authority at
inaugural meeting held in New York City on August 28, 1999. Its purpose
and charter are outlined in the minutes
that are attached to this report. The conduct of the Inauguration
Meeting, serving as the authorizing body, was based on two
and (b) Rationale
and Proposals for Inauguration. Both documents are also attached to
II. MEMBERSHIP AND MEMBERSHIP DUES
A number of people in North America have paid membership dues, both charter and regular. A fuller report will be coming from Andrew Edevbie, UHS’s secretary. However, the amount realized from these payments was modest. If we had dipped into it to cover the operations of Urhobo Historical Society, detailed below, it would have been difficult to hold this Conference. A decision was made to reserve the money from membership payments for this important Conference as a matter of priority.
III. EDITORIAL AND MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
As authorized by the Inauguration Meeting, an Editorial and Management Committee was set up. It consisted of fifteen members. Four of these acted as officers in positions of (a) Chair, and Editor of Urhobo Waado; (b) Deputy Chair; (c) Secretary; and (c) Treasurer.
Most members of the Editorial and Management Committee have been quite active in the affairs of UHS. They have done well to advance the fortunes of Urhobo Historical Society. Three members of the Committee have been inactive. The Committee has transacted most business of Urhobo Historical Society through emails and other electronic devices.
IV. URHOBO WAADO, Web site of Urhobo Historical Society
The Web site of Urhobo Historical Society, URHOBO WAADO http://www.waado.org, along with its affiliated but separate site http://www.Urhobo.KinsFolk.com, was inaugurated on October 10, 1999. When URHOBO WAADO was launched, the presence of Urhobo in cyberspace was greatly limited. I recall that on the day URHOBO WAADO first appeared, FAST SEARCH, a broad spectrum search engine, indicated references below sixty for Urhobo and an insignificant number for Mukoro Mowoe (under its “exact” reference). As of the date of writing this -- November 1, 2000 – FAST SEARCH now yields 1,262 references for Urhobo and 77 for Mukoro Mowoe. Most of these references were created by URHOBO WAADO. Importantly, the image of Urhobo in cyberspace has been managed in a way that suggests positive references to our culture and history.
URHOBO WAADO is now one of the richest “ethnic” Nigerian and African web sites in existence. Several academic and University research directories are linked to it. Its special character is that it emphasizes documentation. In addition, entries carry the names of those who submit them as authors – which is another of our distinctions. A third attribute of URHOBO WAADO is that it is freed from commercial advertisements, a resource which many Nigerian ethnic web sites have embraced. Finally, URHOBO WAADO has been designed, constructed, and run on a voluntary basis. All in all, contributions from Urhobos to this service has been outstanding. These have included submission of rare documents from Urhobos resident at home in Nigeria, in London, and the United States.
Web sites of URHOBO WAADO’s size are quite expensive to manage and run. There are numerous pages in it that are products of scanning processes. These expenses and resources have so far been borne or provided by Peter Ekeh, Chair and Editor of UHS, with important assistance from Andrew Edevbie, UHS’s Secretary. These have included registration and rental of space for our operations. Urhobo Historical Society has not yet been set up to pay for these services. Hopefully, URHOBO WAADO’s success will move us as an organization in the direction of paying for the expansion of its services.
V. EMAIL SERVICES
An unanticipated service which has dominated operations of Urhobo Historical Society in 1999-2000 is the email service by which Nigerian and Niger Delta news items are sent to a list of more than 170 people in North America, Europe, Latin America, and in Nigeria. It has created a virtual community of Urhobos and, in very selected cases, friends of Urhobos in the new cyberspace age. Unfortunately, there is no accompanying e-group that could foster closer interaction. But it appears that members are satisfied with this type of service. However, it is a service whose provision should be discussed at this conference. I must add that it is a service that cannot be transacted on phone/modem networks. It requires a cable utility which costs about $40.00 per month.
VI. CONTACTS WITH URHOBOS IN NIGERIA AND EUROPE
A major charge of the authorizing Inauguration Meeting to the Editorial and Management Committee was to make contacts with URHOBOS in England and at home. This is especially important if the larger and supreme aim of Urhobo Historical Society is to be effectively pursued. It is to generate a sense of history-writing in our communities at home and to instill the idea that every Urhobo community has a history that is worth recording.
We did not make any major efforts with respect to London. However, we were greatly helped by cooperation from two persons in London. Both Simpson Obruche, of London UPU fame, and Dr. Francis Omohwo, a surgeon, have taken special interests in the affairs of Urhobo Historical Society. Dr. Omohwo was to come to this Conference but the grievous and unexpected loss of his mother prevented him from doing so.
We did much to get in touch with people at home. Chief Daniel Obiomah and Professor Frank Ukoli from Warri have shown important interest. Dan Obiomah has authorized us to reproduce several of his publications in URHOBO WAADO. Chief Johnson Ukueku from Warri also showed important interest. In Lagos Arch. Charles Majoroh and Senator David Dafinone have shown great interest. We hope that these will be good foundation for suggesting a chapter of Urhobo Historical Society at home.
VII. INCORPORATION OF URHOBO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The authorizing Inauguration Meeting mandated that
North American chapter of Urhobo Historical Society should be
That has not be undertaken yet. In part, this delay allowed us to
B. PROSPECTS AND PROBLEMS
OF THE COMING YEAR
Many organizations begin with fervour. Sustaining them is the greater problem. It is fairly well agreed that Urhobo needs the operations that Urhobo Historical Society has mounted. However, we will need the support of many people if UHS’s projects have any chance of success. The following matters need careful consideration.
I. MEMBERSHIP DRIVE
There is urgent need to mount a membership drive. Members of the Editorial and Management Committee should undertake their own fair share by (a) paying their dues and (b) helping to recruit new members. Most people who receive our mail, including top and responsible Urhobo professionals, appear to take them as given and costless. A fair but reasonable set of fees will be quite helpful. We hope that UHS’s Treasurer will be a fund-raiser as well a solicitor of membership.
Special levies for specific projects may also be considered. This is especially important for the purchase of equipment and services for the work of URHOBO WAADO.
We may also ask for donations from Urhobos who are in position to assist UHS’s work.
II. E-MAIL SERVICES
Combining the work of building UHS’s web sites and distribution of mail every morning has been taxing on me. Both have grown with time. The email services need more attention than I can provide at this time. There is need to expand our operations in Nigeria. That would mean that we do not send people there daily news that is already available to people at home. But there are many other items that we need to circulate in common.
Andrew Edevbie, UHS Secretary, has offered to take up the email services. I will be delighted to hand them over to him. I will assist him to set up the services. However, in order to do so he will need two sets of equipment and utility: (i) He will need a good computer costing about $1500 at current rates. (ii) He will need a cable utility costing about $480.00 per year. (That is about what I pay currently.)
III. URHOBO WAADO, Web site of Urhobo Historical Society
For now, this is the heart of UHS’s operations. Building up Web sites requires considerable patience and time – even when one has acquired the expertise. The greatest expenditure usually relates to amounts paid to Web masters. For now I am serving as the “web master,” a pretentious term that I do not apply to myself. Besides its free labour, the several components of URHOBO WAADO’s finance-related operations for which I have been largely responsible include the following:
(i) Registration and Rental. We have two web sites. I paid for the initial registration and renewal of http://www.Urhobo.KinsFolk.com. It has now been renewed for five years with funds from UHS for $134.55. (Note: This is the only case in which we have used any resources from UHS, once we were satisfied that we had enough funds for the Conference.) I paid for the registration of http://www.waado.org while Andrew Edevbie paid $379 for its rental. This is a very large space which has allowed us to do many things. The reregistration and rental of this web site are due in the coming year. I estimate that these items will cost close to $500. We may need to purchase more space, adding close to $400 in addition, especially if we include scanned material, such as British treaties with Urhobo communities of the 1890s, in our Web site.
(ii) Equipment for Scanning and Making CD-ROMS of Web site
Scanning is a most expensive operation if it is carried out in places like Kinko’s. Because they have academic contents, most of what we have posted so far have been scanned in the University. But as we expand our operations, there will be need to be independent and to avoid costly commercial scanning.
There is also another need. People at home do not have access to the internet and therefore cannot see our Web site. However, equipment exists for making CD-ROMS containing the contents of the Web site at a given time that can be run on ordinary computers that are available at home.
Both of these items require a computer and a scanner that will cost just about $3,000. The computer will also have a zip driver and other features (like Ethernet LAN Cards) needed to handle voluminous data.
(iii) FTP (File Transfer Protocol) Charges
Web sites are managed as a relationship between a
computer and a distant computer that publishes what the local computer
produces. It requires a software that is purchased and regularly
This last year, I spend about $120 on this account. I expect a similar
amount next year.
III. ACQUIRING DOCUMENTS
We hope to continue acquiring important documents for publications. These are for now mostly in Britain and Europe. Without going into details, let me assure UHS members that they are expensive. They are likely to cost up to $1000 in the coming year, especially if it will require someone travelling to England for this purpose. Andrew Edevbie already went to England on his own, partially in this connection.
IV. OTHER MATTERS
(i) Conference for 2001. We need to fix a date and a venue for next year’s Conference.
(ii) Editorial and Management Committee. We need to review the work of the Editorial and Management Committee. The present size of fifteen members seems appropriate. However, three of its members have been inactive.
(iii) Executive Officers. There is need to
the work of the Treasurer to include fund-raising. This is an arduous
that may demand a new person in the Editorial and Management Committee
for handling this important task.
(i) General: This past year has been an intriguing one for Urhobo Historical Society. No one could guess whether we would be successful in what appeared to be an over-ambitious agenda. But our operations have exceeded our expectations by a long stretch. Although it is usual to credit this type of success to a few individuals, a large number of people have contributed to our success. All those who sent in material or permitted us to use their material deserve special thanks. These include Simpson Obruche from London; Anthony Ukoli from New York City; Daniel Obiomah from Warri; and Obaro Ikime from Ibadan. The numerous people who provided articles and email messages that have been included in URHOBO WAADO deserve our gratitude.
(ii) Editorial and Management Committee. I want to thank members of the Editorial and Management Committee. Twelve of the fifteen members have been active in varying degrees. I particularly want to thank Isaac Mowoe and Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor for answering my numerous questions and requests.
(iii) Executive Officers. The four members of the Executive have worked well together. This is especially the case with respect to Igho Natufe, Deputy Chair, and Andrew Edevbie, Secretary. My numerous, usually daily, communications with both of them have mostly been on telephone. Among the three of us, we spent thousands of dollars on telephone discussing UHS’s affairs in this past year.
(iv) Conference Arrangements. The
for the Conference have been undertaken by Igho Natufe, with able
from Edirin Erhiaganoma. We thank both of them.
Peter P. Ekeh
Chair and Editor
Urhobo Historical Society
November 2, 2000