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ONNA Local Government Area was created out of the former Eket Local Government Area on May 3, 1989. It is located down South of Akwa Ibom State. In confronting the challenges of nature and environment, man cannot act alone. This sense of cooperation in order to survive responds to the theory of mutual aid which states that even in the all, important question of the struggle for basic things of life, human beings cooperate not just for the sake of social community, but also out of necessity. It is on this note that this research work seeks to examine the kind of relationship that existed among the various clans in ONNA Local Government Area between 1900 and 2000.




ONNA Local Government Area is one of the largest communities in Ibibio land, it consists of three clans namely Oniong, Nung Ndem, and Awa. The name ONNA is an acronym derived from the name of these three clans. It was formerly under Eket District but began to exist as a distinct entity on 3rd of May, 1989 during Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida regime.

ONNA local Government has about forty-one (41) villages, sixteen (16) villages in Oniong clan, five (5) villages in Nung Ndem clan and twenty (20) villages in Awa clan. However, inter-group relations in this area stem out from the social group and institution found in the area such as Mbok (local wrestling), Ekpe (lion), ntokodio-dio (a traditional dancing display) ebre, mbaya to mention but a few.1

These relations promoted unity among the villages;even with that, one cannot dispute the fact that there was also an instance of violence in the course of some of these relations toward each other. This paper will examine the different aspects of inter-group relations in ONNA Local Government Area between 1900 and 2000.


Many scholars have attempted the study of Ibibio people. Largely they have been able trace the origin, migration, and settlement of the Ibibio people to which ONNA Local Government Area belong; these scholars have made little attempt of an in-depth study of the inter-group relations in ONNA Local Government.

The present study identifies this problem as a gap in historiography of ONNA Local Government Area and contributes to scholarship by examining it.


This research work attempts an in-depth study of the inter-group relations in ONNA Local Government Area by examining the socio-cultural institutions such as Ekpo masquerade display, marriage etc. as well as the problem that arose in the course of some these relationship, as well as investigate whether the standard of this institutions are still the same as it was in pre-colonial time.


This work besides being an addition to extant literature on the ONNA relations,it will also serve as a guide to further studies of the ONNA people in particular and the Ibibio ethnic group in general.


The scope of the study is limited to the inter-group relations in ONNA Local Government.

In addition, the time allotted to carry out this research (a research that covers a century) is too small coupled with some financial problems. Putting it differently, the limitation included time and financial constraints; they brought much set back to this research work.


This research adopts the primary and secondary sources. it focuses on oral interview which has to do with contacting chiefs, information officers and other resourceful personality who are deemed fit to have possessed the information needed.It is that of physical contact, presentation of question and used of some secondary sources such as published work in the research topic.


MBOK            -           Local Wrestling

EKPO             -           Masquerade

EKPE              -           A form of masquerade with an adornment higher than Ekpo

(being interpreted as lion or leopard) it’s mostly a cultural play by the elderly ones.

MBAYA         -           It is a Cultural music that attracted men and women across the                                three clans in ONNA. It involves intense singing and drum beat

UDUA EDEREBO - A popular market in ONNA Local Government (Ederebo market)

EKID              -           This is referring to the people of Eket, before the corruption of the              word by the white settlers during the colonial era.


E. A. Udo in his book; Who Are the Ibibio? Attempted to trace the origin and migration of Ibibio speaking of Cross River Basin from central valley where Joseph H. Greenberg had postulated to be the ultimate origin of the Bantu of which the Ibibio speaking people form a part.2

Although, his work covers most of the Ibibio group, He did not include that of the people of Oniong, Nung Ndem and Awa, as he did with other Ibibio group. He further examines the Ibibio social and political system in pre-colonial times. This book helps to trace the origin of the people of ONNA as a subgroup of the Ibibio. It further gives guidelines on how the people of ONNA inter-related during pre-colonial period.3

M. D. W. Jeffreys in his book “Old Calabar and Notes on Ibibio Languages” assert that the Ibibio groups have always been where they are today. And that if they did migrate it must have occurred very long ago, that the people have forgotten about it and about its direction.4 As such, he suggested an approximate time for their acquisition of their culture to 400AD. He did mention the people of ONNA as part of the Ibibio ethnic group.

Monday Abasiattai has it in his book “The Ibibio: An Introduction to The Land, The people and their Culture” that the Ibibio have been as far as ascertained, perhaps the least studied by Nigeria historians. Indeed recently, the questions have been who are the Ibibio? Which according to him the term Ibibio did not applied solely to the people of central Ibibio but rather to a wider group of people, which included the Annang, Ekid, Oro, and Efik. As Udo Ekong Umanah of Abak declared during an Ibibio state Union meeting, that Ibibio was the generic name for “Okop Usem Ibibio”(people who understand Ibibio)5 whereas subgroup had their own name such as Annang and Ekid name which is for central Ibibio.6

From this work, it shows that he focused on the Ibibio ethnic group as a whole. Also in his book, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States the Land, the People and their Culture. It was during the late Stone Age that the ancestors of the people of the area (Cross River and Akwa Ibom) moving probably from the North, occupied the central Benue valley where they evolved the Proto-Bantu language and other religious and social institutions. Abasiattai however did not mention of the ONNA people but rather embarked on a general study of the Ibibio where he invariably merged every other group under the term “Ibibio people”. Moreover, his work focuses on the Efik people than the Ibibio people.

In ONNA My Homeland; Bundle of Unity by Udofot Okon wrote a lot about ONNA Local Government Area.It covers the meaning of ONNA, origins, migration and settlement of the different clans in ONNA, culture, language, occupation, and geographical outlays of the area. This work did not examine the relationship among these clans, it only examined how they related with neighboring communities during their migration process.7

Sunny I. Akpadiaha et al in Local Government in Akwa Ibom State, examines the various Local Government in the State alphabetically. Chapter 17 of the book focuses on ONNA Local Government Area. It stated that ONNA was created on May 3, 1989. Oniong Nung Ndem and Awa is blessed with fertile land and forest reserves as well as the Atlantic Ocean and numerous creeks.8

It further examines the occupational life the area which include farming, fishing, hunting, arts and craft such as mat weaving, pottery etc. they are also rich in cultural and traditional displays such as Ekpe, Ntokodio-dio, Ekpo, Ebre Mbaya to mention but a few.9 It is pertinent to note that the above traditional displays in ONNA had always created room for inter-group relations. In other words, it has always been a viable vehicle for intergroup relations.

Uwem Jonah Akpan in his book The Afaha Iman Ibom: A Historical Perspective, examines the Afaha people of Etinan Local Government. Etinan Local Government shares a common boundary with ONNA . It is worthy to note that the present Afaha people in ONNA from the Awa clan have its root there.10 In other words at one point in time or the other they were once part of Etinan Local Government between 1900 and 1989 when this part was carved out and designated as ONNA by Gen. Ibrahim Babagida. The position of the clan headship in Iman under ONNA Local Government area officially known as Awa clan clearly shows that the clan headship rotates. 11

G. I. Jones in his book The Trading States of the Oil Rivers have the discourse on the internal dispersal of Ibibio groups from the center, according to Jones hypothesis, which was based on oral tradition, given as due to political dominance and economic monopoly which resulted in major strife andoutbreaks of warswhich were so persistent. Various groups who were weak sought to form alliances with other groups who might otherwise be stronger to come to their aid in times of trouble.12

J. R. Bassey in The Efiks and their Neighbours: Historical Perspectives posit that although much ink have been wasted on historical and anthropological study of the Efik. Scholars are yet to agree on a common origin of the Efik and the Ibibio. Some Efik argue that they are not part of the Ibibio. This work focused on the Efik community and their relations with their neighbors.13 The work did mention Efik people as neighbor to the Ibibio of which ONNA people are part.

David Ukpong Ikono the Cradle of Ibibio Nations, is very relevant in tracing the origin of ONNA people,who are subgroup from Ibibio. He noted that the turbulence ,confusion and unsettle existence, the Ibibio nation compromising Ikono Ibom, NsitIbom, Iman Ibom ,Oku Ibom (Annang), Ifa Ibom (Efik), Ibuno and Ikpa Ibom  migrated to a virgin land now called Ikono. Their confidence was bolstered by the arrival of more group of Ibibio refugees who fled Ibom country to constitute Ikono, when all the groups that fled by land had arrived Ikono Ibom Atai and former a larger congregation (mboho, their combined defensive efforts successfully warded off the Aros from further pursuing them. Hence, the migrants named the place Ikono, now being mispronounced Ikono. Ikono Ibom thus became the pioneer family among all the Ibibio families that arrived from Arochukwu.15 Howbeit, this work did not treat the people of ONNA separately.

Otoabasi Akpan (et al) in his book A History of Itam People discusses the history of Itam Clan as a clan in Ibibio land since the pre-colonial era. He added that perhaps “sometimes in future there will be need to update the history based on new fact; as history is being viewed as an unending dialogue between the past and the present”.16

The book has eight chapters; all variations of the same theme and none are, in fact mutually exclusive. It includes Origin and Migration of the Itam People, political and social Organization, economic history, etc.17 However, in the course of this research chapter five focuses on the pattern and sources of inter-group relations in Itam since pre-colonial period, and this work draws out elements of Inter-group relations as it covers Ibibio stock of which ONNA Local Government is part.


The research work has five chapters in total. Chapter one has to do with the introductory aspect consisting of the background of the study, the scope, the limitation, objectives and so on.

Chapter two; ONNA Local Government Area: A Historical Perspective. tracing the origin, migration and settlement of the people, the geography of the area, economic activities etc.

Chapter three is the focal point of this research, its deals with the inter-group relations in ONNA Local Government Area from 1900-2000, taking into cognizance the basic element of intergroup relations.

Chapter four deals with the impact of the intergroup relations in the Area under study, such as Political, economic, social, and cultural.

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