Far away in South East Nigeria, Akwa Ibom and Calabar states precisely, is the Ibibio tribe who are mixed with other tribes. The Ibibio tribe is one of the ancient tribes in Nigeria.
It is said that the Ibibio people were originally Cameroonians. Cameroon from Isangele or Usak Edet but migrated to Nigeria either by land and sea around 7000 BC.
Their first settlement was in Ibom known as Ibom Kingdom in present day Arochukwu in Abia state. After the Aro-Ibibio wars (1930-1902), the Ibibio tribe presence in Abia state dwindled but was significant in present day Akwa Ibom state.
Due to various movements and mixing with other cultures, the Ibibio tribe created other sub-pockets of tribes such as; the Annang, Efik, Oron, Ibene, Uran, Eket etc. In all, the Ibibio people are found in Calabar and Akwa-Ibom state scattered in various locations as Ikot Ekpene, Uyo, Abak , Ini etc.
Notwithstanding, the Ibibio culture is more prevalent in Akwa Ibom than Calabar; out of the 31 local governments existing in the state, Ibibio tribe dominates 15 local governments. This makes them a major tribe in the state followed by Annang and Oron tribes.
The Ibibio language is a member of the Benue-Congo branch of Niger-Congo language group. Since the Ibibio tribe influenced the creations of other sub-clans in the region, there are similarities in languages spoken by other tribes found in the state, especially the Efik language.
Ibibio native speakers can be found in Akwa Ibom and Calabar state because historically, Akwa Ibom state was cut off from Calabar on September 23, 1987. Out of the 31 local governments in Akwa Ibom, the Ibibio tribe is present in 15
Ibibio male are traditionally wrapped in a cloth called Usobo wrapper; this is worn similar to a skirt. A chieftaincy shirt, cap, beads, staff are other accessories used in styling an Ibibio man.
The traditional attire for an Ibibio woman is a long flowing ball-gown with eye-catching details either on the sleeves or neck area. A stylish wrapper with a blouse can also be worn by the females too. Whichever, beads, face painting and the prestigious gala hairstyle is essential to display Ibibio culture.
The Ibibio people are famous for their all time favourite and healthy soup ‘Afang soup’. Another top-notch soup is the Abak Atama soup. Both soups are predominantly prepared with vegetables and they are traditionally served with fufu.
The marriage rites of the tribe are in four segments. These are Ndidiong Ufok (to know the house of the bride), Nkong Udok (knocking on the door to declare intentions) Uno Mkpo (to give something, that is presentation of required items to the bride’s family) and finally the Usoro Ndo (the marriage festival).
Another significant marriage rite is the fattening room (Nkugho) for the bride alone or with her maidens or young girls of marriageable age. The fattening room practice entails secluding intending brides and her maidens to eat and rest before the marriage ceremony.
A woman with some pounds of flesh is a celebrated omen and pegged beautiful. With modernization, the fattening room practice is declining.
In the ancient times, Ibibio people lived on agriculture, fishing and trading. The practice of agriculture among Ibibio indigenes is still significant as Akwa Ibom state is known for palm oil, rubber, sorghum cocoa, beans, pineapple and yam produce.
Before Christianity and Islamic religion, the Ibibio tribe believed Abasi Enyong (God of Heaven) and Abasi Isong (God of the Earth). Their belief in both gods was strengthened through libation, sacrifice, consultation, invocation, worship and appeasement.