URHOBO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
CONDUCT AND SIGNIFICANCE OF CONFERENCE
Urhobo Historical Society held its first annual Conference and Meeting at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, November 3-5, 2000. Attendance was strong and varied. We were all pleased with the forceful presence of Chief Senator David Dafinone. His Keynote Address titled "Urhobo: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Where Do we Stand Now?" was wise and fully meaningful to Urhobo history and culture and Urhobo's placement in Nigeria. It will be published in our Web site in due course.
Chief Dafinone's presence was made fruitful and meaningful by the ample presence of Urhobo young men and women at the Conference. They came from Canada as well as the United States. The Toronto team was particularly appealing because it was led by youth. Their contributions were remarkably deep and thoughtful. Throughout the three days of the Conference they and Chief Dafinone seemed well pleased to interact with one another. We salute our youth and hope that their presence in Urhobo Historical Society will be expanded.
What made this Conference so very meaningful is the
contribution of Urhobo leaders and intellectuals in North America. The
session "Urhobo Leadership: Prospects and Problems" was chaired by
Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor. It featured Chief Anthony Ukoli and Dr. Ona Pela.
A second plenary session on "Urhobo in the New Millennium" was chaired
by Professor Joseph Inikori. It featured Dr. Aruegodore Oyiborhoro and
Mr. Andrew Edevbie. Their presentations were good and
Two other features of these sessions enriched the Conference
First, both Chairmen were not passive participants. They brilliantly
Urhobo problems and prospects. Second, the contributions from the floor
were rich and challenging. Senator Dafinone had his job cut out for him
as he explained policies that affected Urhobo's welfare. Eloquent
of patriotism from Professor Isaac Mowoe gave a hint of what his
grandfather probably looked and sounded like. A dialogue between
Ajovi-Scott Emuakpor and Professor Joseph Inikori on alternative ways
attaining Urhobo interests provided a taste of the Urhobo passion for
Several interventions from younger people -- Felix Ayigbe from Toronto and Alexus Ughwanogho form New York City, for some examples -- proved very effective.
Organizing such a meaningful Conference requires a
deal of commitment and patience. Dr. Igho Natufe (Ottawa, Canada) and
Edirin Erhiaganoma (from Toronto, Canada) were simply splendid as
We salute them all. This Conference also benefited from well-wishers.
we must mention Professor Perkins Foss, an American scholar of Urhobo
for his friendship to the Urhobo people. Inspite of surgery three days
before the Conference, he not only came to Niagara Falls; he made a
display of an Urhobo funeral dance. I also want to salute our friends
Atlantic. Dr. Francis Omowho in London was due to attend this Conference. Unfortunately, he lost his mother a few weeks before the Niagara event. Chief Simpson Obruche, of UPU London fame, has been a steady friend of Urhobo Historical Society. He sent his good wishes. We trust that both of them -- and perhaps others from the U.K. -- will make it to the next Conference holding in New York City area, November 2-4, 2001.
A number of commitments were made at the meeting. Senator Dafinone has charged us to develop a data bank of Urhobos in North America and the Diaspora. I have promised to make our Web site available in CD-ROMs for home viewers who do not have access to the internet. Senator Dafinone has pledged to endow a chair of Urhobo Studies at Delta State University, Abraka. But there were also challenges. You all have been challenged to contribute to the work of Urhobo Historical Society by becoming fees-paying members and by paying a special levy for its programs. We hope you will participate in such work. UHS's fifteen member Editorial and Management Committee was renewed, but with new challenges for its members. There is an Executive of four headed by me as Chair and Editor and Igho Natufe as Deputy Chair. Andrew Edevbie is the Secretary. And Edirin Erhiaganoma is Treasurer of Urhobo Historical Society. In the next several weeks and months you will be hearing from each of us as we seek to engage you.
What personally pleased me at the Niagara Falls Conference was that everyone was focused on Urhobo's needs and welfare. Our Communiqué was fashioned by a Committee headed by Isaac Mowoe, including Igho Natufe and Edirn Erhiaganoma. Its work was further enriched by comments from Andrew Edevbe, Larry Arhagba, and myself. I urge you to study it very carefully. It says something about our needs as a people. Sacrifice was the essence of the commitments at Niagara Falls. We all hope that you will participate in this sacrifice for Urhobo's sake. Those who are privileged to be leaders were particularly challenged at Niagara Falls as they were called upon to "pay to serve" the Urhobo people, as Chief David Dafinone so deftly phrased the issue.
Apart from the Communiqué, you will be receiving the Minutes of the Meeting and Conference. There are other publications coming from it. All of them will be posted in our web site http://www.waado.org in the next several weeks. Please read them, because they deal with Urhobo's future.
I thank you for patiently reading this message.
Professor Peter Ekeh
Chair and Editor
Urhobo Historical Society
November 17, 2000