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The history and people of Abiriba


Encyclopedia » History
Abia

The Abiriba people are part of the Agunaguna sub-tribe of the main Ekoi group. They are part of the larger Yakurr group that can also be traced up to Ikom and other parts of the upper Cross River basin. The present Yakor (Yakurr) Local Government Area of Cross River State includes Ugep, Agunanguna, Nko, Usukpam (Urukpam) Ubaghara and others. In these areas are such other settlements as Ebiribara, Ebom-Ebiriba et cetera. As a matter of fact, the Ebom-Ebiribas in Yakor simply changed their name to Ebom because the present Abiriba (Ebiriba) was virtually eclipsing them such that even mails meant for them found their way into Abiriba of Abia State.

From events and available data, the Abiribas were said to have crossed the river at Usukpam, hence they are often referred to as Usukpam-Etete, a nostalgic name for the ancient home. Usukpam as called by the natives there now is part of Akpaa-Erei clan of the larger Ena Clan. The Abiriba lived here for long when they left mainland Ena-Uda under the leadership of Nnachi-Oken, hence the nomenclature, Ebiriba Enachi-Oken.
From here they traveled through Okon-Ohafia and settled at Udara-Ebuo, a stretch of land between Amekpu-Ohafia and Okagwe-Ohafia. This long sojourn in the present day Ohafia area explained the numerous relationships between this area of Ohafia and Abiriba.
Equally the Abiriba-Ena royalty have affinity with Akanu Ohafia. Nnachi Oken died at Udara Ebuo and Ntagha continued the journey to Uranta where much later he died. After the demise of Ntagha, Igbokwu became the leader. From here, Udara-Ebuo, the Abiribas now led by Igbokwu passed by Nkwu-ebu (Nkwebi) Ohafia to Urata near Oboro en-route Ozu-Abam. From here, they moved right (north) and found their way into Ihe and Agboha about 1700. These two communities are near the present Binyam village in Abiriba. Agboha up till this day is referred to as Agboha-Igbokwu, after the leader Igbokwu. This date of arrival is well estimated from later recorded events of early Europian visitors and estimating backwards from the number of Abiriba kings remembered in our history.


The Abiribas lived for long at Ihe from where they fanned out to establish the present day Abiriba villages and city. They developed Agboha and built a big market there. Because of their expertise in blacksmithing, mechantilism, weaving, craftmanship in ivory et cetera, Abiriba attracted marketers from neighbouring villages all the way to Ozuitem, Uzuakoli, Ahaba-Imenyi, Item and others.
After several years of sojourn at Agboha, the royal group moved to the part of Umueso village called Amelunta today. The compounds that make up Amelunta are Ndi Ekpe (the main royal compound), Ndi Ezema and Ndi e'Mbaeku. The Kings that ruled Abiriba and from Ndi Ekpe, Amelunta were Ekpe, Itu, Uduka Oko (Uduka uku), Egbara uku and others. One of the sons of the royalty, Oko Uduka, alias Okonta Ogba-enwo (Oko the monkey shooter) in later years in his hunting expeditions located the valley after Isi-Olara and thought it was a natural fortress and also attracted by the waters moved the royal compound there while retaining while retaining the majority of the royalty at Ndi Ekpe. This new royal compound is today known as Ndi Oko-ogo, that is, the people of the home of Oko.

SIMILARITIES BETWEEN ABIRIBA AND OHAFIA

For over 200 years, the people of Ohafia and Abiriba have shared a common
boundary. Yet, they have shared diametrically opposite world-views. While
the one lived in a pre-colonial world where the love of military glory was a
consuming passion, the other was a wealthy black smith and a long distance
traveller. To date, they have maintained two parallel lines: while the one
loves education, the other loves business

OHAFIA and Abiriba, two communities located in the northern part of Abia
State, are like twins separated by a few kilometres of expanse of land. But,
even as they share a common boundary, one sharply contrasts the other in so
many ways. Sometimes, nature, in its infinite wisdom, helped in scripting
what has come to make one distinct from the other. As the saying goes in the
two communities, it takes only a trained eye to see the difference.
Yet, Ohafia and Abiriba share certain fundamental practices in common. It
appears that after over 200 years of living close to each other, they could
not help sharing some practices, one being the matrilineal system, in which
a woman inherits property from her father's home. 

Another common feature is the age-grade system. Over the years, the system
has become a vehicle for development, more especially in Abiriba, where all
projects in the area are associated with one age grade or the other. There
is an inexplicable sense of mission among succeeding generations to take up
projects in the community that will surpass the performance of their
predecessors.
Beyond that, the Ohafia and Abiriba people have maintained their
distinctness, and a stranger who understands the rules can easily separate
one from the other. The dialects of Igbo language spoken in both areas vary
in a way. While the Ohafia man rebukes a mischievous child by saying: "Ifula
nwantaa!"the Abiriba man says: "Kalaa nwantoo!".

The Abiriba man says,
Iwo, for anger, while his Ohafia counterpart says, Iwe. Husband is Ji, in
Abiriba, and di, in Ohafia. To say, 'Look at it', in Ohafia, they say Le ya,
and Kala ya in Abiriba

Nature has also played a part in it, if the contrasting topographies of the
two communities are taken into consideration. Unlike Ohafia, which is on a
plain land, Abiriba is clustered over an undulating hilly outlay, and
boundaries demarcating villages are hardly seen. Some of the exotic
architectural designs that can be found in Nigeria dot the hilltops, giving
the community the name, 'Small London'. 

Abiriba is a community of shrewd businessmen. The Abiriba man loves and
follows the whiff of money to wherever it takes him, and no matter the risk
involved. Over time, the quest for wealth has led him through thick and
thin, to have business links traversing the entire West Africa, with
tentacles stretching as far as Europe, America and the Far East.
Abiriba is a specialist trading community and one of the wealthiest
communities in Igboland. A striking feature of trade and industry in Aba is
the prominent role played by Abiriba people. Unlike Nnewi, in Anambra State,
where businessmen have located the bulk of their industries at home, the
Abiriba man has practically no industry in his land.

In all of these, the Abiriba man has one shortcoming: he did not embrace
formal education when his neighbour, the Ohafia man, did and, so, the first
generation of Abiriba businessmen was largely illiterate. To the Abiriba
man, it was money before any other thing. But, in recent times, education
has become vital to him. Somewhere along the line, he seemed to have
realised that he may have all the money, but that without education, he may
not know how to control or reinvest it.

It took the Abiriba man a long time to realise the importance of education

Today  Abiriba community boasts of wealthy traders and
industrialists.

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Article Credit:

Updated 4 Years ago
 

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