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History is not only concerned with past facts about a people, it is also the collective memory of a people. If it is taken out of the lives of any society, that society would be lost and its future would be bleak. Consequently, this study takes a critical examination into the origin, migration and settlement of Ibiono Ibom people from early times to 1970. The study examines the nine different groups that constitute the present Ibiono Ibom, assesses the role played by different socio-cultural institutions in the enforcement of law and order in the area. The study further reveals that before colonial rule in Ibiono Ibom, the area had already established a well organized centralize system of government. Colonial rule in Ibiono Ibom submerged and dismantled indigenous institutions and, in its place, a foreign rule was established. Traditional institutions before then were regarded as not only political authorities but also custodians of cultures. While insisting that, Christian Missionaries were the dominant exporters of Western Civilization and culture which has precariously contaminated the traditional values of Ibiono. Nevertheless, the genesis of formal education in Ibiono Ibom was provided by missionaries who viewed education as an auxiliary to their goal of Christianizing Ibiono Ibom. The study relied on oral evidence and secondary sources to generate data for the study. It concludes by revealing the dynamism and significance of Ibiono Ibom traditional political institution.
1.1 Background of the Study
Gone are days when scholars like H. R. Trovor Roper believed that Africans had no history. Nowadays, African history whether in the economic, social or political spheres is being reconstructed. In line with this is the fact that, Ibiono Ibom expressed in their economic, social, and political institutions, a rich historical account from the earliest times, like their Ibibio counter parts. The kingdom of Ibiono Ibom before its creation as a Local Government Area in 1996 was a political nucleus of Itu Local Government Area. It covers an area of 2,761.76 square kilometers. The kingdom is also bounded in the North by Akamkpa Local Government Area, in the West by Ikono and Ini Local Government Areas, in the East by Itu Local Government, and in the South by Uyo/Abak Local Government Areas. In the 1991 projected population census, Ibiono Ibom had a population of 130,427.1
According to Etang, the conspicuous geographical features on the East of Ibiono Ibom are Cross River with its numerous tributaries which are rich in aquatic organism including fish and reptiles. The climatic characteristic of this geographical unit are not different from the neighbouring areas within the equatorial rain forest region of Nigeria. The relative humidity varies throughout the year from 70 to 80 percent.2
Historically, Ibiono Ibom has made a landmark in developing a well organized centralized traditional ruling hierarchy in the whole of Ibibio land just like what was obtainable in Northern Nigeria in pre-colonial and colonial times. The paramount Ruler or King of Ibiono Ibom is called Okuku. He lives in Obio Ibiono, the traditional headquarters of the kingdom. There are nine clans in Ibiono Ibom all paying allegiance to Okuku. Each of the nine clans has its own clan head who must be a Native Chief.3 He and other ntinya chiefs must be installed at Obio Ibiono by the Okuku.4
Ibiono Ibom has since its creation been a unified political entity despite the British colonial efforts to distort its indigenous institutions which helped a great deal in maintaining law and order in the pre-colonial times. The British sort to balkanize Ibiono Ibom administrative efforts in order to actualize its selfish interest during colonial era.
1.2 Objectives of the Study
The following are the cardinal objectives for embarking on this study:
i. To examine the origin, migration and settlement of the nine groups in Ibiono Ibom.
ii. To highlight the different groups that constitutes the present Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area and their historical migration and settlement in their present abode.
iii. To assess Ibiono Ibom socio-cultural organization and institutions and their impacts on the governance of the area from the earliest time to 1970.
iv. To assess colonial encroachment into Ibiono Ibom area and its impacts on the people and indigenous institutions of Ibiono Ibom.
v. To examine the impact of Christian Missionaries in Ibiono.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
Inspite of the existence of historians and other educated elite in Ibiono Ibom, only few of them have taken pain to research into the origin, migration and settlement of Ibiono Ibom people in their present abode. However, scholars have shown little effort in studying the different groups that made up Ibiono Ibom. Also, colonial and post colonial Ibiono Ibom is one of the neglected parts of Ibiono Ibom historiography.
Among the Ibiono Ibom Groups, inter-group relations has remained an integral part of everyday relation, either in social, economic or technological spheres from time immemorial. The study seeks to investigates the tradition of origin and migration of the nine groups that made up of Ibiono Ibom, the evolution of inter group relations in Ibiono, the instiutions that facilitatated their evolution, how European present and intervention impacted Ibiono? And how was Ibiono Ibom administered during colonial and post colonial times? These are some of the basic concerns of this research effort, they, by and large, constitute the core essence of this work which seeks to fill the missing gap in Ibiono Ibom historiography.
1.4 Scope of the Study
The scope of this research work covers all the nine (9) clans in Ibiono Ibom and their migration and settlement patterns.The study focuses on some institutions and organization in Ibiono Ibom in early times. This Local Government Area mirrors what is obtainable elsewhere in Ibibio land. The scope of this study spans from examining Ibiono Ibom from pre-colonial times up to 1970.
Materials for this research were collected from oral and written sources. Information were gathered through oral evidence from selected people in Ibiono Ibom. Materials for this work were also collected from secondary sources like the University of Uyo library, seminars, project, dissertations and unpublished works. The study relied heavily on oral history and interviews. Nevertheless, the information collected was integrated into a coherent historical narrative. This study will adopt narrative method in its writing.
1.6 Literature Review
In dealing with a research of this nature, it is of great importance to acknowledge the studies and research of scholars and students on the origin, migration and settlement, as well as institutions of Ibiono Ibom people. This has made this research a bit possible because of the searchlight they have provided in the course of this research. Thus, a review of related literature is as follows:
Okon R. U. Antia in his work, Ibiono Ibom. Its Set-up and Contemporary Royal Fathers, maintained that “Ibiono Akpan Ankine” also referred to as “Ibiono Akpan Ankit was the ancestral father of Ibiono Ibom. That, he and his eight children-Afaha, Ibiaku, Ididep, Idoro, Mbiabong, Ntan, Use and Utit migrated from Ibom in Arochukwu and settled in a place named “Obio Ibiono”. From Obio Ibiono the whole land area now called “Ibiono Ibom” was later occupied by nine of his children which formed the present nine groups in Ibiono Ibom today.6 However, this book has not recognise Ikono which is the cradle of Ibibio nation as ancestral home of Ibiono from which the nine clans sprang. In contrary, David Ukpong et al, in their writing, Ikono: The Cradle of Ibibio Nation, note that, Ibiono Ibom was the fourth family to arrived Ibiono from Ibom. Ibiono Ibom people arrived in quick successions after Iman Ibom. That is in Ibibio, the event that follows the other in quick succession is referred to as Ibinoon.7
D. A. U. Etang in his work, A Synthesis of Ibionology argues that, Ibiono might have migrated from Obio Ibiono that is believed to migrate from Ikono-Uyo, the Ibibio ancestral home, or they might have been in their present locations unaffected by the Aro invasion.8 According to him, though Obio Ibiono is accepted by Ibiono as the first ancestral home of Ibiono Ibom. It is also understand and established mythologically or anthropologically proven that Afaha, which is one of the nine clans in Ibiono is Akpan, i.e. the traditional head of all the clans in Ibiono.9
It should be noted that, this book has categorically trace the origin, migration and settlement of Ibiono Ibom people and also agree with the tradition that Afaha is the head of all the 9 clans in Ibiono Ibom. This is true because the history of migration of Ibiono Ibom has some connection with the history of migration in the entire Ibibioland
From another angle Edet A. Ukpong in his work, Origin of Ibiono Ibom emphasizes that, the origin of Ibiono Ibom people can be trace to the period of the great dispersal of the Ibibio in the region of Aqua Akpa. One Okon left Afaha to establish another Afaha settlement in the present Abak Local Government Area. He had two sons namely, Akpan Okorn and Imo Okorn. However, Akpan Okorn offended the taboo of the land against by eating of Enem (three leaves yam) and Ubong (pumpkin).10 According to custom, he should have been killed for the offence, but he fled the village to Itak (which is presently in Itu Local Government Area) where he proclaimed to be a grand-son of the area. He was sheltered but warned not to commit adultery with any of his grandparents wives, and on the whole enjoined to be of good behaviour. Unfortunately for Okorn, he could not keep to the instructions. He is said to have committed adultery with one of married women of Itak and consequently he fled. Finally, he arrived at Obio Ibiono, the present home of the Ibiono Ibom. It was at Obio Ibiono that Akpan Okorn changed his name to “Ibiongo” which corruptedly called Ibiono.11
In a memorandum for the creation of Ete Ibiono Ibom (Ibiono South) presented to Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly committee on Local Government creation, the people stated thus, the supreme deity of Ibiono Ibom called “Anantia”, resides in Obio Ibiono in the Ibiono South (Ete Ibiono) from the beginning of the existence of Ibiono Ibom. Obio Ibiono village has always been accepted by every indigene of Ibiono Ibom as the true genesis; traditional, cultural and religious headquarters of Ibiono Ibom from 7000BC.12 Obio is in Afaha clan, and Afaha is the most senior, the “Akpan” of the nine (9) clans, which make up Ibiono Ibom.13 They further stated that, the traditional and spiritual head of Ibiono Ibom, who also is the chief priest of Anantia, is the Okuku of Ibiono Ibom. As a rule that is not challengeable but fixed, the Okuku must come from one of the four royal and ruling families in Obio Ibiono village. The status, splendor, glamour and dignity of the Okuku is that of a king, and a 1st class monarch for that matter.13 This is what major R. Brooks and his predecessor, John Beecraft in 1851, came to see as the most organized system of government controlling the largest number of a homogenous people in the entire land of eastern Nigeria.14 It should however be stated that this book is more concerned with the political institution of Ibiono from early times as it discusses the importance of Obio Ibiono, which was the most organized centralized system of government in Ibibioland.
In consonance with the above, Koko Ete Ina in his thesis “The Okuku Ibiono Ibom from origin to the present” stated that the four ruling families are the offspring of the four sons of Akpan Obio Ukem, the son of Afaha and the third Okuku Ibiono Ibom. Afaha is said to have been one of the founder of Obio Ibiono. According to Ina, the institution of Okuku Ibiono Ibom is an age old one starting from the establishment of Obio Ibiono in about the middle of the tenth century A. D. He further maintained that, the general pattern postulated for Ibiono by zones indicate that the distribution of the Ibiono peoples suggests that they had earlier scattered over an area extending from Arochukwu in the North, Ika in the West, and Oron in the South.16
In an attempt to assess the changes status of the Okuku institution in Ibiono Ibom from 1953-date, U. J. Akpan in his work claimed that:
In the whole of Ibibio land, Okuku institution in Ibiono Ibom is regarded as the oldest and the best organized chieftaincy institution until recently, it was only in Ibiono Ibom that we had a ruler at the head of a large areas. With Okuku and other chiefs receiving orders and directives.17
U. J. Akpan opines that as a result of the political and religious influence by the European masters, it became necessary to appoint an educated person into the council of chiefs in Eastern Nigeria. Prior to this period, Okuku Uno Asanga Obong Ekpo Utiha was the only person to speak for the people of Ibiono Ibom, but because he was not educated, Rev. Effiong Utit from Ikot Obong who was not from the four ruling families in Obio Ibiono was therefore chosen as the “clan head” of Ibiono in 1953.18 He argued that, colonialism did not only distort Ibiono Ibom indigenous institutions but it destroyed the organize centralized system of government that existed in Ibiono Ibom on the eve of colonialism.19 This book is very relevant in this study, as it examines the changes status of the Okuku institution in Ibiono Ibom political institutions in general, from 1953 to date.
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