Igbo Origin of Ibibio People - Onyeji Nnaji


The Ibibio people are claimed to be the earliest inhabitants of the south southern Nigeria. It is estimated that they arrived at their present home around 7000 B.C. In spite of the historical account, it is not clear when the Ibibio arrived at state.

Ibibio and Anongs that are closely tied to one state and share almost everything together were not of the same parent as people cofusedly think. In fact, both nation's were never of the same community in the beginning. The base of this confused historical perspective is the language both nation's speak. One who thinks so should also recall that the Efik speak similar language too. The reason is not far-fetched.

During the Aro/Ibibio war of the 9000BC when the Ibibio were driven from their original homeland, the Ibibio vacated the area and moved to Osangele, a new home founded by the Efik towards the Cameroon mountain. There the Ibibio got her new tongue characterising them as people of the same language group with the Efik and the Anang.


The part of the Igbo land where the Arochukwu live today used to be the original home of the Ibibio people. The Ibibio inhabited that place from their beginning. Later the Aro came, as always, trading iron from the Nsukka iron explosive civilization. They lived and traded among the Ibibio people. With the passage of time, they outwaigh the Ibibio population and then waged a war against the owners of the land. By this means, they pushes the Ibibio to the waterfront.


Evidence of Igbo in the Efik, Ibibio and Anang

To be explicit about this trace of Igbo in the languages of the world, it will benefit research if we should take the ride gradually out of the Igbo settlement. According to research, these groups (the Efik, Ibibio and Anang) were considered as the first set of Bantu to leave the Igbo settlement in the east. To sustain this claim, Wikipedia record had maintained that the Cross River area was the exit route of the earliest out of Africa migration. 

These communities proved this claim true through the over hundreds of the Igbo words that are wedded into their tongues, where perhaps they had disseminated it across the sea. Greater of their domestic activities and terms of reference derived their sources from the Igbo language. Very obvious among these terms or activities are things connected to utensils and numbering among the names of the various places and persons.

Efik families
Meaning
Igbo equivalents
Meaning
Fan’a
Force into
Fanye
Force into
Enyen
A person
Onye
 A person
Usong
Road
 Uzo
Road
Utere
Vulture
Udene/Udele
Vulture
Anwan
Woman
Nwanyi
Woman
Adiagha
Daughter
Ada
Daughter
Afere
Soup
Afere
Plates
Iko
Cup
Iko
Cup
Ikpe
Case in the court
Ikpe
Case in the court
Ikwo
Song
Ukwe
Song
Kwoo
Sing
Kwee
Sing
N’oo
To Drink/drink
N’oo
Drink
Taa
Chew
Taa
Chew
Ekpat
Bag
Ekpa/Akpa (Ekpa, Nkalaha)
Bag
Iba
Two
Iboo/abuo
Two
Ita
Three
Ato
Three
Inang
Four
Ano/ino
Four
Ufok/Ulok
House
Uno/Ulo
House
Asug kood
He/she calls you
A si koo gi
He/she said you should be called (Nkalaha dialect)
Akparawa
Young man
Akparawa
A tall young man (Nkalaha dialect)
Abasi
God
Obasi (Arochukwu)
God
Ime
Birth rebirth
Ume
Birth rebirth
Ata
To chew
Ita/ata
To chew

Sir is a verb of equivalent meaning with the Igbo verb, "tie". Both meant "to shout". In the same way also, Mkpo is the noun version of the Ibibio word for "shout". The Igbo equivalent of the same noun is mkpu.


Obasi was and still is another name for Chukwu to the Aros. From them it went across other dwellers of the heartland region of the Igbo nation. In the same way as the Onitsha refer to Chukwu as Olisa, the heartland Igbo used the name (Olisa) to indicate certain eulogy and veneration in a manner of extolling God for his greatness and provisions. Popular among the Onitsha are names like Olisabuikem (God is my strength) Olisaemeka (God had done much) etc. In the same wise are names associated withObasi. The former Super Eagles’ player has the name, Chinedu Obasi. There is also such a name as Obasiemeka. Therefore, Obasi was the name of god which was associated with prayers. When the Ibibios were chased out of their original home by the Aros who migrated from the Northern Igbo, they retained this name; but in a disguised form. Instead of Obasi, they haveAbasi for the same linguistic meaning. 

Other related words in the languages of Igbo and Efik are Gaa and Kaa respectively. They both mean go in the English version. The reason for the difference in the consonants of the words is blamed upon the morphological condition of the consonant /g/ in the language of the latter. It is usually very rare to get Efik word with /g/ as its initial consonant. /g/ is rather realized as the final consonants. In this condition it is realized alongside /n/ to take the English pronunciation for -ing morpheme. Examples include Afang, Anang, Idongesit, Obong etc. Where possibly this consonant, /g/ appears at the initial position of a word, the Efik pronounce it as the consonant /k/. Therefore, instead of gaa or go, the Efik say kaa or korespectively.

Ibibio and Anang use Ufok to refer the abode of man. Ufok is the reference to the house where one lives. The Igbo equivalent of this word isUno or Ulo. Either of these words can be used to connote house and the home of a man as Ufokrefers to. The relationship of the sounds of these words is not only revealed through their meanings, we find their sounds the same to indicate that they have one common source or origin. This relationship becomes clearer when the Efik are considered. I believe you will accept our assertion when you know that the Efik useUlok for the same reference. It was possible that the entire communities of the aqua cultural settlers of these regions made use of Ulok in the earlier time, but as time glided the Ibibio and Anang communities had a change of tongues.

When something gets spoilt, ppeople of this language community use the word, Agwaka, to express such unwelcomed condition. The Igbo language has similar expression for things found in such a situation. But in the Igbo form, it is rather  Ngworo or Agworo. The Igbo use this either terms to address spoilt tomatoes or decayed breadfruit and other fruits found in a similar situations. Also, another word  that people of this language community use to express"no" or "not"  is Ideghe. The Igbo equivalent of such terms is odighi.

Could these be the all-encompassing evidence? I think not. There are places found in the Efik families that appeared to have borrowed their names from the Igbo language. More convincing is the military base at Abak Akwa Ibom State  known as Ibeagwa but pronouncedIbawa by the inhabitants of the area. The history of the place has it that the first people to settle in the area had come from the Ibeagwa in the present day Enugu State. To sustain this aspect of their oblivious history the ancient sign post at the military base still has the name correctly written. 

Akwa Ibom also has places known as Ikot Okoro, Ikot Imo, Obiono and other names that are not included here. What all these show is simply a common historical tie among the concerned people and places. There are also places like Eastern Obolo in Akwa Ibom (in Eket political region) and Western Obolo in River State. These two communities, like the Ibeagwa in Akwa Ibom State, sustained the name of their original home; they migrated from the ancient Nsukka area called Obolo.   

The name of the researcher’s mother is Ebe Nnaji. The name Ebe was derived from the name of the river which had sustained Nkalaha community since the day Onoja Oboni stepped into the place and founded it. The river is richly historical when the reason for settling in the place is brought to minds. It was this lasting values and inextinguishable roles of its substance to the teeming population of the Nkalaha people that her name was decided to be given to people. The researcher’s mother shares in this rich historical relevance. Akwa Ibom also has this name among her indigenous members. Other names found to have Igbo origin are names like Uko, Nnamso, Nnamuko,Udoh etc. all these are Igbo names. Other names are derived through expressions in the manner that the Igbo give their names. Every name in Igbo land is a complete expression. 

Many are written in their abridged form while others are written as a word. Examples include Chukwu ka Ike (God is ever powerful) written as Chukwuka, Ife eyi nwa(there is no semblance for a child) written as a word. We also have Onyinye Chukwu Ka (God’s gift is the greatest) also written simply asOnyinye. In the same way Ibibio has a name likeMkpo Kang Nke Abasi transliterated as nothing above the power of God). All this information added to their oral traditions and history to give a clear picture of the unequivocal expansion of the men from the eastern part of Nigeria.  

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