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Kalabari Bibi

Peculiar Kalabari Expressions

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There are some words, phrases and other expressions in the Kalabari Language which do not have direct translations in the English Language or where there is one, it is either dated or found in special dictionaries. Below are some of these, which are described in the English Language:

ala duein piri = a cemetery for chiefs
buruma = a kind of black ink - based dye which is used as a make-up on a woman during a ceremonial outing.
bekin pumbu = an expression for 12 children.
b'ra gbasia = used to describe a situation where two fighters have a draw or a tie in strenght. As a result, they become friends.
bobo = this is to hit a baby repeatedly and gently with one or both hands in order that it sleeps.
baliye = this is a name for any food item that is eaten with another food. For instance, while eating cassava flakes(mbraka sin), the baliye could be coconut (imbi), groundnut (apapa) , fish (inji), etc;
while eating corn (mbiaka), the baliye could be pear (ibe), coconut, etc.
ekine sekiapu = the highest cultural society and law enforcement body in Kalabari in the past; it is still dominant today, however, in the cultural front.
ewene = this is a string of round metallic percusive material, silvery in colour used as an ornament on, especially, a baby.
fenibene = among other things, this is a day - usually on saturdays - when a wooden percusion called nkure is played to summon the people of a particular clan to clean up their surroundings. In the past,on this day, spirit beings used to display various dances and masquerades. Those who are courageous enough, go to watch them in hiding in order to copy their dance steps. Also on this day, nobody goes for fishing and other sea faring activities.
fi eleke = to feign death.
imunu ;  inkari  =  these are the names given to the smooth and rough species of perewinkle.
igbiri = hard semi- oval shaped materials tied in strands and percussive in nature, which is tied around the ankle of a masquirade dancer. As the persons walks, it makes a cymbalic noise.
kongo anyi  =  this is a humourous way of describing a person who sleeps easily , sitting on a chair, during an activity e.g  Alabo be moku moku O kongo anyi te = Has the Cheif fallen asleep just now?
kon,  pere,  arusa = In the Kalabari language, there are special expressions for the comparative and superlative forms of affluence or wealth. The first stage of wealth or riches is  kon; the second is  pere;  the highest form is  arusa.
mbana suku = used to describe a family  with a very high birth rate, with so many children. e.g  Omina furo me mbana suku o! = Your family is teeming with children ( or people)!
mpipi = pet or humourous name for theif; used also for a rat due to its nature of stealing.
nunuma= a kind of hand and leg bangle used to adorn a woman during a ceremonial outing.
okowa = a long stick of 3 - 4 meters with a nail or v-shaped stump at the end, used to draw water from a well.
piipii (pp) = used to describe a situation where two fighters have a draw or a tie in strenght. As a result, they become friends. It can also be used to describe two persons who are bossom friends.
peipei = pet name for fish, meat or any of the sea foods, especially when it is being offered to a baby  e.g  Taata, peipei oki = Little baby, take some fish ( or meat, etc.)
Se kobiri = This is the Kalabari National Assembly.
tubo dawa okianri = used to describe the turning of a baby in the womb when an expectant woman is due to deliver.

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