the idoma tradition






Farming is the major occupation of  the Idoma people just like many other ethnic groups in Nigeria. The staple crops grown are yams,cassava,,rice and taro, known locally as cocoa yam. Yam is usually produced in large quantity enough to be sold to other parts of the country. They also grow oil palm trees which fruits are processed into oil and exported to Europe in large quantities, making it a fairly profitable cash crop. Other crops of importance include maize, manioc, peppers, peanuts, tomatoes, squash, and sweet potatoes. Domestic animals such as goats, sheep, chickens and dogs are reared in most homes. Although hunting no longer provides a substantial contribution to the local economy, fishing has remained a very important occupation in the region.
Sizeable number of the idoma indigenes are also actively involved  in other professions such as  military,engineering ,academics,politics,civil service and many others. The Idoma kingdom is proud of many of its indigenes who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers,the Kingdom has produced two Senate Presidents in the persons of  David Mark a retired army general(present) and Senator Ameh Ebute (past). Also, are the likes of the formal PDP Chairman,Chief Audu Ogbe, Gen. Lawrence Onoja rtd, Gen Chris Abutu Garba rtd, Dr. Pastor Paul Enenche( Dunamis International Gospel Center), Professsor John Idoko, Chief Silvanus Mohammed Itodo,Chief Patrick Abba Moro just to mention a few are distinguished personalities from the area.


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Idoma marriage.

Marriage in Idoma land is considered a lifelong affair, although divorce is possible on the grounds of
adultery or other concrete reasons. When an Idoma man is at least twenty-five years old and has the financial and physical capacity to  raise and maintain a family, he searches for and finds a woman of his choice, who is at least eighteen years old. He reports his findings to his family which may choose a go-between,that is a person who  know  the girl's family. The go-between investigates further the family of the prospective bride to ascertain that the family has no history of mental disease, epilepsy, or other problems. If the result of this investigation is positive, the prospective groom's family visits the woman's family with gifts of kola nut and drinks. After the first visit, another visit is scheduled for the woman to meet her future husband, after which a final visit is scheduled for the future groom and his family to pay the bride-price and offer other gifts (Omokhodion 1998).
On the marriage day,  the groom  pays  dowry first to the bride's mother and then another to the father; this involves a  bit of  bargaining,concession and honour. Also, the bride's both mother and father family members including her age mates or friends are considered in determining the dowry with the amount varying with the level of the bride's education and productivity.After this,the groom's family presents the bride a rooster and some money, If she accepts these gifts and gives them to her mother, it signifies her acceptance of the groom, but if she refuses,it  means her refusal. If she accepts him, she is showered with iots of gifts usually money, and the two families can eat and drink together.However, before the bride is finally handed over to her husband, her age group can pose as a mock barrier to those who want to take her and extort money from the anxious groom's family.After all, the bride's mother buys her cooking utensils and food as she is not expected to go to the market for the first five market in her new home and this precedes the final handing over of the bride to the groom’s family. (Omokhodion 1998).
Ideally the bride should be a virgin at marriage, which brings pride and joy to her family. If she is found not to be a virgin, she is taken to the husband's family' ancestral shrine for cleansing. After this the Ije is put on her to invoke fertility on her. This marks the beginning of married life among the Idoma tribe

Political Systems:

The Idoma may live in compact villages or in relatively dispersed family homesteads. Political ties exist primarily on the community level with a headman, or chief, who inherits his position along patrilineal lines.

Royal succession among the Idoma often alternates between two patrilineal lines, to some extent weakening the power of the ruler. The chief usually consults a council of elders before making any important decisions. In the past, age-grade societies and the related masking traditions contributed to social control.




village settlement in Idomaland



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Idoma traditional religion focuses on honouring lineage ancestors.The  eje alekwu festival is the major occasion where traditional religious practitioners commune, sacrifice and worship their ancestors in idomaland. It usually comes up once in a year  around July to September when  new yams are harvested from the farm. However, sacrifices and worship of the alekwu (ancestral spirits) can be done at any time depending on individual needs and dispositions. At Alekwu communion, names of ancestors the living dead are invoked so that through them the worshippers’s supplication may be conveyed to the omnipotent God (Owoicho).
The Alekwu is seen as a link between the living and the dead. To the adherents, the worship of   Alekwu marks the height of communion and communication between the realms of the living. It ushers in blessings for adherents through their chants, songs and messages, thereby encouraging morality. As a code of conduct, it is a symbol of peace, order and tranquillity in the society. The ancestral spirits in form of the Alekwu is viewed as invisible watch dog of the family and communities. It is believed that if the living failed to observe the cultural norms and values of the Idoma, the ancestors will visit them with pestilence or, even death. It acts as strong instrument for social control against vices like adultery, theft and murder.
Some parallel cults such as ‘Onyonkpo and alekwufia also exist in idoma land  in few clans or communities. The Onyonkpo acts a physical law enforcer and check evil vices in communities where it operates. For the alekwufia cult, it usually appears during the burial ceremony of its member where it is believed that it comes to lead the dead to his ancestors.  Funeral ceremonies among the Idoma are often quite dramatic, with greater attention given to members of the community who have reached advanced age or prestigious. Extensive funerals are held for both women and men in preparation for sending them on their final journey away from the village to the spirit world. A memorial service, or second burial, is held for the deceased some time after the original burial in order to ensure that the dead pass on to the ancestor world in proper style


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