Amebo in the Nigerian popular culture means gossip and is often used to qualify mostly a lady who takes undue interest in other people’s affairs. Amebo was the name of a character in The Village Headmaster, a popular Nigerian Television series that ran from 1968 to 1991. The cast, Ibidun Allison, who in the series was a village gossip and bar owner was often hailed as “Radio Oja”. Amebo often caused controversies in the village of Oja, inadvertently peddling false stories after stumbling on half-information which she does not quite understand due to her poor education.

According to Peter Eke of the University of New York, Amebo is an adulteration of the Urhobo term, “Avwebo,” originally used among Urhobo people of Delta state in salutation of married women of attractive qualities and mild temperament. The most loved woman in a polygamous marriage as well as a woman in a monogamy who is a favourite among other wives in the extended family is often addressed by older members of the family as Avwebo. The good attributes of the Avwebo predisposes her to temptation and instead of instead of taking on the oppression of the patriarchal society, resolve into abandoning their marriages. In the 1940s and 1950s, many Urhobo women of fine qualities took advantage of new opportunities to travel to Lagos and Ibadan with the aim of starting a new life. Many of these women, now derided at home as Igberadja, an euphemism for prostitute, arrive Lagos and Ibadan with no formal education to become misfits. They were often identified by their bad version of pidgin English, creating a subtle phenomenon that was parodied in The Village Headmaster.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer