Izon (Ijaw) Stories From the Niger Delta

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Collection of Stories in Izon (Ijaw) and English from the Niger Delta, Nigeria.

Transcript of Izon (Ijaw) Stories From the Niger Delta




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-S* Y4




Izon Stories from the Niger Delta

'Ani aba bodg w6 wari a mu e.' A o pargrni, 'tmini ba eniyg a mugha fa e.' Wo ani wgni sei qrii mq ba 6 nanagha fa braa mq gba 6 diami. Wo d hesin wari a mu kgn bglgp yerinmg timi fi erein lami.


Izen Stories from the Niger Delta


'If that is the case let us go to (my) house.' 'I shall not go to your house again' she responded.He presented to her the enormity of her offence and his intention to divorce her, and leaving her behind, he made for his home, lived on until his death.

ForewordThe Greatest Resources of a Nation is surely that of its People and its Culture. The people of the Niger Delta have been blessed with the greatest of Natural Resources - a Rich and Diverse Cultural F{eritage and Tradition. For thousands of years this has been celebrated and enjoyed by the Indigenous Riverine Communities throughout the Delta. Respect of each other, the aged, the marginalized - the hallmarks of Civilization. Arnong the People with whom I live presently this precious heritage is fast eroding as the aneient wisdom and values of countless generations is giving way to a something new each day.The discovery of crude oil by far a more marketable and sought after resource than any shared heritage, has transformed our societies, our economies and our self understanding. The resources of a nation, a people, a culture are being exploited in a way that long after the oil has been pumped away something far more valuable has been lost, exploited and gone forever. Those who gained, benefited cheap those who lost, have paid too high a price already. Sold for a song or was it a story


highlighting the Izon language in its written form. It is intended for those attending schooi and all who wish to learn Izon language. I hope that you enjoy it and grow in fluency and proficiency in the written word.

Heritage. It is a mere "Drop in the Delta" and a effort at

short collection is a step towards reclaiming our Common

I wish to thank all those who contributed towards the publication and all those who contributed stories, it was not possible to include all in this version. I wish to pay special tribute to the Ayamassa Community for their generosity and creativity in storytelling while I76


was with them. In particular John Odisi played a monumental role in typing and translating these stories.

aba eye sidg o. Mlsi bra pa a, o kiri ini kgni-yinbo owei olotuu kgn sgg ba wo Ut" ki i mq miggmini yan o?' A ogoun eyeUo s9 kpg tga kgni tu iggnmini'yo. duo sgg,6 yei mu gbein agbq lUbq s9 kin kp9k99 kpgkef wgri wai ama a kgn bouu


I wish to thank particularly IRISH AID vrhose support has enable this publication to see the light of day and for their support in the deveiopment of the Izon Language and in other publication.Stories by:

mumi. Tu baimi, andaam'ereiin. Amaa sg o mg gbo sinng ni wo olotuu kqdim'dein ki


deinbo karaidg'

Chief Asiaseimor Esime Chief Wuruengobo Anderson Mr. Ebiemor Sito

Amami angg kgri wgrimikgrg andaa korumi' Pekei pekeimio ta o bgmi' 'A i yei, i kgn eye tUggm' lg faa duoni kiall bou sUQ mu lq gbein bodg k9 kiri anda'yg a mu e.' Wo 6 parymi,'lmini miereinmi a kgrg anda ki andaa migminii duoni i mugha e.'A o Qghq timi bo ala fa. kiri o kpl9l99 mumi' O mu kgni lq owou mu agqnq la ni kiri o lg gbein dggmini mi lU tlnmi koro kikoromini bra kio mq arimi'Wo angabo a brasin wgri desi mu misi IUU mg nain ye kgri gbeimgmi' o kpq koro koro ki korominl bra ki o mQ arimi.Wo anii duo abgkq dei desi mu kgni lp gbeimq wgri oduo p9l9i mu kin a tigmi. O mu kiriml a tlgmi, omini niini mu bou kimi wariki a tig ni warli nana bgmi sg ki bo o sggmggm'nq ki tgn wgri pa bo o mqmg andami. Eygmi a timi tuobo s9, tlnbo mg a mg anda ba sinmi. Bo ma kimibo s9 dgin ebidg. Anda ogelemi a mq juun, nJduuogq anda-kirimi a mumi, ani tpbggg fa. A mu o ta bi a, tibiegberi gba d pdgha.A kpg gbasl diri yerin a owou emi nl 6 ani tgmgdiyee di a, ani nlbggmi bou Li a timl anda oya fimini bra d mq arimi. A taara seri a wo arii tinmi kgrg mu wo angg a sggmi. Bou klmimi o m9 sibe kiri gbeinmi. O kiali bain ama a pa, anda ekein dei wgriu kgn anda-tirii wgnimgmi. O mu tirimi a vuaan pami, tirii giomi. Wo owei tin pelei tiri bain ygorqmi' Bo andaa ladg. A bo gbeleimi. A anda osumei timing wo olotuu sibe gbirain gbeinmi. Mamqkaramg serii kpg wo o gbeinmi. o kiri bo olotuu sp9mi. wo erema kgnl-yinbowei eyebo sg a mQ tqlg wo eyq a bomi. Wo erema, o koro bou sp99 kpmgQ s9 ki a mini eye-ama tqlg wgri mlni wari a mumi; o wai bo paamini bra ii mq ororoghaa duoni Ania eyebo s9 bqdg mi' o ta kgn o mig brami o mg gba mini yin diami. Yinma o parymi, 'Boumi a ma anda timimi ye eni arimi' Ye aniki duon ini

Mr. Arekumor KPeYaYe Mr Arerebo EgedeguChief Otutukeme Ateteke-oru Mr Ekufe OPeikumor H.R.H. Chief Walter KPeYaYe Mrs. Egbeleba Walter Chief Otutukeme Ateteke-oru By Chief Siloko Lobai Mr. Ekufe OPeikumor Mr. AmamieYe Molokeme Mrs. Egbeleba Walter Mrs. Etule Evinson Mr. Peter Africa Chief Wuruengobo Anderson Mr. David Gbolokumor Mr. Amabenemotei Peter Bomiegha OkoYi Chief S. O. Daubrilagha Mr. Ekufe OPeikumor Miss Bank-ere Otutukeme Mrs. Patricia Suokumor By Chief Otutukeme Ateteke-oru Mrs. AyakPo WalterRev. Fr. Kieran FlYnn, January 2000lv


kqrg dgq migm! e. Eye y6 a korogha fa e.' -' O gba mini yin primi: 'A i taa duoni I mu d kggnmini ye'' 'E m19 n1 e mqmg kiqideE braa si fadg e.'6 mg gbaml' O mu mini ta la wgri ani wari otubo k1 a4 dggminl e gbam1, ri o parymi. 'Yd in! kgni-yinbowei gbo wgri olotuu kpg kqn sgqdg ba wo eye bo se kpq tqlq akidg mle ba miwari a ariim'kimifa e''


conquers my brother it will not augur well. If that happened, he will be crowned the hero and will even take home all what my brother has gained from wrestling. What shall I do?' She went to the forest with an axe and hewn to almost falling point all palm trees which would be climbed by her husband and returned home. The following day had slated for wrestling. He had conquered everybody in the town save the hero who had been challenged, and the slated day had come. The town was fully prepared to be spectators to this expectedly most exciting contest. Early in the moming, his wife requested him: 'My husband, could you quickly go and collect some bunches of palm fruit for cooking today because there is none to serve that purpose.' He responded: 'l shall not go because I have a very tough challenge to face today.' He reluctantly complied on account of her persistent begging. He went and climbed one palm tree and, on the top, discovered it was about to fall; he tried and got loose from the climbing rope and jumped to another nearby and discovered it was same; and like a monkey he kept jumping from to another and managed his way down. When he gained his feet, it was on the roof of fairy's house who thought a fight was imminent and carne out to face the challenge by wrestling with him. All the grass and trees around that house suffered gravely from their fight. Both had

ContentsE{are and Elephant,,

become tired. The procession preceding the wrestling contest had begun, proceeded to the arena, but her son was not in the group. She went and inquired from his wife who responded with a great indifference. She also had some talents in magic spell which applied by looking at a mirror and discovered that her son had been engaged in a fight and was at death point. He gained additional power after she had called on his name three times. He threw down the fairy, quickly made for home, dressed for the wrestling contest and reported in the arena. When he appeared to the full sight of the arena, the spectators hailed him. Demonstratingchallenging displays and shouting wrestling cries, he ran round the arena. It was time for the contest. They closed in. At last, after much struggling, he threw down the hero. Again, they met and it was the same. He became the hero. He then packed home what his brother-in-law had possessed. His wife had packed home all her possession as soon as he proceeded to the

Elephant and Tortoise The Animals and The Fishes Tortoise Man Who Possessed F.ifry Knives Poor man and his Son A Husband and Wife (I) An Orphan Fishermen A Man Who Made A Spell To Be Rich A Juju Caught Stealing Two Friends(I) A Hunter A Golden tsird A Girl Who Married A LionPrincesses

4 6


l420 24 2630)

A Gambler A Town Wherein RefutingAccusation Was Prohibited A Husband and Wife (II) A Husband and Wife (III)I{

34 36 40 42 44 50 52 5764 68 72

forest because she had not the least thought that he would ccme back. After everything, he told his mother what his wife had done to him. His motherresponded:


'While you were wrestling in the forest I saw it hence I did the best I couldl nothing shall ever disaffect you.' 'She is still my wife, so I shall go and take her home' he informed her. 'Do what is in harmony with your desire' she answer"ed. llr wcnt to his wife and informed her of his intention to see her relations. She told him: 'You have conquered my brother, defied his heroship and has taken all his possession, there is no other person in my family whom you could see.'74



Wan mg Opu'obori mq Opu-obori mg Ewiri mq Nama-ama mQ Endi'ama mQ

EwiriAdgin-a Ma si mg OYi mg Nana Owei Oya-owei mg mini Tqbqg mq Ta mg Yei mq (I) Orinyen TUbgU Endi Dgg-otu Pgrg-diri Ggg Owei Furu Timi A Pri Kgri Oru Ma Eyg Otu (I) Bou tein-owei Oro oro 0foni Adaka nana Eygrg tqbqq Pgrg Eyerg Awgq-ama Owei-tein TqbgU Kimi Bibi Pigha Ama Ta mo Yei mo otu (II) Ta mg Yei mq (UI)

3 5 7 13 15

Wo ani arqU kpq ki p9l9 tginmgmi;o kqn ama ygqmqml' O mu wari ladg mi, o gba mini pilei otubo primi,'Mi deinmi kimi pa bo kqmqe,

ye akpgmi ikisa wgriemi e.' Erema anda timi andaa pri bo seriidg ni 6 mu ani 'yee wgri 'y99 di a, dirii ba fa. A Uo pgg la a, ani aryU kpq fa. A ba zlni mi99m' bra nemigha ni, dein bo ebi bra kitni sE kps ;i"u"g ml, 6 tgrymi oki bqinmi' A mu d yei warii lami' 6 korodg


"i gboloml"A

2lz5 27 31 35 37

tq[q o fini sggml. A ani'yemi ari wqri benii kgn angg saighaa duoni,ani angee s9 gerigeri - mutpq bou angggmq kl timimi' Ayei 6 wgri mu ani wari otu *q *iniyal mQ tin wqrlmlniwqnidUU sp- o ta kqn wo oyam9 pabo s9 gbami' Akgn tgrybiri a koromg bami.

'E tibQ kQ ya o?"a yei mg bimi. Am(nlangq gbami' 'Emini aba, enl kunouemgbisaa kqn ogigee fini e'

kimi s9"Llil"tin ni yeimi erema bagha, amini mini wgni sei-fi ki fimlni e ' Anii Auoni , a ri kgn lzqn a wgd zinl wqnilm' firi faa duoni a mQ ata kqn d kikai wgri 6

4l43 4551

Ta mg Yei mg (III)Kgni efie ta mg yai mg otu timimi, kpo kgni owei tr,rbgg kl a mp zimi' Tgbqpg zi ataghaiimi daqg pri fimi. Yinma tUbQUU kekere timi o pri bo kimi pa wgriere kpg nanaml. Omini hJ gbein-owei. Ani amami pesikiriyai bgnimq bgnimgtimimi' anla mi tpbqgmi paa si anda-

53 5765 69


kirilagha.Woanda-kirilabgghaaduonioyinmakpokponanami.Kgnibai6buryprimi''Kqn tu sggini. A mu kgniere la wgrimini wgni-tu gbami' Erema diri mig 6 mq Cbami.A eyee kqn wqrl wai wari a bomi' o *ini bggm'eyg hinms e'ii 'iU'baimi-ba anda-erein. Baisinghami, 6 mu eyee kqn o wqni b99m' eyg pit.i-i o ba mini enga-ama kqn sinmi o bou wgnlmqmi' O mu bginmgmi. iit"i

anda-kirimi a eyemi asitai bqmi, anaa-tgmg bo wo a sggmi- o koro owei tin pelei mumi. a ma andatimi ni mi gbai anda 'yq ki a bo emi?' A wasa finimg o Primi'Tirimi gbeinmi' O bo anda kpq pame o pri'kimi pri timl wo efie kpq kpudugha timi a kqn kgn gbelemg Yerinmi. O timi anda oroupamini mi, o tama gbarni, 'f yei anda 'ye kpQ miegha timi kimimi ti bra ki mig antla klrrq kgrqdg ya o? O m19 timi ini kqni-yinbo owei gbodg



middle of the river. He also loosened, with a cutlass, the rope that was used in tying up her canoe and let it go adrift. Then he commenced on his hornewardjourney.On arrival, he warned members of his street: 'I have done evil to the world, so that nobody should come out of doors this night.' The woman, after the wrestling contest, went to where she kept her spell, but did not find it. Neither did she see her canoe when she came to the waterside. She did not know what to do; and when night had completely fallen and darkness reigned everywhere; she swum across the river. She went to her husband's house, and knocked. 'Who are you?' her husband asked. She introduced herself. 'If it is you, then apply your little-finger in opening the door' he instructed. Indeed she opened it and entered. Because she did not see her spell to sprinkle herself, her body was all reddish-still with her transmuted body. Leaving her in alone in the house, her husband went to her family people and nanated all what she had been doing to him-all what he had suffered from his wife. Every one of them agreed that he is not responsible for her death; she died out of her own wicked act. It was worthless keeping her alive, they resolved, and tied a stone round her neck and drowned her in the river.

Dedicated and Presented to the Children of, the Niger Delta and all Izon

A Husband and Wife (III).There was once a husband and wife who had only a son. T'he father dicd not long after his birth. The mother brought up this child, he got married when he had grown up - he became a palm fruit collector. The town used to hold wrestling contest, but this child had never once partaken in it which made his mother to be upset. one day, she went to consult an oracle. She consulted a woman and explained the cause of her visit. The woman prepared a concoction for her. 'Apply it to a path he would pass' she instructed.She took it and retumed.

The following day was again slated for a wrestling contest. At dawn. she applied it to where he would pass. Early in the morning, after taking his climbingrope, he went to the forest; and in the course. passed over the concoction unawares. Almost immediately he was possessed with a wrestling-spirit and begandemonstrating chal lenging displays. Everybody murmured when he appeared in the arena.

x ,|

wrestling, and that he has come to wrestling contest?' They offered him the opportunity. He did not waste time before throwing down anybody who was a man who was not used to wrestling. How is it he has become a hero?72 elected to wrestle with him. Now, he had wrestling as a secondary occupation. while he was gaining fame in wrestling, his wife said: 'My husband was such


Has this man been





Hare and ElePhant*u, g[pt *i*rlngwash down what it was and a can of palm rxine ready at its side to to itself: 'I am happy that I have uno ii*u, nery trappy andsaid J"ir'"g, "" "*ii"r, eating and an earthln pot.of palm wine.for drinking.' without niend ;;;y-;# and waited anxiously for the being invited, it went in"to the den, seated itseif but it kept waited forrryhat seemed invitation which would r"ii"u. it from its plight; did not invite it until the like interminable hours onft to be disappointed-Elephant eaten p' A.nd taking hold of the whole lot meant for consu*ption was completely -;;;;J, ii"ff it once and Orant< iiatt, without leaving even a single

good friends. one day, Hare once there lived a Hare and Elephant who were to Elephant's den' Hare saw t unlry and searched for what to eat until it came

patni ' wo eyee kgn eyg dqg koromg, wo benimi o mp sai biriibo o bo bou-kimi Aniibo omini anda-ekein rnq wgni anda-tirimi a mumi' "' tln O mu ti;mi a pa a, kimi ig wo duo bo 'y99 ki kqn zqzq bimi' .Wo owei kgni akpa klgn o mu o kgni kfmi kgrlml, eyq lagha- wo o kgn geinml' Misi bomi' wgri primi. wo ani bra'kgn u guo ti*i bo bein okubo ki nanami. Erema wo beri fan aba, e kpq klali ki serii e" emi"ltimi ru ken kume o - anda-kirii bo tqlgi tqlqideo kqn wEri 'yqq la, wo wo benii bari sai biriibo. o wai bo lzqn-kimi a pami; aniibo



it poured

element in it. Hare then remarked: days?'

palm wine for five or more 'Elephant, have you not got the idea of storing

,How can palm wine be preserved fcrr five or more days without going sour? It- will then loose all its taste und beco*" useless' said Elephant' :ri is very much possible. Try and you will see the difference. It will evenbecome sweeter'' 'lt is noted, I shall try.' Then Hare went back still in hunger' pot of palm wine' lt On the following day, Elephant again had an earthen then, left some for the following day; took it on the drank little of it that auy "na It did not mind about day only to discover that its taste had gone sour a bit.

trur"i-o mig ala kpq alagha timi ebi dgin warl-ama k94, ba ebi yerin kpg yerinmi. Wo erema gbami,'[mlni mi braa sq kqn wo oyamq a omlni mukpq kgrg tirni tibi seriimgmini? Ye wo a tu dggpmlnl e.' A'fpg br;nltu sqqmi,6 kpq mu tarikqmq erema ki lami' Erema 6 bgmi,'E kpg ba I klri dgg bo Padg?' A a p*g.i,'Yinye, e tlye ki cluo misi bra kqn I biminl ya o?' 'n yei t