Ibibio - Orientation

Identification. The name "Ibibio" identifies the largest subdivision of people living in southeastern Nigeria, in Akwa Ibom State, and it is generally accepted and used for both ethnic and linguistic descriptions. Like their Igbo neighbors, the Ibibio people originally shared no common term that identified them as a whole. The name "Agbisherea" was first used by European explorers in the nineteenth century to describe Ibibio inhabitants, but apparently died out soon after. Some Igbo-speaking people refer to their Ibibio-speaking neighbors as "Mong"; others call them "Kwa."

Location. The Ibibio are located to the south and southeast of the Igbo, in southeastern Nigeria. This includes the former Calabar Province (the Itu Mbuzo subgroup is in the Bende Division), Owerri Province, and certain villages of the Obong. The Eastern Ibibio, or Ika, have attached their village groups to the Ndokki Igbo of Owerri.

Demography. The Ibibio numbered over two million in the 1963 census and fell into the following six major divisions: Riverain (Efik), Northern (Enyong), Southern, (Eket), Delta (Andoni-Ibeno), Western (Anang), and Eastern (Ibibio proper). These main groups are further divided into groups that are identifiable by geographical location. The Efik reside mostly in the Calabar Province, and are divided into Enyong (Aro), Calabar, Itu, and Eket groups. The Riverain area also includes the Cameroons, inhabited by the Kumba and Victoria groups. The Eyong are divided into the Enyong (Aro) and Ikot Ekpene of Calabar Province and the Bende division of Owerri Province. The Eket division resides in Calabar Province. The Adoni-Ibeno are divided into the Eket and Opopo of Calabar Province. The Anang are divided into the Abak and Ikot Ekpene of Calabar Province, and the Aba of Owerri Province. The Ibibio proper are divided into the Uyo, Itu, Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Enyong (Aro), Abak, Opopo, and Calabar groupings. They also make up the Aba division of Owerri Province.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Ibibio speak dialects of Efik-Ibibio, a language of the Kwa Branch of the Niger-Congo Family. Being the best-known dialect, Efik has been established as the literary language, and is understood by most educated Ibibio. Because of its remarkable assimilative power, Efik spread throughout the Cross River area and even into the Cameroons.

The most basic difference among the many dialects of Ibibio is in the vocabulary. To a lesser extent, the sound system, tone, and grammar can be distinguished. Comparative studies have shown considerable similarity between the Efik and the Ibibio proper, Oron, Eket, Anang, and Ibeno dialects.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: