The Urhobos are people of southern Nigeria, near the northwestern Niger River delta. The Urhobo is the major ethnic group in Delta State; the Delta State is one of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They speak Urhobo, a language in Niger-Congo group. The Isoko and Urhobo are related in language and culture, leading to the missionaries erroneously labelling both peoples as Sobo. This name was strongly rejected by both tribes. The Urhobo nation is made up of twenty sub-groups, including Okpe the largest of all Urhobo sub-groups? (disputable). The Urhobos are noted for having their own unique style of speaking Nigerian Pidgin English. Since their language is very demonstrative that translates into their style of speaking English and Pidgin English. As a result of their unique language style, their names are also unique. An example of a unique Urhobo name would be the name Onaodowan, belonging to the Onaodowan family from Warri.
A bulk of the Urhobo people reside in the south western state of Delta in Nigeria also referred to as the Niger Delta. Many live in the Ughelli local government region and in Warri and Ethiope,and in Okpe and Sapele Local Government Areas. Their language is also called Urhobo which is a sub-group of the Edo language which is also spoken by the Bini people (Benin-city).
The Urhobos live very close to and sometimes on the surface of the Niger river. As such, most of their histories, mythologies, and philosophies are water-related. They have an annual fishing festival that includes masquerades, fishing, swimming contests, and dancing. There is also an annual, two-day, Ohworu festival in the southern part of the Urhobo area at which the Ohworhu water spirit and the Eravwe Oganga are displayed. The king in an urhobo clan or kingdom is called the Ovie. His wife the queen is called Ovieya and his children O.mo. Ovie (child of the king also known as prince and princes). Often nowadays, these names are also given to children without royal heritage by their parents. A number of Urhobo sub-groups have other titles other than Ovie, for example, the Okpe called their traditional ruler Orogie and Olomu called theirs Ohworode and Okere-Urhobo theirs Orosuen.
As with most tribes in Nigeria, a certain food is considered to belong to or originate from a particular tribe as in pounded yam and egusi soup from the Igbos, Eba and Ogbono soup (sometimes referred to as Ogbolo soup by people of Esan or Etsakor descent). For the Urhobos there are two foods considered Urhobo in nature. They are: Ukhodo (a yam and unripe plantain dish sometimes cooked with lemon grass and potash) and Starch (actual name of this staple is not often used) and Ogwho soup (palm oil soup). The starch is made from cassava plant. It is heated and stirred into a thick mound with oil palm added to give the starch its unique orange-yellow colour. The Ogwho soup is composed of smoked or dried fish, unique spices, potash and oil palm juice. Other palm nut oil soups include amiedi pr banga, which is also eaten with starch and or garri.
There are approximately 1,000,000 Urhobo people. Some sources put the number at approximately 1.5 million.
Epha divination, similar to the Yoruba Ifá and practiced by many West African ethnic groups, is practiced with strings of cowries. Urhobos also practice Christianity, with many belonging to Catholic and new evangelical denominations. There are 1,261 ejo (deities), including the one-handed, one-legged mirror-holding whirlwind-god Aziza.
Urhobo is spoken/used in Nigeria
Subgroup: Western Sudanic
Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.