Idoma: A brief walk into the life of one of Africa’s humblest people

Idoma: A brief walk into the life of one of Africa's humblest people

Owing to the fact that children are usually raised in the proximity of extended families, historical resources are ever made available to them. The Idoma people are not only humble in nature, they’re also hospitable.

Known to be the second-largest ethnic group in Benue State and occupying nine local government areas in the western part of the state, the Idoma people are chiefly found in Ado, Agatu, Apa, Obi, Ohimini, Ogbadibo, Oju, Okpokwu & Otukpo local government areas.

Although the above local government areas seem to be the only places where the present-day, it suffices to say that there are other Idoma groups in parts of Nasarawa and Cross Rivers States.

Like most ethnic group in Nigeria, the history of the Idomas seem not to be documented. Among themselves, history is primarily passed through oral tradition and dance.

And owing to the fact that children are usually raised in the proximity of extended families, historical resources are ever made available to them.
It is for this reason that Idomas generally will proudly tell you where they are from should necessity demands it. And won’t hesitate to recite at least four generations of their progenitors.

However, in accordance with some oral history, Iduh who is believed to be the father of the Idoma had several children, with each of them establishing different areas.

Thus Ananawoogeno who begot the children of Igwumale; Olinaogwu who begot the people of Ugboju; Idum who begot the people of Adoka; Agabi who begot the people of Otukpo; Eje who begot the people of Oglewu; Ebeibi who begot the people of Umogidi in Adoka, Edeh who begot the people of Edumoga and Ode who begot the people of Yala.

Be that as it may, there are other Idomas with contradicting history.

With many divergent views as to the origin of these loving people, most historians agree that the Idomas migrated from Apa in the Kwararafa Kingdom after her disintegration.

It is believed that they settled on the land of present-day Tiv before the majority of them were pushed to their present-day location and the others to present day Nassarawa and Cross Rivers States.


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Idoma marriage

Although the marriage rites and customs of the Idoma people are similar to that of the Ibos and some other south-eastern cultures, there are specific aspects that distinguish their tradition with clarity.

In some Idoma subcultures, after the payment of the bride price, the groom and his family will present the bride with a rooster and some money on the marriage day.

Customarily, if the bride accepts, it is a sign of approval. However, if she rejects the gift, then it is a sign of disinterest.

Though there are no certain reasons to justify the need for a rooster, yet it remains an interesting part of the ceremony.

Idoma belief

The coming of Christianity, Islam, and other religion has altered a lot of traditional practices across the country, and the Idomas is not an exception.

Notwithstanding, a good number of them still believe strongly in the Alekwu, which is seen as the ancestral spirits- a link between the living and the dead.

As a matter of traditional fact, an annual ‘Aje Alekwu’ festival is being hosted. During this festival, traditional religious practitioners offer sacrifices and commune in the worship of their ancestors across the land.

With a very strong affinity to Alekwu the spirit of the ancestors, the Idomas believes that it is standing as an unseen watchdog of the family and communities while countering vices like adultery, theft, and murder.

Idoma food and traditional colour

Popularly known for the love of good food, the Idomas usually hosts an annual food festival to celebrate women and the various traditional cuisines.

Among the various cuisines, the most popular is the Okoho soup. The soup is made with the peculiar Okoho plant, bush meat, and other ingredients as well.

However, in other to foster a distinct identity, the Idomas, during the 80’s, decided to start using the red and black stripes colours as their traditional colour.



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