Who are the Ibibio in Nigeria?

Who are the Ibibio in Nigeria?
Who are the Ibibio in Nigeria?

Who are the Ibibio in Nigeria?

The Ibibio people are a coastal group in southern Nigeria (pronunciation: /bbi/). They are primarily found in the states of Cross River and Akwa Ibom. They share ancestry with the Efiks. The Ibibio Union requested British recognition as an independent entity during Nigeria’s colonial era.

The Ibibio and the Annang, Efik, Ekid, Oron, and Ibeno share personal names, cultures, and traditions. They also speak dialects of Ibibio that are more or less mutually understandable. A important aspect of the Ibibio political system is the Ekpo and Ekpe societies. To carry out social control, they employ a variety of masks. Ibibio art heavily incorporates body art.

Who are the Ibibio in Nigeria?

Origin of the Ibibio

One of the oldest groups to inhabit southern Nigeria is thought to have been the Ibibio. They are thought to have arrived at their current location approximately 7000 B.C. It is unclear when the Ibibio entered state, notwithstanding the historical evidence.

They may have originated from the central Benue valley, specifically from the Jukun influence in the old Calabar, according to some academics. The extensive use of the manila, a common form of money used by the Jukuns, is another telling sign. Along with this, there is the Jukun drive to the shore in the south, which resembles how Akwa Ibom communities came to be where they are today.

The Ibibio migration story will be more succinctly explained by Cameroon, according to the most widely acknowledged account of Ibibio history. Oral testimony from field workers who claim that the core Ibibio people belonged to the Afaha lineage, whose ancestral home was Usak Edet in the Cameroons, supported this claim.

A division of the Ekoi people (also known as the Ejagham) is the Usak Edet (Isanguele). The underlying assumption was that Usak Edet, among the Ibibio people, was known as Edit Afaha (Afaha’s Creek), reflecting the fact that Ibibio people descended from Usak Edet.

Following their initial arrival in what would later become Nigeria, the majority of the population first resided in Ibom. The Ibibio are thought to be the original inhabitants of the Ibom settlement, which was established by their Ibom ancestors and named Ibom in their honor.

Who are the Ibibio in Nigeria?

Now in Arochukwu, where they lived for a very long time and bowed down to the Sky God, also known as Abasi Ibom enyon. Additionally, they revered Ibini Ukpabi (Ibritam).

They abandoned the Ibom Kingdom and went to the modern-day Ibibioland as a result of conflicts with the Igbo people who were migrating south, which culminated in the Ibibio War that occurred between 1630 and 1720 A.D. In their present location alongside the Ibom, a hamlet settlement had already developed.

The Ibibio people traveled south after the Aro-Igbo-Ibibio battle in 1550 A.D. where they discovered their current location, a virgin and unoccupied area.

The Ibibio initially made their home at Ikono, from which point they migrated or dispersed to other locations, eventually becoming the indigenous people of the current Ibibio territories.

Ikono Ibom, a clan that was separated from the main Ikono Ibom, went to Ikot Oku Ikono village, which is presently in the Uyo Local Government Area, at this point. 12 Nsit Ibom went to Afia Nsit, now in Nsit Ibom, while Iman Ibom moved to Ekom Iman, now in Etinan Local Government Area.

The three consider themselves to be Ibom offspring and blood brothers.

Etefia, the main character in the Ikono Ibom Uyo clan, moved in Ikot Oku Ikono and formed the Ikono Anyaan and Ikot Ekpeyak Ikono. As stock and descendants of Ikono Ibom, the three offspring of Ibom have a common social, traditional, and cultural milieu.

The Ekom tree (coula edulis), which Iman Ibom, one of Ibom’s sons, planted there and gave the settlement its name Ekom Iman, is a native to the area where Iman Ibom settled. Iman had children, and some of them moved away to create new villages for the Iman Ibom clan, including Ikot Obioinyang and Afagha Effiate.

Who are the Ibibio in Nigeria?

Ebre is the totem of the Ikono Ibom clan, who forbid the killing or maiming of this mythological animal. Upon the death of Iman Ibom, his spirit transforms into the Iman Ibom clan deity, “The Itina Iman deity,” and since oyot is the clan deity – totem, it is forbidden to kill or consume such mythical beasts.

Water attracted Nsit Ibom to Afia Nsit, where he settled. His offspring then expanded to Mbak Nsit and other locations of that tribe

Iyak Anyan, the Anyan Nsit deity, is the totem of the Nsit Ibom tribe. They all served as the study’s focal point because of their shared social, traditional, and cultural milieu traits.

The brothers created a comprehensive system for self-rule, the upkeep of law and order, and effective political organization by utilizing elements of culture and socio-religious organizations like Ekpo, Ekpe, Ebre, Ibaan Isong, Akata, Nnabo, Ekong, Ikpa—udoh and many others to enforce law and order and keep the masses of the population under control.

Ibibio Groups

Although other groups can usually comprehend Ibibio, the Ibibio people are primarily found in Akwa Ibom State and are related to the Anaang, Ibibio, Eket, and Oron communities.

Ibibio political power over Akwa Ibom State is due to their higher population, however the Anaangs, Eket, and Oron share power in the state’s administration. The consensus-building process is still used in politics. Even if elections are held, in reality, everyone benefits from pre-discussion of the political leaders.

The following regions are home to the Ibibio people:

Equatorial Guinea, Cross River State, Akwa Ibom State, Abia State, Nigeria, and Bioko

Ghana Western Cameroon

Who are the Ibibio in Nigeria?


Obot and essien emana Obot (‘nature’)

The Ibibio believe in obot, or that God created each person uniquely. If someone is wild, they claim that he was created that way; if he is nice, they claim it was also how God created him to be; if he is poor or rich, they claim that was his lot; and so on. In other words, no one could change that person’s circumstances since they were molded that way.

Essien emana (‘destiny’)

The Ibibio share the same beliefs in essien emana, uwa, and fate. For instance, if someone died accidently, he had to die that way because that is how he had died in his previous incarnation. If he was wealthy, he must still be wealthy today because he was wealthy in a past life; if he was intelligent, that is how he was intended to be; etc.

However, he could change the course of events if he spoke with the Mbia Idiong, who was the only one who could advise him. The diviners could assist him in determining what it was that he had done in a former life that was having an impact on this one.

Then they may advise him on what to do to stop the situation from getting worse. They believed that if the directions were rigorously followed, the situation might be reversed.

The parents of the deceased and the general public had cursed him, saying that he would not have any issue and would continue to kill innocent children throughout his incarnations unless he gave certain things as sacrificial offerings.

For example, if a person had no issue, a diviner might tell him that he had killed innocent children in his previous incarnation and that the parents of the deceased and the general public had cursed him. The Ibibio thought the condition would be reversed when the Mbia Idiong revealed what the items were and that he had sacrificed them to Mother Earth; otherwise, he would continue to be childless.

Who are the Ibibio in Nigeria?

Culture of the Ibibio people

Ekpo and Ekpe

The Ekpo and Ekpe civilizations employed masks to instill fear and carry out social control. The most popular kind of mask is a face-shaped one with a waist-length raffia strap attached. Along with the Ekpo’s ancient history, the effect of the masks and their threatening nature contribute to its potency.

Wearing an Ekpo mask signifies giving up one’s current identity and assuming an ancestral one. Masks worn may have belonged to or been constructed to mimic deceased ancestors, local heroes, or ones made to seem like ancestors.

Many are carved from ukot (palm wine tree), a light wood. This makes them more comfortable to wear and more mobile. A horizontal piece of wood can be inserted into the mask to bite into, and the mask is fastened to the wearer’s head with a rope for further support.

Performers wear a knee-length raffia skirt in addition to the raffia on the mask. Charcoal was used to paint the hands, arms, and lower legs. Each season, more raffia is added to the mask, which is then displayed off-season in a household or community shrine.


A long-standing but rapidly disappearing tradition is the fattening of young women in anticipation of marriage. This is done to make a single woman more beautiful and get her ready for marriage.

A girl is referred to be a Mbopo once she has undergone this ceremony. This phrase describes both the fattening of a girl and the fattening of the girl herself. Teaching prospective brides the specifics of childcare, motherhood, how to maintain a home, and how she is supposed to behave is a crucial component of this.

How long a girl stays in the fattening house depends on her parents’ financial status. This can last from three months to seven years, however most people stay for three years on average.

The girls are fed adequately while they are there and are not required to perform any labor. This is because, in the past, being overweight was considered to be a symbol of prosperity and good health among the Ibibio.

A ceremony of “fattening” is also performed by nursing women, usually only for their first kid. The rite is anticipated to be funded by both the husband and the mother-in-law.

The Ibibio believe that it is normal for a mother to relax after giving birth, thus the mother doesn’t engage in any rigorous activities.

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