Evolution of the Urhobo Bible

Urhobo Historical Society


Professor of Religious Studies
University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Originally published in Ibadan, Nigeria, and now published in URHOBO WAADO 
by permission of Professor Michael Y. Nabofa
© M.Y. Nabofa, 1997, 2002
Mrs. Janet Anore Ohwovwiogor, nee Obukohwo-Egide Nabofa. “Oniemo of the Nabofa Family”

Front Cover Design
The Holy Bible inside a box with lock and key. In the olden days the Bible was kept inside a box with lock and key. Only the Priest was authorised to read it during service. He locked it after reading it. Today the Bible is now opened for everybody to read.


For Areas of Urhobo Culture Covered in This Report Proceed To


 Dedication page

1. General Introduction

2. Translation Efforts

3. The Development of Urhobo Anglican Liturgical Books

4. Some Flaws in the Translation

5. Significance of the Urhobo Bible

6. Postscript

A. Historical Background

B. Urhobo Traditional Calendar

C. Urhobo Numerals: Ancient & Modern

D. Table of Movable Feasts

Notes and References


The Urhobo complete Bible came out in 1978 and since then, an account of that wonderful accomplishment, told in a simple but accurate manner, has been long expected. The Urhobo people at least have been very eager to know how the Urhobo version of the Christian liturgical books came into being. In fact, the curious minds have been very desirous to know the kind of John Wycliffes, William Tyndales and the Francis Bacons behind the translation and publication of the Urhobo Bible.

The earliest attempt to essay the evolution of the Urhobo Christian literature was the one included in the Ph.D. Thesis of S.U. Erivwo. He briefly discussed Herbert Tugwell’s translation of a few passages of the Holy Bible and the Lord’s Prayer into the Urhobo language. A Section of the thesis was revised and published in 1991 and it contained, almost exactly, what was written in the same thesis submitted in 1972.

The second written literature on this topic was a pamphlet titled Ikun ri Baibol re Urhobo: The History of the Urhobo Bible, authored and read by the Venerable Enajero Arawore during the launching of the complete Urhobo Bible on April 29, 1978. This pamphlet was indeed sketchy. In May and July 1979 we published in the The Nigerian Christian an article titled The Complete Urhobo Bible. This article was revised and published in ORITA, Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies, vol. XXVI/1-2, June and December 1995. In view of the limitation of space much that was important about the development of Urhobo Bible Corpus was not included. It is the need to give a more detailed account of this important story that has prompted the development and publication of this monograph.

 We shall have achieved our objectives if this modest attempt will generate the desire to improve on the historiography of the Urhobo Bible, the desired discussions and discourses on the ways to improve on the translations of the various Urhobo Christian literature as of now, and to encourage healthy Urhobo biblical scholarship. As a matter of fact, there is the need for a concerted effort of experts of textual critics of translation to do a thorough exray of the present Urhobo translation of the living Word of God. Again this work also stresses the need for similar works to be done on the accounts of the liturgical books used in the Nigerian Baptist, the AfricanChurch, The God’s Kingdom Society (GKS) and the other Christian denominations in Urhobo language, which are yet to be investigated and documented.

We are greatly indebted to a number of people who helped in bringing this work to its present stage. First, we are grateful to Dr. Egbe Ifie who assisted in proof-reading, editing and type-setting the manuscript. Second, we express our indebtedness to the Urhobo Language Committee for the use of the Urhobo Calendar Chart and numerals included in the appendix in order to preserve it for posterity. We acknowledge the great help we received from the introductory Section of the Obe R’Une Re Otuine R’Ega Re Katolik R’Urhobo Joint Choir, Warri Diocese. We are grateful to both Mr. Napoleon O. Aya, the Managing Director of Mckay Group of Companies, Port Harcourt, for his tremendous financial support and to the Rt. Reverend Vincent Omasheho Muoghere for his moral support, fervent prayers, and for supply us with many of the documents used in competing this work.

Finally, we are most grateful to the God Almighty for preserving our lives and for giving us the strength to complete this job.

M. Y. Nabofa,
Department of Religious Studies
University of Ibadan
Ibadan, June 1997



In Christian altruism, the Holy Bible is the richest source and the most profound fountain of faith in the life of very devout Christian. It is of great importance to him both in his private devotion and congregational worship. It is from the holy Writ that a Christian, and indeed every spiritually minded person, draws most of his or her spiritual nourishment. Hence, as we had opined elsewhere, “every devout Christian believes that the Holy Bible is the gift of God to His Church.1 Consequently, every faithful Christian depends upon it for his or her spiritual growth and development.

Emphasizing the importance of the Holy Bible in the life of the Church and indeed every Christian the Vatican Council II pontificated thus:

Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from it that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung. It is from the Scriptures that the prayers, collected and hymns draw their inspiration and their force, and that actions and signs derive their meanings.2 In fact, the Church depends upon the Holy Bible to grow and develop both vertically and horizontally. Hence one of the factors which prompted a group of Christians to form the first Bible Society in 1804 was to enhance this spiritual development by solving the problem of the exorbitant cost of the Bible caused by its scarcity.3

The major aim of the Bible Society was, therefore, to provide the Bible in a vernacular which every convert understands at an affordable price. This example inspired the formation of many other Bible societies in several other countries in the world where the Gospel has been preached. A concomitant of this move was that the Bible organizations gingered individuals and groups, who showed keen interest to undertake the translation of the holy writ into their vernaculars. It is this same desire that led the Bible societies based in London and Nigeria to vigorously stimulate the very few Urhobo Christians to translate the holy scriptures into Urhobo language. This monograph focuses on how the translation of the English Bible into Urhobo was accomplished over the years with the technical and financial assistance of the Bible societies.

(i) Advent of Christianity in Urhoboland

The history of the translation of the Scriptures into Urhobo could be related to the origin of Christianity in Urhoboland. We know the following about the period when the Urhobo had their first contact with Christianity.4 Professor A.F.C. Ryder states that in 1689, Rev. Father Franscisco de Monteleone, a Roman Catholic Prefect from Sao Tome (the present Equatorial Guinea), got in touch with the Urhobo, whom he called Oribbo gentili di Benij, in his fruitless efforts to visit Benin from Warri. He is said to have made some impressions among the Urhobo at that time.5 Ryder further informs us that under the direction of Gasper Gao, the Augustinian Bishop of Sao Tome, who was resident in that diocese between the years 1556 and 1565 and from 1517 to 1574, a company of Augustinian monks was sent to Warri to found the Christian settlement name Santo Agostinho.6 J. A. Ade Ajayi opines that by the 1570s the Portuguese had established a religious foothold in Ode-Itsekiri, the original seat of the Olu of Itsekiri, whose incumbent badly needed the support of these early Portuguese to assert his independence against the authority of the Oba of Benin7 Ode-Itsekiri, the ancestral home of the Itsekiri people, where the early Portuguese Roman Catholic Missionaries had their evangelistic Headquarters was barely ten kilometers away from the Urhobo settlements of present day Agbassa, Aladja, Igbudu and Okere, all of which, apart from Aladja, have been incorporated in modern Warri township. It is to be assumed that the desire of these early missionary explorers to win more souls for Christ may have led them into contact with the Urhobo settlements in order to convert them along with their Itsekiri neighbours. And if the Portuguese missionaries did convert some Urhobo in the present day Warri cosmopolis, the Urhobo were therefore one of the earliest peoples of West Africa to receive the Gospel.

It is well acknowledged that the seeds of Christianity sowed by these early missionaries fell among thorns; they go scotched and withered away. It was not until about 1900 that any fruitful and meaningful Christian evangelization began in Urhoboland.

(ii) The Early Mode of Urhobo Christian Worship

It is the fact that the earliest well established and organized Christian denomination in Urhoboland was the Church Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of England.8 The mode of worship and liturgy in the Anglican Church is clearly spelt out in the Church’s Common Prayer Book. And every member of the Anglican church is expected to have the book as his companion to enable him worship meaningfully during service by following and responding intelligently to the canticles and versicles.”9 But the Anglican Christian’s pattern of worship among the early Urhobo Christians was unable to follow strictly the form set out in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. This was inevitable because the founding fathers of and church leaders were stark illiterates who nevertheless did worship, but whose mode of worship, essentially, took the form of an unorganized Christian prayer meeting.

Thus when the congregation assembled, more often than not, in the Church leader’s house or compound, depending on the size of the group the leader recited one or two verses (which most certainly he must have learned from some other Christians) from the Bible. The most commonly thus recited verse was from St. John Chapter 4:24 which says:

God is a spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (Authorized King James Version) After that they all knelt down and recited the Lord’s Prayer. According to Enajero Arawore, “no sentences, no exhortation, no absolution, because there was no priest to read the absolution”.10 And while still in the kneeling position they sang or chanted a verse or two from a Christian hymn. But in some areas of Urhobo, where there were Isekiri teachers, some of the songs were rendered in either pure Itsekiri language or in a mixture of Urhobo and Itsekiri. While in those parts of Urhobo, such as Uwherun and Evwreni, which were closely related to the Niger Mission, which at various times had headquarters at Patani, an Ijo speaking town, and at Igbide, an Isoko town, used Christian songs which had a mixture of Isoko, Urhobo and Ijo words.11This was due to cross-cultural influence brought about by Christian evangelism and enterprises. This is not to say that they never used songs which were purely rendered in Urhobo language. In fact there were many of them and the following is one of such songs chanted wholly in Urhobo tongue:

Ohwo de bri Jesu Ko sa mr’urhukpe roye Jesu Urhukpe wo rue Wa gba yanrhe re bro ra.If one come to Jesus  He will then see his  (Jesus’) light  Jesus, you are light indeed  You then come and let us  All go to Him (Jesus).12

the Apostolic Creed which contains the Kernel and the Kerygma of the Christian faith was not said and the Psalms were neither read nor chanted because the people did not know them as Enajero Arawore puts it:

What passed for worship was something like a prayer meeting, the leader led the worship as much as his brain could remember. There was no Bible reading as such, but remembered verses or text which the leader had memorized was recited and expounded, this passed for sermon.13n the course of worship those who had problems of any sort brought them forward. These were discussed and they prayed to God in the name of Jesus for these problems to be solved. These prayers worked wonderfully for them because they all prayed with one mind and had an unflinching faith in the efficacy of their prayers.

During the same worship session, a period was devoted to receiving new converts into the Church. New members were happily received into the Christian fold. The leader of the congregation assisted by other older members expounded to the new converts the much they knew about Christianity. Some other and knowledgeable members of the congregation were assigned to each of the new members for constant visit and counselling in Christian spiritual ideals and ways of daily life or codes of conduct. Most of them held strongly to the faith while others backslided at the approach of some storms of life.

Charity which had been part of Urhobo life was strongly upheld and Christians were enjoined to increase in its doing. This was demonstrated in several ways which included free donations mostly in kind and sparingly in cash, because at that time the people operated a trade by barter economy. And thee was communal meal at the end of each Church service. There was, however, Church collection which in those olden days consisted of cowries. In those days cowries were recognised as legal currency and medium of exchange.14 Whatever amount collected was used to help the needy among them and also for the expansion of the Gospel. As they had no Church teachers and workers to maintain, every amount collected was used within the community and among the members.

At the end of the service the leader of the congregation and some other members who had the means to prepare food invited fellow members to dine with them. They had a fellowship or communal or social eating and drinking together. Palmwine, which is an Urhobo indigenous drink, was their favourite and it was taken with great moderation. Such fellowship created a very strong agape and bond among them.

What happened among the early Urhobo Christians could be linked to what took place among the early Corinthian Christians, but that of the Urhobo was more refined and carried out in an orderly manner than that of the Corinthians which St. Paul rebuked when they (the Corinthians) allowed their practice of agape to degenerate into “a kind of riotous picnic.”15 But the Urhobo saw the inner meaning of the life of Jesus Christ hence everything was carried out in an orderly manner.

In spite of the above initial seemingly and overt signs of successful Christian enterprise among the early Urhobo Christian converts, the situation still needed to be improved upon before the Christian message could be ingrained in their minds. Such could only be successfully done through a meaningful on textualization of the Good News by means of the Holy Bible being accurately translated into a language that is understood by them.

(iii) The Need for an Urhobo Bible:
One of the major reasons why the early Christian missionary efforts failed in this part of the world was the lack of meaningful explanation of the message of the Gospel to the people, and an absence of the Scriptures in the language that has any meaning to the people. It is a pertinent fact that the spiritual development of every Christian depends largely upon a thorough understanding of the message of the Scriptures which ought to be explained in the language that the people really understand. It was in this vein that various attempts were made to translate the Holy Bible into Urhobo.

We know very little about the first attempts made to translate the Scriptures into Urhobo. We doubt much whether any attempt was made during the early missionary era spoken of above. It is a well known fact that in some parts of Nigeria, which were evangelized by white missionaries, the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer and Hymn books were translated into the people’s language by the missionaries themselves. For example, it was Archdeacon Thomas J. Dennis, assisted by some Igbo interpreters, who translated the Bible into the Igbo language.16 Almost the same thing happened in Isoko. The Reverend Henry Proctor and J. C. Aitken, the Pioneer missionaries in Isoko encouraged the translation of the Bible into Isoko Language. They were thus the motivators of the vigorous translation works and enterprises of Mr. Omuye, Wilson Oki and Israel Upelomo Eloho.17 When the white missionaries of the Sudan United Missions got to the Northern part of Nigeria they also helped and encouraged the translation of the Holy Bible into Hausa, Tiv, Nupe, Biron and many other languages spoken by the minority groups in that part of Nigeria. The expatriate missionaries pursued the translation enterprises vigorously because they felt that if they scceeded in that venture they would be able to help liberate the oppressed minorities from the Hausa/Fulani hegemony and British colonialism.18

George Pilkinton and Henry Wright Duta, who were christian missionaries in East Africa, translated the Bible from English and Swahili to Luganda. The translations they made helped them to preach, teach and impart Christian ideas and doctrines to the Baganda.19]

The position was different during the pioneering work of Christian evangelization in Urhoboland. As it has often been asserted by many people who have carried out studies of Christian enterprise in Urhoboland, the people evangelized themselves.20 The Church in this area was bounded by illiterates and semi-illiterates who could hardly read the Bible, and according to Enajero Arawoye:

the few who could read were unable to translate the Bible. The first teachers mostly Itsekiri elements had no Bible either. The first teachers read and translated the Bible as they understood it.The English or Yoruba Bible was used as a charm by placing it under the pillow toward off evil spirits and juju (sic). Church leaders and some people who attended Bible classes and Sunday schools were made to memorise few verses of the Bible and these they in turn used for preaching and teaching.21 Enajero Arawoye further observed that as long as the church remained predominantly illiterate no effort was made at translating the Bible into Urhobo language at this early stage of Christianity in Urhoboland. The effect of this was that it was not easy for Christianity to expand rapidly vertically among the Urhobo.

It is through the Scripture that the divine communicates with the devotee. After reading and meditating or reflecting on the passage read, the believer is able to interpret the true import of the message contained in the portion read. This is successfully done through the divine inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit and such exercise helps the believer to internalize the message of the Gospel.

Both Christian theologians and Church historians always refer to vertical and horizontal expansion of Christianity when they examine the effects of Christian evangelization among a given people. When they speak of vertical expansion they mean how deeply rooted the faith is in the mid of the people while horizontal expansion refers to the geographical spread of the faith and the numerical strength or population of those who profess to be Christians.

Usually, these scholars opine that the vertical expansion of the faith is the more important of the two because it is more lasting and endures to the end. It is possible, therefore, to argue that the early Portuguese Roman Catholic Missionary enterprise in this area failed because they paid more attention to the horizontal than the vertical expression of Christianity. This is the mistake the early Urhobo Christian evangelists wanted to avoid.

Actually, vertical growth and the development of Christianity among a given people call for an examination of the depth of the development of Christian tenets and practices among such a people. It also looks into how unshaken the faith of the people is and how innately strong is the inward part of the believer, and that is to say, to what extent the people have really internalized the message of the Gospel.

Definitely, it is through constant and meaningful study of the Holy Bible that the “Word” develops deep roots, strong and unshakeable faith in the believer. The Holy Bible is the principal means by which the Christian message grows vertically. Thus, one can appreciate the need and rational for the Holy writ to be translated into a language that is best understood by the believer.

This is a symbol of the Church, found in a Church in Rome. From the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the dove, salvation comes through Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross into the Church, which is shown as a rock. From this rock flow the rivers of salvation which drink the faithful, represented by the sheep and stags. Beneath the rock is a symbol of Paradise where the faithful are enjoying their eternal reward guarded by an angel. The Urhobo faithful are among those who are in Paradise.



Early Translation Efforts

1) Efforts of Bishop H. Tugwell and His Teachers:

Signs of preliminary translation work seem to have started during the era of Cole’s missionary activities in the Delta area of the Niger. Bishop H. Tugwell’s letters written from the Rest House at Kokori to the Parochial Committees of St. Luke’s Church in Sapele and St. Andrew’s Church in Warri (All C.M.S. Anglican Churches) on December 16, 1914 explicitly refer to the woeful ignorance of both the teachers and the early Christian converts due mainly to lack of Christian scripture reading materials. Parts of the letters read thus:

While I am thankful to find that so many centres have been occupied in connection with Warri and SapeleChurches, it is very evident that the work which is being carried on is being carried on under very unsatisfactory conditions, and under conditions which cannot be tolerated without bringing grave discredit upon the Churches responsible for these centres. The people are woefully ignorant, whilst their teachers are also ignorant and in some cases quite incapable of giving instruction to others. I think I have already stated that I am anxious to secure the help of the C.M.S. in connection with the needs of Sobo (sic) country; especially in connection with work of the translation of the Scriptures and Training Agent, but I am not able to state positively yet whether the Society is prepared to render such help. in the event of such help being given, there would be no desire on the part of any to interfere with existing work; on the contrary, it would be desired to strenghthen and extend existing work…

In the meantime, I desire to impress upon your Committee the need of more effective supervision of these out-stations. There should be at least a quarterly visitation on the part of Omatsola or some responsible person, while Conferences regarding translational work should be held as often as possible. On this occasion, one form of the Lord’s Prayer has been adopted which we trust will meet the needs of the whole of the Sobo (sic) country, whilst I hope to be able to put a small reading sheet in the hands of the printer in the course of a week or two.22

We can deduce the following from the letters:

a) the Churches were in an unsatisfactory condition because both the people and their teachers were ignorant:

b) the teachers were incapable of giving instruction to the people because the Scriptures had not been translated into the language that they (the teachers) understood:

c) there were on-going Conferences on translation work and Tugwell was anxious to secure the help of the C.M.S. to assist in this work

d) it appears that thee were various versions of the Lord’s Prayer in these churches – due largely to a lack of a standardised translation; and that,

e) Tugwell translated a small reading sheet for use of the Churches, content of which is not stated in his letters.

The notes that followed these letters state that two thousand copies of that small sheet should be sold at a penny each; this price allowing a profit on the outlay. Also in the notes, he gave an order that Watts and the Church Catechism should be translated and printed quickly. The Lord’s Prayer and the first four of the Ten Commandments should also be translated quickly. In a meeting held at Effurun in that Year (1914), it was resolved that Agbarho dialect, which was almost widely understood, should be used in all translations. Thus, we can see serious efforts made by Tugwell to really ensure that the early Urhobo Christian converts were presented with the message of the Gospel in the language that they understood in order to make for a sound spiritual development. We doubt very much whether copies of these early translations are extant. From the evidence that has so far come to light, Bishop Herbert Tugwell pioneered the translation of the Scriptures into Urhobo by giving the directives that guided the translators without personally engaging himself in the actual translation.

(2) First Urhobo Translation

There was a lull in the spate of Tugwell’s pioneered translation activities when he left the Delta area. Bishop James Johnson, who later on took charge of other area, insisted that the Church teachers and Catechists should learn and conduct the Church services in Yoruba, a language into which the Scriptures have been fully translated.23 Only very few of them were able to meet up with such demand and for this reason Church services appeared very formless, meaningless, and uninteresting to those who did not understand the Yoruba language. In order to save the situation, Mr. Omatsola and a few other UrhoboChurch teachers, who had a working knowledge of English Language, interpreted directly from English to Urhobo during Church Services, SundaySchools and Class Meetings.

It was at this juncture that the Urhobo felt that the onus lay on themselves to have the Scriptures translated into their language. The first Urhobo person who made some attempt to translate the Bible into Urhobo was Mr. Thomas Emedo of Orogun. He was a C.M.S. (Anglican) Church agent. In a few years before 1920, he had produced a pamphlet known as Obeke. This was the first Urhobo Primer and it contained some stories from both the Old and the New Testaments which became very popular among early Urhobo Christians. Thomas Emedo also translated some sections of the Book of Common Prayer, and about twenty popular songs. These were the most popular sacred books which the early Urhobo Christians used for their worship that gave them no small inspiration.

In about 1920, one W. A. Tadaferua, who was at Idjerhe, Jesse was urged by Thomas Emedo to join an Adult Education class. When Mr. W.A. Tadaferua moved to Warri that very year, he was appointed an instructor in an Urhobo Bible Class. Together with others, including Ikimi Waghoregbo of Ephro-Otor, Philip Abi Oghenekaro of Oghwrode in Udu clan and S. Magi (an Ijo teacher, who was at Ekiugbo, Ughelli), Mr. W. A. Tadaferua worked in a translation class which was later set up. According to Erivwo, this translation class also drew inspirationfrom the Urhobo people in Ikale in Yorubaland.24 In Ikale, one Ofodidun actively organised an Urhobo Christian congregation under the supervision of Rev. Canon S.C. Philips (later Bishop Philip), who was then based at Ondo. This group yearned for the Scriptures to be taught and expounded to them in their own mother tongue; thence, they actively encourage the group at home involved with the task of the translation of the Scriptures into Urhobo. Jointly in the Tadaferua class, they translated St. Mark’s Gospel. They finished this by 1924. This became the major vernacular reader in the elementary schools of those days.25

The choice to translate St. Mark’s Gospel was probably due to its small size and its being the resume of the life and Ministry of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It contains almost all the salient issues discussed in the other Synoptic Gospels. It contains almost all the salient issues discussed in the other Synoptic Gospels. Hence, in 1936, when Agori Iwe, the first Anglican Bishop of Benin Diocese, decided to boost the work of translation, in order to avoid duplication breaking new grounds, he picked up St. John’s Gospel. This was quickly followed by the translation of the same Gospel (St. John) by Rev. Jovi Aganbi of the BaptistChurch in Eku,26 a duplication which seemed unwelcome by many Yrhobo Christians of that time in light of the urgent need to translate other remaining books.It is not quite clear why Jovi Aganbi undertook the translation of the same gospel. The two translators could have started to work simultaneously without knowing what the other person was doing judging from the quick succession of the two translations; or, perhaps, Rev. Agori Iwe’s rendering of this Gospel and, therefore, decided to produce his won version. Future translators learned from this mistake and took precaution against the wasteful duplications and dissipated efforts.

(3) The first officially organised indigenous translation efforts.

As the Church grew and developed both vertically and horizontally, the yearning of the people to have more books in the Bible translated into Urhobo became greater. In order to satisfy this yearning and to further enhance the people’s spiritual development, Agori Iwe, who was then the only ordained Priest in the C.M.S. (Anglican) Church in Urhoboland in 1945, commissioned three Anglican Catechists: Messrs. J.A. Emofe, Isaac Efedjara and Enajero Arawore to carry on the Urhobo Bible translation work in earnest.27

Arawore, E. was made the co-ordinator of this project. In order to enable him to function more effectively in this new assignment, he was transferred from St. Thomas’s C.M.S. (Anglican) Church, Uwherun (where he was as a Catechist) to Ohrerhe in Agbarho. Apart from Ohrerhe in Agvarho, being more centrally located and more easily accessible to where the other members of his team were, the other major motive was to enable the group, and especially the co-ordinator, to be more familiar with the Agbarho dialect, which as earlier mentioned, had been selected and accepted as the union dialect of the Urhobo in 1914, to be the medium of all translations into Urhobo. This assignment was completed within six years and the New Testament in Urhobo was officially published in 1951.

To use Enajero Arawore’s own words:

All these effors at translation were made by the natives, whose determination was to make the word of God available to the Christians in their own language.28

The pioneer translation of the entire New Testament into the Urhobo language had a major flaw; it had no tonal marks. Since the Urhobo language, like most other Nigerian languages, for example, Ibo and Yoruba, tones shave significant meanings, their absence in this first Urhobo New Testament version made reading difficult and impared comprehension since the absence of the tonal marks in some words occasioned wrong interpretations of the words. In spite of this flaw, the Urhobo Christians were greatly encouraged by this spectacular achievement and the enthusiasm with which the people received the translation encouraged the translators to take up the more tedious work of the translation of the Old Testament, in addition to reviewing that of the New Testament.

Translation of the Old Testament

(1) Formation of the Joint Consultative Urhobo Translation Committee.

Venerable Enajero Arawore, the Chief Co-ordinator of this Christian enterprise, was not satisfied with the stage reached so far in the translation work. The order of worship in the (C.M.S.) Anglican Church requires that out of the two lessons to be read during every worship, the first one should be taken from the Old Testament. Not only that, at least one ot eh Psalms should also either be read or chanted. As the Old Testament had not been translated, the practice then was for the reader to translate straight from the English text. This was not very smooth and satisfactory. Apart from that, there was no uniformity in the whole process of direct translation.

In order to overcome all these problems, in 1959, Venerable Enajero Arawore who was stationed at Uwherun at that time, convened a meeting of all the clergymen of the various Christian denominations in Urhoboland to plan for the translation of the Old Testament. The first and subsequent meetings of these people were held at Ughelli, which was then the seat of Venerable Agori Iwe, who was at that time the Archdeacon of Warri Archdeaconry in the Niger Delta Diocese, Anglican Communion.

A joint consultative translation committee of all the Christian denominations in Urhoboland was thus founded. This joint effort was to guard against what happened between Agori Iwe and Jovi Aganbi in 1936 and in order to expedite the translation enterprise through team effort. Another reason for the Urhobo Joint Consultative Translation Committee, according to Enajero Arawore, was “to give the translation a national fervour and one acceptable to all (the Christian) denominations29 in Urhoboland.

The Roman Catholic Church was not, inadvertently, represented during the inaugural meeting, but her representatives attended the subsequent ones. It was resolved in that meeting that all the ordained Urhobo-speaking Ministers of all the Christian denominations should be members of the Joint Consultative Translation Committee. This also implied that all the Ministers that were to be ordained later were automatically to join the committee. In addition it was resolved that the Old Testament translation work should start immediately.

The following were the pioneer members of the Urhobo Joint Consultative Translation Committee:

Anglican Church

(1) Rev. J.A.O. Emoefe

(2) Rev. Unurhieri

(3) Rev. J. O. Dafiewhanre

(4) Rev. J. Eterhere

(5) Rev. Enajero Arawore

(6) Rev. Mark Forae

(7) Rev. Otubu

(9) Rev. W. Tadaferua, and

(10) Rev. P. Akposibruke

African Church

(1) Rev. J. Okirhienyefa

(2) Mr. Ibuje


(1) Rev. P. E. Onosode

(2) Rev. V. Eghaghe

(3) Rev. Okerentie

(4) Rev. Orikiri

(5) Rev. F. Awetefe

(6) Rev. Otojareri

(7) Rev. P. Ofuoku

(8) Rev. Ariemuduigho

(9) Rev. Agbaluya

(10) Rev. J. E. Ukueku

Roman Catholic Church

(1) Rev. Father Vincent Obudu

(2) Rev. Father Paul Okudaje

Salvation Army

(1) Captain Uvwo

The fol)lowing were appointed as the Executive Officers of the Committee charged with the onus of seeing to its day to day affairs:

(1) Patron: Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe

(2) Chairman: Rev. P.E. Onosode (a post he held until his death in 1976).

(3) Deputy Chairman: Ven. J.A.O. Emoefe

(4) Treasurer: Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe

(5) Secretary and Co-ordinator: Ven Enajero Arawore

Someone who could perform secretarial duties was appointed as a Clerk to handle all duties emanating from the translation committee. His main duties were to handle correspondences, to type would all the translated scripts, mimeograph and arrange them in an orderly manner. He was place on an initial salary of ten pounds per month.

Why these People were Chosen

These people were chosen for this holy assignment because of their expertise in Urhobo language and culture, and competence in English and Biblical languages: Greek and Hebrew. For example, Venerable Enajero Arawore, who was the coordinator was trained at the Trinity College, Umuahia in the mid-1950’s and was priested in 1957, had records of excellent performance in Biblical Hebrew and Greek languages, while he was studying there. All the other clergies had working knowledge of those languages too. This informed their being drafted into human qualities identified in them, which aided their selection, judging from the efficient manner in which they handled the work, it is hard to believe that they worked without the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, for as the Bible is believed to have been written under manner translated into Urhobo under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

(1) Translation Procedures

During the translation proper, a number of books were assigned to each translator. The arrangement was that a completed book was to be sent to the Venerable Enajero Arawore, the Co-ordinator, for scrutiny and correction after which it was to be sent to the typist for typing and mimeographing. The mimeographed copies were to be sent to some selected laymen, who after reading through them were to make their comments and corrections where necessary and return them to the co-ordinator, who would in turn read through them again and pass the draft copies to the typist to effect the necessary corrections on the semi-final draft copies. The co-ordinator closely supervised the typing of these fair copies to ensure that no mistakes were made. At the end, these copies were sent to the translation department of the British and Foreign Bible Society in London for further and final vetting.

The meeting of the translation committee was rotated among the following church centres: St. John’s Anglican Church, Ovwodawanre, Ughelli; BethelBaptistChurch, Sapele; First Baptist Chruch, Kakpamre; and St. Andrew’s Church, Warri. Since all Urhobo Christian congregations were properly briefed about this, all Urhobo Christians realised the importance of the work of this committee, consequently the Church members of centre mentioned above, each centre showed them great hospitality and lavishly entertained them with food.

The business of the Translation Committee during each meeting was not limited to translation work; but the questions referred to the committee by the Bible Consultants in London and Nigeria were also discussed. They discussed and rubbed their minds together on words which they themselves found difficult to translate.

The following are some such foreign words the translators found difficult to render into the Urhobo language.

Incense: It was retained but spelt inces

Door-post: edivu. This is a word derived from Uwherun and Ughievwen dialects

Otentan literarily means smooth and devoid of any filth. It could also mean empty and in this context, it means empty of dirt or filthy. As used in the Urhobo, it means sparkling clean.

White: Ofuafon.Ofuafon is the common Urhobo word for “white” and “clean but in order to differentiate clean from white in the Urhobo Bible, the translators had to use Otantan for clean which is derived from Ughievwe dialect for it.

How to name and correctly translate the four cardinal points into Urhobo also posed a serious problem. However, they came out with the following translations:

East: Obaro-onre which literally means the front or in front of the sun. The expression Ovatsa-ro onre, meaning where the sun rises from, could have been a better and meaningful translation as it conveys a better geographical location of the east, as where the sun rises from. It should be noted that in Urhobo thinking and understanding, if one stands and faces where the rays of the sun are coming from, either from the East or the West, he is described as standing and facing the sun, Obaro-onre which is the ovacha-oren. Hence, the suggestion of Ovacharo-onre as being the more appropriate translation or rendering of East in Urhobo language. West is translated Obuko-onre meaning the back of the sun. Again, this is not too correct arendering because, geographically, the sun has neither back nor front. North is translated Obohwere-onre, which means the left hand-side of the sun. south is translated Oborhe-onre, which means the right handside of the sun.

To those of us on the earth planet, we know that the position of the sun is stationary or stagnant. Its direction to us in the morning is not the same atnoon and evening. For example, when we face it rising from the East in the morning, the geographical South will be on our right hand-side, and the North will be on our left hand-side. The reverse will be the case when we face the setting sun in the West in the evening. So, we cannot talk of “the right” and “the left” sides of the sun as a permanent geographical feature.

One can see that the translation and interpretations given to the four cardinal points are anthropomorphic because geographically, the sun has neither right nor left. The problems faced by the translators in finding appropriate words and expressions for their work probably arose as a result of their tendency to restrict themselves to the recommended and accepted Agharho dialect as the medium of translation. If they had probed further than they did into other Urhobo dialects, they would have found more suitable words and expressions to solve most of their problems. Nevertheless, it should be appreciated that in reading carefully through the Urhobo Bible, one would discover that it is not only Agbarho dialect, but nearly every Urhobo dialect had considerable input in the translation the Bible.

Meanwhile, as the translation progressed, it was decided that something should be done to wet the reading appetite of those who were yearning to read the Bible in Urhobo language, and secondly, to encourage Urhobo Christians to develop more interest in reading the Holy Scriptures in their own mother-tongue. What they did to satisfy the above objectives was to publish The Book of Genesis, which was among the first books whose translations were completed. This was done in 1963 and not quite long after that the complete Book of Psalms was published.

As we had earlier hinted, when each book had been satisfactorily translated, it was sent to the United Bible Society inLondon. There, if was typed-set and a camera-ready copy was prepared for printing. The aspect of the translation work done in Nigeria was completed in 1972 and in 1976, the galley-proof was sent to Venerable Enajero Arawore for final proof-reading.

The translation Committee met for several days in the house of Chief J. E. Ukueku at Eku to proofread it. The committee cop-opted Venerable Professor S.U. Erivwo, an Anglican Priest, and Rev. Father (Dr.) Erhuen, a Roman Catholic Mission Priest, in the final examination of the books. As we had earlier mentioned, the Chief translation consultants, who were Dr. P. Stine; Dr. E.A. Dahunsi and Dr. Eugene W. Bunkowske, did this under the auspices of the United Bible Societies.

The translation which was started in 1951, including the Old Testament and the revision of the New Testament, ended in 1972, a period of thirteen years. In fact, Dr. Eugene W. Bunkowske confessed to both G.G. Darah, and my humble self, in1976, that this was the longest translation of the Bible into any language he had ever handled so far. It was sent to the press in 1972, and it did not come out until 1977. That is, the whole process lasted about eighteen years. It was a great pleasure to the entire Urhobo people when the Bible was launched on 29th April, 1978 at Eku.

From the previous history of how the Bible was translated into other languages, we learn that it takes shorter period to translate the New Testament than to translate the Old Testament. For example, “Martin Luther translated the whole of the New Testament into German in only eleven weeks, but the Old Testament took him twelve long year.”30 So that of the Urhobo was not an exception. Such delay may be due to both the large volume of that section of the Bible and the technicalities involved in its translation. Thirdly, Christian translators tend to relax their efforts in translation work once the New Testament, which contains the main message of Christianity, has been done completed.

Roles of the British and Foreign Bible Society (B.F.B.S.) and United Bible Societies (U.B.S.)

The B.F.B.S. and U.B.S. played significant roles in the successful translation and launching of the complete Urhobo Bible Consultative Translation Committee, the major decisions taken and how they planned to carry out the translation work were conveyed to the B.F.B.S. which are based in London.

According to Venerable Enajero Arawore, the respond from the B.F.B.S. was very favourable.31 The reply was also accompanied with a list of questions. The Joint Consultative Translation Committee quickly responded to all the questions and issues raised in the reply from the B.F.B.S. these London based Bible Societies saw the great prospects in the work of the Urhobo Bible Translation Committee and made recommendations to the United Bible Societies (U.B.S.) thee and then undertook to pay the salary of the typist, to provide such facilities as may be needed from time to time, and assigned a specialist consultant to supervise the work.32

We cannot say exactly now how much the U.B.S. spent on this venture. The U.B.S. actually sent about N400.00 annually towards the typist’s salary. And this it did promptly until the whole translation was completed. The U.B.S. spent some other huge amount of money towards this translation enterprises. In fact, the exact amount which these Bible Societies expended towards the completion of the Urhobo Bible, we are unable to say and quantify now.

In order for the translation Committee to be well guided, the Bible Society of London arranged for some members of the Urhobo Bible Translation at this instance, Ven Enajero Arawore, who was the Secretary and Co-ordinator of the translation enterprise, and Rev. P. Ofuoku of the Baptist Church, were invited by the United Bible Societies of London to attend a one month workshop on Bible translation in a place called Ali-Baba, which is midway between Duala and Yaounde in Cameroun. They found this course very rewarding. In the words of Enajero Arawore, “We returned with new ideas and techniques in Bible translation.”33

The United Bible societies evidently demonstrated keen interest in this work. It became deeply involved in it and did everything possible to see that the job was perfectly done. In order to achieve this it assigned, Urhobo Bible Translators the following Bible Consultative Translation Committee:

(1) Dr. Williams Reyburn who was based in Cameroun.

(2) Dr. P. Stine, who was based inIbadan.

(3) Dr. and Mrs. Eugene W. Bunkowske, who were also based in Ibadan.

(4) Dr. E.A. Dahunsi, also based in Ibadan.

These specialists met with them periodically to discuss intricate translation problems. They helped in no small measure in straightening the translation of difficult words and phrases. These experts also conveyed to the U.B.S. the problems and requirements of the Urhobo Bible translators. In order to hasten the production of the translated texts, the U.B.S. donated to them a Gestetner Duplicating Machine for the easy mimeographing of the texts typed into stencils.

The translation consultant based in London followed closely the work of the Urhobo Bible Translation Committee in order to put the people on the right path right from the beginning of the translation work. Venerable Enajero Arawore closely scrutinized the typist while producing the fair copy. These fair copies were then forwarded to the translation department of the B.F..B.S. in London for further scrutiny. The above Translations Department helped in no small measure to ensure the accuracy of the translations, and Enajero Arawore testifies to this fact when he says:

This was a very critical examination of our translation work, and their corrections and comments helped to a great measure the success we have so far achieved in the translation work of the Urhobo Bible.34

It was when the translation consultant in London felt satisfied with the hob that any finished book was passed as having been satisfactorily translated. It was then kept aside for final printing. The New Testament which had been translated in 1951 was revised and it was marked with tonal marks which were not there before. The consultants based in London also scrutinized this section.

The Development of Urhobo Anglican Liturgical Books

A close observation of Christian enterprise in Urhoboland reveals that the production of Urhobo liturgical books in the Anglican Church took place almost simultaneously. As we had earlier mentioned above, a few years before 1920, Mr. Thomas Emedo, a native of Orogun who was an Anglican Church teacher, produced a Christian literature called Obeke and an Urhobo Book of Common Prayer, following closely the Anglican Book of Common Prayer of 1662. This liturgical book contained the orders of morning and evening worships and twenty (20) hyms translated from the Hymnal Companion. This liturgical book did not have psalms, no orders of Holy Communion, Baptism, Confirmation, burial and marriage services. However, according to Enajero Arawore, “This was the beginning of the evolution of worship in Urhobo Anglican Churches.”35

In this aspect of Christian enterprise, Mr. Thomas Emedo could be regarded as the son of encouragement. Following his footstep, but at a higher level, at this time, in 1940, Rev. Agori Iwe, who later became Bishop Agori Iwe, the first Urhobo ordained Christian Priest, produced the second Urhobo Book of Common Prayer. This publication contained a number of Psalms and seventy-two Christian Hymns, most of which were translated from the Hymnal Companion. Some other essential services were also included in this Agori Iwe’s translation, but the Orders of Ordination and Consecration Services, and the Anglican 39 Articles of Faith were excluded from this version of the Urhobo Book of Common Prayer. This Book of Common Prayer translated by Agori Iwe remains the officially accepted liturgical Book of Common Prayer among the members of the Urhobo Anglican Church till today.

As membership of the Church increased and many more acts of worship were included, the need to have more Christian hymns increased. In order to minister to the people’s need in this aspect, Enajero Arawore assisted by David Eferakeya and Papa Oghenekaro translated more Christian hymns into Urhobo. These were added to Agori Iwe’s collection and the number increased from seventy-two to two hundred and fifty-two in 1958.

In its eleventh annual general meeting of 1958, the Christian Council of Nigeria (C.C.N.) had lengthy discussion on how to enrich Christian life and worship. At the end of that discussion, the following resolution was passed:

The Council asks its region committees to arrange for the discriminatory examination of local customs and beliefs with the view to the enrichment of Christian life and worship, and to appoint a sub-committee to collect and examine indigenous musical compositions and the words to which they are set; to assess their worth for use in worship. It is also urged that Christian hymn-writers and composers should be given every encouragement to produce new original hymns for worship and it was suggested that a conference of all those interested and qualified for this work should be called together by the C.C.N. to bring this need more forcibly before gifted members of the Church.36

Venerable Enajero Arawore must have tapped the spirit and kernel of the above ideas of the members of the C.C.N. during one of his silent moments and became enthused with the development of Urhobo Christian literature.

The zeal to produce Christian literature in Urhobo language was very great in the mind of Venerable Enajero Arawore, because he felt that that is one of the ways the Word and the Message can be internalized by the Christian. He also felt that the more varied the sources from which these Christian materials were drawn, the better and wider the vision of the Urhobo Christian would be.

The above informed Venerable Enajero Arawore’s action in taking a more critical look at the Urhobo liturgical books; and in 1978, he, working single handedly, increased the number of hymns from two hundred and fifty-two to three hundred and forty-two. Venerable Enajero Arawore knew that variety is the spice of life: he therefore made gainful use of as many hymns as possible available from the different sources that were at his disposal which included the collection of Christian hymns in Urhobo that could be found in the Hymnal Companion, Sacred Songs and Solos and B.B.C. Hymn Books. The size and the volume of the collection made it imperative that the hymns should be separated from the Book of Common Prayer. Thus, in April 1981, a separate Urhobo Christian Hymn Book was developed and printed by the Caxton Press, West Africa Limited, Ibadan.

(b) The Roman Catholic Experience

As we had once hinted, the Roman Catholic earlier Christian Missionary enterprise in Warri and as far as to other parts of Urhoboland did not yield much fruits. That was the Portuguese attempt which had been described as “futile, and spasmodic” an attempt which became indistinguishable from the nefarious trafficking in “living tools” that was to last for over 300 years.37

It was in 1912, that Revd. Father Louis Cavagnera rode on a bicycle from Ukwuani district, traversing the Urhobo country to Warri. This was a reconnaissance to determine what prospects of missionary activities existed at Warri. He found a few Roman Catholic Clerks in the employ of the African Trading Company. After a few other visits he came finally to Warri in 1913 to settle at the African Trading Company’s house which was also to serve as a Church House. He soon made the acquaintance of some pupils at the GovernmentSchool where Mr. J. J. Morford (a strong protestant) was the School Master. These pupils whom the Rev. Father converted to Roman Catholicism, later took him their parents who, while not being hostile, would however, not accept the new teaching. Characteristically the Rev. Father then concentrated his attention on the youth so much so that before the end of 1914, his congregation had increased so much as to require a separate and larger house than the African Trading Company could provide. Thus in November, 1914, a house was hired in Robert Road for the young congregation whose members were encouraged to attend catechism regularly. From Warri Roman Catholicism later penetrated Urhoboland, especially through the efforts of Mr. J. A. Eyube, one of the boys converted by Cavagnera.38

The early form of worship in the Roman Catholic Church was mostly in English and Latin. Neither of these tongues was understood by most of the worshippers. Most part of the Mass was said in Latin and with the possible exception of the priests and very few literate members, most Urhobo Roman Catholic members did not understand what was being said in the liturgy.

There were very few Roman Catholic Priests, Catechists, and teachers who were knowledgeable in their ways of worship. Consequently their service centres were concentrated in the major towns and villages such as Warri, Ughelli, Evwreni, Sapele, Okurekpo (Agbon) Okpara in land and Effurun.

One of the Roman Catholic strageties was to avoid the towns and villages where the Anglican had strongholds. This could be one of the explanations for the stronghold that the Rooman Catholic had in Oto-Ogor, Evwreni, Ewu, and Okpara-inland where the Anglican had no much grip. Places like Uwherun, Udu, Ughievwe and Uduophori, just to mention but few, which were earlier evangelised by the Anglican Church Missionaries, even up till today, do not have vibrant Roman Catholic Churches as those of the former.

Nevertheless, the Catholics made several attempts to establish church posts in nearly every Urhobo town or village. This they did by establishing schools and pupils of these schools automatically became their first converts. The classrooms were their first places of worship.

The Rev. Father was looked upon as a very sacred person. In fact, his mode of dress and how he comported himself coupled with the mystery stories which the faithful catholics peddled around him, made him to be looked upon with great awe. He surrounded himself with the aura of mystery which surrounds a traditional Urhobo priest in charge of any one of their major community divinities.

Whenever the Rev. Father visited a town or village to conduct a Mass he and the faithfuls processed through the town. While in such procession the Rev. Father with his accolytes took the lead. He sprinkled his holy water all over the place and on those nearby.

Such exercise normally attracted many spectators, especially the young ones, and most non-Catholics avoided being touched by the Rev. Father’s Holy Water. Many thought that whoever was touched by the holy water would be charmed and must automatically become a member of the Roman Catholic Church. But should he/she refuse to be converted, she/she stood the risk of being severely tormented by the God of the Ifada (the Rev. Father).

The Latin language used during the Mass, like the classical Urhobo diviner’s (obuepha’s) weird and sacred esoteric language,39 generated a great deal of aura of mystery around the Roman Catholic liturgy. After a while the whole liturgy became mechanical and meaningless to most of the faithful because they could hardly understand the meaning of the Mass. The people started to yearn for a liturgy that should be conducted in a language that they could fully understand. The necessity for liturgical changes became imparative.

On 15th April, 1995 a joint Catholic Choir was founded at Evwreni. This new body was christened “The Emmanuel Urhobo Catholic Joint Choir”. Mr. Joseph Ejenake of Evwreni was elected as the first president of this body. It was the belief of this body that the time had come for a comprehensive Urhobo Catholic Liturgical book to be compiled.

The above more received the warm embrace and blessings of His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Edmund Fitzgibbon, the Apostolic Administrator to Warri Diocese.

The first product of this group was a liturgical book which is designed primarily to enable the Urhobo Faithfuls know and understand the meaning of the songs and it included important Universal prayers. They arranged the contents carefully in accordance with the seasons.

The manuscript prepared by this group was passed on to His Lordship, the Most Rev. Father Edmund Fitzgibbon, who ratified it before its use in the church was allowed.

At the end of the sales of the first edition of this Urhobo Catholic liturgical book, a committee was set up to revise and correct some of the minor errors noticed in it. The following were the members of this committee:

1. Mr. Simon Ighofose: Chairman

2. Mr. Isaac Oguori-Okodaso: Secretary

3. Mr. Michael Eruemuose: Member

4. Mr. Miller Agbuna: Member

The other obligation assigned to this committee was to correct and include other Urhobo Hymns which were in use but were not included in the first edition.

In order to accomplish this task the committee called for Urhobo Catholic Hymns that were not included in the first edition and all the available English Hymns. They carried out the work in two phases: First they revised and edited the first edition. Then they handled those hymns that were later collected.

The committee found the work of the first edition quite easy because before they started on it Mr. Kevin Awatighre had thoroughly revised, edited and arranged its contents in seasons. That is, the main sections of the book dealing with the Mass and Hymns 1 – 121 as they stand today were revised by him.

According to the members of the revision committee the 2nd Edition of the Roman Catholic Liturgical Book currently in use in all the Catholic Church in Urhobo language was published in May 1993 by Emmanuel Urhobo Catholic Joint Choir.

The different roles played by the following individuals in the production of the liturgical book merit mention, even if briefly.

1. Mr. P. I. Ogriya – President of the Emmanuel Urhobo Catholic Joint Choir.

2. His Lordship the Most Rev. Dr. Edmund Fitzgibbon showed great interest and concern in the Second Edition.

3. Prince S. P. Ukpebitere and his officers, who initiated its printing4.

4. Rev. Father Paul Ighaguolor, the spiritual Director of the Choir and his members.

5. Rev. Father Peter Ovadje.

6. Catechist Lawrence Owena and

7. Paul I. Ogriya

Lawrence Owena and Paul I. Ogriya the last mentioned two names made the checking arrangements and the necessary corrections on the doctrinal liturgical errors.

The ministry of the Emmanuel Urhobo Catholic Joint Choir has thus made worship to the Urhobo Faithfuls more interesting and meaningful. The Word has thus incarnated and now dwells among the people.

The following Hymns were used in the process Wesminister Hymnal (W.H.). my Daily Prayer Books (DP), Ancient and Modern (.M.), Broadman Hymnal Companion (H.C.) and Sacred Songs and Solos (S.S.S.). All other Hymns not found in these Hymn Books were treated as self-composed and corrected to bring meaning to them.

According to the members of the Revision Committee:

The work we did (as Kevin did) includes:

(1) Removal of Hymns already in part one of the Hymn Book e.g. 2, 32, 47, 104, are the same as 130, 143, 184 and 159 respectively.

(2) Adopting ‘C’ and ‘Ejir’ Oghene’ for “ch” and “Alleluya” respectively.

(3) Grouping Songs of “Corpus Christi” with Communion Songs, “Epiphany” and “Holy Name” with Christmas and “Passiontide” with Lent.

(4) Indicating where the Hymns are found in the English Hymn Books for easy reference.

(5) Including common Urhobo prayers like Morning and Evening prayers (short and long), Communion prayers etc.

(6) Changing the word “Masi” to Izobo Ofuafo.

(7) Re-arranging the Hymns in Seasons according to the Catholic Liturgical yea.

(8) Including other Hymns not supplied to bring the number ofHymns to 322.

   (9) Dropping those Hymns without meaning.

   (10))Adding the remaining 10 verses of the Station of the Cross Song.40

The members of the revision committee concluded thus:

“the Hymns are now in their excellent forms.”

It is our earnest wish, therefore, that this Book should find a place in every Catholic Community and pray for God’s blessings through the use of the Hymns.41



The finished job has been acclaimed to be an acceptable translation of the Bible into Urhobo language. However some of those errors which we have noted below could have been avoided had the galley-proof reading been done a little more thoroughly. For example, the word Ofuafon, meaning Holy on the first tile page and the other words on the second title page on page 783 should have been tone marked. There is also a major omission on the table of contents here. The legend or caption, Opho Okpokpo, meaning the New Testament is completely omitted.

The word “as” in Revelation 22, verse 14, should have been corrected to read “sa”. There are many more of such minor errors which should be taken care of in the next edition.

The use of wrong names of things and ideas constitutes another flaw in this work. For example, in Matthew, Chapter 2, Verse 11, which deals with the three gifts which the wise men or Magi gave to Jesus Christ, two of the words are mistranslated. These are frankincense and myrrh.:

(a) Gold: Oro which is correct.

(b) Frankincense: Adjidja – which is a spice put in a pomade to give it a nice aroma.

(c) Myrrh: Ugboduma – This is a sweet-smelling creeping herb which is found in and around many Urhobo traditional shrines and sacred places. It is acknowledged as a sacred plant and people plant it, not only to attract benevolent spirits, but also, to ward off evil forces such as witches and wizards.

As these gifts are not found in Urhobo culture, the translators probably had to use these two names as their Urhobo equivalents. Critical adherents of Urhobo religion often say that, after all, Jesus Christ was given one of their most revered plants and God did not feel offended against it. So, they and the Christian could be said to be working towards the same goal. In Urhobo cultic practices, Ugboduma is used to purify, sanctify and tile a shrine or sacred place. Jesus was already holy so he neither needed to be purified nor sanctified. Those who translated the New Testament into Isoko, which is a sister Urhobo language, retained frankincense and myrrh, because, like the Urhobo, they do not have such items in their culture. These strange words being retained have done no harm to the Isoko Bible; but the improvisation of Urhobo words by the Urhobo translators has tended to convey wrong and misleading interpretations of those two words, in their traditional relation to the pristine purity and divine nature of Jesus Christ.

The other misrending we have noticed is in Luke Chapter 17 verse 31. In the Authorizes King James Version it reads thus:

Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.

This is translated as follows in Urhobo:

Kidi nighe, Uvie re Oghene na o he or=hri re ovwan.

Actually this expression means behold the Kingdom of God is in your midst.

The Greek plan text Entos which is translated Ohri (in the midst of) contains a major translation error. In the kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures it reads.

Therefore the Urhobo translation would tend to show Jesus quite out of context. Thus the incorrect translation thereby destroys the whole picture of the Kingdom of God painted by Jesus Christ. He meant the presence of the Kingdom of God or the Spiritual Realm of God through which His will is in complete control of the mind of man or the total being of man. It means the Spiritual Realm of God in the inward part of man which will eventually well out to encompass man’s physical and social environments.

It should, however, be realized that the Bible grew out of a culture which is totally different from that of Urhobo. One should then not wonder why the translators found it very difficult to find Urhobo equivalents for most of the ideas, symbols and things in their task to translate the Holy Bible into the Urhobo language. It is near impossible to translate ideas from one culture to another without flaws.

We must appreciate the fact that most of the flaws in the Urhobo Bible are of technical nature arising from printing and cultural differences. They do not in any way affect or detract from the spiritual message, historical facts, Christian code of pious conduct including spirituality and ethical lessons contained in the version of the Urhobo Bible.



The significance of this work cannot be overemphasized. The bulk of the translation job was done by the clergy because they realised more than others the urgency and propriety of the task. With tenancity of purpose, they endured a great deal of deprivations, combined this arduous task with their normal job of pastoring, to see this job to a successful end. They had no special training or skill in translation, but, under the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, coupled with the physical assistance of the U.B.S. translation experts, they did this job very beautifully.

The complete Urhobo Bible is the most voluminous work in Urhobo language and it has in no small measure enriched Urhobo written literature. It is now being used widely, both in the primary and post-primary institutions of learning, as one of the sources of reading texts in Urhobo language. Many Urhobo parents who live outside Urhobo speaking areas, and whose sons and daughters are in the danger of losing their mother – tongue, seriously enjoin them to read and study it. Not only the children, but many adults who feel the need to brush up their Urhobo language also turn to the translation. Thus, the Church is directly or indirectly performing some of her duties which include teaching and enlightening people’s minds.

The Christian message now appeals more to the people when readings are taken from the translation, because it is being conveyed to them in a language that they really understand.

The difficulties encountered in trying to grasp the meaning of a passage written in a foreign language before drawing out the spiritual and moral inferences and messages it carries are eliminated. The people have now begun to realise that the Word has incarnated in the flesh and dwells among them. This has enhanced the quality of Christianity worship and aided the vertical expansion of Christianity among the Urhobo speaking people. The complete Urhobo Bible has saved the time and energy of all those who lead in group or congregational worship. Formally, they spent much time in studying and trying various methods to translate a set passage to be read during services. The time which was meant to meditate over a passage before worship was often spent on translation exercises; the result was that the addresses of these people to the congregation had no real depth. By now, they find it easy to read and brood over the passage and its message in a less tense atmosphere.

Naturally the day the complete Urhobo Bible was launched marked another mile-stone in the history of Christian enterprise in Urhoboland. The launchingceremonies presided over by Mr. Justice Ovie-Whisky, a former Chief Judge of the then Bendel state, took place at St. Matthias’ Anglican Church, Eku. One of the main reasons for the choice of that venue for the launching was because that place was the first headquarters of the Church in Urhoboland. In other words, the events that took place in that place on that day could be regarded as a replay of the early history of Christian evangelism in Urhoboland. The enthusiasm with which the Urhobo Christians attended the launching of the complete Urhobo Bible at Eku on 29th April, 1978 was tremendous. But many of them were greatly disappointed because the number of copies brought to the ceremony was too small. The representative of the Bible Society of Nigeria who was present on that day could testify to how the people reacted and expressed their great demand for more copies. He gave them a strong promise that more copies would be made available in due course, but this promise was not fulfilled in time. The people said that the few copies of the Urhobo Bible (2,000 copies) brought in 1978 were used to tantalize them. Luckily, copies of the Urhobo Bible are now available for sale in C.S.S. Bookshops and some major bookshops and religious centres throughout Nigeria.

On the whole, the Joint Consultative Urhobo Bible Translation Committee has succeeded greatly in producing an Urhobo Bible which to some extent is both accurate and clear. One other beneficial result of the Urhobo Bible is the unifying effect it has on the Urhobo language, the impetus it lends to a wider use of Agbarho dialect. Using Agbarho dialect as a base, the translators have fashioned out a means to unify the 22 different dialects spoken in Urhoboland. This process to foster the use of one universal Urhobo literary language has been going on since 1914 and it is now being furthered by the formation of the Urhobo Language Committee. One hopes that such unity in language would eventually lead to the much needed socio-political and cultural unity which the Urhobo are now craving for. Members of the Urhobo Language Committee working hand in hand with the translators of the Urhobo Bible, with particular reference to the Venerable Enajero Arawore may be able to bequeath to the Urhobo people what Martin Luther did for the Germans; because “Luther through using the Gereinsprache of the peasants, mystics and scholars was able to produce a unified German understood by Upper and Lower Germans.”42

In fact, to some extent, the members of the Joint Consultative Urhobo Bible Translation Committee have made such contribution to unite and standardize Urhobo language.

One significant factor in the production of the Urhobo Bible is the joint in-put of all the Christian denominations in Urhoboland. That was the first place in Nigeria where all Christians of different sects joined to achieve a common purpose. It could be regarded as the beginning of Christian Association of Nigeria (C.A.N.). It was really the beginning of total Christian ecumenism in Nigeria


Recommendations for Future Improvement

Howard S. Olson has opined that:

“all languages are constantly changing, and so the unchanging (Logos) Word needs to be restated. Thus, it is indispensable, if the original message of the scripture is to be retained, that the form of its language be altered from time to time to conform to new modes of expression.”43

The above idea must have informed the action of Martin Luther and many Bible Societies. Luther, immediately after the publication of his Bible set about correcting and improving it and we are told that the German Bible Society is, even today still up-dating the Luther Bible.44 Such is, also being done by many other Bible Societies in the world, and the Revised Standard Version, the New English Bible and the Jerusalem Bible, just to mention a few, are products of the dynamics to explain the Unchanging Word to a changing world.

The United Bible Societies are busy up-dating the message of the Bible. That of the Urhobo should not be left behind, because they are a part of the changing world of an Unchanging God.

The other suggestion that one would like to put forward when the present edition of the Urhobo Bible would be revised, is for those who would be assigned that duty to secure the services of Urhobo-speaking people who are specialists in the areas of Zoology, Botany, Medicine, Philosophy, Poetry, Psychology, Folklore, Oral Literature and linguistics. The Zoologist and Botanists will help in supplying appropriate or near Urhobo equivalents of some of the plants and animals mentioned in the Bible.

While the Physicians would give more accurate interpretations to the medical terms, the Poets, Philosophers, the Folklorists and those in Oral Literature, will put the ideas in the Psalms, Prophets, and the Wisdom Literature, into proper and more pleasant poetic perspectives and renderings. The specialists in Linguistics will definitely act as the guiding-light to the translators. Such team of experts, be they all Christians or not, will definitely come out with a more accurate translation of the Urhobo version of the Bible.

In order to improve upon the next version of the Urhobo Bible, one would like to suggest that the few insignificant errors in the present translation, some of which we have highlighted above (in Section IV of this monographs) should be corrected. Attractive illustrations and maps of the Holy land should also be included. Such attractive illustrations will not only add aesthetic appeal to the reading audience but would also indicate and explain, at a glance what it would often take many words to explain. Helpful tools as an index at the end of the Bible, convenient location of cross references at the beginning of a paragraph where relevant, as it has been done in the Isoko New Testament, published by the Bible Society of Nigeria in1970, and a glossary should also be placed at the end of the Book. We think it would not be out of place to have photographs and a dossier on each of the pioneer translators and member of the J.C.U.B.T.C. at the end of, or after the flying page of the Bible. They deserve being so honoured and immortalized for their selfless and humanistic services.

It is also being suggested that the Urhobo version of the twelve officially recognised books of the Apocrypha be included in the next edition of the Urhobo Bible.45 As we are all aware, the apocrypha are books which Christian usage and opinion about their status were somewhat ambiguous until the 16th century, when twelve of them were included in the Canon of the Roman Catholic Church, but the Council of Trent, but the Protestants (Luther and the Anglican Church in the Thirty-Nine Articles) admitted them only for private edification.46

Many Urhobo Roman Catholic faithfuls will definitely find these books useful. Their absence from the Urhobo Bible has made many Urhobo Roman Catholics feel that the Holy Bible is not yet complete in Urhobo language. Some members of the Protestant Churches may find them useful in private edification. Not only that, there are occasions in which passages from the Wisdom of Solomon, which is one of the twelve recognised books of the Apocrypha, have, even, been used by some members of Church the Anglican during public worship, such as funeral services.

It thus means that the absence of these books from the Urhobo version of the Holy Bible has made some Urhobo Christians, especially the roman Catholics, feel that they are yet to have the complete Holy Bible in Urhobo Language.



During one of three expeditions – 1841, 1854 and 1857 – Samuel Ajayi Crwother sought to introduce the christian faith to Okwegbe people who belong to the Urhobo ethnic group. He made an attempt to live on the Western Bank of the River Niger. We are told in the christian oral tradition of the Urhobo that the Okwabe people rejected Crowther and his message which he claimed to have brought from God the Okwagbe could not conceive how a man could claim to good news from OGHENE (Urhobo world for God) who is often identified with the sky. They were more interacted in trade than on that type of good news which seemed to be a fairy tale.

The above quotation from an authoritative book on a History of Christianity in Nigeria – The Urhobo, Isoko and Itsekiri, by Samuel U. Erivwo, Daystar press, Ibadan, 1979 at page 4 tells a graphic story of how christianity attempted to have an effective foot hold on the soil of Okwagbe, in present day Ukpedi District of Ughievwen Archdeaconry that is now being proposed as part of the new Ughelli Anglican Diocese. As the scripture says: “The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner. This was the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes”.

Available records show that the planting of Christianity in Urhobo was essentially the work of Bishop James Johnson of the NigerDeltaPastorateChurch between 1901 – 1917 when he died. He used agents and indigenous evangelists, some trained, most with little or no training at all during this period. This man of God, who belonged to the Anglican Church, visited Warri and Sapele and parts of the hinterland every year from 1901 to the year of his death. Most of his agents were non-indigenes, as they were either Saro or Yoruba, thus creating serious communication problems, as the early converts in Urhoboland were taught the new faith in Yoruba. This unhealthy situation tended to slow down the growth of the new faith being propagated by the C.M.S. while those who could not cope defected other denominations. Be that as it may, a number of local evangelists, Urhobo men, who having accepted Christianity, emerged to assist in the spread of the faith to those unreached. Among them were Jove Akanbi, Omofoya Emuago, Ogugu Akporido, Evwaire, Isikpen, Pa Abi Oghenekaro, Avwarocha, Pa Denedo, Pa James Agbogidi, Thomas Dafese, James Adoda, J.A.O. Emoefe (later Ven. Emoefe), Pa John Udu, Simeon Egan, Pa Ohwojohwovwo Ekenye, Pa Agaria Akerhonben, Pa Eferekeyan Isifo, Masima Ebosa, Oiuku Adjarho and Agroi-Iwe, Urhobo’s first Catechist, First Priest, First Archdeacon and destined to become also the first idigene of the defunct Bendel state to become a Bishop of the Anglican Communion of the Province of West Africa before the Province of the church of Nigeria come into being.

There were the men, whose activities led to the establishment and nurturing of the christian faith of the Anglican church in Urhoboland. In those days, this involved travelling long distances on foot, by canoe or by bicycle, sacrifices which they made joyfully in propagating the gospel of Christ in our land. We are happy to observe that in our Lord’s vineyard, “the labours of our heroes past have not been in vain”, as could be seen from the tremendous growth of the Anglican Church in the entire Urhoboland in general and in the proposed Ughelli Diocese in particular. We cannot also but mention, the colosal efforts of the late Chief Evangelist, Cornelius Adam Igbudu of Araya in Isokoland. The evangelical Movement of the Adam’s Anglican Preaching Society, (A.A.P.S.) which he founded bestrode the Anglican Communion in the FormerBendelState and a significant movement created waves of mass conversions of various people from their traditional religion to the christian faith. The impact of this movement in Urhoboland had been and is still being vigorously felt in the numerical strength of the Anglican Church.

A brief look at the steady growth of the Anglican Diocese will be instructive at this point. When Warri Diocese was inaugurated on 25th January, 1980, the area was just an Archdeaconry, with four (4) districts of Ughelli. Agbarha, Uwheru and Ughievwon. By 1988, six (6) additional District church councils were created to bring the number to ten (10). The new districts were Diomu, Agbarho, Udu, Uduophori, Ukpedi and Ewhu-Urhie. Two years later in 1990, Ughievwen Archdeaconry was carved out of the mother Ughelli Archdeaconry with four (4) District Church Councils of Ughievwen, Ukpeid, Udu and Agbarho with headquarters at Owhroce. Three years later, in 1993, another Archdeaconry, Uwheru, was created from the same Ughelli Archdeaconry. The new Archdeaconry had four District Church Councils of Uwheru, Evwreni, Uduophori and Ewhu-Urhie with headquarters at Uwheru. In 1992, Orogun District was transferred to Ughelli Archdeaconry from Sapele. By 1994, Urhuie District was carved out of Owhrode in Ughievwen Archdeaconry to bring the number of districts to five (5), while Egini became the new headquarters. The new Uwheru Archdeaconry had Ewhu District created to bring it to five.

Meanwhile, as part of the phenomenal growth of the church in the area covered by the proposed Ughelli Diocese, All Saints’ Church, DSC Township, Orhuwhorun which was part of Ughievwen District, was constituted into an extra-Parochial Chapelry by the Late Rt. Rev. J. O. Dafiewhare in August, 1991 and placed directly under the Bishop. Between 1995-1996, two (2) additional District Church Councils, All Saints’ Ughelli and Ogor were created in Ughelli Archdeaconry to bring the number of Districts to six (6). It is to be observed that the creation of these new districts and Archdeaconries was in compliance with the strict criteria and standards in the Anglican tradition.

Thus, having transformed itself from one Archdeaconry of four (4) district church councils in 1980 to three (3) Archdeaconries of sixteen (16) district church councils by August 1996, the area of the proposed Ughelli Diocese (Anglican Communion) has demonstrated its capacity and capability to stand firmly on its own as a diocese. The three (3) Archdeaconries that are flaging-off the diocese, (more could be created later) are situated in the existing Ughelli North, Ughelli South, parts of Okpe as well as Bomadi Local Government Areas of Delta State. The facts above and the statistics attached to this presentation show clearly that the growth and development of the church in the area had been in all sectors – membership, church stations, trained personnel, clerical and lay as well as in finance. The potential for continued growth and development in all the facets of the church are quite enormous.

Politically, socially and culturally, the bulk of the inhabitants, of the area are homogeneous, as they are of the Urhobo ethnic group. From the early days of Christianity till now, the people have demonstrated great faith in christ and love for their fellowmen, an attribute which they have shown in abundance in their relations with their neighbours and fellow Nigerians. Efforts will be made to maintain cordial relations with the Mother Diocese of Warri or any other that may be created therefore in the future, as well as other dioceses in Nigeria.

***The above historical background is an extract from the Brochure for the Proposed Ughelli Diocese date 08-08-1996.




First compiled by Ukoko re Ephere Re Urhobo (Urhobo Language Committee) and it was first printed by the Unity Press and Stationary Stores, Warri.

Ede Ene re Uduorin or Okpo

(Four Days of Traditional/Classical Urhobo Week)

1. Edewo

2. Ediruo

3. Eduhre

4. Edebi

Note:OKPO = A stretch of 4 days.

OKPO (Uwherun dialect): A stretch of 4 days which make up Urhobo Traditional Week. Any of them could fall into any of the seven days of the Gregorian week (calendar) for about seven or eight times a month.



Note: Ururuvwe: This is the 13th Lunar month of the year which overlaps from December up to January of the following year which is Ovuikpe.


(Technical Numerals)

7 8Asan (or)  Eravwen-Ovo=  840


2=Ive170=Ujorenren gbe ihwe500,000=Odu-Iyorin
4=Ene190=Ujurhirin gbe ihwe700,000=Odu-Ighwre
130=Ujosan gbi ihwe100,000=Odu
150=Ujughwre gbe ihwe300,000=Odu-Erha


Ash WednesdayEaster SundayAscensionPentecost SundayCorpus ChristiFirst Sunday Of AdventYear
20 Feb. 4 March  24 Feb.  16 Feb6 April 19 April  11 April  3 April15 May 28 May  20 May  12 May25 May 7 June  30 May  22 May5 June 18 June  10 June  2 June30 Nov. 29 Nov.  28 Nov.  27 Nov.1980 1981  1982  1983
7 March 20 Feb.  12 Feb.  4 March22 April 7 April  30 April  19 April31 May 16 May  18 May  28 May10 June 26 May  18 May  June21 June 6 June  22 May  18 June2 Dec. 1 Dec.  30 Nov.  29 Nov.1984 1985  1986  1987
17 Feb. 8 Feb.  28 Feb  13 Feb.3 April 26 March  15 April  31 April12 May 4 May  3 June  19 May22 May 14 May  3 June  19 May2 June 25 May  14 June  30 May27 Nov. 3 Dec.  2 Dec.  1 Dec.1988 1989  1990  1991
4 March 24 Feb.  16 Feb.  1 March19 April 11 April  3 April  16 April28 May 20 May  12 May  25 May28 May 20 May  12 May  25 May18 June 30 May  22 May  4 June29 Nov. 28 Nov.  278 Nov.  3 Dec1992 1993  1994  1995
21 Feb. 12 Feb.  15 Feb.  17 Feb.7 April 30 March  12 April  4 April16 May 8 May  12 May  13 May16 May 8 May  21 May  13 May6 June 29 May  11 June  3 June1 Dec. 30 Nov.  29 Nov.  28 Nov.1996 1997 1998  1999

Notes and References

1 This is an enlarged and heavily revised version of our earlier publications of papers titled, “The Complete Urhobo Bible” published in The Nigerian Christian Vol. 13, No. 3, May 1979 and Vol. 13 No. 7, July 1979 and “The Urhobo Bible” in ORITA: Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. XXXVI/1-2, June and December 1995. pp 13-21.

2 Austin Flannery O.P. (ed) (1075) VATICAN COLLECTIONS, Vol. 1. VATICAN COUNCIL-II (TWO)The Councilliar and Post Concilliar Documents 1975 edition, p. 10.

3 Bible Society of Nigeria: Information concerning the Bible Society of Nigeria (n.d.), a mimeographed document, page 3.

4 Materials used in this paragraph and the next one are mostly drawn from pages 1 and 2 of our earlier work titled, “Adam The Evangelist“, published by Daystar Press, Ibadan, 1992.

5 A.F.C. Ryder, Missionary Activities in the Kingdom of Warri to early nineteenth Century” in Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, vol. 2, No. 1, 1960, page 14.

6 Ibid.

7 A.J.F. Ajayi, Christian Missions in Nigeria, 1841-1891: The Making of a New Elite London, Longman, 1985, page 3.

8 For more details on this vide Enajero Arawore, History of the Church in Urhobo, A.D. 1900-1983. Printed by Akpovire Printing Press, No. 3, Mission Road, Ughelli, (n.d.), pp. 19-21 and 54.

9 Enajero Arawore, op. cit., p. 43.

10 Ibid.

11 For more details on this vide, M.Y. Nabofa, (1992) Adam The Evangelist, Daystar Ibadan Press, Ibadan, 1922, pp. 15 and 16.

12 This is a popular verse among the Old Urhobo Christian Women. They use it whenever they come together for any occasion. Some of them even sing/hum it while alone, working in the farm or performing any chore in the home. We are yet to know to which individual we should accredit its authorship. So for now, we should accredit it to “The Unknown Urhobo Early Christian.”

13 Enagero Arawore, op. cit., p. 43.

14 Although the Bristis currency, which was in the denominations of half-penny, penny, three pence, six pence, shillings, florins (two shillings), pounds and guinea (that is one pound and one shilling, twenty-one shillings) was in circulation in Urhoboland as early as about 1900, the Urhobo still accepted and made use of cowries as legal currency and medium of exchange in economic transaction for up-to-early 1940s. even in modern times, cowries still feature prominently in transacting traditional marriage rites among the Urhobo people, they are included in the payment of bride-price. Not only that, in classical performance of Urhobo traditional burial rites, especially those meant to repose the soul of the departed (tradtional requiem masses), cowries are also still being used and accepted as legal tender or currency. Among the Uwherun, for example, key performers of traditional requiem burial rites still demand for and accept cowries as part-payment for their sacred services.

15 Howard Clerk Kee and Franklin Y. Young, (1994) The Living World of the New Testament, London, Darton, Longman and todd, p. 260.

16 For more details on this vide, K. K. Ukechi, (1972), Missionary Enterprise and Rivalry in Igborland, 1857-1944, London FRANKCASS and Company Limited, pages 230-234. Though many scholars have expressed the opinion that this tradition can be hardly sustained.

17 Messrs. Omuye and Wilson Oki translated St. Mark’s Gospel into Isoko Language in 1920 while Israel Upelomo Elomo, a brilliant catechist, translated the four Gospels into Isoko language, in 1921-22. These translations were carried out under the able guidance of Revds. Henry Proctor and J. D. Aitken. For more details on the above vide Adube, D.O.U. (Rev) (1980) A History of the Translation of Isoko Christian Literate, A University of Ibadan B.A. (Hons.) Degree Long Essay, pp. 61ff.

18 For more details on this vide, Jan Jara (1979) Boer Missionary Messenger of Liberation in a Colonial Context: A Case Study of the Sudan United Missions, Amsterdam, RODOPI, pp. 111ff.

19 W.B. Anderson, The Church in East Africa, 1840-1974; Central Tanganyika Press, DODOMA, 1977, pp. 38-39. 109ff, 271ff, 450ff.

20 For more details on this vide, S.U. Erivwo Christianity in Urhoboland, 1901-1961. University of Ibadan Ph.D. Thesis, 1972.pp.

21 Enajero, Arawore op. cit. P. 51.

22 S. U. Erivwo, Christianity in Urhoboland, 1901-1961. University of Ibada Ph.D. Thesis, 1972, pp. 450-452.

23 S.U. Erivwo op. cit., pp. 271, 450-452.

24 S.U. Erivwo op. cit., p. 271.

25  Ibid, p. 270.

26 Enajero, Arawore Ikun ri Baibol re Urhobo: The History of the Urhobo Bible (n.d.), a paper which he read when the complete Urhobo Bible was launched at Eku on 29th April, 1978, p.2.

27 Enajero, Arawore History of the Church in Urholand A.D. 1900-1983. Printed by Akpovire Printing Press, 3, Mission Road, ughelli, (n.d.), p. 51.

28 Arawore Enajero (1978), op. cit. p. 4.

29 Enajero, Arawore History of the Church in Urhoboland, A.D. 1900-1983. Printed by Akpvire Printing Press, 3 Mission road, Ughelli, (n.d), p. 51.

30 For how long it took Luther to translate the Old Testament vide Howard S. Olson (1980) The Kiswahili Common Language Version of the New Testment”, African Theological Journal, Lutheran Theological College, Makumira, USA RIVER, Tanzanian, vol. 9 No. 2, July 1980 pp. 77-86ff.

31 Ibid., p. 53.

32 Ibid. p. 51.

33 Enajero, Arawore, op. cit., p. 54.

34 Enajero, Arawore (1978), op. cit., p. 44.

35 Enajero Arawore op. cit., p.

36 Report of the Eleventh Meeting of the Christian Council of Nigeria, 9th-17thApril, 1958, at Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, p. 12.

37 E.A. Ayadele (1960) The Missionary Impact on Modern Nigeria Longmans p. 3 See also S.U. Erivwo (1991) Traditional Religion and Christianity in Nigeria: The Urhobo People, Ekpoma, Department of Religious Studies & Philosophy, BENSU, Ekpoma p. 109.

38 S. U. Erivwo (1991) op. cit., 109f.

39 For more details on the Urhobo Esoteric Language of the diviner vide Nabof M.Y. and Elugbe B.O. (1981) EPHA: Urhobo System of Divination and its Esoteric Language” ORITA: Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies vol. XIII, 1, June 1981, pp 3-19.

40 Emmanuel Urhobo Catholic Joint Choir, Warri Diocese, Preface and Note by the 2nd Edition Hymn Revision Committee, which compiled and revised the 1993 edition of the Urhobo Catholic Hymn Book and Urhi Okpokpo re Masi.

41 Op. cit.

42 Howard S. Olson (1980) Op. cit. pp 77-86ff.

43 Howard s. Oslon (1980) “The Kiswahili Common Language Version of the New Testament” in African Theological Journal, Lutheran Theological College, Makumira, USA River, Tanzania, Volume 9, Nimber 2; July 1980 pp. 86ff.

44 Howard S. Olson, op. cit., p. 77.

45 Those accepted books of Apocrypha are 1 and 2 Esdra, Tobit, Judith, Additions to the books of Daniel, and Ester, the Prayer of Manasses, the Epistle of Jeremiah, the book of Baruch, the Wisdom of Solomon and 1, 2, 3, and 4 Maccabees

46 J. D. Douglas and N. Hillary (eds.) (1988) New Bible Dictionary,Wheaton, Illinois, USA., Tyndale House’ Publishers Inc. p. 56.


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