Nwoba Chika Asks His Wife: What Does 'Ayi Erule O!' Mean in Simple English?

In this post, come along with Nwoba Chika as he tries to figure out what his wife meant during a phone call from Port Harcourt. He asked her straight up, "What does 'Ayi Erule O!' mean?"

Nov 23, 2023 - 18:47
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Nwoba Chika Asks His Wife: What Does 'Ayi Erule O!' Mean in Simple English?
Image: Nwoba Chika talking to his wife about a phone call from Port Harcourt. The text reads, "What's 'Ayi Erule O!'?

In Nigeria, where languages and cultures are diverse, understanding each other can be like putting together a puzzle. Recently, I came across a story shared by Nwoba Chika Nwoba, shedding light on the uniqueness of languages within his family. Let's explore his experiences with language, dialects, and how identity evolves.

The Phone Call from Port Harcourt:

Nwoba starts by talking about a call his wife got from Port Harcourt. She happily said, "ayi erule o!" When he asked what it meant, she explained it as "we have reached." This simple moment led to a deeper look at the different languages in their lives.

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Understanding Ikwerre and Different Dialects:

Playfully, Nwoba mentions that his wife is Ikwerre, not Igbo. Despite this, he can understand most of what she says in Ikwerre, which is a bit like the language in Agbor, Delta State. Their dialect also shares some vibes with Agbor.

Diversity Across Igbo Society:

Nwoba talks about the variety of dialects within Igbo society. Not everyone understands them all, he says, pointing to places like Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, and Imo, where different dialects exist alongside the broader Igbo language.

Dialectical Variations:

He gives examples of how people in different parts of Igbo land use different words. For instance, "brother and sister" might be "une m" in one place and "nwune m" in another. It's like different flavors that make Igbo language interesting.

Insights from Ikwerre:

Nwoba shares some Ikwerre words, like "ekpa" for a bag, similar to his side of Ebonyi. However, there are differences in Anambra and Imo. Ikwerre has its unique expressions for water and food too.

Identity and Flexibility:

What stands out is Nwoba's view on identity. He doesn't believe in forcing an identity on someone. If people say they are not Igbo, he respects that. But for his family, they identify as Igbo for now, recognizing that identities can change.

Here's the scoop:

My wife just answered a phone call from Portharcourt and said, "ayi erule o!" I deliberately asked her what that meant in English. She told me that it means "we have reached". I replied her, "and you say you are not an Igbo person by birth as an Ikwerre? 

I understand most of the things she speaks in Ikwerre. It's not like our own dialect which shares semblance with the Agbor, Delta State dialect. Yes, our dialect shares intonation in common with Agbor. An Agbor person might hear our dialect conspicuously. Some Igbo dialects are a bit difficult for some other parts of the Igbo society to understand at once. Such exists even in Anambra --- Anambra West LGA, Ebonyi, some parts of Enugu, Abia and Imo. They're all dialects of the Igbo language. Some people don't understand the difference between language and dialect. Every language community has dialects spoken by the constituent parts of the language community. A tribe or nation has a language, not dialect. Dialect now comes in when there are variations in the tongues of the communities that make up the constituency. For instance, Ezeagu and Udi parts of Enugu State call brother and sister "une m". In our own dialect, it's "nwune m". In the central Igbo language, it's "nwanne m". Some parts of Imo also call it " nwune". They're all dialects of the Igbo language. I hope you now understand the difference between language and dialect

Ikwerre calls bag "ekpa". My side of Ebonyi state calls it " Ekpa". Most parts of Enugu call it same. Some parts of Abia call it same. Only in Anambra and Imo are different. Ikwerre calls water "mini". My side of Ebonyi calls it "mmini". I guess Nsukka calls it like we do. Ikwerre calls food "nri". My dialect calls it "nri". The list continues. Well, I'm not subscribing to the school of thought of imposing nativity on a people majority of whom denounce such an affiliation. If they say they are not Igbo, then, they're not. But for me and my new family, we're Igbo for now. For now in the sense that I don't understand why some people in the tribe are calling themselves original. If this persists, I may change nativity. There's no special thing being Igbo other than the pressure to meet up with material things and money. The pressure is too much here and it's exclusively an Igbo thing


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