Saturday, September 18, 2010

Òkó Speaking Communities

Ogori-Magongo people are said to have descended from an adventurous prince of Ile Ife, one of the earliest settlements of the Yoruba ethnic nation. However the language of the community is said to have developed from an admixture of various languages usually referred to as ena (new language - Osheidu, 1990:15). Òkó, as the language was later called has developed from contact with different linguistic groups in the process of the long migration (both in space and time) from Ife .
The first official census in 1963 puts the population of speakers at ten of thousands. An unsourced document based on the controversial 1983 census put the number at about forty-nine thousand (49,000); and with demographic factors it is speculated that the population would be between 60 - 70 thousand at present.
Ogori Magongo Local Government Area (LGA) shares boundary with Ososo, Ojah, Makeke, Ekpedo and Olokoto in the south, while Bekuma, Lampese, Ibillo, Imoga are in the south-west — all in Edo State of Nigeria. The Ebiras (of Kogi State) cover the north of Òkó speaking areas.
Although the people had gone through a rough period in the past, they are settled as a peace loving people.
Ogori and Magongo people are located in the valleys of ranges of hills. The people are culturally rich. One festival that has continued to draw national and international crowd is the Ovia-osese festival during which teenage girls are formally initiated into womanhood. It is a ceremony in which the community engages in a series of cultural displays and dances, the climax, of which is the “Oke” dance.
Most cultural activities have faded into oblivion, “Ekon-Orire” which was the mail version of Ovia-Osese is still celebrated till now by the Magongo people. For a detailed history and cultural information about the speakers of Òkó, see (Akerejola, 1970; Osheidu, 1990 and Eyika, 2003)