Official Website Of The Governor Of Akwa Ibom State
Culture is a shared, learned, symbolic system of values, beliefs and attitudes that shapes and influences perception and behavior. The process of learning one’s culture is called enculturation. Culture is shared by the members of a society because there is no culture of one. It is patterned because people in a society live and think in ways that form definite patterns. It is mutually constructed through a constant process of social interaction. Culture, language and thought are based on symbols and symbolic meanings. It is arbitrary, not based on natural laws, external to humans, but created by humans according to the whims of the society.
Akwa Ibom is often described as a uni-cultural state where ethics, mores, taboos, customs and traditions are the same all through the state. The cultural similarities tend to bind the people together especially in such areas as menus, dressing, dances, songs, rituals, folklores, beliefs and myths. Almost all aspect of its culture has provided fascinating experience for tourists and for vast investment opportunities too.
Dance is a rhythmic movement of the body to music and it is another activity that depicts one’s identity. Our dance communicates, from the alluring traditional attire, to the music, to the rhythmic body movement. Some cultural plays of the Akwa Ibom People include; Ekpo, Abang, Ntok odio-odio, Mbok, Ebre, Ikara, Eka-ekong, Ekpo Akpara, Idiong, Itembe, Ekong, Akata, Eti Nkoriko, etc.
Our people’s culture does uniquely contain a good degree of respect the younger ones give to the elderly ones. It is a typical African culture so it is no devoid of good greetings and respect for elders. Respect they say is reciprocal. A typical Akwa Ibom indigene is respectful and peace loving. Despite contemporary innovations, and the adoption of the American way of approaching things, the issue of respect has not leaped an inch since the inception, and this is roughly the reason we encounter conflicts and wars less often.
The Akwa Ibom marriage rite is greatly synonymous to any other tribe in Nigeria. Foremostly, the intending groom goes for an introduction in the house of the intending bride and he meets with the family and kinsmen of the bride. Here the man says his marriage intension to their daughter. At the acceptance of the man, the bride’s kinsmen reschedules another meeting also known traditionally as ‘Nkong Udok’. The Nkong Udok is made a little ceremonial, here the man is told the lady’s bride price and a list of required items is given to the man and his kinsmen. At the man’s acceptance of the demands, he thereby proceeds to the purchase and delivery of the request on probably a latter date. As soon as all the demands are granted (sometimes one has to compromise) and both families are duly satisfied a proceeding is made for the traditional marriage arrangement. A date is slated and detailed arrangements made. The traditional marriage ceremony rightfully follows.
On the day of the traditional marriage, a vibrantly coloured and cheerful-looking dance troops, traditional recipes and other traditionally valued activities roll out in display.
n our modern day, what follows the traditional marriage ceremony is an English wedding, this is seemingly optional though.
The beauty of my people’s tradition could be further appreciated in other traditional ceremonies such as coronations, festivals naming ceremonies etc. During such one could easily have a first-hand experience of cultural plays, recipes and a couple of traditional displays. I crave to see my tradition remain.
The Akwa Ibom inheritance pattern is somewhat universal. This could be by birth, marriage or registration. The inheritance pattern by birth is completely indisputable and cannot be infringed upon. In the birth inheritance pattern, it is designed that every ascendant born into the family possess a full-fledged right as an indigene of the community.
The marriage inheritance pattern comes to play when the bride is married into the community from another tribe. Automatically she becomes an indigene and shares a common right every indigene has.
The registration inheritance pattern is a citizenship derived by registration. This allows for citizenship to non-indigenes especially outside the country. One who wishes to become a citizen by registration has a stipulated duration of time he/she needs to reside in the country before his citizenship could be granted. On his/her fulfillment of this, if the country finds him/her fit to be a patriotic citizen, his/her citizenship is granted on conditions for which if he/she flouts, the citizenship could be withdrawn. That makes this inheritance pattern disputable. The registration process though done at the national level, the intending indigene makes his/her option in the state and L.G.A. selection.
This is a group of words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community.
Akwa Ibom State is multi-ethnic, it has Ibibio, Anang, Oron, Eket, Ibeno, Mbo etc. The Ibibios are the largest group, whilst the Annang which forms the second largest group, speak a language very similar to the Ibibio Language. The Oro are a distinct ethnic group found in five of the state’s Local Government Areas. Ibeno and Eket speak a similar language, and are located at the ocean, contiguous to Oron.The Eastern Obolo and Ibeno groups along the Atlantic sea-board consider themselves Ijaw. The Ibibio language belongs to the Benue-Congo language family, which forms part of the Niger-Congo group of languages.
The people are generally believed to have originated from one ancestral stock. The state has English as its official language and other native languages and dialects include; Ibibio, Annang, Oron, Ekid, Andoni, etc.
Asian Uboikpa means the proud and flamboyant maiden. This dance is performed by maidens between the age of 18 years and 25 years who have successfully gone through the ‘Mbopo’ institution. Mbopo being the period a girl is confined, fattened and drilled on all aspects of home management in preparation for marriage. It is common in almost all the hinterland of the State. Performed by maidens at their prime, Asian Uboikpa therefore is in its visual appeal and celebrates and affirm the youthful innocence and purity in their beauty, while showcasing the popular admonition among the Akwa Ibom people that chastity once lost is lost forever.
Oko is the male dance which is likened to the war dance because of its ferocious displays. The climax of this dance starts when the dancers’ start slashing at one another with razor sharp machetes and firing at themselves with live bullets from Dane guns. But mysteriously, not a drop of blood is shed as the machetes cannot penetrate the skin of the dancers, or the bullets hurt any of the members of what is obviously a secret society.
Nkerebe (looking for husband) is another women dance, performed once a year when young girls at the age of puberty prepare to perform the Mboppo nceremony.
Asian Mbre Iban are dances performed by maidens who wish to inform unmarried men of the community how beautiful and eligible they are. Other women dances include Akan, Asamba and Uwok which is performed in the villages occasionally.
The Ndok Ufok Ebe (shame of a bad marriage) is another women dance to express their grievances over maltreatment of women by their husbands. The dance is performed once a year. It is accompanied by songs telling the community about their plight, often, it involves going topless to the market place.
There is also the Ebre society women dance performed yearly during harvesting of new yam. During this occasion, women dance to the market place and neighbouring villages. The dance is not only meant to entertain but as well as deliberate protest against what is regarded as male chauvinism, which is reflected in the vulgarity of some of the song texts.