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“Wao Wadahi”, an Egbira, or Ebira translation that simply means ‘How Are You?’, is a typical example of an indigenous language among over 520 languages found in Nigeria. For many people, Egbira is regarded as their mother tongue language, yet apart from in the inner lands, it is like every other indigenous language in Nigeria, daily disappearing, as it seems the younger populace is no longer interested in speaking the language and the remaining speakers are slowly dying out.

Here are few other things you did not know about Egbira or Ebiras:

  • It is spoken by the Ebira  Ta’o people or The Ebiras, who occupy the areas, North and East of the confluence of the Rivers Niger and Benue in Northern Nigeria.
  • Politically, Ebiraland is located in the Central Senatorial District of Kogi State made up of four local governments namely; Okene, Okehi, Adavi and Ajaokuta.
  • It is important to note that during the state creation in 1967, the Ebira area fell under the administration of Kwara State and by 1991, the area was 21 state carved into the present Kogi State.
  • Egbira or Ebira is an ethnolinguistic group of central Nigeria, was previously referred as “Igbirra”, a corruption of the original version before it was officially changed to Ebira in 1974.
  • The language, Egbira contains nineteen consonants sound, at least nine vowel sounds, a set that contains a dot and another that does not contain dots.
  • Historically, the Ebiras migrated from Bira, an ancient city or territory in Kwararrai’a on the upper Gongola river to Opanda and Koton-Karife, while others went to Okene area, some Ebiras migrated to lgara (Tihim Etuno) in the present day Edo state.
  • The Ebiras, previously called themselves ‘Anebira’ which is “people from Bira”.
  • The Egbira are mainly known for their foods, “Ewa Agoyin”,
  • They also customary food called “Apapa”, similar to popular Moi moi, but more proteinous as the coat of the beans is not removed.
  • Farming is their major preoccupation.
  • One of the most important Ebira marriage rites is the ‘Isa ewere’, it refers to the presentation of yam tubers, dried fish, palm oil and a bag of salt to the would-be bride family.
Featured image credit: Ebira reporters

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This article was first published on 20th November 2017


Adepeju Adenuga is a writer (considering where you are reading this, makes perfect sense). She holds a Masters Degree in Literature in English from the University of Lagos.

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