The Efik people are located in the South-South geopolitical zone of Nigeria. They can be found primarily in two states; Akwa-Ibom and Cross-River state, although a minority can be found in the neighbouring country of Cameroon.
The name ‘Efik’ is said to be of Hebrew origin (Aphik or Hepik) which means ‘oppressor’. They speak the Efik-Ibibio language. This is a cluster of languages that are quite similar to each other, but also quite different. Some of the languages include; Efik, Ibibio, Annang, Oro, Ibeno, and so on.
Descendants of Israel
Although some accounts suggest that the Efik people have Bantu origins, the most accepted tale is of their Hebrew origin.
They are believed to have originated from the Orient, precisely from Palestine, from where they migrated to ancient Egypt. They are believed to have been a part of the Falashas, some black Jews who left Egypt due to the harsh treatments meted out by the Egyptians on the Israelites at the time.
The movement is said to have happened until they reached ancient Ethiopia, where they settled for some time. The birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ led to the introduction of Christianity which they adopted. However, with the introduction of Islam and the Arabs quest to conquer Ethiopia as they had conquered Egypt led to another exodus of the Efik ancestors.
The movement saw them separate at different points through their journey; they separated at Sudan and Lake Chad. The present-day Efik people settled in Cameroon (Oron and Uruan), while some settled in Ghana, Congo, and Equatorial Guinea. The Nigerian Efiks came in through the plains of Adamawa in present-day northern Nigeria. Some settled in an Igbo village called Ututu in Aro while the majority settled at a place they called Gibbom after the name of their God. Gibbom has been changed over the years into ‘Ibom’.
Fattening room, Edikang Ikong and more heritages of the Efik people
Although an ethnic minority in Nigeria, the Efiks are famous for their popular cultural heritages. Some of them include:
The Ekombi dance: a colourful dance that is precise and is said to be a rhythmic adaptation to the movements of sea waves.
The Edikang ikong and Afang soups: these are traditional Efik vegetable soups that are widely eaten all over Nigeria.
Their traditional attire
Efik Fattening room: In time past, Efik people confined a prospective bride to a fattening room, where she is prepared for womanhood. She is also required to do no work but be fed, massaged and taken care of in order to become the required robust bride.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Efiks in Calabar practiced the inhumane ritual of killing twins until Mary Slessor, a Scottish missionary intervened.
The first photographic studio in West Africa was established in Calabar in 1876.
The Efik city, Calabar has a prominent yearly festival and the Tinapa resort which was one of the foremost tourism boosters in Nigeria.
The city of Calabar was also the first Capital city of Nigeria.