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Morpheme structure of Ebira Language

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 Nov 03, 2019 |  06:38 pm |  4801



1.0         General Background

Language is a major means of communication, interaction and relation in the human society. Language is the network that connects human society together in lively mood making it a lively place to stay.

“Language is the ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so, and a language is any specific example of such a system.” (Wikipedia).

In addition, crystal (2008, p.283) defines linguistics as “the scientific study of language.” this means that linguistics is the scientific study of all natural languages as everything concerning languages is undertaken in linguistics.

The use of language has become deeply entrenched in human culture and apart from being used to communicate and share information, it also have social and cultural uses, such as signifying group identity, social stratification and for social grooming and entertainment.

The focus of this research work serves as a means to explain the morpheme structure of Ebira language, that is, the organization of words, studying to bring out the morphological beauty of the language by identifying, analyzing and describing forms of words, the morphemes: derivational versus inflectional, and many more in Ebira language with the sole aim of revealing linguistically significant generalizations (facts) inherent in it and most significantly, documenting its features for the purpose of potential revival were the language to go into extinction. Thus, this work examines the phenomenon of morpheme structure in Ebira language, spoken in Kogi state.

Also in this chapter, we shall examine the historical background of Ebira language, the socio linguistic profile under which we shall discuss the origin, religion, festivals, occupation, marriage, culture and belief, burial rites, language status, theoretical framework, scope and organization of the study, the genetic classification of the language.

The important reason for studying human languages is to develop them, preserve and teach them. This long essay made every necessary step to study the morpheme structure of Ebira language. Ebira is a language spoken in Nigeria. Morpheme structure is concerned with the formation of morphemes, make-up of the morphemes of a language

Howard & Etiene [2007. Pg.3] defines Morphology as the study of morphemes and their arrangements in forming words, how they are formed and how they are inflected. Therefore, morphology remains the focus of this study

1.1       Historical Background

The Ebira [also spelt as Igbira or Igirra] are an ethno linguistics group of central Nigeria. Ebira [Tao] is a tribe in Kogi state in the Northern part of Nigeria with a population of 1.5 million inhabitants. Many Ebira people are from Kogi state, but some can be found in Kwara state, Nassarawa state, Federal Capital Territory-Abuja, Okene, Okehi, Adavi, Ajaokuta, and Edo state. Okene is said to be the administrative centre of the Ebira-speaking people in Kogi state, not far from the Niger-Benue confluence.

Ebira [Igbira] people uphold their traditions. Unique features of their cultures can be appreciated most in the event of traditional marriages. Kogi was formed from Kwara not far from Niger-Benue confluence. The Ebira Tao people who comprise the focus of this research are the people of Okene, Okebi. Adavi and Ajaokuta local government area of Kogi state. The word Ebira refers to the people themselves, their language and their geographical location.

The word Ebira means behavior when translated literally, with ethnics and hospitality as compliments.

Ebira Tao is the largest of the several Ebira groups found in about 8 states in Nigeria including the federal capital territory [FCT]. The other sister groups are Egbura Koto and Ebira Mozum [Kogi state], Ebira Panda, Ebira Oje/Toto [Nassarawa state], Ebira Etuno [Edo state], Ebira Agatu [Benue state], Ebira Oloko [Ondo/Oyo/Osun states].

There are two schools of thought about Ebira origins. The written source [archeological] and the oral traditions.

Written records about the origin of the Ebira people were those compiled from palace sources by the British colonial administrators in early 20th century. The Ebira, through oral tradition, trace their descent to Wukari [in the present Taraba state] where there was a constituent part of the Kwararafa confederation. In about 1680 AD, they [along with Idoma and Igala] migrated out of Wukari a chieftaincy dispute. The Ebira later split into various groups and settled in different locations between 1680 and 1750 AD.

The Ebira Tao first sojourned with the Igalas at Idah but later crossed the River Niger and settled at Ebira Opete located the vicinity of Upake in Ajaokuta LGA. The ‘father’ of Ebira Tao who led them to this premier settlement in Ebira land was Itaazi. Itaazi had five [5] sons who all later migrated from Ebira Opete and were the founders of the various districts in Ebira land. The children and the districts they founded are Adaviruku/Ohizi [Adavi], Ododo [Okehi], Obaji [Eyika], Uga [Okengwe], and Ochuga/Onotu [Ihima]. His daughter Ohunene settled in Eganyi district.

Members of the various clans in Ebira land are descendants of the children of Itaazi. Ohizi had five children who are progenitors of the five traditional Adavi clans named after them.  These are Upopo-Uvete [Apasi], Uka, Idu [Aniku], Adeyika and Uhwami. A migrant group from Eganyi known as Ezi-Onogu clan is also found in Adavi. The sons of Ododo who are the ancestors of Okehi clans were Okovi Oviri and Enwgukonyai. Obaji the founder of Eika had ten children named Ohiaga, Iyewe, Avassa, Ehemi, Anchi, Epoto, Egiri, Ubobo, Ogu, and Eyire. Uga of Okengwe had two sons whose children constitute the present Okovi and Agada group of clans. Due to a sizeable concentration of other Ebira clans in Okengwe district, they formed a socio-political coalition known as Ada-ehi. Ochuga had six children and their descendants make up the six clans in Ihima.

These are Emani, Oha/Idu, Ohueta, Ure, Ohongwa,, and Odumi. The seventh clan is Akuta wjo migrated from Okengwa. Though Itaazi’s daughter named Ohunene was the founder of Eganyi, not all the clans there are descended from her. Eganyi clans are Ede, Esugu, Eheda, Ogu, Onoku, Idu,Anavapa, and Ogodo. The Aningere who are skilled craftsmen are founded in all districts. They are however; more concentrated in Okengwa and Adavi districts.

From the written source, Ohiare [1985] linguistically defined Ebira as those who speak the language or dialect or those who recognize themselves as one but have lost touch of the ability to speak the language as a result of some historical development. Describing their location, Ozigi [2004] said that Ebira are predominantly in the Niger-Benue confluence area and are scattered in locations as Okene, Okehi, Adavi, and Ajaokuta. These are the Ebira Tao group of the central senatorial District of Kogi state.

There are also the Ebira Kotos. They are found in the Koton Karfe area of Kogi Local government of Kogi State. There is the Ebira Mozum of Bassa Local Government of Kogi State.

There are large Ebira settlements in other areas apart from Kogi state as found in Umaisha, Toto Lafia District of Nassarawa state and Federal Capital Territory. There is also Ebira Agatu in Benue state, Ebira Etuno in Igarra area of Edo state. The concern of this paper is the Ebira Tao group.

Historically, the people belong to the Kwarafa or Apa group of the middle belt region. Among the other ethnic group in Kwarafa region are the Jukun, the Idoma, the Langtang, Kaje etc. The tradition of origin of the Ebira Tao first started in the Gongola Basin and ended with their migration to the lower Benue valley. The Ebira took their name from the lower Benue valley. They described themselves as people from Ebira. Tradition collected from among the Idoma say Ebira was already in the area of Abinse down to the area of modern Agatu district, when Idoma ancestors met them. This was about the 15th and 16th centuries as claimed by Ohiare [1985]. This indicated that the Ebira presence around the Benue valley was about the 14th century. It was from here that the wave of migration dispersed the Ebira and other associated groups to the confluence area. From here also the people migrated to Ebira Opete and the Okehi hills.

Several reasons were given for this migration. They were succession disputes, outbreaks of epidemics, and flight from punishment which the people considered as unjustified and oppressive.

There is yet another period of Ebira historical development. This began with their migration across the Niger at Itobe to the right bank of the Niger around the present location of Ajaokuta. This place was known as Ebira Opete.

The Ebira had to move further from the Igala territory for obvious reasons of succession. It was a common practice in the royal circle of Idah that the losing side in succession dispute was always obliged by tradition to move out of the capital enmasse to the inland and sometime beyond the boundaries of the Kingdom [in this case, the Ebira belonged to the losing side and so had to move].

According to Ozigi [2004] the dominant theme in the struggle of the Ebira Opete settlers was to secure political independence of Attah in Idah. So, it was their desire to be rid of Idah’s political influence. This forced the people to begin gradual westward. Some settled in Ohehi and Upai hills and other in Egarra [Etuno] area. From Opete the Ebira moved gradually in families, lineages and clans to the hills of Okehi, Upai and Eikaoku, a compact area chosen for security purposes.

Political organization of the people in their new area reflected the settlement patterns based on family lineage and clan group conducted its affairs as a semi autonomous entity. In each clan group, lineages often acted independently. The leaders of these clan groups never failed to strengthen their political authority through religious sanctions ordained by the ancestors. Institutions of ancestral cults featured spirits like “Eku oba”, “Eku echichi”, “Akatapa”, and “Eku irahu” that gave political potency to their religious sanctions.

By mid 19th century, the Ebira had settled permanently in their present locations and lived in the district founded by the ancestors. Various settlements were founded by the Ebira children like Okovi, Agada, Eika, Adavi, Ihima and Eganyi. These settlements were named after them.

The main clans and sub clans in Ebira settlements were as follows:

Okovi [Asuwe, Adobe, Ehebe,Omavi, Ure and Omoye as sub clans]

Agada [Akuta, Avi, Ogu, Esusu, and Ohimoroko as sub clans]

Eika [Ihiaga, Iyewe, Avasa, Eyire, Epoto, Anchi, Iheme, Agiri, Ubobo, Uhuodo and Ogu as sub clans]

Adavi [Aniku, Uhami, Uka, Upopo Uvete as sub clans]

Ihima [Emani, Ure, Ohueta, Odumi, Ohionwa and Oha as sub clans]

Eganyi [Eheda, Onoko, Esugu, Ogodo, Onogu, Ede and ogu as sub clans]

These clans were very important in the socio-political life of the Ebira people. They were the basis of authority and social relations in Ebira traditional community.

1.2       Socio-cultural Profile

It is very interesting to note that a wonderful culture has flourished in Ebira in the prehistoric times. The culture had held on to the entire gamut of the Ebira people’s life, so making its traits well-known through the much publicized arts, customs, moral philosophy, artifact, crafts, dress code, language, knowledge, festivals, religious beliefs, historical relics etc.

Earlier the cultural life of these people has been a very pleasant reflection of unique cultural endowments, which are characterized by a wide range of different taboos. They prohibited all forms of evil practices in their society. For example, the traditional religion was an addition to being used for deep spiritual fulfillment. Their religion equally served as a very important source of their political control. Like the other traditions, which we have already mentioned above people were afraid of being sanctioned by the dangerous ancestral spirits and so, lived a normal life with very high moral philosophy. They had good manners, while the societal evils were often equally abhorred. At the same time, the security was provided thanks to the social and cultural norms and also thanks to the use of masquerades for practical enforcement of their rules and regulations. The use of masquerades usually believed to be some ancestors’ incarnate or personification, symbolically representing the watchful eyes [of their founding fathers in our world]. It is a very common phenomenon in the whole African society. Each masquerade has a particular meaning/function. They were used to publicly identify, discipline or even sanction thieves, terrible witches and those who often violated their cultural norms. That was why the masquerades were always greatly respected and feared.

With the passage of times following the early settlements of nuclear and extended families in a cluster of houses, tremendous increase in population led to the evolution of semi-urban settlements in Ebira land. Similarly, the massive influx of immigrants was another important factor that facilitated the speedy development of Ebira land.

1.2.1   Population of Ebira Speakers

Ebira land the home of Ebira Tao is located in the central senatorial district of Kogi state. The 1991 national census puts the population of the area 722.032. Another was taken in 2006, 884.396 the estimated population now is about 14million.

1.2.2   Location

Ebira land occupies a hilly sketch of guinea savannah grassland approximating 2,977 square kilometers. The land lies approximately between 60 and 80 north of latitude and between 60 and 100 east longitude in the south-west zone of the Niger-Benue confluence area with a very pleasant climate

[Mohammed 1]. To the west and north-west, it shares common boundaries with the Yoruba speaking people of Owe, Akoko, Ijumu and Oworo; to the south and south-west, it is bounded by Ogori, Ososo and other Akoko-Edo settlements; the Hausa, Nupe and Ebira groups at Lokoja are bounded to the north and the River Niger to the east. To be found across the River are the Igala and Bassa Nge. The word Ebira refers to the people themselves [or could be called Anebira], their language, their character and their geo-political location [et’Ebira or et’Anebira], when considered etymologically. Beyond these,

The land is, however, more than a matter of territory: it is also a metaphysical or mystical entity capable of having an effect on people’s lives and receiving sacrifice. The land is, one might say, a force to be reckoned with.

1.2.3   Governance

Historically these Ebira communities were autonomous unit without a central king or recognized royal families but were managed by leaders of lineage in a type of gerontocracy.

Similarly, the most senior or eldest in any given community was the leader of that community or village head. This is because the Ebira people have great respect for age especially old age, which they believe, is an epitome of knowledge and wisdom. This customary form of respect and deference to elders underscores the moral philosophy that forms the bedrock of Ebira ruling system. Thus old age was one of the criteria for appointing leaders in the olden days. This was the system in vogue prior to the commencement of hereditary chieftaincy or the development of monarchy in Ebira land.

1.2.4   Marriage

Ebira tradition has undergone many changes as a result of the coming of Islam and Christianity. Despite the changes the general trend remains virtually unaltered. Thus, the practice of exogamy continues. It is against the social norms to marry from the same clan.            Traditional marriage

            In Ebira tradition, a man cannot walk to the parents of the lady he wants to marry to disclose his intentions, his parents or elders mostly the women do this by going to the lady’s parents to introduce themselves and also to inform them of their reason for coming to the house.

When a man sees a lady he wants to marry, he discusses his intentions with her, if she likes him and also interested, she tells him to bring his people to express his intentions to her parents.

After this is done, the parents of the lady then carry out their private investigations on the upbringing, background, family history and so on, of the intending groom; this is done to know there is madness, terminal diseases, or criminality in the man’s family. No parents want to give their daughter’s hand in marriage to a family with a tainted reputation in the society.

After all investigations and no fault found, an approval is given to the man to visit the bride-to-be from time to time to get to know themselves properly.

A date is later picked for the formal introduction of both families and this is called “Ise Ewere” which means the secret is now in the open. During the celebration, there is usually the presentation of gift items made by the family of the groom to the family of the bride.

The gift items usually include tubers of yam, dried fish or bush meat, 10 liters of palm oil, a bag of salt, assorted wines and kola nut. The groom may also decide to present two wrappers to his would-be bride but this is optional. On the day of introduction, it is not necessary that the man attends the occasion as his family members do the necessary things on his behalf. The bride’s family in turn, entertains the groom’s family with food and drinks. The families interact with one another and formally introduce every member of both families.

The tubers of yam and other items brought are distributed to neighbors and members of the extended family no matter how small. This is done to ask for their prayers for a happy marriage as well as to ensure the acknowledgement of the community that the lady now has someone she intends to get married to. After this is done, the date for the traditional marriage is then fixed.

The bride price is also agreed upon by the parents of the bride and it depends to a large extent, on the financial strength of the man. Apart from the bride price, there are other things like “ozemeiyi” meaning “I am attracted to her” which a certain amount of money is attached to, and “otanuvogei” that is “joining hands together” which has its own amount attached. There is also “idoza” meaning “farming price” paid to the bride’s family because Ebira people are predominantly farmers. In the olden days when young man had to farm, the groom and his friends choose a day to farm for the bride’s parent but these days because most young men don’t farm any longer, they pay money instead.

On the day of the traditional marriage, women in the man’s house are seen singing and dancing carrying tubers of yam on their heads to the lady’s house. The singing and dancing continues at their arrival at the lady’s house where the ceremony kicks off. Other items to be taken are cans of palm oil, groundnut oil, dried fish, some clothing materials in the boxes etc.

The ceremony is marked with colorful display of dances by maiden groups mostly the bride’s friends and by women groups. The parents of the couple offer prayers to bless their marriage and if a clergy man is present he prays for them and hand over a certificate to them to acknowledge their marriage.

The lady is thereafter escorted by her friends and other women to her husband’s house with her belongings.      Kinship marriages

The son was permitted to marry his father’s wives after his death excluding his mother. The main reason for this bawdiness and intimacy practice is that Ebira believes women are legacies to be kept within the family and Ebira dislike marrying widows generally. However a widow or widower who wants to remarry must undergo certain rituals. The tradition has it that the new couple-to-be must bathe with the blood of a dog/duck/pigeon/fowl usually blended into black soap accordingly. A junior brother also remarries his senior brother’s wife after his death, but the reverse was not allowed. Today however a good number of Ebira renounce this practice this is definitely an impact of Islam and Christianity.

1.2.5   Occupation

The Ebira people are outspoken and very hard working. Farming and cloth-weaving are occupations the Ebiras are known for. The Ebira [Igbira] people speak Egbira, a Nupoid language belonging to the larger Niger-Congo phylum.

The principal occupation of Ebira in agriculture they cultivates maize, yam, cassava and vegetables. In the nineteenth century, some communities cultivates and traded beni seeds. Ebiras are also known for their weaving and crafts.

1.2.6   Food

They have this customary food called “APAPA” that is mostly loved by everyone in Ebira land and it’s highly celebrated by Ebira people. Apapa looks like moi-moi but the color is different and very rich in protein than moi-moi. Also, the coat of the beans is not removed when picking it. Apapa day is celebrated to show the value of their traditional food, it can be eaten alone, consumed with pap/custard or garri.




1.2.7   Burial rite

Ebira strongly believes in life after death and so burial ceremony is regarded as a noble and cherished duty towards the dead whom they expect will come back to life one day. The type of burial ceremony depends wholly on the age of the deceased, sex, wealth and social standing.

Slaves or other people considered to be of low castes [of low status] cannot be given second burial however famous. Ogugu and night masquerade dances may not stage for such people. Strictly speaking, there are no formal ceremonies for the children. Such death is regarded as painful. The only thing done in the past apart from the normal but un-ceremony burial was to summon all the women together in the compound so that the elderly man in the family could caution them to refrain from taking the life of a child. This is because the Ebiras believe such death was caused by witches, to them the young had not enjoyed life, hence could not randomly.

On the other hand, when a fairly aged man or woman dies a formal burial is generally done. However a second burial is never given to a woman irrespective of her age, achievement and position in the community, this is because women are excluded from masquerade secrets because of the importance placed on the burial ceremony. Anyone who could not afford an elaborate burial was somehow treated with contempt by the local people, hence effort were always made to impress people. As a result of the high expectations, dead bodies were not buried at the right time. The corpse were usually dried by fire until people were ready to bury them, when there is no money to afford a grand ceremony the children or relatives of the deceased would go outside Ebira land to search for money and this might take several month. Corpse could be left for nine months. The custom of keeping a dead body for months was cancelled by ATTA in 1920.

When any person dies after normal gestures of displeasure, the body is washed with warm water, dressed gorgeously and left for the general public to pay their homage, after this they bury them.

1.2.8   Religious Belief

Ebira acknowledge the existence of God with such reverence. The innate belief of the people places him, “Ohomorihi” [Supreme Being], first before any other thing. These claim clearly manifest in the various attributes accorded Supreme God by the people. Ohomorihi means creator of rain. In most cultures and even sciences, the essence of living and life is tied to water. Earthly fertility is predicted on water, human conception and delivery is also located in watery substance. All source of life can be traced to water.

In Ebira religious belief, Ohomorihi is the source and controller of this water from which all these beings are sourced because Orihi is rain and is produced from the divine center [Ohomo]. These beliefs establish the absolute supremacy of God Almighty over all living and non-living beings, materials and spiritual matters.

Other names and attributes of Ohomorihi includes “adayi ebeba anayin abayi” [our father above who owns us all], “Ikoko koi koi” [The powerful, the Omnipotent], “Ovaraka dosi” [of limitless size, the magnificent with unimaginable magnitude, the Omnipresent], “Ochiji mokariye” [ the silent arbiter, the unpredictable dispenser of justice], “Ovaraka huduma” [whose stairs roars like thunder], “Oku’za ohuru, Oku’za atito” [adorns one gunpowder and soil with ashes], “Ogodo godo onuva’za eme tu” [so far removed from physical touch], “Odu ajini osi ihuo teyi” [inflict pains today and inject gains tomorrow]; “oda yoza ri odoza here” [feeds you and drains you]. From these names one can understand why he is the first point of reference in all matters-secular, spiritual or ritual.

Before the advent of Islam, Ebira people practiced a form of African traditional religion with a central focus on a god called OHOMORIHI, the rain maker who lives in the sky. Rites are performed to appease the god whose attributes includes punishing evil doers and rewarding good people. Other religious figures below OHOMORIHI are ORI [deities] and spirit. In Ebira, people believe in a spirit world where dead ancestors live.

1.2.9     Festivals

Cultural Festivals [Eche-Ozi Ete]

The paramount ruler of the people is called ‘Ohinoyi of Ebira land’. The Ebira have several annual cultural festivals and they cherish them so much. Three of the most prominent ones are ‘Echane’, ‘Eche Ori’ and ‘Ekuechi’

The Ebiras have several annual cultural festivals. Three of the most prominent ones are 'Echane', 'Eche Ori' and 'Ekuechi'. Eche – Ane: This is an annual masquerade festival celebrated in rotation from one district to the other in Ebira land [between April–June]. In the past, it was only during the period of the festival that betrothed girls were given away in marriage to their suitors. That is why the festival is called 'Eche-ane' [women festival]. Masquerades, though carried long canes, came out primarily to entertain people and received gifts in return. It is regrettable that this very popular and interesting festival has been bastardized and now a source of constant breach of peace. Eche-Ori: 'Eche Ori' is a new yam festival celebrated only in two districts in Ebira land. These are Ihima and Eganyi. During the festival, traditional worshippers make sacrifices in the secret groove of 'Ori' [deity] high up in the mountain to show gratitude for its protection and provision of bounteous harvest. The worshipers carry long canes with which they whip one another in turns without anyone exhibiting any sign of pain. This is a mark of strength or manhood. Another important attraction of the festival is the delightful 'Eche-ori' music in which female singers feature prominently. Only after this festival can one eat or sell new yams in the market as it is a taboo to do so before the festival in Ihima and Eganyi.   Ekuechi [Traditional Masquerade]: This is a night masquerade festival which marks the end of the Ebira calendar year and the beginning of a new one. Ododo is popularly acclaimed to be the initiator of this masquerade festival. The 'Akatapa' masquerade in heralding the beginning of the festival often says “irayí òdòdó osi gú, irayí àkàtàpà osi gúèèéh! òsà yèèéh!” which means “the year of the òdòdó has ended; the year of Akatapa has ended. Here is another year". The festival begins with a festival eve in which folk singers [òme ìkédè] perform to the delight of both men and women. The following day, the real festival in which masquerades sing and dance to entertain people from dusk to dawn takes place. It is restricted to men only so all women stay indoors throughout the duration of the festival. All dead relatives are believed to return to an earth on a visit this night, so, women prepare delicious 'Apapa' (bean bread) and he-goat meat for the visitors. The women also, at times, leave monetary gifts with the men for the visiting dead relatives. Trust men, the meals and gifts are properly and neatly delivered to the beneficiaries who only the men have the privilege of seeing and interacting with, that night.

Ekuechi festival of the Ebira Tao of Kogi State in Nigeria is anchored on ancestral celebration and interaction. The performance process entails the celebration of myth, legend and traditional social events. It is observed annually by the people to mark the end of the year and usher in a new one. It is a two-day/night affair with a preceding eve [Unehe] which usually starts in late November, runs through December and ends in early January with each Ebira community choosing its own date as affirmed by the priest of Ireba Eku [masquerade cult] shrine, the Ozumi especially.

Ekuechi performance is a men-dominated event from which women are forbidden to watch or participate, but have covert roles that are tangential to the festive essence of ekuechi. Their overt exclusion is essentially to prevent them from apprehending mask less masquerades in their ancestral manifestations. It is around this masklessness of masquerades that Ododo [2004] conceptualizes the facekuerade notion. This paper therefore interrogates the origin story of Ekuechi and the vital space women occupy in it as well as their iconic essence in the performance design of the festival. This effort is essentially to contribute to the contemporary discussion on women and gender ambiguity from the perspective of the Ebira. But first, let us position the Facekuerade notion Facekuerade Concept: Across cultures in Nigeria evidence abounds of masquerades that do not don masks but are expressly called masquerades. Some examples can be found in Yoruba land, such as the Oloolu of Ibadan and Jenju of Abeokuta. Others that exist in Yoruba-speaking areas of Nigeria include Okelekele masquerade of Ekinrin-Ade in Kogi State; Melemuku masquerade of Oyo town, Atupa of Ilora, both of Oyo state; Olukotun masquerade of Ede, Komenle of Agba and Akereburu of Owu all in Osun state.

Reacting to the Ebira mask less stock, Husaini [148] actually questions the application of the word masquerade “since not all masqueraders use mask” Beyond raising a nomenclatural problem, an investigation of the context and content of their performance realization could lead to some interesting revelations, just as it is intriguing that masquerade can be conceived without a mask; a fundamental feature of the masquerade art. Ekuechi festival is our reference point of discourse is this essay.

The star masquerade performer at Ekuechi festival, Eku’rahu [Night Singing Masquerade], does not wear mask as well as Akatapa [Jester] and Eku’ahete (feet stamping Masquerade) do not wear masks. The Eku’echichi [Rubbish Heap Masquerade] and Eku’Okise (Soothsaying Masquerade) that perform during the day fully masked in Echane festival also participate in Ekuechi maskless. The absence of masks notwithstanding, they are all still referred to as masquerades. Adinoyi–Ojo [89] submits that “the night has masked them from women and children to whom eku is supposed to be a mystery’.

From all the foregoing, it can be conjectured that the concepts of mask in masquerading art transcends the physical object of concealment. Night [darkness], voice disguise, pseudonyms and fear have become potent masking factors that sometimes de-emphasize the use of proper masks, the root word for masquerades. The mysticism that surrounds the masquerading art reinforces the image of a masquerade character without a mask. It is for these reasons; we believe that the use of the term masquerade for a performer without a mask has to be revisited. This is precisely what has informed our own term and concept of ‘Facekuerade’. The words Face, Masquerade and Ekuechi, all contribute to the formation of the Face – Eku – rade. The organizing key of the new word is Eku which accounts for why the word is not spelt as Facequerade.

Facekuerade therefore refers to a performance masquerade character without mask. Even though his audience encounters him face to face, the spiritual essence of the masquerade character is not devalued. He is still revered and held in high esteem. Facekuerade is an engaging metaphor in action capable of transforming events, performance realities and even mediates between structures of social systems.

Within the framework of Ekuechi ‘masquerade’ ensemble, all the participating ‘masquerade’ characters without masks essentially project the facekuerade essence. The awe and mysticism that surrounds these unmasked beings as masquerades are the disguising elements of the piercing sound of izeyin and ireha, guttural voice, tongue-twisted renditions, esoteric chants and weird sounds verbally produced by Agadagidi [stick–carrying masquerade] and some participant audience.

All these elements help to heighten the masking reality of the facekuerade characters. Eku’rahu, being the star actor of the Ekuechi event, forms the epicenter of the facekuerade concept. Eku’rahu is a composite actor who wears ancestral face; speaks, sings, dances and acts in that spirit. The respect that the custodian of Eku’rahu attracts also signifies that his character as Eku’rahu is taken far beyond his real self. Because of the ancestral connotations, his utterances during the Ekuechi event are taken seriously.

It is therefore useful that masquerade characters can transform into facekuerade characters because of the general caution people now take in approaching whatever they do, knowing that the ancestors have human agencies that can chastise them for their iniquities during Ekuechi performance. It is in this sense that the Ekuechi Festival has been perceived as facekuerade performance.

1.2.10 Origin of Ekuechi Traditions

Generally in Africa, theories of autochthonous origins for masquerades are often propounded through oral traditions as Horton [1963], Adedeji [1969] and Njaka [1974] demonstrated in recording the myths that established the origin of masquerades in Kalabari, Yoruba and Igbo cultures in Nigeria respectively. The Ebira example is not too different.

There are few accounts of how Eku concept started. However, the differences in these accounts are not fundamental. Generally, Ireba Eku [masquerade cult] was believed to have been formed under the divine instruction of God to check the excesses of women, apart from serving as a medium of ancestral contact. Myth has it that after creating man and woman as husband and wife, one day God sent for the man but he was too busy to honor the call. Instead, he requested his wife to heed God’s call on his behalf. God gave her Irakwo [an egg-like object that contains the secrets of life and has the capacity to manifest supernatural powers] for her husband.

Having discovered its contents and being fascinated by them, she hid it in her uterus and later swallowed it without giving it to her husband. She thereafter became quite powerful, performing supernatural feats like turning into any animal and changing back to a human being. She could instantly grow wings to fly around in astral travels, and also capable of all sorts of mysterious transformations. Her husband became envious of her powers. In sympathy, God enabled the husband to create the Eku masquerade cult from which women membership is strongly discouraged, as a counterforce to the powers the women possess for corroborating the notion of Eku as a counterforce to witchcraft, the Adeika of Eika, the traditional Chief of Eika clan in Ebira land in an interview recorded by Adeiza submits that: "Eika is the senior clan in Ebira land and Ekuechi originated from them. The real origin of the festival is a traditional secret. Ekuechi originated from necessity, for when witchcraft crept into Ebira land it was the women who reigned supreme in the cruel craft and they cheated men by it. Many people were being killed by them especially men. In retaliation, men also set up the Eku cult to dread the women. Women are made to believe that Ekus who perform during Ekuechi are ancestor spirits raised from the dead to come and admonish, warn and punish evildoers in their songs and ritual.

Ibrahim [12] further corroborates this position by revealing that “the masquerade executed recalcitrant women [witches]”. This is one of the major reasons women’s participation in the night performance of Eku’rahu is highly forbidden.

 According to Ogunba (24): In many African cultures women are not admitted into the secrets of the masking art; indeed, they are often the favorite target of masking and satirical ridicule, the assumption being that they live a more poetical life than their men folk, have secret powers, are more of spirits than human beings, and therefore an object of fear or veneration.

A more encompassing conceptual thought on this phenomenon of female exclusion from masquerade cults within the African patriarchal context resides in the understanding that women are feeble-minded and cannot keep secrets. Also, because “they are also mysterious and sometimes unclean”. They cannot therefore approach these ancestral manifestations, whose character is diametrically opposed to their own. Any meeting between them would have adverse effects on both parties. Much harm would come to the women and masquerades would lose something of their virtue.

Women’s association with witchcraft, misfortune, pollution and impurity is not peculiar to the Ebira alone. In South Africa for instance, a Bantu group called the Ba-Rongas subject their widows to a series of intensive purification rites to “throw away the malediction of death” [Juniod, 1962]. The Ode-lay masked performers of Freetown in Sierra Leone “protect the maskers from witches” by dusting their costumes with special medicinal substance [Nunley, 1987]. Also, the Franciscan monks of the Thirteenth Century addressed women as “the head of sin, a weapon of the devil, mother of guilt, corruption of the ancient” [Tavris and Offir, 1977]. In New Zealand, there is the general belief among the Maoris that when a woman “enters the area in which a sacred boat is being built, the sea worthiness of the boat is affected and it cannot be launched. The presence of a profane being serves to remove the divine blessing” [Caillois, 1959]. Several of such ill- perceptions of women abound in most cultures. Some of the reasons usually advanced are hinged on the desire of men to dominate women; as a result, antisocial labels are heaped on them. The other reason is informed by the unclean aspect of women imposed by nature, like the menstrual cycle. On this count alone, women are forbidden from most religious rites, be it Traditional, Christianity or Islam.

The Ebira hold very strong view about this too. In their belief, potency of charms can be neutralized if a menstruating woman comes in contact with it. Sometimes, for certain ritual observances, one is strongly advised to avoid any carnal relationship with women no matter their state of purity. Many of them are aware of these injunctions and also sometimes capitalize on them to taunt men, test their strength of character and ability to resist seductive advances in such sanctimonious state. Oftentimes, the weak will easily fall prey and get destroyed in the process. The Biblical story of Samson and Delilah is instructive here. All these make obvious, women’s evil essence and underline why they are feared and distanced from sacred matters.

However in some cultures, it has been established that women masking traditions exist. In Angola for instance, there are the Ganguela female masquerades [facekuerades] that don no masks. Their faces are sometimes painted but their identity is unconcealed. Some species of female masquerades is also to be found in Kabompo district of Zambia [Guimoit, 1998]. The Sande association masks offer a unique illustration of women as masked performers in Liberia and Sierra Leone by the Mende, Vai, Sherbro and Gola communities [d’Azevedo 1973; Jedrej 1976, 1986; Phillips 1978]. In Nigeria, apart from some conventional female masquerades like the popular Gelede, the Bereke of Ijumu in Kogi state, Sagore and Ilebi female masquerades of Oyo town in Oyo state, a somewhat masking ambivalence occurs in some cultures where female gender denies men access to their masquerade performances. Bettelheim [49] records that among the Ejagham of Cross River State, masquerade is not only about masking but there are also unmasked mystic powers that are equally potent as masked essence. The women of the Ekpa-Atu association in the area “use their nakedness” to “affect male potency in the same way that men’s masquerade can affect women’s fertility.” This rear phenomenon occurs in the threatening naked dance in the night in which anonymity does not depend on the wearing of mask. Relying on oral account by Atabo Oko, Amali [59] writes that "From the Yoruba Iludun-Ekiti of Ondo State came the strange report of an existing women’s   sacred society which is not seen by men. When they appear at night for performance, men run into hiding…behind their doors throughout the night."

From the different submissions cited above it is observed that most women masquerades lack serious spiritual depth. The import is more social than spiritual, while they perform mostly without a mask, the key essence of masquerade art. They are therefore more of facekuerades in features than masquerades. In modern times, women are beginning to pick information here and there on the secrets of masquerading without being participants. Nevertheless, men cannot boast of a fair knowledge of witchcraft, which is still the edge they have over men till today. Even though Osadebe [109], using the Igbo masquerade art as a reference point, has remarked that:

"Since the women understand the basic background of the mmanwu, what was truly guarded, or rather upheld, was the women’s lack of the right to publicly discuss the mmanwu." But in Ebira society, it is not just the public right of discussion that is withdrawn, also the right to conscious quest for knowledge. The mysticism surrounding the Eku [masquerade] cult is still intact, for previous attempts to neutralize it have always met with stiff mystic and physical opposition from custodians and a cross-section of Ebira people who believe strongly in the inviolability of such cultural practices.

According to oral and several written accounts [which are also sourced from orality], Obaji and Ododo, sons of Itaazi, were said to be the progenitors of Eku. These were two brothers who constantly antagonized each other on account of seniority contestation. But seniority was generally conceded to Obaji, and Ododo was not pleased. One day, Obaji took ill and was about to die. His brother, Ododo, said he would not like Obaji to be his senior here on earth and again be his senior in the great beyond [Idaneku]. Ododo then decided to change his identity with his dying brother. When Obaji died, Ododo put on the costumes of Eku and the women were made to believe that Ododo rose from the dead. So, Obaji became the senior of the living, while Ododo became the senior of the dead in the world beyond. Adega, a prophesying masquerade character who specializes in the chants of historical events, myths and legends, gave a similar account in his 1983 annual Echane festival performance:

"Ozi Ododo vana si ozi Obaji dosi mo nyi ehi ni

Ijo ozi Obaji vaso ka yo ozi Ododo

Ka ani ewun ma ze ada anini

Do ozi Ododo va se so ka ine hi ni

Do Ododo ka Obaji ana vo zoku yoni ehononi

Dore vana ve ozoku idaneku yo ni

Di Ododo wusu ni

Da hure Eku ni

Ihe gwo eta ani do Obaji oni re wu suni


Ododo’s son took Obaji’s daughter for a concubine

When Obaji’s daughter told Ododo’s son of her

Father’s illness,

Ododo’s son went home to relay the information

Ododo in envy opined that Obaji who is his senior

In the human world

Will again be his senior in the world beyond?

Therefore, Ododo passed on before Obaji.

His Children made Eku out of him.

The third day, Obaji also passed on…

Another account holds it that Ododo did not actually commit suicide but that he actually donned the masquerade costumes at his supposed funeral, as he was never publicly interred. But we are not told how the mask character was later reconciled with Ododo’s living identity. However, in a very recent study, Ibrahim [10] explains that "The main event behind the story was the crowning of their foundation of Ebira land with their title taking and installation as priest-king and high priest of Ebira Ancestral Temple.

The system of king-making in Ebira land of olden days "included establishing the ancestral temple as point of contact with the ancestor and from where the eku-oba [ancestor incarnate masquerade] would emerge; symbolically passing through the various stages of ‘dying’ rounded up with the preparation of eku-oba and then eku-echichi, a ceremony for sending off departing elder’s spirit to its new abode, or for escorting visiting ancestral spirits back to their world. …once the funeral ceremonies and outing of the masquerade had been performed, that was the end of the public appearance for the priest-king or person concerned; these ceremonies would not be performed again when he actually [physically] passed away. The priest-king was never reported as dying for the man had already ‘died’ before he became priest-king.

It is based on the above understanding that Ibrahim [10] reasons that it was when Obaji had already passed through some of the ‘death’ processes that Ododo became aware and because he was averred to Obaji becoming his senior in the world beyond, Ododo “by passed some of the processes straight to ‘death’ and outing of masquerade to personate his spirit”.

All other accounts slightly vary from the ones recounted above but they provide scanty information that leaves them raising more critical questions than they were meant to resolve. An attempt to answer one question raises another. Adinoyi- Ojo [66] for instance queried that, if Ododo and Obaji were brothers, “The disagreement over age should not have arisen in the first case.” This position is plausible if they are brothers from the same mother, but Adinoyi-Ojo fails to consider the possibility of their being half- brothers with different maternity, a condition that can account for their delivery on the same day at very clinically short intervals. Ajanah [10] actually dates the origin account, putting it at 1730 assertively without any source.

This coming from a young man in 1990 without a credible source raises serious doubt on the authenticity of such claims. The inference one can draw from these numerous traditions of origin is that because the original oral source is far removed from the present age, the account has been retold several times and passed through numerous hands to the extent that it has lost so much details and acquired new ones to remain alive. So, variants of this account are probably as much as the number of talebearers and writers on the Eku origin because the focus of everyone seems to be the desire to be different and not necessarily to strive with some amount of empiricism to engender a fair degree of certainty on Eku origin. What is certain however is that Eku with its mysterious manifestations is located in the domain of the dead as masquerading motif. Ibrahim [15] earlier argued without empirical substantiation that

"Eku existed as an institution before Ododo and Obaji but it was neither well organized nor disciplined. Ododo and Obaji, brothers in ideas, reorganized it. Probably on the strength of this submission, Adinoyi-Ojo [72] reconstructed what he calls “the eku’s path since the 15th century when Ebira were said to have left Wukari” through this way. Thus:

Before 1400 A.D Ebira and Igala exist as part of the Jukun ethnic group, and participating actively in the cultural life of the group, including the masked rituals. 1400 A.D.:

Ebira and Igala progenitors leave their ancestral home, Wukari, for Idah with acquired beliefs, myths, cultural, and religious practices, including the knowledge and practice of masking. As they pass by and interact with groups along the route from Wukari to Idah, they pick up some of the cultural symbols and practices of these enroute- groups while also leaving them with some aspects of their culture. At Idah, where the Ebira and Igala lived together for over 300 years, these cultural practices and symbols are remolded to address the realities of their new environment. 1750 A.D.: Ohimi leads his people out of the Igala kingdom arriving at Opete with a culture that has elements of the cultures of the Jukun, of groups along Wukari-Idah route, of Igala-Ebira at Idah, and of societies along their Idah-Opete route. Again at Opete, this culture is further repackaged to suit the prevailing circumstances and to meet the demands of the new environment.

1800’s: A group of Ebira people leave Opete, cross the confluence, and settle north-east of the confluence region at Igu and Panda, bringing with them a culture that is a composite of their experiences and those of their ancestors since leaving Wukari in 1400. This culture, including eku, is later reshaped and tailored to the needs of the new surroundings.

From this reconstruction, Ododo and Obaji are clearly omitted but he proceeded in the later pages of his work to itemize what he considers to be the reforms instituted by Ododo and Obaji as earlier contended by Ibrahim [1976]. Picton [184] ascribes part of these reforms to Itemireje. This claim however ran into crisis of historical validation as Picton himself sincerely admitted:

The night festival clearly has an antiquity within Ebira tradition that is impossible to determine; and the night singers are the focus of attention or at any rate they are nowadays. However, it was generally acknowledged that the first person to gather people together and sing during this festival was someone by the name of Itemireje. He did not invent the festival. But he did invent the role of singing eku as part of it…Then, to my surprise, I found that some old men remembered the performances of Itemireje, and how they differed in style from those of today. That put the invention of this kind of entertainment to within the past hundred years, but I gave up testing this discovery on people – its logic was always flatly denied: they had always done it; it was what they came to meet their fathers doing, and so forth. This approach of looking at the origin of Eku is dangerous for the historical reality of the masquerade concept and the people. Caution needs to be exercised in matters like this; otherwise vital aspects of a people’s collective history may be inadvertently wished away. Ibrahim himself could not be categorical on what Eku looked like and the reforms the two “brothers in ideas” brought to bear on it. If they actually reformed the Eku performance art, what evidence exists for locating the starting point of this reform at Opete as Adinoyo-Ojo has reconstructed, and not at Bira where Sa’ad Abubakar

Through recent researches has maintained that Ebira at this period were a distinct group in terms of language and group formation even though they shared common boundaries with the Jukuns, as already posited earlier in this chapter. Obayemi’s [163] affirmation that “in the area of ancestor personification, the Igbirra [Ebira] have certain pre-eminence as founders of a cycle” of masquerades [eku], could also be a suggestion that as founders, other nationalities from the Jukun down to the confluence region copied the masquerade art form from the Ebira. While not denying the dynamism of cultural interactions with attendant influence, it is not likely that the founder of an idea would undertake an elaborate process of reorganization on the same concept. Cultural reorganization is a gradual process that does not occur in one fell swoop.

Adinoyi-Ojo himself has even detailed out so much changes that has visited and affected the features and structure of Eku performance within the last forty years. It is not conceivable that these new reforms are in tune with what Ododo and Obaji reorganized. It is therefore presumptuous to ascribe the reorganizational responsibility of an important phenomenon as Eku that coordinates the people’s way of life to two individuals.

Many factors bordering on intercultural relations, environmental reality and changing social norms come to crucial play in a matter of cultural reorganization. It evolves over time with cumulative transformational additives from an original point. Therefore, the issue of progenitor cannot be wished away. If the supernatural powers accorded Eku phenomenon as manifested in various masquerade characters is anything to go by, then their proclamations should not be doubted. If this position is sustained, the declaration of Adega [1983], and indeed many other oral sources, that Ododo and Obaji are the forerunners of Eku should not be questioned any further.

Whatever argument we may want to raise, it would not be fair to rob these two “brothers” their positions in history, for they may possibly have started the Eku from the beginning of time at Ebira. In fact, Ahmadu [61] is categorical that “Ododo was the originator of “eku” cult in Ebira land.” We should always be reminded that “living with unresolved questions is part of life; forcing an answer to a question, for the sake of an answer, on the basis of inadequate evidence feels dishonest and lacking in integrity” [Burnell 25]. What remains constant however is the continued association of Ododo and Obaji with the Eku phenomenon either as progenitors or reformers, and the fact that among other things, it was primarily instituted as a counterforce to witchcraft, the secret and terrifying domain of women.


1.2.11             The Iconography of Ekuechi Performance

The key icon in most masquerade performances is the mask, but this is absent in Ekuechi performance. Paradoxically, it is the mnemonic [extra-terrestrial] value of the mask that contextualizes and defines Ekuechi. The actual absence and the virtual presence of the mask in Ekuechi is what Picton [183] describes as a redefinition occasioned by “common knowledge about events and performers”. Another point to note is the absence of another vital icon in Ekuechi celebration – women. The important space women occupy in Ebira cosmology has been established in this paper. They are the repositories of Irakwo [witchcraft], an elemental equipoise to Eku [masquerade]. They also weave Eku’s costume, clean the surroundings, household and the inner chamber in readiness to receive visiting ancestors; they prepare the feast with which the ancestors are hospitably received, yet their presence is negated by the absence of a mask. Picton [66 and 75] reasons that this ambivalence is designed to sustain the “trickery, even deceit and certainly play-acting” involved in Eku [masquerade] – “a matter of dramatic pretence” that establishes overt [male] pretence in response to covert [female] reality” [80]. Picton’s the Eku phenomenon is not just a question of willful suspension of disbelief for women but a force that commands unusual sensibility. The name alone can cause “stampede and create commotion”. Picton [88] conveys this sense when he suggests that “the powers of eku drive women indoors confining them physically and metaphysically”.

He concludes in another related context, that “evidently, whatever else eku might be, it is a word with the power to move people” (Picton 87). It gathers and disperses people, it flavors and frightens, it treats and threatens; on the whole, Eku galvanizes and dispels action.

Considered differently, women’s invisible participation is an assigned role in the performative design of Ekuechi. As in theatre practice, no one is expected to abrogate his/her role regardless of what he/she thinks of it. To abrogate one’s role is to tilt the balance of cosmic harmony. Nevertheless, the Ekuechi event fortifies itself against such abrogation and also has the mechanism of reconstructing itself for continuity of performance. For instance, when a woman violates her role by taking a wrong cue to appear on the performance arena, the chthonic realm reacts with death strike – either instant death of the body and soul or ‘death’ to the woman’s psychic system, disabling her from recounting what she has seen. In this instance, it is untenable to depend on “fantasy” and “deceit” in defining the role of women but “reality” and “faith”. However, what is compelling is the philosophy that hones the acceptance of the women folk that Eku’rahu, and indeed other facekuerade characters are sacred. Women also know that their role do not include direct contact with these characters.

The critical question now is that, does the absence of the mask completely negate the presence of women? Our proposition is that, just as the ancestral essence finds expression in Eku’rahu’s performance in the absence of a major position can be regarded as argument of academic convenience for dramatic appropriation and scholarly discourse; otherwise icon of the mask, so is the woman essence fore grounded in virtual reality. The fact that Eku’rahu must, of necessity, involve certain class of women in the performance design for spiritual support, praises them in his songs, and that at some difficult moments [when for instance an Eku’rahu may not find his voice again or loses stability as a result of evil attack from the spiritual network of other competing facekuerades] ‘women of means and divine sight’ are brought physically on stage under protective custody of the henchmen to resolve the crises, eloquently substantiate our claim of the presence of women at Ekuechi performance. Picton (1988:75) even records that “strong women are there only you don’t see them”.

1.3       Genetic classification of Ebira Language

Genetic classification is a method used in classifying languages based on the resemblance found in the element of language. It is a sub group of all relevant language into genetic nodes. The essence of genetic classification of a language is to trace the origin of the language and show the relationship with other language.

A language family is a group of languages that are connected and related as they have common ancestors called the proto-language of that family. Following Greenberg 1963 language classification, Ebira language belongs to the language family called the Nupoid languages.

1.4       Research Methodology

The data used for the analysis in this long essay are collected through competent bilingual informants of Ebira language. Major parts of the information are gotten through personal contact. The informants are not only from one district of the language division, so as to give room for adequate analysis.

Since this work is aimed at the study of Ebira morpheme structure, all data collected either through personal contact or questionnaire is morphologically analyzed. The analysis was made in the direction of description purely, some of which are derivational analysis, words formation processes; especially the processes that are attested in formation of words in Ebira language.

1.5       Scope of the study

This research work focuses on a systematic and in-depth study of Morpheme structure of Ebira Language with major emphasis on the language analysis in some aspects of their morphological and syllabic structure. It essentially corners the aspects of morpheme structure in Ebira language alone.

For further explanation of the word structure of the language some morphological analysis are made. It equals morphological analysis as the case demands; take for instance, a consideration of the segmental morphemic relationship in the arrangement of morpheme.

1.6       Organization of the study

The main focus is on the morpheme structures within Ebira language. This study is divided into five [5] chapters, each chapter treat different aspects of the essay. Chapter one is basically introduction, it contents includes the historical and socio-cultural background, genetic classification, scope and organization of study, method of data collection, data analysis etc.

Chapter two focuses on the basic morphological concepts of Ebira Language. this concept includes the meaning of morphology and morpheme itself, types of morpheme, the structural function and position of morphemes.

 Chapter three gives an explicit explanation of the morphological processes in the language. it is in this chapter we will be able to analyze the collected data comprehensively relating the morphological processes to the language study. Chapter four will be examining the research area which is Morpheme structure of along with the syllabic structures.

 Chapter five will cover the concluding part of the essay. A brief summary will be done in this chapter along with the findings, observations and conclusion.

  1.7   Data Collection.

The method adopted for data collection in this long essay was the informant method.

All information cited in this study was gotten through the help of a native speaker of Ebira languages with the use of Ibadan word list of 400 basic items. More so, the data were recorded with mobile phone voice recorder. The information concerning the informants used in this research is given below.

According to Samarin (1967:1), “field linguistics is primarily a way of obtaining data and studying linguistics phenomena”.

Data collection in linguistics is a medium through which a researcher collects relevant empirical linguistics information on the language under study from an informant.

There are two [2] possible methods of collecting data, i.e. the informant method and the introspective method, the informant or contact method is used when the native speaker serves as a source of information.

The introspective method involves the researcher or the linguist serving as an informant to his work.

The data collection was done through the use of a frame technique; a list of phrases and clauses which were gotten in the field and linguistically analyzed. One informant was met and they all helped in giving information about the language. The method which was used is called the informant/ contact method. Direct translations were made from English language to Ebira language. Below are the brief details of the informant consulted.

Name: Sanni Ibrahim Opisa

Gender: Male

Occupation: Police Officer

Native language: Kogi

Other languages spoken: Ebira and Yoruba.

Age: 45

Local government: Okenne local government area

State: Kogi state.



1.8       Data Analysis.

On collection of the data, researchers listen to the recorded tape and write the words in a chosen orthography and the 400 Ibadan wordlist.

The aim of this research, “Morpheme structure of Ebira Language”, is to encourage the study of Morpheme structure in linguistics for the purpose of constructing acceptable and correct grammatical sentences in the language. This study entails a critical analysis to determine the formation of words, how these words are put together to form sentences and also the relationship in their forms. The data collected were gathered, written, and recorded.

Also the frame techniques used in this research is forming of words/sentences in English and translating those sentences to Ebira with the assistance of the informant. This enables the classification of the actual underlying form of a word constituent and possible morpheme structure to which each word belongs in a language.

By doing this, the researchers were able to observe the behavior of morphemes in the languages. This was used as a technique for identifying contrastive segments. Through this, the researchers account for the sound inventory and the syllable inventory of the language.

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