A Poem on Urhobo Mother’s Day

Urhobo Historical Society


By Chief Daniel A. Obiomah

Presented at the Closing Session of the Fifth Annual Conference of Urhobo Historical Society, at Agbarha-Otor, Nigeria, on October 31, 2004

Incidentally, social taboos in Urhobo culture are usually against women. This is one case in a million where the reverse is the case. It is men who must remain indoors on pain of sanctions by the Shades. The shades oversee our own world. But it is the women who invite them to the feast and dismiss them. Mothers’ Day goes like this:


It’s crack of dawn,
The owl has quit,
The men folk stay within their doors
But women out
The elderly lot,
Unseen and covered by the dark of dawn.

They place the rope – bound wraps,
Of smouldered plantain leaf
From door to door in all the Town
You’ll discover when you wake

From end of Town
From street to street
To the other end
They invite the shades to Town
For the feast

The feast is ready
Now for care in the past one year
Dutiful thanks and offerings bring
To guardian dead
To all the gods
And to God the Lord

By noon they’ll sing
They’ll sing to the shades
They’ll sing to the gods
Hear them sing

“So be it,
Fate of fortune upon us all”
Invoking blessings on the people

Fecund women,
Harvest rich of men folks labours,
Happy children,
Health to all,
Joy to all the land!!

Can you hear them sing?
Hear them sing!
Song of abundance
Amen, amen fate of fortune to all the land

The air is frisky
Children caper
Guests arriving
Jovial faces
Gay apparel
The breeze is spiced,
Seductive cuisine
Abundant fare
And jars of wine

Kigum, kigum
Keekoto keekoto
Call the drums
Grone-grone ganigan-digan
Flourish of ringing bells
From the waists of maidens!

Kigum, kigum,
Keekoto keekoto ken
Joyful people
Frenzied dancing
Happy people
Amen, amen fate of fortune upon the land


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