One of the experience I had as a little boy that grow in Yoruba Land that I will never forget in my life is this story you are about to read please keep reading.
I sometimes think Mankind, in spite of our great divide in ethnic and racial origin, languages and culture, probably have something linking us together other than the fact that we are all God’s creation and regardless of the colour of our skin.
This leave me to depose that there is something fundamentally common to all of Mankind. And when I notice there are a
few words in most world languages that are quite identical in meaning and connotation as well as effect, I see a compelling reason to explore this notion a little bit further.
Yes. It is generally believed that most languages derive from basically the same source and that all human beings are basically the same.
The most intriguing of these observations, I like to share in this article, is the one I have observed between the Ebiras in Nigeria, as vividly captured in my graphic title to this article. ‘Ota mi de, Ada mi da’ is a classic to illustrate the point I want to make. The word ‘Ota’ in Ebira language means friend
whereas in Yoruba, the same word means enemy. By the same token, the word ‘Ada’ in Ebira means father, where as in Yoruba the same word means cutlass or sword. Of course, the word ‘Mi’ in Ebira and Yoruba simply means me or mine, and the word ‘De’, means has arrived in Yoruba but not in Ebira. Therefore, ‘Ota mi de, ada mi da Wave’ in Ebira simply means ‘My friend has arrived, where is my father’. In Yoruba, the same statement means, ‘My enemy is
here, get me my cutlass ’.
Can you imagine the cause and effect that the two statements may have provoked in two friends and classmates visiting each other during their long vacation in Nigeria?
The visiting friend was a Yoruba boy, and the
friend being visited is an Ebira boy and the venue was Igbole – Ekiti town, in Ekiti State.
There has not been any exchange of the Ebira popular mode of greetings which my friends used to joke, so much about, as a young boy growing up in Ekiti State as I played with my friends and age group whose Yoruba parents were our neighbours.
The words ‘Tao, wadahi, Akoro’ always feature very prominently in Ebira greetings.
But the observation I would never forget till
I die, is the story anchored on ‘Ota mi de, ada mi da Wave’ and the reactions or
responses it had provoked in the person making the statement and the hearer.
The Ebira friend was excited to want to introduce his visitor friend to his father by trying so hard to join Ebira with Yoruba, but his Yoruba friend had picked a different version of what is meant or intended. Of course, that was the end of the visit, as the Yoruba friend wondering what has gone wrong with his Ebira classmate, took to his heels, running as fast as he could, to get away from the looming disaster.
Those who argue there is power in the spoken word cannot be more correct. I think there is, without any question.
I drop my pen at this junction.
Please share with your friends