EDO UNITY-A MEANS TO A BETTER TOMORROW

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a keynote address, not an instructional manual. Its aim is to lay before you the THEME of this conference and highlight the key issues covered by the theme. My boss Drs Stephen Ogbonmwan and Osamwonyi Igori who gave me the assignment have assured me you will have ample time to freely and openly discuss the issues presented, so as to reach a consensus. Therefore I will limit my presentation to a short time to allow for a full range of interaction and audience participation. It is from such interaction and participation that we can find the answers for which we search, because first the answer is in the question; and second the question is the question.
No single individual has all the questions or knows all the answers. The theme of this conference is EDO UNITY: A MEANS TO A BETTER FUTURE. That no doubt will raise questions in your minds, individually and in those questions, according to the first of the above two paradoxes, lie your individual answers. The Unity we seek however is encapsulated in he Edo Global Organization‟s principles and policies which hopefully we shall carefully examine at this conference and ratify once and for all, for Edo Global Organization can no longer remain a talking shop but must stand out as a dynamic and action orientated institution that carries in it‟s core the better future for Edo everywhere.
The Organization offers a purpose around which we can all freely and willingly rally. That purpose is therefore unifying forces which will enable all sections of our diverse communities to speak at it were with a single voice.
Two main issues arise here. Firstly, there is the unifying force of the Organization‟s purpose; secondly, there is the Unity of that purpose itself. Taken together, the Global nature of the Organization becomes manifestly apparent.
One might wish to know what the Edo Global Organization really stands for. Let me tell you. In a presentation at the meeting of the Council of Presidents of the Edo Nation Association in the Americas in Dallas, Texas in April 2003, Dr Stephen Ogbonmwan clearly articulated what the Edo Global Organization really stands for. I paraphrase Dr Ogbonmwan‟ S statement at this point. He said that the „Edo Global Organization stands for the ability to pull the same string, work together for a common purpose and achieve desirable results. Edo Unity therefore means working together for acommon purpose which has been consciously conceived and having a common desire to
achieve that purpose because its value is recognised by all those involved.
Continuing, Dr Ogbonmwan said, Edo Unity means speaking with one voice in dealings
within the (Edo) State and more importantly with the Federal Government;
It means aligning and re-aligning with Government at the Centre for the benefit of our
people;
it means pursuing a common goal for the benefit of Edo people; it means realising that
though we are many and varied but we constitute a part of a single whole, which is Edo
Kingdom;
It means that those at the helm of affairs are using the available resources for Edo people
without damaging the Edo economy by taking the peoples‟ money abroad;
it means that the Edo in the Diaspora take active part in the issues that concern Edo State and
contribute their widow‟s mite to the self-help development of Edo State;
It means constructive criticism and the avoidance of smear campaigns;
It means disagreeing in harmony without drawing each other‟s blood;
It means all things good for Edo people wherever they may be;
It means facing our worst fears and turning our failures unto successes;
It means re-orientating ourselves, our thought processes towards honour for achievements
rather than praise and respect for ill-gotten wealth;
And, finally, it means celebrating our achievements and cultural heritage.
However far and wide one may search, it will be difficult to find any definition cleverer and
more comprehensive than Dr Ogbonmwan‟ S definition of Edo Unity which I have attempted
to paraphrase here. And it is that definition we are here to examine and ratify.
By definition Edo Global Organization is the umbrella charity institution beneath which all
Edo groups operate. It is global in two main ways namely, it contains all the individual Edo
groups everywhere on earth; and its activities cover every conceivable aspect of Edo life at
home and in Diaspora. It is the main and principal initiator of policies which all the diverse
constituent groups should implement. Yet it does not aim at usurping the existing powers of
the separate fragments nor rob them of their individuality and uniqueness. Its strength inheres
in its embodiment of purpose which unites us all… That purpose concisely is to ensure and
guarantee the future prosperity of Edo Land regardless of the failures and shortcomings of
any elected government.
The Edo Global Organization is non political although some of its constituent members may
carry out political activities on its behalf and with its full support. Any activity, political,
economic, social, or cultural which may be directed towards the overall progress and
development of Edo Land falls within the remit of our Global Organization. But let me
emphasise one important and crucial point, namely; the Edo Global Organization is NOT a
terrorist group by any definition whatsoever. It is not even a pressure group per se. It is
purely a self help Charitable Organization, promoting the improvement of Edo people.
The Edo in Diaspora must be seen here as a catalyst in the fulfilment of our purpose. In our
post-exilic state of consciousness, we have all imbibed the lifestyles of the various
environments that have hosted us. Without that, we would never have fitted into our new
homes away from our home-land. Edo Land is at least potentially the better for this situation
because of the enormous richness which it provides in terms of training, expertise, and
wisdom in all its forms, shades, and contours. This huge wealth in human resources is at thedisposal of Edo Global Organization and it is ready and waiting to be harnessed in the
fulfilment of our unifying purpose.
And as a part of the details which you will eventually discuss, I quote here another of Dr
Ogbonmwan‟ S statements. He writes that Edos in Diaspora must willingly make the
necessary sacrifice to educate, initiate, facilitate, and improve processes that will not only
sustain Edo culture and Tradition in the 21st century but also be beneficial economically to all
and sundry in Edo Land.
In this and other important respects, it seems vital to emphasise the value of the Edo Woman
as an equal contributor to all our aspirations.
Throughout Edo History, the woman has been highly respected, even venerated as a mother,
and as wife; Okhuo e ro bi Oba; as we say in one of our proverbs. The examples of Idia, Iden,
Emotan, and Eyewo only scratch the surface without exhausting the numerical range of Edo
womanhood which used to be valued for courage, resourcefulness, industry, and ingenuity.
The Edo woman was the protected but concealed pillar that propped up every Edo man from
the Oba to the meanest citizen.
Sadly in recent years, she has been relegated to the role of object dependency, seen but not
heard, and treated only as a sex object by men who concede nothing else to her but „Bottom
Power‟.
In doing so, we have neglected a full half of our natural endowments in human resources. A
great deal of price has been paid for this shameful negligence. The Edo woman was never
inclined, naturally or consciously to prostitution until the Edo man introduced and coerced
her into it through the invention of what is euphemistically called bottom power. It was then
and only then that she discovered that the man‟s object weakness…, his voracious and
uncontrollable appetite for sex…… was in fact her own strength. It was then she realised that
she could obtain whatever she desired in a male-dominated world simply by offering her
body in exchange.
She found that she possessed a formidable bargaining power against those who have
persistently and remorselessly marginalized and debased her. She took full advantage of her
“Power.” Her new-found sexual orientation was, of course, justified by the impact of the
imported culture which taught her to affirm that her body was hers to do whatever she might
wish to do with it.
Today, there is a well-earned back lash resulting from the situation into which the men have
unwittingly forced the women. That backlash manifests itself in the total and large-scale
denunciation and rejection of Edo man by the Edo woman. However, it is to be hoped that
part of the purpose offered by the Edo Global Organization is to accord to the Edo woman
her rightful place in the future development of Edo Land. This is what is meant by harnessing
all of our human resources in the development of Edo Land. And it is reasonable to expect
that, given the purpose already outlined, the Edo Global Organization and its constituent
members will unite the Edo men and women in a single effort to work for our better future.
Meanwhile, I would like to raise another important issue which seems relevant. The world is
rapidly becoming well and truly a “Global Village.” We like everyone else live in this
village. We have as much right within it as offers. And we must play our full role in it,
politically, economically, socially and culturally. And we can-and must- do so without
surrendering our birthright, our national and cultural integrity and our natural identity. The
impact of imported culture has inflicted severe, almost irreparable damage on our customsand traditions. That damage has extended to almost total loss of our natural tongue; the
inability to formulate our own thought; the loss of the power to even feed ourselves; the huge
lack of creativity; our abject immaturity arising from an “acquired slavish mentality”; and our
shameful ignorance of our own heritage.
We have acquired the knack on believing that everything foreign is better than and superior
to anything that is native and natural to us. But the level of sophistication at which we aim is-
and will remain- elusive while we wallow in ignorance of the realities that underlie the
imported cultures and practices.
Some damage-limitation seems, however to be available through the Unity of Purpose set out
by the Edo Global Organization. And when we blame our backwardness on what we are told
to recognise as “Poverty,” we must be able to distinguish between absolute poverty and
relative poverty. Edo State-and Nigeria as a whole- suffers only from relative not absolute
poverty. In other words, Edo State is poor only in comparison with the achievements of other
nations, especially those in the West. In absolute terms, on the other hand, we are a rich
nation, given our enormous natural resources and potentials. It is these that the Edo Global
Organization and its constituent members are setting out to help it develop.
Asked whether the actualisation of Unity among the Edo is impossible, the answer must be
NO. It may be difficult but it is not impossible. And the difficulty arises, partly at least, from
prevailing inability to trust and be trusted. In a situation in which mutual mistrust prevails,
Unity and co-operation would be difficult to secure.
What is true in this respect seems also true in Edo State far way from the Diaspora where the
impact of the globalisation of the world into a single “village” is daily fact. The
fragmentation of effort in the Diaspora reflects a similar, if not a larger, fragmentation of
effort in Benin City.
In both cases it boils down to spiritual immaturity which imposes the infantile omnipotence
tendencies that intensify the desire for un-earned fame, wealth, egotism and hubris. In the
majority of cases, those who aspire to lead do not even clearly understand the implications of
leadership.
In many cases, everyone aspires to be labelled „Chairman‟ or “President” or “General
Secretary” even without realizing that such positions carries weighty responsibilities and
accountability. But experience demonstrates that without a well-grounded, solidly founded
esprit de corps, there can be no Noblesse Oblige. Without such NOBILITY of character or
attitude, all that may remain is uncontrolled selfishness, ruthless greed, reckless arrogance,
mindless egotism and dangerous situation Ethic-all fuelled by psychopathic hero-worship and
all of which tend to negate(by denial) the “Collective Unconscious” and produce status
anxiety and ontological insecurity. The practical outcome of all that is “CORRUPTION” for
which our country like many others is world-famous.
No one can pretend that the work of the Edo Global Organization and its constituent
members will be easy. But it is work that must be done if our future is to improve. And the
success of all the effort that goes into the doing will depend on the Unity of purpose which
holds us together. Hence, logically all of the numerous Edo Associations should accept the
purpose set out by the Edo Global Organization and rally round it, regardless of personal or
group ambitions. It needs to be constantly remembered that the Edo Global Organization is a
means to an end in itself. The ultimate end-and the END that matters-is the development of
Edo Land.Although I have said it is you who will ask your own questions and offer your own answers in line with the rubric of this address, I will highlight some of the immediate issues. Firstly, the structure in place is the Edo Global Organization. Secondly, however, how do we energize that structure in order to carry on the process of using the means to achieve the end? Thirdly, how can we sustain the process itself? Fourthly, how are we to make this process manifestly visible and comprehensible in-situ to our people in Edo Land? These issues and many more constitute the essence of this conference.
Finally Ladies and Gentlemen, in my Manchester presentation in October 2003, I cited a passage from the „ODYSSEY‟, which has since been repeated in some internet entries. Because of its relevance to this key-note address, that passage will bear repetition. Addressing his fellow-travellers before embarking on another hazardous voyage, Odysseus said,
Come my friends,
„Its not too late to seek a new word…. Tho‟ much is taken, much abides and tho‟ We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.
To me Odysseus in that passage personifies the Edo Global Organization. The Edo Global Organization is reminding us that „What we are; we are‟. And we are Edo. But perhaps more pertinent is that we are „ONE EQUAL TEMPER OF HEROIC HEARTS‟ That is the bottom line. We are several hearts that beat as one.
Oba Ghato, Okpere!!!
IRO EWEKA. VERONA, ITALY, NOVEMBER 2004.

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