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Monday, March 10, 2008

Warri Means More

And one other thing, you know back in the days, parents named their children according to circumstances in their lives.

My great great-grandfather, Owowo was a known warrior who killed lots of people at war. One day he went to war. After causing lots of spoils, he was surrounded by the enemies. They were all shouting in our language that he should be surrounded because Owowo knew how to disappear. Surround him in my languaue is ‘wadeware’.
So, Owowo was surrounded and just as he was about to be captured, he disappeared.

On getting home, he learnt that his wife had put to bed a baby boy. So he named him edeware – meaning ‘to surround’. A war memory becomes his son’s name.

After another war, people were describing Owowo’s killing acts and said he killed so much that blood was flowing like ‘ekere’ – meaning a ‘stream of water’.

This man went home to meet a new born son, and named him ‘ekere’. Another war memory.

Ekere, my great grandfather, grew up to have, I don’t know how many wives. But his last wife, was my great grandmother, and she had just one child. A boy. My sweet late grandfather. On the day he was born, was the day white men, journeying around Nigeria, entered Warri.

So he was named Warri. Accordingly, I am supposed to be bearing Uzezi Warri. Somehow, we all escaped it and still go by Ekere. But my father wants to make sure his father’s name is not forgotten, so he answers Warri.

So you see, Warri means much more than that city to me. It is my late Grand daddy’s name and I can’t say Warri or visit Warri, without remembering that sweet man who used to speak correct English to me anytime we were together, not because I couldn’t speak Isoko – I can, but because he loved to speak English.