Little Children Home

A. Little Children Home

The Little Children Home is a project that helps poor children stay away from the vices of the streets. It helps children whose parents find it difficult to pay their school fees stay at The Little Children Home while their parents work for money to send their children to school. In the Home, they are taught to draw, read and write. The work is done at Ugboroke, Uvwie Kingdom, one of the twenty-four kingdoms of the Urhobo people. The Project was funded by The Pollination Project team, a group of international Good Samaritans in 2015.

Ruth Akpobome led the team doing this work. (

B. Scholarships for Arhavwarien Children

Our team of young men and women  shared educational materials as scholarships to encourage the poor children of Arhavwarien village to attend school. Without these educational materials, many would have resorted to joining their parents in fishing and farming. Joy Omole, Reuben Odiete, Patience Odiete, and Ogheneruemu Cousin led this great work, a short distance from Eghwu. They shared books, sandals, and writing materials. These kind of good deeds combine to change our world. This project was funded by donations from us and from individuals in 2015. 

 Our Facebook Page is https:


Scholarship for Arhavwarien Children



The rate of unemployment and rural poverty is high in the agrarian communities of the rainforests of the Niger-Delta. And awareness on the greenhouse effect and the need to save the ecosystem is little. Bush burning during every planting season is a cultural practice among farmers. Deforestation has become a means of livelihood for many youths who do illegal logging for monetary purposes. We have an ongoing project of creating awareness on the greenhouse effect and on good practices among the indigenous peoples of Eghwu, Arhavwarien, Edjekota, Otogo, Oviri-Olomu and Oviri-Olomu. 


Our local Rainforest, which is a habitat to many different species of animals, is endangered. The rate of poverty has led most men and youth to resort to illegal logging as a means of making money. As a result, our trees have disappeared. Moreover, they keep cutting down trees in the creeks and ferrying them down the creeks as rafts.

In addition to the deforestation, the Fruit Bat is traditionally considered a bird of bad omen and associated with witchcraft, poverty and other misfortune that befall the people. The bird is therefore hunted and killed, not for food but its meat is burnt.

By this project, we aim to stop the deforestation and the killing of the Fruit Bat. We collaborate with professionals in forestry and environmental science, and we will educate our communities on the harmful effects of deforestation and the need to save the forests and the Fruit Bat. This project will serve the local communities of Eghwu, Oviri-Olomu, Oviri-Ogo, Edjekota, Otogo, Arhavwarien, Orere, Evwreni and Ughwerun in Delta State, southern Nigeria. We will elaborate on the need to save the forests because they are natural habitats to various species of plants and animals, including many medicinal herbs and plants. We will also convince the communities on the need to save the Bat because it is a natural agent of pollination, which helps to disperse the seeds of plants for new growth. The danger of man, combined with his deforestation activities is driving the Fruit Bat away.

Urban-based agencies and organizations have not been working on conservation in our community. If we do not do this now, no one else will. We are currently seeking funding to build a sanctuary for the rescue, preservation and breeding of the Fruit Bat so that they can be reintroduced into the wild forest as we also try to make it safe for all natural inhabitants.

There are details on the Fruit-Bat Page



Our staff with some indigenous consultants on endangered oral literature



           Our staff, associates and consultants have either successfully completed projects of cultural and language preservation and oral data collection with grants or are working on similar ones:

A. Linguistic Documentation of the Three Languages of Urhobo Ethnic Group 2013-2014

1. Project

Three Languages, One People: Linguistic Documentation of Okpe, Urhobo and Uvwie. This project was funded by Foundation for Endangered Languages for 2013-2014 and the fieldwork was led by our Project Manager, Akpobome Diffre-Odiete.

2. Background to the work

Okpe (ISO 639 – 3:oke), Urhobo (ISO 639 – 3:urh) and Uvwie (ISO 639 – 3:evh) are three diverse languages spoken in three regions belonging to one and the same ethnic group called the Urhobo people of Delta State in southern Nigeria, West Africa. The Urhobo ethnic nation is culturally one, but it comprises of twenty-four political clans or kingdoms. Okpe is spoken in only one kingdom (the largest in Urhoboland). Uvwie is spoken in two kingdoms, while Urhobo is spoken, with dialectical varieties, in the remaining twenty-one kingdoms. The Agbarho dialect is the accepted standard of written Urhobo for all twenty-four kingdoms. The Okpe and Uvwie clans view their languages as distinct languages and not as dialects of Urhobo. However, in their communication with people of other Urhobo clans, they use Urhobo, English or Nigerian Pidgin.

There is a problem of inability to demarcate between linguistic and cultural diversity as well as political independence. The Okpe and Uvwie speakers have gone beyond linguistic self-preservation to seeking politico-cultural alienation from other Urhobo clans. They have established Okpe and Uvwie National Days respectively, besides the general annual Urhobo cultural Day. Therefore, people of the other twenty-one Urhobo – speaking clans view these activities as a threat to the historical and cultural unity of the ethnic nation.

According to the language family tree classification by Ethnologue, Okpe, Urhobo and Uvwie, alongside Eruwa and Isoko make up the five Southwestern Edoid languages of the Benue-Congo group. Quoting Johnstone (1993),Ethnologue puts the population of Urhobo people at 546, 000, while Okpe is 25, 400 (2000) and Uvwie is 19, 800 (2000). These three languages have geographical neighbouring languages. There is Izon and Itsekiri to the west and south, Ukwani (Igbo) and Isoko to the east and Edo to the north.

Previous research shows that the three languages of the Urhobo people are endangered at various degrees. Urhobo has been documented, with grammar and descriptive textbooks as well as a Bible translation. Professor Rose Aziza, an Urhobo speaker and linguist has done research on Urhobo morphology, phonology and syntax. Other Urhobo speakers of various fields have also written on the language. The Urhobo Studies Association (USA), an academic organization with the aim of promoting Urhobo language and culture, is currently developing a nine-year Universal Basic Education curriculum for Urhobo language. Urhobo is therefore only seriously endangered by the impact of Nigerian Pidgin and English in communication.  Dr. Macaulay Mowarin (2005) of the Department of English and Literary Studies, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria notes that Uvwie is the most endangered of the trio, facing serious impact in the urban and rural areas from Nigerian Pidgin, Urhobo and English. Okpe is seriously endangered in Sapele, the major Okpe town because of the impact of Nigerian Pidgin,  Itsekiri and Urhobo. In the rural areas, Okpe is endangered too, but mainly with Itsekiri and Urhobo impact.

There are several factors responsible for the gradual loss of the three languages. The contact between the three languages on the one hand, and with other neighbouring languages on the other hand, have greatly impacted the trio, especially Uvwie. Generally, the language of communication is English among literate people and Nigerian Pidgin among illiterates and semi-literates of Urhobo and neighbouring communities. This is the case in all spheres of activities, except in annual or periodical traditional religious rites or elders’ and chiefs’ meetings, especially in rural areas. Okpe, Urhobo and Uvwie are also spoken in some rural homes, markets and orthodox church services.  There are also weekly thirty-minute cultural programmes featured in each local language on state radio and television.

However, the non-implementation of the National Policy on Education continues to cause negative effect on language acquisition by newer generations of the Urhobo people. The policy, which states that the language of instruction for the first three years of education should be the pupils’ mother tongue or language of the school’s host community, has been largely ignored. Fines and capital punishment are usually imposed on pupils and students who speak their native languages during school hours in both public and private schools across Delta State. This is to encourage the use of English as a lingua franca. While native languages are not tested in the Junior and Senior Secondary School examinations, English is made a core subject in order to graduate from secondary school and to gain admission to higher institutions.

Intermarriages between native speakers and people of other language communities also affect intergenerational transfer of the languages, thus children are raised with English. The impact of English on these native languages have spread to rural areas, especially among the youth and children who communicate in Pidgin and English because of the negative psychological effect of being regarded as primitive if they speak their native language in public.

Finally, the adoption of Agbarho as the only accepted form of written Urhobo has led to the non-documentation of Okpe, Uvwie and other dialects of Urhobo.

Enough investigation has not been conducted to determine the exact number of native speakers of Okpe, Urhobo and Uvwie, however, the gradual loss of these languages is evident, even to the Urhobo people.

 3. The work

Several attempts have been made by writers like Julius Arerierian, A. E. Osubele, S. U. Erivwo and others to document Urhobo lexicons in dictionary format. Professors G. G. Darah, Tanure Ojaide, J. P. Clark, and a few others have documented Urhobo oral poetry, particularly the Udje songs. And at the undergraduate level, young scholars like Oghenenyerhovo Odogun and myself have done research on other genres of Urhobo oral literature such as the Igbere, Odudu, Eha Emete and Odjema songs of the Eghwu kingdom.

The aim of this project was to promote language diversity, equality and preservation as well as cultural unity and culture preservation among the single ethnic but linguistically distinct Opke, Urhobo and Uvwie people of southern Nigeria. Among the three languages, Urhobo is the dominant, being studied at college and university levels in Delta state. This project brought the Okpe and Uvwie languages to academic limelight too through the production of the multi-lingua (English-Okpe-Uvwie-Urhobo) Wordlist, which serves as a balanced reference material to linguists, students and general users of the three languages.

These initiative was achieved through interviews with older native speakers, mothers and experts in cultural practices that surround selected semantic domains (cultural, language and economic) in order to compile an extensive list of Okpe, Uvwie and Urhobo conversational phrases, songs and word list.

 4 Reports

This work is the second phase of a field project which was begun and from which data were collected and analyzed. This work resulted in the printing of the A Wordlist of Nouns and Verb Groups in English, Urhobo, Uvwie, Okpe – A Comparative multi-lingua wordlist of English-Urhobo-Uvwie-Okpe. This work is actually the end product of the project “Three Languages, One People: Linguistic and Cultural Documentation of Okpe, Urhobo and Uvwie”, which the Foundation for Endangered Languages funded in 2013.


B. Oral Literature Collection of Uvwie – 2016.

 A major project, which concentrates on the revitalization and documentation of Uvwie oral literature and culture is now ongoing, with funding from Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research, awarded to our Project Manager, Akpobome Diffre-Odiete in January 2016.


Julius Arerierian learning the rope-making process from his informant Ememerhaghwara Eyakenaoma

c. Documenting the Endangered Traditional Broom and Fibre Rope Crafts of the Urhobo People of Nigeria.

Julius Arerierian, our affiliate researcher is conducting fieldwork at Eghwu-Urhobo to Document the Endangered Traditional Broom and Fibre Rope Crafts of the Urhobo People. The project is funded by Arcadia Fund through The British Museum’s Endangered Material Knowledge Programme. Collaborators in the research include Akpobọmẹ Diffrẹ-Odiete, Augustine Ọmọhwo and Ọghẹnẹnyẹrhovwo Odogun. Other research assistants from the Institute are with them at various capacities.

The project, hosted by South-Western Edoid Institute and funded by Arcadia through the British Museum’s Endangered Material Knowledge Programme (EMKP). The traditional natural broom and fibre rope crafts of the Urhobo people of Nigeria are highly endangered by the introduction of synthetic nylon polyester and polypropylene ropes and brooms. The polished and dry bark of the natural wetland flax plant of the Niger Delta region traditionally called erhọ is used for making the traditional fibre rope. The traditional broom is made with the stalk of the oil palm frond. The two craftworks are related and are cultural heritage and identity of the people. Natives could identify from a group of craftworks which particular one was local and which was from other lands. The craftworks have domestic and religious uses in rural Urhobo communities. Much of the traditional process, registers and knowledge system associated with these material practices are endangered. The domains of their traditional registers are shrinking. This project seeks to use unstructured interviews, participant observation and recording (audio and video) to document the cultural practice of Urhobo fibre rope and broom crafts before they completely die. The research site is Eghwu-Urhobo community of Delta State in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Julius Arerierian, the Principal Investigator is working with Akpobome Diffre-Odiete and other collaborators.

Researcher learning the Urhobo rope making process from Consultants