A Report from:                                                                                                                        
The Urhobo Voice

A Newspaper Covering Events in Urhoboland and Offering Diverse Perspectives on Urhobo History and Culture


March 21,  2005

Chief Benedict Etedjere Onokpasa

Benedict Etedjere Onokpasa, Foremost Scholar of Urhobo Language, Laid to Rest

By Okpa Anagbo

A foremost scholar of Urhobo language, Benedict Etedjere Onokpasa, has been laid to rest in his hometown, Okwuvo, near Adeje, in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State.

Pa Onokpasa, who died at the age of 76, was a pioneer Urhobo educationist and researcher of Urhobo Language, having been trained at Fourah Bay College, Sieria Leone.

Onokpasa became the first scholar to standardise the Urhobo Language into grammatical form, with the following publications to his credit: Modern Urhobo Readers I-IV (1963); Urhobo Poems (1962); Hero of Sharpville (1962), among others.

As a public-spirited person, desirous to leave his foot-print in the sands of time, Onokpasa in 1964 founded and became the principal of Trinity College, Okwidiemo, which is now owned by the Anglican Church. He was a member of the African Dramatic Society 1962; secretary, Urhobo Orthography Society; and member, National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC) 1962-1966, where he contributed to the creation of the Midwest Region.

In his funeral oration, Rev. Fr. Albert Onokpasa described his father as well-travelled, accomplished and fulfilled man. He said he was a disciplinarian, principled and lover of high standards. “As an industrious man, Onokpasa planted all the numerous fruit trees that formed the large acres around his compound. He does not believe in mediocrity and laziness and hence ensured that his children are well molded after his industrious character.

“As an agriculturist, he farmed successfully and was rewarded bountifully in his labour.”

The cleric said his father was a leader, who commanded respect in coordinating his numerous engagements and affairs. “As a great motivator, Onokpasa inspired the younger generation to be dedicated and work hard. He inculcated the spirit of honesty, accountability and transparency in young people whom he taught at his school. He was a stimulant to the educational appetite, growth and development of everyone that he came across. He was a gem, an astute elder, a pacesetter, a goal-getter, a man of truth, honesty, righteousness and fairness.”

In a chat with The Urhobo Voice, Rev. Fr. Albert Onokpasa said his father’s death caused confusion and bewilderment in his family, but that they had to quickly recover from the shock when they realised that life is a reality of birth and death, and of womb and tomb.

Professor Omafune Onoge said the late Onokpasa was a man of dignity, honesty and hard work. He said that Urhobo has lost one of the best men who pioneered private sector education in the country. He prayed his soul to have eternal rest in peace.

Dignitaries present included Prof. Abednigo Ekoko of Delta State University, Abraka; Chief Kote Obukeme (JP), Tox Osibanjo, Abbey Abimbola and Rotimi Akinisoye.

Others included His Lordship, Bishop of Warri Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Richard Burke, his auxiliary, Most Rev. John Afareha, including monsignors and priests, as well as Chief Patrick Gbinije, Okpagha of Okpe Kingdom; Mrs. Felicia Aziza (wife of General Aziza), among others.