THE ESAN PEOPLE: FORTY-FIVE YEARS AFTER C.G.OKOJIE’S ISHAN NATIVE LAWS AND CUSTOMS
Fifty-five years ago, a young Esan Medical Doctor, Dr Christopher Gbelokoto Okojie left the opulence of the Colonial Service and the glitter and glamour of city life to relieve the suffering of his rural and impoverished people of Ishan Division. Writing on Ishan Division in 1952, the first government appointed Medical Officer to Ishan Division, Dr J.O. J. Okezie wrote:
The complete absence in some places of even spring water during the dry season, the peoples social and economic conditions, not to mention ignorance, and superstition, and inadequacy of medical facilities have formed the fertile grounds in which preventable diseases have grown and flourished.
It was to this dreary situation, which fifty years of colonial rule did little to improve, that the young Dr Christopher Okojie staked his life and career. He not only opened a private practice to improve the health and provide social services for his people, but also conducted extensive research on the history and culture of his people. The result was his Magnus opus and now a classic, titled: Ishan Native Laws and Customs, published in 1960.
Dr C.G. Okojie will be eighty-five years old in April 2005 and his book which have since been revised and reprinted four times will forty-five years old. What was the book about? What did the book miss out? What has happened since then? Does the book help us to understand the Esan people in particular and Edo people in general? These and many other unasked questions are what we intend to answer with this symposium in May 2005 to celebrate the man and his contributions to humanity.
KEYNOTE: Dr Christopher Gbelokoto Okojie, OFR, and D.sc. Founder/Medical Director, Zuma Memorial Hospital, Irrua, Hon. Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1992
VENUE: Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria
CALL FOR PAPERS:
The Institute for Benin Studies, calls for submission of abstracts of not more than one page on any of the under-listed sub-themes:
Pre-History and Historiography of the Esan
Origins and early history
Identity (ies) development and formation
Political and Social organization
Gender, Health and Religion
Esan and its neighbours
Abstracts accompanied with a one page C.V. should reach the Secretary by mail (at the following address), or by electronic mail to either of the e-mail addresses below not later than 18th March, 2005.
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