The Ibibio People

The Ibibio people are divided into six subcultural groups: 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. They are basically from southern Nigeria and are related to the Anaang and Efik peoples. The Annang, Efik, Ekid, Oron and Ibeno share personal names, culture, and traditions with the Ibibio, and speak closely related varieties of Ibibio-Efik which are more or less mutually intelligible.


The Ibibio people are reputed to be the earliest inhabitants of the south eastern Nigeria. It is estimated that they arrived at their present abode from very earliest times, about 7000 B.C. In spite of the historical account, it is not clear when the people known as Ibibio arrived the state.

According to some scholars, they might have come from the central Benue valley, particularly, the Jukun influence in the old Calabar at some historical time period. Another pointer is the wide-spread use of the manila, a popular currency used by the Jukuns. Coupled with this is the Jukun southern drive to the coast which appears to have been recently compared with the formation of Akwa Ibom settlements in their present location.

Another version had it that the Cameroon will offer a more concise explanation of the Ibibio migration story. This was corroborated by oral testimonies by field workers who say that the core Ibibio people were of the Afaha lineage whose original home was Usak Edet in the Cameroon. This was premised on the fact that among the Ibibio people, Usak Edet is popularly known as Edit Afaha (Afaha’s Creek) which reflects the fact that Ibibio people originated from Usak Edet.

After the first bulk of the people arrived in what later became Nigeria, they settled first at Ibom then in Arochukwu. The Ibibio must have lived in Ibom for quite some-time, but as a result of clashes with the Igbo people culminating into the famous ‘Ibibio War’ which took place about 1300 and 1400 A.D they left Ibom and moved to the present day Ibibio land.


The Ibibio people are located in the South South geopolitical zone of Nigeria and are found predominantly in Akwa Ibom state.


Traditionally Ibibio society consists of communities that are made up of Large Families with blood affinity each ruled by their Constitutional and Religious Head known as the Ikpaisong’. The Obong Ikpaisong ruled with the Mbong Ekpuk (Head of the Families) which together with the Heads of the Cults and Societies constitute the ‘Afe or Asan or Esop Ikpaisong’ (Traditional Council or Traditional Shrine or Traditional Court’).

The decisions or orders of the Traditional Council or the Obong Ikpaisong were enforced by members of the Ekpo or Obon society who act as messengers of the spirits and the military and police of the Community. Ekpo members are always masked when performing their policing duties, and although their identities are almost always known, fear of retribution from the ancestors prevents most people from accusing those members who overstep their social boundaries, effectively committing police brutality. Membership is open to all Ibibio males, but one must have access to wealth to move into the politically influential grades. The Obon society with its strong enticing traditional musical prowess, with popular acceptability, openly executes its mandates with musical procession and popular participation by members which comprises children, youth, adults and very brave elderly women.


Ibibio religion was of two dimensions, which centred on the pouring of libation, worship, consultation, communication and invocation of the God of Heaven (Abasi Enyong) and God of the Earth (Abasi Isong) by the Constitutional and Religious King/Head of a particular Ibibio Community who was known from the ancient times as the Obong-Ikpaisong (the word ‘Obong Ikpaisong’ directly interpreted means King of the Principalities of the Earth’ or ‘King of the Earth and the Principalities’ or Traditional Ruler).

The second dimension of Ibibio Religion centered on the worship, consultation, invocation, sacrifice, appeasement, etc. of the God of the Heaven (Abasi Enyong) and the God of the Earth (Abasi Isong) through various invisible or spiritual entities (Ndem) of the various Ibibio Division such as Etefia Ikono, Awa Itam, etc. Today Ibibio people are predominantly Christian.

Source: Wikipedia,,

Compiled by OLA OGUN


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