Today, our community survey will lead us to discuss the details of the life of the Ibibio people, an ethnic tribe from the Southern part of Nigeria. They reportedly have a population of over 5 million with a significant number of their indigenes coming from African countries which includes Ghana, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and also Trinidad and Tobago.
Historical account of the Ibibio
Reputed to be the earliest inhabitants of the south eastern Nigeria, the Ibibio tribe actually derived the name Ibibio from their first settlement in the present day Aro-Ibom in Arochukwu. It has also been noted that they are most likely the original natives from where most of the other small tribes of Qua-Ibom and Calabar originated from. These settlements by these people led to the birth of sub-clans like Annang, Efik, Oron inn etc.
It has been uncovered by various confirmed sources that the original settlements of the Ibibio people are at Usak Edet(Isangele) in present day Cameroon which now forms a small tribe in Cameroon called the Kumba Division of Cameroon. When the Ibibio people left Cameroon they are believed to have arrived Nigeria at their present day location via two major directions. Estimated during the 8000BC, the first group arrived Nigeria through the overland route and settled at Ibom which the present day Arochukwu and there they erected the shrine which is famously known as the Juju of Arochukwu.
Upon arriving at Ibom, some of the Ibibio people spread to Uyo, Abak, Ikot Ekpene, Ini and other areas. The second group of the Ibibio people came to the mainland by sea and settled at Uruan, Ibeno, Oron and Eket. The sub-group now called Efik split from their kinfolk during the 16th century and it is believed that they started to claim a separate identity from the 1600AD.
Community Condition/Means Of Earning
The Ibibio tribe is divided into six subcultural groups or clanship: Eastern Ibibio, or Ibibio Proper, Western Ibibio, or Annang, Northern Ibibio, or Enyong, Southern Ibibio, or Eket, Delta Ibibio, or Andomi-Ibeno, and Riverine Ibibio, or Efik.
The people of Ibibio are majorly farmers, fishermen and traders, farming is the major occupation of the Ibibio people who settle in the uplands while fishing is the main occupation of those in the river side and the fishing is done at fishing ports commonly called Ine. The middle men in the Ibibio who act as brokers between the producers of good and consumers are those mainly involved in trading.
Culture And Lifestyle
The indigenes spend most time with various recreational activities like wrestling, swimming, moonlight plays. Their moonlight plays are a source of joy and provide the plat form for social interactions particularly among the youths.
The masks and accoutrements of the Ekpo society make up the greatest works of art in Ibibio community. Drumming and music are also important elements in Ekpe ceremonies. The wooden sculpture from this area is also very detailed, and artists are just as likely to capture beauty as they are the hideous forms of evil spirits.
The Ibibio community is made up of villages each of which belongs to bigger unit known as clan. The clans were named after the founders of the first villages and they are all equal in status. Each village is made up of families comprising of father, mother, children and grandparents. They are polygamous in nature too. Nowadays the families are becoming smaller due to excessive mortality rate and a shrink in economic situations.
As regards their marriage rites, a young girl could get betrothed for marriage at the age of 14. The bride price is paid to the would-be bride’s kin with the father taking the largest share and all marriage rites are expected to be over before the marriage is consummated. This can be complemented with the groom’s service to the bride’s father. Ndidiong Ufok is the knowing of the girl’s house by the potential groom after the girl accepts his proposal while Ndidiong Udok is coming to ask for the girl’s hand in marriage. While they are asking for her hand in marriage they are also given a list of items need for the marriage rites after which the proper traditional wedding is performed. The process of their traditional ceremonies looks more closely like that of the Igbo tribe.
Also in the olden days, it is in the culture of the Ibibio people for a man to marry a corpse. This happens normally when a man lives with a girl that he has not married or performed any marriage rites on and the lady dies while they are living together. If it is found that she died of natural causes, the guy is expected to perform her marriage rites and marry her then the girl’s parents can give a go ahead for her to be buried. While she is lying in state the man will have to lie with her all through the night after then can she be buried. But in a situation where the girl died due to the man’s own doing her family are allowed to take further measures like going to court.
The Ibibio people are known to be very rich when it comes to food. As a matter of fact, only a few ethnic groups can match up with them when it comes to preparing indigenous meal.
Prominent among the Ibiobio dishes are afang soup, which is an important dish in Ibibio and are mostly made available in traditional marriages, edikang Ikong (vegetable soup), and afere atama (atama soup).
Thanks for following us through this survey work. We will continue to bring to you the notable things from this unique tribe in our second account of this article. We hope you enjoyed the stories and ancient trivias embedded therein and would want to know your observations and your own contributions, if any. We would be stopping here for now, folks. Good day.