Edafewotu Onojakaroma Endurance is a photographic genius, who has loved taking historical pictures. He has traveled far and wide recording and storing artifacts. His love for museums, archeology and antiquities is infectious and dates back to his early years when his grand-mother Emebu Egha of blessed memory use as a routine to tell him the history of his family tree.
Edafewotu hails from the Omoba Royal Dynasty from Emede in Isoko South Local Government Area. He started his primary school at Isoko Central School Oleh, His Secondary Education also in Oleh. Because of funding he continued and developed his love for photography which he focused on during his secondary school days.
His passion for development is exceptional; currently he is the Executive Secretary of Gender Equality Advocacy and Development Initiative, and presently studying for a Ph.D at the University of Benin, Nigeria.
In this interview with Isoko Mirror, Isoko Regional Editor, Kelvin Ohoror, he bares his mind why he wrote The Isoko Ethnic Nationality: In Time and Perspective.
Can we meet you sir?
My name is Edafewotu Onojokaroma Endurance, friends popularly called me Orchid.
What motivates you in writing the Isoko Ethnic Nationality: In Time and Perspective?
I believe that, for a people to live in peace, they must know their history. History is a prerequisite for a feeling of self-worth. A people without identity are a people without a home. Creating an identity for Isoko nation is my driving force. The children yet on born must and should understand the values that make us Isoko people.
What is all about the book?
This book is about recreating the Isoko identity. Here I tried to put myself in the position of our forbearers, to weave together a history that is far gone into oblivion. Some of the questions I tried to answer in this book are: What really identifies the Isoko people? Why do we have different Kingdoms in Isoko land, even when we agreed we are the same ethnic group, and many more? By trying to know about each clan history, the facts about our historical origin are been unveiled.
Do you see this piece of writing as a unifying factor and social regeneration for the Isoko people?
Unifying fact? The fact is Isoko unity is not in contention, therefore we are people very strong in our unity of purpose, so I can assure you, this book will only increase our bond as a people. On social regeneration, yes, but I also feel, using the word re-awaking is more apt here. As civilization changes, the most affected is a people’s culture and history. If concerted effort is not made to sustain and document it, there will come a time that someone will tell our children a different story. That is why, I tried to document as many as possible whatever part of the history I can lay my hands on.
The Isoko people have a very rich history and cultural heritage that has defiled the monstrous colonial influenced but today the culture and history is dying. In what ways can this book help in reviving our cultural heritage?
Just saying we have a rich history does not give the needed identity. Thanks to colonialism, thanks to modernity, and thanks to our lack of interests, Isoko history was fast going into extinction. This book, first and foremost is a work in progress, so I cannot claim to have written a book that would revive our cultural heritage, but I can assure you that this book will provoke writers to begin to write about Isoko and they will definitely write from various perspective, and with this surge, trust it will document and revive our dying culture. It is just the beginning.
What are the challenges you encountered writing this book?
The challenges were multifarious. Though the cost of doing this research was very huge, two things helped me;
1. I was willing to commit whatever resources it takes without thinking of repayment, therefore, I was not taking down my expenses so I was not worried.
2. I had support from my benefactor Hon. Joel-onowakpo Thomas, who came to my rescue in several occasions.
The most daunting challenge was clannish influence, many of the clans where not willing to tell their story and some want you to tell it their way, which was not academic in nature. When I try to explain that my duty as a researcher is to purge myself from any irrational behavior they don’t see it from there. But my desire was and is to try as much as possible not to fall for any influence whether good or bad.
The long travels to do the research and the desire to be as thorough as possible was also a very major challenge since I have to manage my time with my already crowded schedule.
What kept you going even with the numerous challenges you encountered writing this book?
The motive of this book was not-for-profit, it was the selfless desire to create an identity, to put into concrete form a dying history that is stronger a motivation than any challenge I faced.
A man is born in a particular ethnic group to fulfill a purpose, when you are able to discover yours and you follow your heart, the self-satisfaction is unquantifiable.
Do you see the Isoko nation becoming active and vigorous again even in the face of the 21st century challenges?
If you see the drive of the Isoko man, they have a very peaceful outlook but do not underrate their posture, when they think otherwise; they can be a threat to any government or individual. We as a people have always survived difficult times, we are more determined than ever to survive, and we are doing it in different ways. Look at young guys developing different talents. Funky Frankie, a young man using his songs to pass societal values; look at Lion Son, the Isoko comedy group using their comedy to pass generational values. These may not catch the news headlines for now, but soon you will see. Various groups are adding value in their own right, like Umeh Need Road is doing today.
The Isoko people are known to be highly advanced in terms of its richness in moral values, highly religious, peace loving and great lovers of strangers. What was your description of the Isoko ethnic nationality?
Hahaha, This man does not want to wait till November 9th when the book will be unveiled before reading it. Anyway, I have reiterated that, though the Isoko man is peaceful, with virtues that are rich in values, their simplistic outlook is very deceptive, they give to anyone the measure you give to them. Most of the inter-tribal wars Isoko has fought with their neighbours, and even intra-ethnic crises we have witness can testify to the fact that, Isoko man believe respect is reciprocal.
The imperativeness of a good and purposeful leadership can only be understood and appreciated when we realized how we have been marginalized politically in the scheme of things. How do you access the political leadership in Isoko nation and in what way Isoko can be redeemed from being marginalized?
While it is not in the scope of this work to look at our marginalization, yet, this book believe that lack of knowing our history is the bane of marginalization that we face today. For instance, the Isoko-Ame, those Isoko communites in the lowlands, particularly in the riverine areas that found themselves outside the Isoko South and Isoko North local Government areas clusters, they are suffering these marginalization because of the way they cluster them under different ethnic groups. History is a pathway to justice.
In order to free ourselves from the shackles of marginalization, don’t you think we need a Moses to lead us to have Renascent Isoko?
Do not try to pull me into the muddy waters of politics, why I do not shy away from expressing my political views and orientation, this book is apolitical. What I can add quickly is that, if we can savour and embrace our history, like the book title, The Isoko Ethnic Nationality in Time Perspective, we will not lag behind in any of our generational development. There are too many Moses in Isoko, past and present that can lead the land, all they need is an identity and unity of purpose.
What is your message for the Isoko nation?
My message is very clear, do not politicize our history, and let us debate our existence so that the legacy we leave behind would be sustainable.
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