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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Names for Rotations and Manifestations of Light and Darkness in the Cosmological Orientation of Esan People of Nigeria

A I Okoduwa
Ambrose Alli University, Nigeria

This paper discusses names that came into use for manifestations of light and darkness in Esan. Esan people were yam farmers and they speak the Edo language. Their land lies between longitude 5º30' and 7º30' and latitude 5º30' north and 7º30'. Names convey experiences and representations of light and darkness, common occurrences around the tropical region where light and darkness are everyday. The sun and the moon with the stars represent perennial forces that influenced and directed attitudes for the corporate good or bad. Therefore from birth to death manifestations of contrasting elements were observed with reverence, spirituality and named in the indigenous society. Stars that lit the night sky had names that were linked with various signs and domination. The uses of names for black or white elements, darkness or light, forest and bush or ogo and others were used in rotation to achieve checks and balances in the lives and society of the people. The names of rotations and manifestations of elemental structures became the bulwark of the pre-colonial Esan and their societies that encountered British colonial rule by 1900. For example, in the village of Ujioenlen, the title Ojioren, meaning “King of the Sun or Sun King” was a reflection on the interplay of light and darkness while the people worshipped Ojiebiudu meaning “King of the Dark or Dark-King”. This paper discuses in detail and empirically the various onomastic manifestations regarding the cosmological experiences of the people.

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