• Eddie Ono-Sorhue At 80 – Independent Newspaper Nigeria

    Eddie ono-sorhue at 80 independent newspaper nigeria - nigeria newspapers online
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     I must begin by saying that I never met Chief Eddie Ono-Sorhue before Saturday, 29 June this year, which was less than a week ago! Although I have heard of his name as a leading member of the political class in Delta State, I didn’t think much about him until my friend and co-sojourner, Justice Iyasere, asked me if I could review an autobi­ography by the Chief at the book’s unveiling. Surprised, I asked him what he was saying and he repeated calmly that Chief Ono-Sorhue had published an autobiography he would want to unveil during his eightieth birthday anniver­sary. As a lover of biographies and autobiog­raphies I had no reason to decline the request. As youngsters, excerpts from autobiographies took my generation to Zungeru where the leg­endary Nnamdi Azikiwe was born; Nkroful where inimitable Kwame Nkrumah was born; Ikenne where the avatar, Obafemi Awolowo was born; Rabah where the redoubtable Ahma­du Bello was born and many other places that served as setting for autobiographical works. Growing up in Evwreni and later Ughelli, auto­biographies number among our props and we drew strength and inspiration from them and got sustained as we struggled on the path to to­day. Like the bildungsroman, autobiographies tell of the development of the subject as he comes to terms with the ideals and oddities of life from which the reader must absorb some lessons. Beyond this however, is that the auto­biography is also history, sociology and more.

    When Chief Ono-Sorhue’s book was deliv­ered to me, I sought refuge in its omnibus pages for some days and was able to escape, albeit temporarily, the buffetings that the present administration has foisted on Nigerians. The book took me to the past and by the time I got to the final chapter I started wishing that there was an immediate follow-up that could lead to a trilogy. Alas, I finished reading the book and returned to the reality of our time. What follows now is my review of the book during its unveiling on 29 June. Happy reading!



    Autobiographical writing, the kind of which we are here to unveil, has been consoli­dated as a veritable source of multidisciplinary engagements in Nigeria and beyond. In Nige­ria, beginning from political autobiographies like Obafemi Awolowo’s Awo (1960), Ahmadu Bello’s My Life (1962) and Nnamdi Azikiwe’s My Odyssey (1970), the genre has provided sig­nificant vistas through which individual and national evolutions are given comprehensive focus which align with or betray personal and public expectations. While many of the auto­biographies serve the purpose of self-justifi­cation, others narrate the protagonist’s story which more often than not is that of grass to grace, obscurity to celebrity and the recent coinage of “zero to hero”. To understand Ni­gerian history, to properly gauge the current, tenor and temper of socio-cultural reality, to understand the underlying philosophy of each age or epoch, one must of necessity look in the direction of the autobiography as it tells of how the subject negotiated the multiple matrix of the reality of his or her time and place. It as a result of the foregoing multiplicity of vistas that the autobiography has come to find itself in multiple garbs and changing its character as it bestrides the domains of history, sociology, politics, literature, anthropology, philosophy, religion and even science. The autobiography can thus be seen as providing a scaffold for social apprehension.


    This autobiography titled Ukpeagbeke: Footprints in the Sand of Time by Eddie Ono-Sorhue reflects the plurality of the roles re­iterated above. The book is divided into five sections which can be regarded as comple­mentary framing of the ideals that define the life of the subject, Chief Eddie Ono-Sorhue. Before the five sections are preliminary ap­petizers like dedication, acknowledgements, preface and foreword which prepare the reader for the tantalizing menu the book offers. The five sections are further divided into different chapters of varying length. Section one has six chapters, section two has nine chapters, section three has seven chapters, section four has six chapters, while section five is made up of seven chapters. Each section has a thematic thread that culminates in a well told narra­tive tapestry. Section one not only focuses on his genealogy, his life and the “search” for a united Udu Kingdom, the section also tells the reader about the phenomenal attainments in higher education which he commenced as an undergraduate at the age of sixty. He not only went on to obtain a Master of Science degree in political science, but he has also registered for a PhD in the same discipline. That section culminates in tributes for Chief Ono-Sorhue. Section two is a socio-cultural cum historical excursion anchored on Udu. Section three speaks to his experience in politics, his vision, dreams, disappointments, pains and unmet expectations arising mostly from ingratitude and betrayals from beneficiaries of Chief Ono-Sorhue’s kindness. In section four, the political scientist and historian in Chief Ono-Sorhue manifests in his rigorous exposition on Africa’s crisis and development. His pro­found understanding of the African condition reminds the informed reader of the seminal intellectual submissions by Walter Rodney, Ali Mazrui, Claude Ake, Omafume Onoge, Peter Ekeh, Sam Oyovbaire, G. G. Darah, etc, which rigorously dissected the African nay Nigerian predicament from different perspectives. In this section, Chief Ono-Sorhue abandons the toga of a politician for the gown of a pontifi­cating professor. Section five attests to Chief Ono-Sorhue’s humble submission and surren­dering of everything to God. It is aptly titled “The Benevolence of God”. It is an apt ending to the narrative of a man who sprouted from a humble beginning to become a towering figure in his time.

    Reading through this autobiography, it is apparent that Chief Eddie Ono-Sorhue has so much to celebrate and thank God for. From his humble Owhrode beginning he launched out into the world and despite the many odds that confronted him, he forged on, overcame them and now wears the diadem of victory sitting at table with royals and nobles. Chief Ono-Sorhue’s trophies didn’t come easy. They were the shining evidence of his industry, re­silience, vision and believe in God. In the final analysis, Chief Eddie Ono-Sorhue at eighty is a loving husband, a proud father, successful businessman, a notable and influential poli­tician, pillar of society and most importantly a scholar of politics and history, the political scientist and politician in theory and practice. He has superlatively accomplished every role he took on.

    The head word in the book’s title “Ukpeag­beke” is dense in pronunciation and mean­ing. According to the author, it is a metaphor for “doggedness, perseverance, tenacity, de­termination and resistance against evil”. The word “Ukpeagbeke” is the author’s ap­pellation or cognomen (odovan) with the re­sponse “oghwe ukpe yena-a”. This is not only symbolic, but points to the rich essence of Urhobo ethno-philosophy that is embedded in the autobiography. The book’s style is lucid, supple and engaging. The print is also bold and friendly to the eyes. The pictures which adorn the pages of the book tell their own stories and give the readers a vivid account of how Chief Eddie Ono-Sorhue has physically evolved to this day. I must commend him for having in this book a 1954 picture when he was just ten years old.

    Despite the book’s greatness, it has some weaknesses especially in spellings beginning with the title where we have “sand” instead of “sands” and others which a future edition should rectify.

    In conclusion, Chief Ono-Sorhue has of­fered the world a book full of life’s lessons. His efforts at historicizing his origins align with the ideals of the Urhobo Historical Society (UHS) founded by Professor Peter Ekeh, who once challenged every Urhobo person to write his or her family story. Chief Ono-Sorhue has delivered on that challenge. He has offered us a holistic and highly recommended autobiogra­phy for not just himself, but for family, society, Nigeria, Africa and the world. I congratulate him!

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