The History and Culture of Akwa Ibom People

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  • Topic: Akwa Ibom State, Calabar Kingdom, Annang
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  • Published : November 17, 2008
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THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF AKWA IBOM PEOPLE by Ediomo Udofia

Introduction:
Akwa Ibom is a state in Nigeria located in the coastal Southern part of the country, with a total of 31 LGAs and Uyo as the capital. Approximately, it lies between latitudes 4°32' and 5°53' North, and longitudes 7°25' and 8°25' East. The state is bordered on the east by Cross River State, on the west by Rivers State and Abia State, and on the south by the Atlantic ocean. It has a land mass of about 8, 412 km2 and encounters wet and dry seasons just as every other state in the country does. It has a population of about 3.9 million people. Though comparatively small in land mass, it is rich in a couple of mineral resources such as; crude oil, natural gas, limestone, gold, salt, coal, silver, to mention but just a few.

The Myth of Origin:
The myth of origin began a couple of decades ago. Then the collective yearnings and expectation of Akwa Ibom people for a state of their own had been long and persistent. Buoyed by the justness of their cause, the people persisted until their erstwhile dream became a reality when on September 23, 1987, Akwa Ibom State came into being as Nigeria’s 21st State, out of the former Cross River State. Despite the claim of homogeneity, no central government existed among the people of what is now Akwa Ibom State prior to the British invasion in 1904. Instead, the Annang, Eket, Efik, Ibibio, Oron and Ibeno were all autonomous groups. The Efiks were the first to establish contact with the outside world, trading with the Europeans as early as the 17th century. Scottish missionaries arrived in Calabar in 1848. The British did not firmly establish control until 1904. In that year, the Enyong Division was created encompassing the area of the current state of Akwa Ibom, with the headquarters at Ikot Ekpene, an Annang town described by the noted Africanist Kaanan Nair, as the cultural and political capital of Annang and Ibibio. The creation of Enyong Division, for the first time allowed the numerous ethnic groups to come together. This further provided a venue for the creation of the Ibibio Welfare Union, later renamed Ibibio State Union. Though the social organization was first organized as an improvement union and a forum for the educated groups who were shut out from the colonial administration in 1929, some historians have wrongly pointed to the union to buttress their argument on the homogeneity of the groups in the area. Despite Ikot Ekpene being bigger and more developed, when Akwa Ibom state was created in 1987, Uyo was chosen as the state capital in order to spread development as much as possible. Culture:

Culture is a shared, learned, symbolic system of values, beliefs and attitudes that shapes and influences perception and behavior. The process of learning one's culture is called enculturation. Culture is shared by the members of a society because there is no culture of one. It is patterned because people in a society live and think in ways that form definite patterns. It is mutually constructed through a constant process of social interaction. Culture, language and thought are based on symbols and symbolic meanings. It is arbitrary, not based on natural laws, external to humans, but created by humans according to the whims of the society. Akwa Ibom is often described as a uni-cultural state where ethics, mores, taboos, customs and traditions are the same all through the state. The cultural similarities tend to bind the people together especially in such areas as menus, dressing, dances, songs, rituals, folklores, beliefs and myths. Almost all aspect of its culture has provided fascinating experience for tourists and for vast investment opportunities too.

Language:
This is a group of words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community. Akwa Ibom State is multi-ethnic, it has Ibibio, Anang, Oron, Eket, Ibeno, Mbo etc. The Ibibios are the largest group, whilst the...
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