According to Mahatma Gandhi, ‘A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.’ To Edward T. Hall, ‘culture is not made up but something that evolves which is human.’ As a country blessed with diverse ethnic groups with numerous cultures which guide them, Nigeria is truly blessed indeed. Many question the constant recognition of Nigeria as a wonderful territory to be but get distracted by the anomalies in government and in state of the country.

Irrespective of the absence of quality leadership, Nigerians find identity and comfort within their ethnic groups. Known to be blessed with numerous groups scattered throughout the geo-political zones, all ethnic groups have at one point or the other fought to ensure their continuous existence and co-existence with other or neighbouring groups. Like the Etche people of Rivers State, the history of a lot of these ethnic groups is uncertain and have varying and often times conflicting reports.

In southern Nigeria, River State, though the Etche ethnic group have found a home where they’ve inhabit for decades, their history can be traced to the Benin Kingdom. Becoming a major ethnic group in Rivers state, the Etche people occupy both Etche local government area and Omuma LGA.

The Etche group are also heavily resident in both Abia state and Imo State. As a result of disagreement encountered by the sub etche groups, there was a further division into three Clans which include; Ofeh, Ohim and Oyoro clansAs an agrarian community, cultivation of crops especially cassava and yam can be said to their major source of income. To further assist in the cultivation of these food crops, Shell petroleum Development Company funded the establishment of a cassava processing mill at Umeubulu, which is a community in Etche local government area.

Like many other ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Etche people have their own local dialect also called ‘Etche dialect’ though this language gradually face extinction as a number of Etche people prefer to speak Igbo instead of their local dialect. Many scholars believe that due to adverse exposure to civilization, the etche ethnic group face a high danger of extinction. Unlike the easily recognizable modes of dressing of the Ijaw, Erik, Yoruba and many more ethnic groups, pinpointing the Etche dressing seems to be an impossible task. Also dances like the ‘Atilogwu and Wokorobo’ which use to be a unique dance step among the Etches is also not been danced anymore. The customs and traditions practiced by the Etches have either been relegated to the background or faced extinction.

According to scholars, the Etche people have gradually lost political recognition hence the continuous neglect experienced. Unlike the Okrika, Ogini, Ikwerre and a few others who dominate the political scene as a result of their strong cultures and traditions, the decline of the Etche customs into extinction might lead to a continuous relegation as a result of her weak Cultural institutions.



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