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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Culture Series: The Efik People

On today's culture series, we will be looking at the Efik people and their culture. The Efik ethnic group is located in southeastern Nigeria, residing in Cross Rivers and Calabar of Nigeria, as well as in the western vicinity of Cameroon.
Although there are several versions of the origin of the Tiv people, the most prominent is that the Efik people have Arabic/ Jewish origins. This can be seen in the similarities between the Efik and the Hebrew languages.
History has it that Efik aboriginals migrated from Palestine during the Roman conquest in 63 B.C.
It is also believed that Abasi (God) created the earth and on the appeal of his wife allowed two inhabitants of earth, his son and daughter who had the restriction of not breeding. They disobeyed and this brought death and evil to the world.

Efik Dancers

Religion
On religion, the traditional Efik people have the Ndem and Ekpe societies. They also believe in witchcraft which is of two forms, black and white. Black witchcraft is used to cause harm while white which craft is used to heal and help. They believe witches have the ability to transform themselves to inanimate objects as well as other things.
I remember my mom telling me of a strong witch doctor in Calabar who could kill virtually anybody (my parents left Calabar soon after I was born). If you want someone dead, report to him and vultures or worms will visit the person.

General Culture
Like other African tribes, the Efik people are very unique and colorful in their ways of life. From their facial paintings to their dance and dressing, and masquerade the Efik people of Calabar are on of God's wonderful creation.
Paintings on their faces and bodies represent love and purity. It is also used to distinguish amongst families as each family has a unique identity.
On some occasions, paintings are used to signify good news such as child birth.

Efik facial and body paintings

Dance
Dance is an integral part of every culture and the Efik people are not left out. They have flawless and entertaining dances. Amongst them are the; Nyok dance, Ofum dance, Ekombi dance, Eting Idem masquerade dance, Ofum dance, and the Akpasa dance.



Fattening Room
One feature the Efik people are known for is the fattening room, called Nkuho. This is one tradition that I believe is slowly fading away, if it isn't already extinct. This ancient tradition is given to young women in seclusion, in preparation for marriage and motherhood.
During this period, the lady is not allowed to come in contact with other people save for the older women taking care of her, her immediate family, and play mates. No man is allowed into the fattening room, expect the suitor. He doesn't come in as he pleases, she must be informed.
As the name implies "you must fat oh". The lady is fed several times a day and also massaged about three times daily, encouraged to drink plenty of water and sleep a lot. Simply put, she is treated like a baby.
All of these processes are to ensure that the lady develops a healthy waistline, as that signifies beauty.

Aside becoming fat, the lady is also taught how to respect and make her husband happy, take care of her children, as well as basic domestic training such as cooking and general housekeeping.
I feel it is because some of these practices are being neglected that we have a lot of failed marriages.

At the end of the process, guests are invited to celebrate the graduation of the lady. Dance and other forms of entertainment are performed, gifts are presented to the bride, and she finally dances with her husband-to-be.

 Efik woman in fattening room

 Efik marriage

 I hope you enjoyed this article.

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